Sunday, April 30, 2006
Saturday, April 29, 2006
Last week I noted the controversy brewing at the LA Times over the behavior of columnist and erstwhile blogger Michael Hiltzik. Early in the week, Hiltzik's blog was suspended. Yesterday, Hiltzik himself was suspended from the paper for a time without pay. Editor Dean Baquet and Managing Editor Doug Frantz also explained their decision to strip Hiltzik's Business column as well in a staff memo:
Killing a column is a serious step. We don't take it lightly. Mike did not commit any ethical violations in his newspaper column, and an internal inquiry found no inaccurate reporting in his postings in his blog or on the Web.
But employing pseudonyms constitutes deception and violates a central tenet of our ethics guidelines: We do not misrepresent ourselves and we do not conceal our affiliation with The Times. This rule applies equally to the newspaper and the Web world. We expect Times employees to behave with integrity and follow our guidelines in all journalistic forums.
A columnist has a special place within The Times. Editors, colleagues and, most of all, readers must trust the integrity and judgment of a columnist because of the freedom that comes with the job. Mike often used his column to pillory business leaders for duplicity or violating the trust of employees, shareholders or the public and we are no longer comfortable granting him that special place within our newspaper.
I found the action appropriate within the boundaries of the Times' ethics guidelines. The action is punitive and most importantly, narrow. It is in relation to this incident only. For better or worse, the Times as an employer can not take broad action against an employee that isn't warranted by that employee's actions.
Baquet and Frantz, in my opinion, took the correct action in response to Hiltzik's behavior.
Hugh Hewitt has been one of Hiltzik's foremost critics, in general and in this instance specifically. Hugh is not buying the suspension:
Michael Hiltzik is just one of hundreds of examples of ideologically blinkered agenda journalists at the Times. He just got caught.
The Times concludes "an internal inquiry found no inaccurate reporting."
Yeah. Right. Very believable. Hiltzik may become an invisible presence at the paper, the Pulitzer Prize winner at the copy desk, or he may quit, but he'll no doubt haunt message boards.
But the culture at the Times that produced him quite obviously stays the same.
He presses his point further by taking it to Times' management: If you really want to know if a disgraced reporter/writer has been accurate in his reporting, ask the subjects of that reporting. The Times didn't, because the Times wasn't. Not surprisingly, the paper doesn't really want a whole lot of attention paid to what Hiltzik has been writing under its banner. Then the question wouldn't be how he could be so dumb as to use pseudonyms. Then the question would be how could the paper's leadership not have notice how far over the left edge the guy had gone. The answer to the second question is that the editors didn't find anything particulars unusual about Hiltzik's many slanders. They agreed with him. They still do.
I've never bought 100% into the concept of "media bias" as others have. Now that I see the inside of a newsroom 5 days a week, I'm even less inclined to buy the argument of institutional bias. Newsrooms are a collection of individuals.
Many may indeed have political and social bias' (I have suspicions about members of our editorial staff), but until and unless that finds its way into the writing there is nothing untoward about it. When it does, are we right to brand the institution or the individual?
Perhaps it's because my Times is a small-town publication with a relatively small number of staff writers, I don't see the same phenomenon at work. The entirety of our national and state coverage comes off the wire. No staffer has the opportunity, aside from the editorial board, to comment on matters truly political.
Then again, northern Santa Barbara County is much more conservative than the South Coast. Perhaps I don't see bias because the reporting and commentary is writing for an audience that more closely mirrors my own positions.
Something to think about.
Posted by Paul Hogue at 10:43 AM
I've not weighed in on the immigration debate that is currently going on. I've had nothing to say really about the protests over the last month, though I do have my thoughts on the subject. This, however, struck me as worthy of comment.
The California State Senate passed a resolution on Thursday in support of proposed boycotts and demonstrations planned for Monday, May 1st:
Approved on a 23-14 vote by the 40-member Senate, the resolution has no force of law. It merely cites the contributions immigrants have made to California and its economy, and declares May 1 to be the "Great American Boycott 2006."
Supporters of the national boycott urge people not to go to work or to school and not shop. The genesis came from opposition to the House-passed immigration bill seeking to make it a felony to be in the United States illegally.
The resolution is careful not to advocate skipping school or work and does not mention the bills pending in Congress.
"This is a national call to action to peacefully demonstrate the contributions immigrants have made to this nation," said Sen. Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, in urging her fellow senators to support her resolution.
Latino lawmakers likened the boycott to civil rights marches and protests of the 1960s saying sometimes civil disobedience is necessary to end an injustice.
"We are a nation of ever-changing laws. Slavery. It was legal. It was wrong. We changed that law," said Sen. Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles. "Let's acknowledge our history and tradition of social change."
