Convention BloggingI'm en route to La Guardia now and, with a little luck, should be in the Twin Cities by mid-afternoon. (In light of recent events, I'll keep a camera close at hand for any loose-lipped liberals on board.) Look for regular dispatches here throughout the week. I'll also be blogging the behind-the-scenes action for WNBC.com. If Gustav fulfills the worse end of the projections, the only Convention action for the next couple days may be behind-the-scenes (roomsful of uneaten rubber chicken, dejected protesters, lakes, etc.), so buckle up.
Hurricane Gustav Proves God's a Democrat
It could start killing people just as the Republican Convention kicks off. Isn't that hilarious?!
Palin the Debater
After GOP Convention week, Sarah Palin's next big opportunity to shape the Presidential election will come on October 2 in St. Louis (not Kansas City) during the Vice Presidential debate.
It's safe to say it will be an asymmetric battle. One's a Senate lifer who's entire professional career has consisted of arguing; the other's a hockey mom-turned-political executive. One would expect Biden's debate chops to surpass Palin's by a good margin. But it's also worth remembering that something about Sarah (either her likeability, her effectiveness, or both) has gained her a surreal level of popularity among her constituents - the 700,000 Americans who know her best. She's clearly quite bright, confident, and an accomplished system-taker-onner and incumbent-defeater. And her pre-political biography likely makes her an easily relatable figure to many voters (as opposed to Joe Biden, who has no pre-political biography).
For a sneak preview of how Palin might fare during the debate, check out her performance during a 2006 debate with Alaska's incumbent Republican Governor Frank Murkowski (and fellow primary challenger John Binkley). There's about an hour of game footage there, ranging from taxes to energy to ethics refrom.
Irrelevant-But-Fun Vice Presidential Fact Of the Day
Alaska is 263 times larger than Delaware.
Fox News Confirms It's Sarah PalinWelcome, PUMAs. How long until Obama begins using the term "Failed Bush-Palin policies"? The combined ticket is slated to speak in Dayton at noon.
Getting Mitt On the Record
Everyone seems to have agreed to agree with each other that Tim Pawlenty will officially become McCain's VP pick Friday morning.
As far as I can tell, this results from 1) Pawlenty being the common element on just about everyone's ostensibly (if dubiously) "insider-informed" short lists, 2) the supposed burning and enduring hatred between McCain and Romney, 3) the fact that Pawlenty was a McCain 2000 supporter, and 4) the fact that Pawlenty has been burning up the cable news networks over the last 48 hours.
With a few hours before the announcement comes down, I'm going to go ahead and make the counterargument (i.e. the "It's still Mitt" counterargument).
To be clear, Pawlenty would be a very agreeable pick (experience as a political executive, credible conservative credentials), as would Sarah Palin (ditto). The others being tossed around (Lieberman, Ridge, Fiorina, et al) don't seem so realistic.
That said, between Romney and Pawlenty, I think it remains fairly clear that Romney is the better choice (defining "better" as "more likely to improve the chances of November success").
Mitt's far better known nationally, he's superlatively long in McCain's shortest suits (finance/economy/executive leadership), he may help win not only Michigan, but multiple purpling southwest states thanks to his ready-made army of Mormon fans (versus the historically dangerous proposition that Pawlenty might swing 1984-proof Minnesota), he was belatedly, briefly, but enthusiastically embraced by the conservative wing of the party in the final stages of the primary contest, and his runner-up status during the primary means millions of Republican voters have already pulled the lever for Mitt, offering McCain the opportunity for (an admittedly more muted version of) the dream-team ticket that Obama snubbed by not bringing Hillary on board.
This isn't to say I'm particularly assured that Mitt will be the pick. But the building Pawlenty consensus seems awfully premature and inadequately founded to me, especially given how tight-lipped the McCain campaign has managed to keep in recent days.
God only knows what McCain might do. I'll concede that rational Republicans can disagree on whether Romney is the clear best choice among the front-runners (both electorally and ideologically). And I'll definitely concede that - even if McCain does see Mitt as objectively the best choice - he might well buck that expectation simply for sake of doing so and further burnishing his maverickism, at the expense of all other political ends. (I'm just going by McCain's decades of legislative choices here...)
But ultimately, I suspect McCain is a man who (perhaps rightfully) feels he deserves a real shot at the Presidency, having been relatively narrowly spurned 8 years ago. Having finally nabbed that bid at a relatively advanced age, one has to suppose that McCain is interested in maximizing his odds of making good on this long-sought opportunity.
To me, it seems very likely that the sum total of selection advice McCain is getting these days is steering him toward Governor Romney. So if he's truly fighting to win, I have to think Romney is still the odds-on favorite, despite the unconvincingly gelling Pawlenty consensus or the prospect of an "I betcha didn't see that coming!" pick.
