Friday, August 06, 2004

Bama executes Junior Soprano 

Lethally injected Posted by Hello

Oh, wait-- no. Apparently it was some other killer who suffered from "dementia, hypertension, hepatitis and acute back pain", and hadn't the faculties to understand his fate. Whew, close one.

His next of kin seemed oddly enthusiastic today, though.
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The consensus forecast was for 240k job growth. Approximately 140k net payroll growth is considered the minimum to keep up with population increases. July unemployment rate ticks down to 5.5%.

This will have HUGE, ENORMOUS, MONUMENTAL ramifications through election day in terms of market uncertainty, consumer confidence, and media coverage. Bush's stump refrain, "We've turned the corner, and we're not turning back" may have to be modified to "Three years into the recovery, and we're trying not to make a U-turn... now please pledge allegiance to me, er America, under God."

I spoke about the political riskiness of the "turn the corner" phrase here.

Bush will be the first net job loser since Herbert Hoover, and the previously unfathomable prospect of losing more net jobs before the election seems quite possible. May and June's numbers were revised down about 30k each. The Fed meeting Tuesday now becomes extraordinarily interesting.

Former economics reporter Billmon suspected yesterday's stock sell-off was a clue.
Update: Kerry economic adviser Gene Sperling already mocked the "turn the corner" slogan on CNBC.

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Thursday, August 05, 2004

Shameless use of 9/11 imagery 

Once again, Bush incorporates a memorable scene from that awful morning into a campaign appearance in Iowa:

His rally featured all the spectacular stagecraft at which this White House excels. Just as Aaron Tippin's "Where the Stars and Stripes and the Eagle Fly" reached a high point -- "I pledge allegiance to the flag / And if that bothers you, well, that's too bad" -- Bush's motorcade came speeding dramatically into the riverfront park, all fast black cars and flashing blue and red lights. The crowd of several thousand, some of whom had lined up four hours earlier for security sweeps, erupted and waved small flags. Three Secret Service sharpshooters projected presidential power, standing atop a white trailer, their eyes trained through high-powered binoculars. Restless children inside the rally enclosure had a choice between a small carnival ride and a petting zoo featuring a dozen baby goats. (WP)

No word on whether Bush lingered an extra seven minutes beyond schedule.

(via Robert)
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Check Needlenose for a Plame fix 

If prosecutor Patrick "Elliot Ness" Fitzgerald is half as diligent investigating the Plame leak as Swopa is covering it, there should be a very interesting announcement later this month. (Hopefully.)
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Wednesday, August 04, 2004

a thought 

In keeping with my view that wholesale change is needed for the Orleans Parish School Board, I think slogans like this would be appropos for the September 18th election.

Time for Change

Simple, concise. I'd love for this message to saturate the entire parish. And perhaps some national campaigns might receive political assistance from this theme in November, but that seems highly speculative to me.

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Musharraf wears a grey hat 

When not pardoning WMD merchants or dodging assassination attempts Pakistan's General Musharraf walks a political tightrope. Since the U.S. has largely subcontracted anti-Al Qaeda operations to him, articles detailing Pakistan's less than fulsome efforts are interesting. From the NYT:

A Western diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity in an interview last month in Kabul said: "When you talk about Taliban, it's like fish in a barrel in Pakistan. They train, they rest there. They get support."

Western diplomats in Kabul and Pakistani political analysts have said that Pakistan has continued to allow the Taliban to operate to retain influence in Afghanistan. Pakistan supported the Taliban in the 1990's as a way to create an area where Pakistani forces could retreat to the west if war erupted with its the country's longtime rival and neighbor to the east, India. Pakistan has also long tried to maintain influence over Afghanistan's largest ethnic group, the Pashtuns, because of its wariness of its own Pashtun minority in the border areas.

General Musharraf may also fear that a crackdown on the Taliban will provoke protests from an alliance of hard-line Islamist political parties that are now the third largest block in Parliament, the Western diplomat in Kabul said. And Pakistani officials may fear that the United States will abandon the region if Mr. bin Laden is captured.

In interviews along the border over the past two years, Pakistani government officials have made statements that they do not see the Taliban as a threat to Pakistan. They have also, at times, said the Taliban have a legitimate political grievance in Afghanistan.