There is a push on the part of "immigration" activists to ignore US law and equate illegal immigration to it's legal counterpart. Congress faces pressure to incorporate amnesty outright or what you might call "amnesty light" into immigration bills currently sitting on the Hill.
The rhetoric from Sen. Cedillo runs along those same rails. What exactly is he saying as to why laws on immigration need to be changed? Is he saying that a nation with laws governing the way people enter the country is somehow immoral for wanting to enforce them?
And Senator Romero's statement is wonderfully platitudinous and makes for a fine touchy-feely sound bite but completely misses the point. My question for these so-called lawmakers is a simple one: What part of illegal don't you understand?
Posted by Paul Hogue at 9:58 AM
Friday, April 28, 2006
..or something like that.
We here in the Doghouse have to admit that we keep our eyes on No One in Particular blogger. When we first encountered this cat, he seemed to be pretty well informed and had some interesting takes on the political scene. But then something happened along the way and he morphed into an arrogant, unlikable, delusional pr#ck and we had to kind of tune him out. While he's still a well-informed individual, his unhinged-ness and bitterness undermines the credibility of any of his claims or interpretations (such as they are).
That said, No One in Particular is still great for entertainment value. No one loves listening to him drone on and on about how important he is than me. Sometimes I just want to grab a bowl of popcorn and watch the train wreck. In slow motion. Then using Pause and Rewind.
Thus dear reader, I provide you with a comedic interlude to (hopefully) brighten your day, courtesy of Editoriale:
George Allen is an imbescile
Which is precisely why I'm not the least bit surprised that so many Republican voters like him.
posted by no one in particular @ 1:28 AM
Update: Of course, since I called attention to it, No One in Particular apparently ran to dictionary.com and fixed it. Love that guy. Here's the revision:
[updated to correct a spelling error. Thanks imbeciles!]
Keep it coming CPip. I need the yuks.
Posted by Simian Logician at 10:33 AM
Thursday, April 27, 2006
Yesterday the WSJ published an editorial titled Our Rotten IntelligenCIA. They take, head-on, the CIA mutiny against a sitting President and the press' role in it all. The piece stands in stark contrast to Bill Keller's self-serving, whiny email.
Money quote comes at the close: As for some of our media colleagues, when they stop being honest chroniclers of events and start getting into bed with bureaucrats looking to take down elected political leaders, they shouldn't be surprised if those leaders treat them like the partisans they have become.
Posted by Paul Hogue at 6:45 AM
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
I don't feel sorry for you. Not one bit. From mediabistro:
Murray Waas' latest piece for the National Journal discusses the increasing number of leak investigations involving members of the press. Although Waas quotes New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller, we've obtained Keller's full (and blunt and passionate) email on the subject and it's worth a read in full (especially if you're last name is Miller, Priest, Cooper, Novak, etc...).
"I'm not sure journalists fully appreciate the threat confronting us -- The Times in the eavesdropping case, the Post for its CIA prison stories, and everyone else who has tried to look behind the war on terror. Maybe we're suffering a bit of subpoena fatigue. Maybe some people are a little intimidated by the way the White House plays the soft-on-terror card.
"Whatever the reason, I worry that we're not as worried as we should be. No president likes reporters sniffing after his secrets, but most come to realize that accountability is the price of power in our democracy. Some officials in this administration, and their more vociferous cheerleaders, seem to have a special animus towards reporters doing their jobs. There's sometimes a vindictive tone in way they talk about dragging reporters before grand juries and in the hints that reporters who look too hard into the public's business risk being branded traitors. I don't know how far action will follow rhetoric, but some days it sounds like the administration is declaring war at home on the values they profess to be promoting abroad."
Stop helping and siding with people who are wilfully breaking the law and you won't have a problem, now will you?
Posted by Paul Hogue at 8:46 PM
Democrats are proposing a temporary repeal of Federal Gas taxes. Almost sounds good, ‘til you read the fine print:
The measure, proposed by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), would reduce the cost of gas by $0.184 per gallon and the cost of diesel by $0.244 per gallon. The move, aides say, will provide $100 million dollars per day in relief.
Democrats say the money will be made up by cutting six billion dollars in tax breaks to oil firms.
Any of you econ wizards care to venture a guess as to where gas prices will go when you add back these expenses to the oil co.’s bottom line?
Glenn Reynold’s quip not withstanding, this isn’t much of a winner politically if and when gas prices rise as oil companies look to recoup any money lost when the tax breaks go bye-bye.
Jim Gerahty likes the idea and adds a suggestion for the Republican leadership.
Here is a list of gas-taxes by State. You can see how badly you're being gouged by your Government every time you fill up.