Of course I could be (and probably am) wrong. If you offered me either side of an even-odds bet that Romney will get the nod, I'd bet against. Still, if I had to bet on one candidate, Mitt's still my guy.
Leaked: The Official* Obama Tribute Video the DNC Didn't Want You To See
Behold the campaign video so unapologetically deifying, Democratic muckity-mucks deemed it "a bit too worshippy" for Thursday night's canonization on Mount O-Lympus.
Content warning for occasionally "blue" language.
* By "official" I of course mean "totally fake".
WSJ Hangs With the Angry PUMAs
How far will Hillary Clinton’s die-hard supporters go to get their voices heard in Denver at the Democratic National Convention?
As for the prospect of roll call fireworks, Politico's Ben Smith's dispatch suggests an explosive catharsis is unlikely.
Barack Obama's campaign has reverted to plans for a traditional roll call on the convention floor, and the Denver Post reports that delegates are voting this morning in their hotels. ... State tally sheets will be due by 4:00 p.m., Mountain Time.
"Once the nominating speeches are concluded, the vote tally sheets will be collected by the Office of the Secretary," the official said. "We will then begin the Roll Call of the States and the delegation chair or his or her designee will announce the totals for each candidate."
UPDATE: An Obama aide says this is the plan in the schedule; there is still the possibility, of course, that someone — probably Hillary — could move to shorten the roll call.
What Hillary Didn't Say
Obama supporters and cable news anchors are falling all over each other to pronounce Hillary's Good Soldier speech the most unifying act of unity the union has ever witnessed.
A couple samples of the gushing hyperbole spilling out of the mouths of His faithful (if nervous) boosters...
New York State Assemblyman (and long-time Obama devotee) Michael Benjamin:
Her speech will go down as the greatest seconding speech in American political history.
MSNBC anchor, embarrassingly enamored Obama toady, and Daily Kos blogger Keith Olbermann:
I don't know how it could have gone better. I. DON'T. KNOW. HOW. IT. COULD. HAVE. GONE. BETTER.
Well, how about if she had stuck to her Obama-approved script, rather than making a telling last-minute edit?
From Clinton's speech, as prepared:
Those are the reasons I ran for President. Those are the reasons I support Barack Obama. And those are the reasons you should too.
And as delivered:
Those are the reasons I ran for president, and those are the reasons I support Barack Obama for president.
Kudos to The Observer for picking up on the discrepancy.
Update: More omissions of proffered praise:
He'll transform our energy agenda by creating millions of green jobs and building a new, clean energy future. He'll make sure that middle class families get the tax relief they deserve.
Just think of what America will be as we transform our energy economy, create those millions of jobs, build a strong base for economic growth and shared prosperity, get middle-class families the tax relief they deserve.
Note To DNC Obituarists: Gene McCarthy ≠ Joe McCarthy
Just moments ago, a tribute to prominent Democrats who have died since the 2004 convention was screened at the Pepsi Center. With somber music in the background, the names and faces of the departed were presented for a few seconds each in a kind of slideshow. (The same thing is done at the Academy Awards every year.)
It was a thoroughly respectful salute – until it was Eugene McCarthy’s turn. Or, as he was labeled in the slideshow, “Joseph McCarthy.”
Despite sharing a last name, Eugene Joseph McCarthy and Joseph Raymond McCarthy were very different men.
Quick poll: Which color will Hillary go with for her prime-time speech at the convention tonight?
Picture via Drudge
Tune in at 10 pm (ET) to find out!
Update: Whatever color she chooses, sounds like she may have Team Obama seeing red. (See what I did there? Wardrobe humor.)
Hillary Clinton gave a preview of tonight’s speech for a group of supporters in Denver earlier today, and it didn’t feature Barack Obama — at all. Peter Nicholas covered the event for the LA Times, and reports that Hillary never asked her backers to support Obama, only urging their support for “all our nominees”. If that’s the strategy she takes tonight, the snub could be historic...
Yowza. Break out the popcorn.
Update: It's goldenrod!
FAA Reporting Flight Plan System Failures
[Scroll for updates]
Fox News is reporting a computer glitch in the FAA's flight plan processing system (possibly originating from a Georgia substation) is disrupting communications.
A glitch in the Federal Aviation Administration computer system is affecting flights across the country right now, according to CNN and the FAA sources commenting on the television news show.
The computer problem is with how flight plans are processed, and is causing delays. More than 5,000 flights are airborne now, according to CNN. Planes are in holding patterns now.
The Desert Sun willl bring you the latest on this developing story. We are also contacting the Palm Springs International Airport to see how flights are affected there.
The FAA's air traffic control map does show a lot of major cities experiencing delays.
Traffic destined to this airport is being delayed at its departure point. Check your departure airport to see if your flight may be affected.
It sounds like this should have no impact on communications between air traffic control centers and flights in the air, but may be disrupting the filing of new flight plans, which could be tangling up departures.