And this from the Asian Times (via Kevin Drum):
....Already, though, under intense pressure from the US, Pakistan has handed over as many as 350 suspected al-Qaeda operators into US custody. Most have been low-ranking, but some important names are, according to Asia Times Online contacts, being held in Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) safe houses to be presented at the right moment.

The Bush administration has its work cut out for them with its "ally" Pakistan. Any course of action carries significant risks, especially in a country with disgruntled extremists and nuclear weapons. However, it's pretty obvious that Musharraf will do only the bare minimum necessary against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, and desires significant consideration for his efforts. The question is to what extent he has delayed both military operations and announcements to suit Bush, and to what extent he has ignored Taliban and Al Qaeda jihadists to placate the hardliners in his Parliament. These questions, and the geopolitical dynamics at play here deserve your close attention.
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Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Make a joke and I will sigh and you will laugh and I will cry  

A tidbit from last week's Stephanie Grace column:

[Mayor] Nagin said he's heard from Rove a couple of times during the campaign, most recently about two weeks ago. Rove's stated message, Nagin said, was that Bush understands that Nagin can't support the president but just wants to keep in touch, and make sure that the mayor is satisfied with the city's relationship with the Bush administration, particularly when it comes to public housing issues. The implication, Nagin figured, is that the mayor might not want to "get too crazy" in his support of Kerry. It wasn't a threat, Nagin said, just smart politics -- a friendly reminder, albeit one that made him a bit uncomfortable.

I bet a lot of mayors have received similar "friendly" calls that left them uncomfortable. Hope no punishments await if the "urban turnout" is too high.

Then there's this lovely trinket from Newsday, implying the evil ones want to hit the GOP convention. Thus, if the GOP is targeted, we should reelect W because he is obviously their worst fear. If no attacks occur, we should reelect W because he is our most vigilant protector.

Nice framing, Karl! My tinfoil hat goes off to you.
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Timely words from a man shot in the Quarter running down a thief:

there's a time device inside of me i'm a self-destructin' man
there's a red, under my bed
and there's a little green man in my head
and said you're not goin' crazy, you're just a bit sad
'cause there's a man in ya, knawin' ya, tearin' ya, in to to

Silly boy ya' self-destroyer. paranoia, they destroy ya'

Self-destroyer, wreck your health
destroy friends, destroy yourself
the time device of, self-destruction
lies, confusion, start eruption

(yea, it goes like this, here it goes)
paranoia, they destroy ya
(here's to paranoia)
paranoia, they destroy ya
(hey hey, here it goes [again])
paranoia, they destroy ya
(and it goes like this)

Here's to paranoia, Ray Posted by Hello
Why is a great song like "Destroyer" so underplayed on your local stale-ass classic rock station? (I'll throw in VH's "Mean Streets" for that matter, too.)
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Monday, August 02, 2004

GOP deficits bring comfort to the enemy 

Osama thinks they matter:

"After the strike of the New York blessed days, thanks to God, their losses exceed a trillion dollars ... Their budgets have been in deficits for the third year in a row."

The Bush administration forecasts a record $445 billion deficit this year, and has yet to veto a single spending bill from the Republican congress.
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Sunday, August 01, 2004

Cage matched 

Nick Cage, 40, married a 20 year old ex-sushi waitress.

Perhaps the new bride was conceived after her folks saw "Valley Girl" at the drive- in. Back in the day, that soundtrack had game!

Look, if it was only his second marriage I might give Cage a pass, since I've never seen a King of Bacchus more in the moment than he was in 2002.

Hasn't looked that cool since Vampire's Kiss Posted by Hello
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Shuffling the Political Tectonics? 

Josh Marshall starts parcelling out the story he's been working on for the past six months concerning bogus intelligence on the Iraq-Niger link. I smell an eventual connection to "Big Time," but can it be documented?