Posted by Paul Hogue at 7:50 AM
Tony Snow is the new White House Press secretary. The entertainment factor in the daily WH press briefings just shot way up.
In the past it's been painful to watch Scott McClellan handle the inanities that came at him every single day. Now, it's going to be flat out fun to watch Snow handle his peers.
As Hugh put it, it's a terrific free agent signing!
Posted by Paul Hogue at 7:36 AM
While living less than 1/2 a mile from the neighborhood Walgreens in Phoenix, we used to shop there all the time. Multiple visits a week, filling prescriptions, buying Diabetic supplies and even the occasional goodie. In that three-plus years I never once was hassled about any of it, didn't wait for 20-minutes to get to a clerk on a regular basis or have my orders filled incorrectly.
It struck me as a no-brainer that once we were here in California that we'd patronize the local store as well. Stick with what you know, after all.
Well, in the six months we've been here I've been routinely hassled while purchasing Diabetic supplies over-the-counter, prescriptions have been filled incorrectly on several occasions and don't even get me started about the wait.
Posted by Paul Hogue at 7:34 AM
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Well, not quite. But Dan Drezner supplies a passle of linkage on The Fraudulent One's latest diatribe. Here's encouragement to click the link:
Counterterrorism analysts said bin Laden was trying to portray himself as a champion of oppressed Muslims around the world, even though al-Qaeda has avoided involvement in many of the conflicts that he has decried. For example, bin Laden has largely ignored events in Sudan since he and his network were expelled from the country a decade ago. Similarly, al-Qaeda has no record of activity in the Palestinian territories.
"Bin Laden is a master craftsman at recognizing issues and knowing how to exploit these issues for his own purposes," said M.J. Gohel, a London-based analyst and chief executive of the Asia-Pacific Foundation, a security policy group. "He's trying to enlarge the global conflict and is trying to incite and anger the Muslim world against the West."
Bruce Hoffman, a terrorism specialist and director of the Washington office of the Rand Corp., a California-based research group, said al-Qaeda is confronting the same challenge that all terrorism networks face: how to remain relevant as a radical movement over time.
"It's entirely cynical," he said of bin Laden's rallying cry on behalf of Darfur and Hamas. "He's got to say something about someplace. They've got to keep talking or else they're going to be irrelevant, especially when they're not directly involved in the fighting."
"These are contentious contemporary issues that he can glom onto and milk for his own ends," Hoffman added. "It's more rhetorical than factual. Bin Laden is no friend of the Sudanese. They told him to leave in 1996 and took his money. And Hamas has basically told al-Qaeda to mind its own business."
Counterterrorism officials and analysts said al-Qaeda's leaders have also become more outspoken in recent months because they fear losing their influence in the fragmented world of Islamic fundamentalism. Bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, an Egyptian physician, have been effectively sidelined since the Sept. 11 attacks while other radical groups and figures, such as Hamas and Jordanian fighter Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq, have stolen the limelight, the analysts said.
In light of this, Dan-o asks a very reasonable question:
Question to readers: if there is no spectacular terrorist attack in the next year -- on a par, say, with either the London or Madrid bombings -- is it safe to say that the threat from Al Qaeda should be seriously downgraded?
Posted by Simian Logician at 10:07 PM
For my money, Jim Glassman has the best take-down on this “price-gouging” mumbo-jumbo being spouted by the President and Republican leadership in Congress. As for my own two-cents, they quite simply know better. Or should.
Glassman starts by upbraiding the President: With gasoline prices close to $3 a gallon, President Bush this morning gave a disingenuous speech to an alternative fuels association about what he was going to do to stem the rising tide. There were a few flashes of candor and insight, but, on the whole, it was a sad example of political capitulation by a former Texas oilman who certainly knows better.
Included is a fine drive-by on the nonsense we read from Denny Hastert and Bill Frist: The President -- and I am not even mentioning the claptrap one hears from Speaker Denny Hastert, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter -- is now using the lexicon of extreme environmentalists and statists. Again, he knows better.
The meat of the argument however is persuasive, in my view at least. It’s big-picture stuff but easy to understand and follow. Considering that Bush is a former oil executive, it’s hard to understand the reticence he obviously has to speak and act plainly to do what he knows is right and, more importantly, effective:
It is fossil fuels that are helping to raise people out of poverty in India and China, fossil fuels that have helped the world economy to grow by 4.5 percent last year, its fastest rate in history. If forced to assign some kind of moral value to oil and gas, I would say they are good, not bad. But why moral language at all?
After talking about addiction, the President said he was going to crack down on price gouging -- that old bugaboo. He said he had asked the Justice and Energy departments to find out whether the rising price of gas was partly the result of manipulation. This is absurd. The gasoline market is broad, fragmented and highly competitive. Price gouging has been studied many times, to no effect. Gas prices are rising because crude oil prices are rising.