One of the electronic network that handles such messaging is the Aeronautical Fixed Telecommunication Network, which does also handle other types of high- and low-priority message and advisories.
Fox is now reporting a variety of major east coast airports have gone to full ground stops.
Homeland Security is confirming there's no indication of any terror connection.
In short, it sounds like no flights are in any trouble, but the country is about to be smacked with major systemwide delays.
Update: From Breitbart:
FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen says there are no safety issues and officials are still able to speak to pilots on planes on the ground and in the air.
She says she doesn't know how many flights are being affected.
Bergen says the problem that occurred Tuesday afternoon involves an FAA facility in Hampton, Ga., south of Atlanta, that processes flight plans. She says there has been a failure in a communication link that transmits the data to a similar facility in Salt Lake City.
As a result, the Salt Lake City facility has to process those flight plans, causing delays.
Malkin Mobbed At the Mint
Tub of goo Alex Jones manages to give even 9/11 troofers a bad name.
During a terribly clever demonstration attempting to levitate the Denver Mint in protest of American military spending, Jones noticed Michelle Malkin covering the event and quickly abandoned the telekinetic endeavor in favor of showering everyone within earshot with spittle-flecked hysteria.
Michelle has links to some of the other blog coverage of Jones' meltdown.
Over the weekend, Barack Obama chose Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) as his running mate. Obama picked Biden for his foreign policy experience, after all Biden is a long-serving member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. While this bolsters the Democratic ticket's collective knowledge of foreign affairs, let's acknowledge this experience for what it really is.
The Foreign Relations Committee oversees (with the House of Representatives) the State Department, the US Agency for International Development, and Peace Corps and ratifies (not drafts) treaties. That's pretty much it. The committee doesn't appropriate funding for any of the activities it oversees nor does it have purview over any U.S. military or intelligence issues. So as Flip previously noted, this still leaves this ticket without any direct or indirect experience with the world's most powerful military.
Also, since Sen. Biden only worked for two short years before he was elected to the U.S. Senate (at the minimum age of 30), he also lacks executive leadership experience. As a Committee Chairman, Biden doesn't have to employ the leadership skills and qualities that corporate executives or military leaders do. Even if we were to give Biden partial credit for his mere four years of chairmanship, that still leaves the ticket well short on leadership experience. In SF's earlier calculations, we determined that Obama has only led one organization: the Harvard Law Review...in 1990.
All of these limitations aside, Obama will continue to paradoxically sell Biden as an outsider with lots of experience in Washington.
Iranian Screen Door Enrichment Program Clearly Not For Civilian Purposes
Iranian state TV says the country has launched production of a domestically built submarine capable of firing missiles and torpedoes.
Defense Minister Gen. Mostafa Mohammad Najjar inaugurated a production line Monday for the mid-sized sub, named Ghaem. The TV quotes him as saying Iran has made huge investments to become self-sufficient and equip its armed forces with modern weapons.
Why Was the Market In Such a Foul Mood Today?
Especially on a day with relatively little news, not much of a move in oil, and kicking off of a week when just about everyone's on vacation?
Larry Kudlow thinks he knows why.
The Silk Is Off the Pony
Back to chasing skirts and ambulances, John. Your political train has sailed.
Do You Have a Recurring Nightmare You Want To Shake?
Your sure-fire cure: the Japanese goblin shark.
View this video and never dream of anything else again.
I'm pretty sure what happened here is that a nurse shark mated with Alien, the unholy offspring died, and this is its ghost.
(HT: Tyler Durden)
Joe Biden: Highway To the Green Zone
An exclusive video exposé of the Senate's most intrepid fabulist.
"Warped Thoughts Flowing From Their Spigots"
Moonbat poetry at its finest.
Well That's Sort Of Interesting
Not since 1940 has there been a Democratic or Republican ticket without military experience of any kind.
Until now, anyway.
Of course, patterns like these were made to be broken, and I certainly wouldn't posit that military experience is a prerequisite for Presidential or Vice Presidential office, but this is a surprising statistic nonetheless.
Change, I guess.
Until yesterday, you could chalk this up to the fact that the United States (and the world) has seen fewer major wars (in terms of troop headcount, anyway) in recent decades, leaving younger President-age contenders with a lower likelihood of having served. But newly minted VP candidate and sexagenarian Joe Biden finished his schooling in 1968, when Vietnam troop levels peaked at over half a million (one year into McCain's 5+ year imprisonment).
That's to say nothing of Biden's duty to country. Only to prebut the rebuttal that the above-noted relative scarcity of major conflict in recent decades might fully account for the phenomenally rare lack of service displayed by the Obama-Biden ticket.
Thus, it remains an interesting anomaly.
(Scratch "Reporting for duty" from the Democratic Convention cue cards.)