Speaking of dirty tricks, on This Week Kerry finished an interview with Stephanopoulos by talking about the advantages of an incumbent, and he said a line I'll paraphrase as: "It's very difficult against an incumbent-- Bush, with all the powers of the presidency, and everything he can do in the next three months..." This puts me on alert for Bin Laden's capture prior to the election. Given current events, and whatever insider stuff they're privy to, the Kerry campaign needs to prime the press for this eventuality. Then queries such as "Has Osama's capture been delayed for political purposes?" won't get lost in the celebration. Rove has a history of being too smart by half (read: aircraft carrier), and if the timing on this surprise is too suspicious, the whole thing might backfire and appear as if national security is being used as a political weapon.

Update: This reminder from Empire Notes (3/5/04) shows that Bush has not made every effort to promptly find OBL since 9/11/01:

CNN tells us that the United States is about to implement 24-7 "high-tech snooping." They will soon be phasing in high-altitude U2 surveillance flights. Remember how they told us they were doing everything possible to catch bin Laden? Apparently, they weren't.

And here's the Prez on 9/26/01:

"The mission is to rout terrorists, to find them and bring them to justice," Bush said. "Or, as I explained to the prime minister in Western terms, to smoke them out of their caves, to get them running so we can get them."
We're not into nation-building, we're focused on justice. And we're going to get justice. It's going to take a while, probably. But I'm a patient man. Nothing will diminish my will and my determination -- nothing.

Whew. I'm glad no nation-building projects have since arisen, and lessened W's adamantine will to kill Al-Qaeda. It will be interesting to see how the administration expresses its "patience" on this matter during the next 100 days... Stay tuned, kids.

Update #2 The following is the This Week transcript, highlites mine.

(OC) So are you all the favorites now?
No way. Running against an incumbent president with the power of the presidency with the things that can be done over the next months, the challenger is always uphill, and we're going to slug it out everyday, but we're going to try to stay as positive as we can about our vision for the country. That's what we're really offering.
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Peak of Nature 

Last night Mike Tyson got brutally KO'ed in the fourth round by English underdog (13-1) Danny Williams. The Boxing Times sums it up well:

The only people more stunned by Tyson's knockout were the army of bankruptcy attorneys, judges, advisers, promoters and fans who had naively hoped that the youngest man ever to win the heavyweight crown was taking the first step in resurrecting his turbulent career.

That scenario called for the Williams' fight to be the first in a series of three contests that would help propel Tyson to another title shot and make him financially solvent after burning through $300 million dollars in nineteen years.

To put $300 million in perspective, that is about the price of the planned Phase IV Convention Center expansion (sans stadium), which will be the most expensive public works project in the history of Louisiana. I shudder to think about what's next for Mike, since this was likely the final fight in a career that became a case study in self-destruction. Having disliked and rooted against "Kid Dynamite" from the start, I'll only note the following: Tyson's loss occurred in Louisville, Muhammad Ali's hometown. Though Ali was "the greatest", neither he (nor anyone else) could have withstood the awesome punishment Tyson was dealing on 3/21/88, when he utterly destroyed Mike Spinks in seventy seconds. Since that very high peak, it has been a continuous, inexorable descent for Iron Mike. No doubt it will tragically continue.

Also, documentarian Ken Burns and Senator John McCain are requesting a presidential pardon for Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight champion. "He was an incredible athlete. He made significant inroads for other African-American athletes," McCain said. "The use of a law was perverted and sent this decent American to jail."

Johnson, who was born March 31, 1878, in Galveston, Texas, defeated Tommy Burns in Melbourne, Australia, in 1908 to become the first African-American heavyweight champion boxer.

Controversy began soon after and was further incited by Johnson's relationships with several white women. In October 1912, Johnson became involved with a 19-year-old white woman named Lucille Cameron, whom he married that December. Her mother sought action from the Justice Department, claiming Johnson had kidnapped her daughter.

When Cameron refused to cooperate with authorities, Belle Schreiber, a former girlfriend, claimed Johnson had kidnapped her, according to the petition. He was convicted. While appealing his conviction, Johnson fled to Canada, Europe and Mexico. He lost his title in 1915 to Jess Willard in Havana. He surrendered to U.S. authorities in 1920 and served a year in prison.

Johnson was never given a chance to regain his heavyweight title. He died in a car crash in Raleigh, N.C., on June 10, 1946, at the age of 58.

Burns' documentary on Johnson is entitled "Unforgivable Blackness" and will air next year on MLK day.
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