Desperately Seeking Relevance
Stop the presses. An oddly muscular has-been has an opinion.
As Madonna kicked off her international "Sticky and Sweet" tour Saturday night, she took a none-too subtle swipe at the presumptive Republican nominee for U.S. president.
Amid a four-act show at Cardiff's packed Millennium Stadium, a video interlude carried images of destruction, global warming, Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler, Zimbabwe's authoritarian President Robert Mugabe — and U.S. Sen. John McCain. Another sequence, shown later, pictured slain Beatle John Lennon, followed by climate activist Al Gore, Mahatma Gandhi and finally McCain's Democratic rival, Barack Obama.
She's just so outrageous, isn't she?
No surprise, her nakedly desperate cloy for attention is working like a charm on fringe-dwelling lefties.
Chris Matthews Offers the Insight Of the Day
Chris Matthews reminds us why he's one of the most astute political observers of our time.
On the prospect of John McCain picking Mitt Romney as his running mate, Matthews pondered the comparative "cosmetics" of the combined tickets.
Romney is a foolish choice, he advises, because of the glaring age difference the GOP ticket would display (11 years). Obama and Biden, on the other hand, "look about the same age."
You read that right. Barack Obama and Joe Biden look about the same age.
For reference, Biden is 19 years older than Obama (who looks quite a bit younger than his 47 years).
I don't buy Matthews' premise that appearing to be the same age as one's running mate is any significant asset, but if he's right, Obama's in trouble. With Biden at his side, it looks more like Obama's participating in Bring Your Typical White Grandparent To Work Day than running for President.
Welcome To the Fray, Senator Biden
Over a 15 month period from 2005-2006, the veep hopeful accepted at least $39,100 from Hsu's suspected straw donors.
Hsu's Clinton gambit may not have paid off (and the $87,000 in illicit funds he allegedly steered to Eliot Spitzer probably won't be paying any dividends), but with multi-jurisdictional criminal charges pending, having a friend in the Presidential on-deck circle shouldn't hurt.
Et Tu, Costanza?
If the Obamessiah phenomenon was bordering on religious cultdom already, this handful of borderline celebrities have just shoved it over the line.
I wonder if these cow-eyed followers appreciate the wholly predictable irony of their "American Prayer" anthem being fronted by a European (and co-written by another European).
The One is, after all, a
citizen savior of the world.
It's Still Mitt
I haven't been touching nearly all of the bases in the endless cycle of VP speculation.
But since I both want and expect McCain's pick to be Romney, I'll go ahead and tag this one from Time's Mark Halperin, terse and annoyingly enigmatic as it is.
Two Republicans who know say McCain has settled on Mitt Romney as his running mate.
It should be Mitt and it will be Mitt. But undoubtedly, we'll go around the Pawlenty-Ridge-Lieberman horn at least once more over the next week before it's official.
(HT: Hot Air)
Previously: McCain To Announce Romney As VP On August 29?
Update: Ace disagrees, but he's a clinically diagnosed moron.
Return To Sender
With the new Zogby poll offering the latest indication of Democratic disillusionment with their Presidential pick, the DNC has apparently gotten the message.
Click for full size
Nerdy Artist Mistakes Himself For Edgy Poet
American emigrant and Professor of Digital Arts Douglas Stanley has lent his artistic acumen and blistering political insight to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the video game Space Invaders.
In his own words (about himself):
The World Trade Center attacks mark a deep cut in our recent history that is still being processed. The French-American artist Douglas Edric Stanley has found an unusual – though obvious – metaphor with his work “Invaders!”, which is based on the 1978 arcade original. In his interactive large installation, the players must prevent the catastrophe by controlling the well- known cannon at the lower screen border with their bodies and firing it using arm movements. Like the original, this trial is ultimately unsuccessful, thus creating an articulated and critical commentary about the current war strategy. In this regard, Douglas Edric Stanley sees Space Invaders as “a social tale that can be related to historical tales without losing its poetic power” (D.E. Stanley).
Get over yourself, Doug.
Homeless Who Escape Denver Zoo Will At Least Look Presentable To Conventioners
Last month The Ticket wrote that officials in Denver, worried about the impression that 50,000 visitors to the Democratic National Convention would get next week, were planning to hide the estimated 4,000 homeless people who hang around the city's downtown area.
They arranged for free movie passes and bingo games to get them off the street, as well as temporary housing and free tickets to the zoo and Museum of Nature and Science.
Now, with a Hat Tip to our pal Jeralyn over at TalkLeft, comes word, as Sen. Barack Obama prepares to announce his vice presidential running mate pick, that Denver is even spiffing up the coiffures of its homeless. They're giving free haircuts to the homeless this week in preparation for the visiting crowds who'll arrive this weekend.
(HT: Jonah Goldberg)
Were Mondale and Dukakis Otherwise Engaged?
So Jimmy Carter, Al Gore, and John Kerry have all been added to the Democratic Convention speaker roster. That's a reasonably impressive booking - fully 60% of the party's Presidential losers from the last 30 years.
The equivalent Republican field is limited to Bush 41 and Bob Dole, but so far as I know, the RNC hasn't managed to book either one for their convention.
If You Don't Have Anything Nice To Say...
[McCain's] top contenders are said to include Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Less traditional choices mentioned include former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, an abortion-rights supporter, and Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, the Democratic vice presidential prick in 2000 who now is an independent.
(HT: John Hinderaker)
Be Careful What You Wish For - Wal*Mart Edition
McCain To Announce Romney As VP On August 29?
Update: Kudlow's betting on Rob Portman, who seems nearly ideally tempered from an economic standpoint, but as a (former) power player in the Bush administration, he may be mildly toxic.
We Will Not Take a Dime From PACs!
That was the hope, anyway. But now comes the change.
What say we start with ten million dimes a pop?
Pelosi's Poison Pill
In a Saturday radio address, Nancy Pelosi appeared to buckle to overwhelming popular support to lift the ban on offshore drilling.
Pelosi said the Democrats' plan "will consider opening portions of the Outer Continental Shelf for drilling, with appropriate safeguards, and without taxpayer subsidies for Big Oil."
On the surface, that seems like great news for American consumers and the economy. Unfortunately, the plan is larded up with other provisions that make it wholly unpalatable.
Her priorities include a repeal of royalty relief for offshore drillers and an end to other tax credits for the biggest oil companies, as well as so-called use it or lose it legislation forcing energy companies to relinquish un-used leases.
Among the "other tax credits" Pelosi's targeting is the tax break that enables all manufacturing companies to deduct 6% of their qualifying income. The American Jobs Creation Act of 2004, which included this tax relief, takes a very broad view of what qualifies as manufacturing. In addition to traditional manufacturers, the act covers companies and individuals engaged in engineering, architecture, software development, lavish Hollywood blockbusters, and yes, the production of electricity, natural gas, water, etc.
Stripping this tax break from specific industries, based on nothing more than their unpopularity, is no more sensible than (and substantively indistinct from) the imposition of the Carter-style "windfall profit" taxes that candidate Obama so favors.
And the end result would be just as foreseeable and inevitable. When you punish an activity by introducing an incremental financial disincentive to engage in it, you'll swiftly see the corresponding market response. Less capital will flow into energy exploration and refinement, supply will be constrained, and prices will rise. Those causal linkages aren't matters of partisan debate; they're simple and incontrovertible matters of economics.
Still, as much recognition as Pelosi deserves for championing illogical policies for their own sake, I suspect the inclusion of these punitive measures in her new "plan" serves a simpler purpose. Namely, to make whatever "comprehensive" bill might emerge so unattractive that it will lose the bipartisan support enjoyed by the singular matter of whether or not to permit offshore drilling.
If her House colleagues lose their appetite for expanding domestic production when it requires swallowing Pelosi's fetid tax penalties, she can then demagogue the issue further, insisting Republicans' desire to expand production paled in comparison to their desire to protect the evil oil industry. And it saves her the embarrassment of handing a victory to the insolent minority party on such a wildly popular measure.
So Much For the Immaculate Convention
It appears Obama and his handlers have buckled to the Clintons' bass-ackwards concept of "unity".
Since June, Senators Obama and Clinton have been working together to ensure a Democratic victory this November. They are both committed to winning back the White House and to to ensuring that the voices of all 35 million people who participated in this historic primary election are respected and heard in Denver. To honor and celebrate these voices and votes, both Senator Obama's and Senator Clinton's names will be placed in nomination.
“I am convinced that honoring Senator Clinton's historic campaign in this way will help us celebrate this defining moment in our history and bring the party together in a strong united fashion,” said Senator Barack Obama.
Senator Obama’s campaign encouraged Senator Clinton's name to be placed in nomination as a show of unity and in recognition of the historic race she ran and the fact that she was the first woman to compete in all of our nation’s primary contests.
“With every voice heard and the Party strongly united, we will elect Senator Obama President of the United States and put our nation on the path to peace and prosperity once again,” said Senator Hillary Clinton.
Hillary has been publicly angling for this consolation prize for a while now, humbly acknowledging that her supporters require a "catharsis" befitting "you know, Greek drama."
Making noises about wanting her name to be in play in Denver had until now seemed more like a final, petty threat against Obama, a tacit offer to fall in line if he would only muster some more earnest assistance in paying off her campaign debts.
But if a feckless catharsis is what she's really after, maybe it means the Obama campaign has told them to respectfully piss off, when it comes to sharing the spoils of rockstardom. If allowing the Clintons' noses under the convention tent was the Obama campaign's counter-offer, they may well come to regret it, depending on how Hillary plans to leverage her role. Is it simply to make a final bid to her (and his) supporters to pay down her debts? Or is she planning to stage a, you know, Greek drama, with an eye on 2012 (and a Republican incumbent)? Will she remind us that nominating a male candidate (one who she warned us couldn't "close the deal") while an eligible female candidate was in the race is tantamount to dousing the dreams of America's daughters?
The Clintons' motives are unknowable, which makes giving them a major convention presence such a strange move on Obama's part. What isn't unknowable about Clintonian motives (and is in fact fairly plain to anyone who remembers a time before the Orwellian, BushCo-engineered distopia in which we anguish) is that they rarely involve "unity".
Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay... Nothing
Attention videographers and YouTube heroes. Newt Gingrich wants to give you free fill-ups for a year.
This is your chance to demonstrate to Congress and the American people why a “Drill Here. Drill Now. Pay Less” approach is best for your wallet and your country.
Try to think outside-the-box. Here are a few examples:
- Showcase your sense of humor or your musical talents.
- Think about pop culture and current events.
- Think about your favorite movie and how it would have changed with $4/gallon gasoline.
We do ask that you try to follow a few guidelines:
- Keep your videos short and to-the-point. Videos should not exceed 2 minutes.
- Keep your focus on the issue, not personal attacks.
(HT: Ed Morrissey)
PETA Solves Immigration Problem
Each year, several hundred billion aspiring illegal immigrants attempt to enter the United States surreptitiously via the underprotected Mexican border.
It's no surprise that non-Americans clamor to get in on the opportunities, opulence, and decadent convenience of modern American living. But researchers at the anti-eating think tank known as PETA may have found a surprisingly simple solution: remind northward migrants (salivating at the prospect of a quarter pounder in every pot) that meat is not only murder, it's suicide.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals plans today to announce an unusual marketing pitch to the U.S. government: Rent us space on the fence for billboards warning illegal border crossers there is more to fear than the Border Patrol.
The billboards, in English and Spanish, would offer the caution: "If the Border Patrol Doesn't Get You, the Chicken and Burgers Will — Go Vegan."
"We think that Mexicans and other immigrants should be warned if they cross into the U.S. they are putting their health at risk by leaving behind a healthier, staple diet of corn tortillas, beans, rice, fruits and vegetables," said Lindsay Rajt, assistant manager of PETA's vegan campaigns.
Of course it's a fool that looks for logic in the chambers of the malnourished heart, but if PETA really believes that the average Mexican emigrant faces a healthier outlook at home (where per capita GDP is 72% lower than in the U.S.), thanks to the relative scarcity of affordable meat and dairy products, why don't they all make a run for the border themselves?
(HT: The Corner)
Obama's Marginal Tax Rate Hikes, by Income Level
Interesting representation of the impact of Obama's tax plan from The American (based on analysis by the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute’s Tax Policy Center).
By "tax cuts for the middle class" Obama apparently means "40 percentage point tax hikes for the middle class."
These are marginal rates, not effective rates, so they apply to the next dollar earned by a taxpayer with a given AGI. Still, as marginal rates, they can be described as the strength of the disincentive to earn more money. With that in mind, the Obama plan appears to be hell-bent on yanking the ladders to prosperity out from under middle- and working-class Americans.
(HT: Marginal Revolution)
You Too Can Be a Rogue Trader
Here's an intriguing twist on the Nigerian 419 scam.
Jérôme Kerviel, the French trader whose unauthorized positions cost Société Générale more than $7 billion earlier this year, is looking for a way to recover some $32.5 million in insurance payments related to his ill-fated trades and he needs your help to facilitate the transaction.
From: Jerome Kerviel
17 Cours Valmy 92987
My name is JEROME KERVIEL, ain charge of VANILLA FUTURES HEDGING FOR EUROPEAN EQUITY MARKETS with Societe Generale Bank Paris France. I got your contact through cross border business information centre situated here in Paris and picked interest on you after going through your profile for a mutual benefit.
I don’t know if you have been conversant with invents lately as regards to my case with my bank (Societe Generale), if you are unaware, please point your cursor on the following CNN associate we-blink to be better briefed.
From the above, you will understand that I was accused of loosing 7.1 Billion Dollars while serving my bank.
The truth of the matter is that I was used as an escape goat to cover my superiors who happens to be the master minders over the deal, Our bank Societe Generale has an insurance premium worth three times the sum reported to be lost, with and they sees no other way of claiming the sum to favour the bank financially other than using me to cover the plot. The deal was successful following a reward of USD 32,500,000:00 (Thirty Two Million, Five Hundred Thousand United States Dollars) to me.
The above sum was successfully secured into a security/finance company here in France according to my superior’s directives, but I do not have an international contact to assist me in accommodating the funds until I am able to file in my resignation and contact you back to take my share.
So I write to seek your assistance to accommodate and invest the sum as stated above for me temporarily while I prepare to take my resignation in the near future. I have been warned by my superiors not to lodge the said sum into an account that will bear my name as that will jeopardize the whole transaction and possibly expose all.
If you are interested please provide me with the following in return mail:
YOUR NAME IN FULL
YOUR OFFICE OR RESIDENTIAL ADDRESS
TEL AND FAX NUMBER
As soon as I hear from you, further details regarding the transaction will be unveiled to you.
I look forward for your urgent response.
You've got to give the scammers credit. This is a bit more creative than the typical widow-of-the-embezzling-ambassador or heiress-to-the-O-Henry-candy-bar-fortune back stories that usually accompany advance fee fraud schemes.
The helpful "we-blink" takes you to a genuine Telegraph article that confirms most of the details. And the fact that Kerviel is French explains away the amusingly broken English.
"Escape goat" is a particularly enjoyable mental image.
(HT: Hot Air)
I'm Good Enough, I'm Smart Enough, and Doggone It, Person Likes Me
One is the loneliest number.
There’s an old saying in politics that elections are won or lost one vote at a time.
On Friday, DFL-endorsed U.S. Senate candidate Al Franken demonstrated how true that saying can be, when a roundtable on veterans issues at Brigitte’s Cafe his campaign scheduled drew only one participant.
Edwards Admits Affair, Denies Paternity
John Edwards repeatedly lied during his Presidential campaign about an extra-marital affair with a novice film-maker, the former Senator admitted to ABC News today.
In an interview for broadcast tonight on Nightline, Edwards told ABC News correspondent Bob Woodruff he did have an affair with 42-year old Rielle Hunter, but said that he did not love her.
Edwards also denied he was the father of Hunter's baby girl, Frances Quinn, although the one-time Democratic Presidential candidate said he has not taken a paternity test.
Edwards said he knew he was not the father based on timing of the baby's birth on February 27, 2008.
When the National Enquirer first reported the alleged Edwards-Hunter affair last October 11, Edwards, his campaign staff and Hunter vociferously denounced the report.
"The story is false, it's completely untrue, it's ridiculous," Edwards told reporters then.
Here he is with his pants on fire just two weeks ago.
"Tabloid trash, full of lies."
The Rainbow Connection
Rainbows have nothing to hide, huh?
CTRL-F: "Norman Hsu"
This ought to be good.
Just when you thought everyone had moved on... former advisers to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton are in a tizzy over an upcoming piece in the Atlantic Monthly that chronicles the inner workings of the now-defunct campaign. Of particular concern are nearly 200 internal memos that the author, Josh Green, obtained -- 130 or so of which he plans to scan in and post online. When the piece is published sometime next week, readers will be able to scroll through the memos, from senior strategists such as Mark Penn, Harold Ickes and Geoff Garin, and see what exactly was going on inside the infamously fractured Clinton organization. That has some former team members in a panic. And we thought the Abramoff e-mails were fun....
(HT: HA Headlines)
Goose Egg For President
Here's a fun exercise.
Picture your favorite Presidential candidate. Now count the tangible accomplishments he's notched up during his professional career and add it to the positions he's stuck by since primary season.
If the sum is aptly represented by the gesture below, you need think no further about your decision in November.
Are You Ready For Troof 2.0?
"9/11 was an inside job" is yesterday's delusion, now that conspiracy dolts have the suicide of Bruce Ivins to pore over.
Oil Plummet Stretches to $30 (20%!)
Crude oil hit a low of $117-and-change per barrel Wednesday, more than $30 below their intraday high above $147 in mid-July. That marks a 20% drop in just over three weeks, lending further support to the thesis that oil prices were exhibiting classic bubble behavior and were poised to crater in classic bubble fashion.
Measuring from oil's record high closing price to Wednesday's close, prices have fallen 18% (in 23 calendar days). At the same point in the tech meltdown, the Nasdaq had also fallen 18%. Less than two weeks later, it had extended that decline to more than 34%.
If oil prices were to continue to follow the template, they'd sink as low as $96 per barrel by mid-month before their next rebound.
Chartologists will probably tell you there are substantial resistance levels around $110 and $100. And I guess if we're applying chart patterns, we may as well jump in with both feet and acknowledge these supports could temporarily put some brakes on the ongoing bubble deflation (to mix a metaphor).
But as to the raging debate over whether we're seeing a bubble burst before our eyes (or whether the swift and drastic declines are instead due to relatively minute changes in foreign exchange rates and/or comparatively mild (though genuine) net-bearish surprises about inventories and demand), I continue to opt for the former.
Certainly the good news on inventories and the strengthening dollar are helping to ease the upward price pressure, just as the President's lifting of the executive ban on offshore drilling and the drama playing out on Capitol Hill are helping to improve (i.e. lower) expectations of future supplies and therefore of future prices.
But none of these factors alone or in sum are likely to explain such a rapid 20% decline, except to the extent that they have served as catalysts for the burst, which is now of its own accord exhaling those long built up expectations of indefinite price increases. To stretch the bubble metaphor a little further, one or all of these events has served as the pin prick, which plays a crucial role in the bubble lifecycle; but it's the subsequent explosive exhalation of all the hot air inside (in this metaphor, the role of the hot air is played by the irrational expectations of endless price increases) that has yielded the cascading prices we've seen (and can hope to continue to see) over the last three weeks.
Stocks Up, Oil Down (Again) Ahead Of Fed Decision
Froth continues to seep out of the oil bubble as futures fell as low as $118 per barrel this morning. That marks a decline of nearly 20% from crude's intraday high of $147 set less than a month ago.
I argued last week (when prices had rebounded to $127 per barrel) that we'd see another steep sell-off this week, based on the bursting bubble lifecycle that oil has been tracing so nicely. If prices continue to follow that pattern, oil could be getting ready to plunge significantly lower - perhaps approaching double-digits and perhaps as early as the end of this week.
The oil sell-off, combined with a better-than-expected report on service sector activity, has sent stocks significantly higher, though the Dow continues to struggle to punch through that 11,500 threshold that seems to have become a strong psychological resistance level in recent weeks.
This afternoon at 2:15, the Federal Reserve will publish the outcome of its August policy meeting, which ought to give the market something new to flail over. The Fed is overwhelmingly expected to leave the Fed Funds rate at 2.0%, but any language changes in the policy statement (i.e. whether they now perceive a greater risk from inflation or weak growth) should inspire some wild whipsawing in the equity markets this afternoon.
Based on trading activity among options on fed funds futures, the market seems to think any possible deviation from the status quo would more likely favor a rate increase (i.e. more hawkish on inflation, at the expense of economic growth) than a cut.
That's probably true, but the possibility of any adjustment seems very remote, given the significant deflation seen in commodities in recent weeks (particularly among oil prices) and last week's GDP revisions that showed an isolated quarter of slightly negative growth at the end of 2007.
If the bubble thesis regarding oil prices is accurate (i.e. if the scale of the run-up was an emotional and gross overreaction to the actual shift in supply and demand), then changes in market psychology should continue to be particularly swift and powerful levers against trading levels. With that in mind, any changes to the Fed's language on inflation expectations could play out rather violently in the oil markets.
At the last meeting (on June 25), the Fed had this say on the topic of inflation:
The Committee expects inflation to moderate later this year and next year. However, in light of the continued increases in the prices of energy and some other commodities and the elevated state of some indicators of inflation expectations, uncertainty about the inflation outlook remains high.
Although downside risks to growth remain, they appear to have diminished somewhat, and the upside risks to inflation and inflation expectations have increased.
Since that statement, oil prices have fallen 12%. Oil's not the only commodity that drives inflation, but it's certainly the big one and its seemingly perpetual rise was a major contributor to inflationary expectations six weeks ago.
If the Fed tweaks its inflation language meaningfully today (and it's hard to imagine they won't), traders on the fence about the future direction of oil may rapidly develop new confidence about prices' continued downward journey. If so, we may well see oil shed another couple bucks by day's end. That in turn ought to further goose stocks, but one never knows which way the equity markets will ultimately choose to stampede when there are Fed tea leaves to be read.
Update: The statement's out. As expected, no change to target interest rates. As for the inflation language, compare the excerpt above to this:
Inflation has been high, spurred by the earlier increases in the prices of energy and some other commodities, and some indicators of inflation expectations have been elevated. The Committee expects inflation to moderate later this year and next year, but the inflation outlook remains highly uncertain.
Although downside risks to growth remain, the upside risks to inflation are also of significant concern to the Committee.
The language is shuffled quite a bit, but not too much is different. Only two significant qualifiers changed: continued price increases became earlier price increases, and upside risks to inflation got a mild demotion. They're now "also of significant return" whereas in June, they were in the process of trumping growth risks as the chief concern.
Update: I guess that qualifies as a further goose. The Dow Industrials rallied another 100 points in the wake of the the Fed policy statement, to finish the session up a hearty 332 points (+2.9%), closing out its best day in more than four months.
The Ice Man Evadeth: A Frosty Encounter With "Dollar Bill" Jefferson
We're still not ready to laugh about the whole $90,000 in bribe money stuffed in the freezer thing, huh?
Intrepid Jason Mattera is back with another Hot Air/Young America’s Foundation joint production from Capitol Hill!
He asked Democrat Rep. William “Cold Cash” Jefferson, the accused freezer cash-stashing subject of a 16-count criminal indictment whose public corruption trial is scheduled for Dec. 2, for some handy storage advice and an autograph last week.
Click below to watch the encounter at Hot Air.