All Bush has to do is read Chapter 11 of his own "Economic Report of the President," which concludes, first, that "the prices that consumers...pay for gasoline depend heavily on the prices that petroleum refiners pay for crude oil," and, second, that "crude oil prices have risen steadily over the past several years due to growing world demand."
In addition, this has been a tough year for geopolitical risk -- which tends to boost oil prices in the futures markets. Chad, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Venezuela -- all have been subject to real or potential supply disruptions. And the Persian Gulf remains a dangerous place.
Next, the President chided the companies that actually produce the energy. "We expect there to be strong re-investment [of] cash flows" in more energy production. Just what does he think these companies have been doing? Over the past 10 years, the large integrated oil companies have made capital expenditures roughly equal to their net earnings. In fact, between 1991 and 2005, ExxonMobil's cumulative capital and exploration expenditures (some $210 billion) actually exceeded the company's earnings. Chevron spent $11 billion last year alone.
If politicians truly want oil companies to invest in drilling and refineries, the best tactic is to recognize that these firms are not villains. Gosh, maybe they're even heroes.
The President also talked about salvation through hybrids. These cars earn a $3,400 tax credit now, but there's a ceiling on the number of vehicles to which the credit applies. He wants the limit removed.
Hybrids are a terrific idea, but currently they are expensive to build. The typical hybrid, even with a tax credit and even with $3 a gallon gas, is still uneconomic compared with a conventional gasoline-powered car. But the way to drive down the cost of hybrids is not through more tax credits. Those credits dampen the incentive to close the cost gap.
President Bush lived and worked in the oil patch. He knows very well that oil is a commodity whose price moves up and down with global changes in supply and demand -- movements that we can't affect all that much. What we can do is remove political obstacles to a well-functioning market. Such steps would increase supply and lower prices. But we shouldn't kid ourselves. The rising oil price is affected by geopolitical threats, but it is mainly the result of increased demand, which itself is the result of rising standards of living -- which are a lot better than the alternative.
I really am losing patience with this nonsense. There is no good reason for the President and Congressional leadership to cower when it comes to gas prices. The economics are on their side. All they have to do is make the argument.
Posted by Paul Hogue at 6:06 PM
Under pressure to do something about high gasoline prices, President Bush on Tuesday announced a series of measures, among them temporarily halting deposits to the nation’s strategic petroleum reserve to make more oil available for consumer needs.
In a speech on energy policies, the president added that he had ordered investigations into whether the price of gasoline has been illegally manipulated.
Coupled with this, it’s clear that Republicans are either just as stupid, economically speaking, as Democrats or politically afraid of standing for anything. Either way, it’s plain as the nose on my face that I’m governed by fools.
Posted by Paul Hogue at 5:41 PM
Hugh is often prescient and yesterday was another example of his understanding of the political mind, only in reverse:
The good news is that voters are not going to be fooled by the arguments that untapped oil supplies don't matter to gas prices --if the debate actually occurs. Given the public's daily collision with the left's refusal to allow America to use its own oil, it will by legislative and political malpractice if the Republicans do not bring ANWR up for debate least monthly between now and November.
With prices rising, it may even be possible to overcome the Democrats' inevitable filibuster of exploration in the Senate.
Coupling ANWR exploration with refinary expansion and border fencing into an emergency appropriations and construction authorization bill that includes waivers from the paper-shuffling and law suit phases of major public work projects could be a centerpiece for the summer and fall debates leading to the elections.
Instead of informed action, we get…this. I’d have no less difficulty believing it came from the office of the esteemed Senator from Massachusetts. Yet--incredulously—it comes from a completely different source; one you expect to be smarter on such topics. Or at least hope is smarter on such topics.
From the Corner, a copy of a letter sent from Republican Congressional leadership to the President of the United States:
In the wake of unprecedented increases in worldwide demand for gasoline, particularly in China and India, coupled with other factors, American consumers are facing record prices for gasoline at the pump. Anyone who is trying to take advantage of this situation while American families are forced into making tough choices over whether to fill up their cars or severely cut back their budgets should be investigated and prosecuted. Therefore, we believe that Federal law enforcement agencies and regulators should take every available step to ensure that all Federal laws protecting American consumers from price-fixing, collusion, gouging and other anti-competitive practices are vigorously enforced.
We respectfully request that you direct the Attorney General and the Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission to investigate any potential collusion, price-fixing or gouging in the sale or distribution of gasoline, petroleum distillates or ethanol in wholesale and retail markets. We further request that scrutiny be directed to refining, the transportation of fuel by pipelines, marine vessels and trucks, storage and marketing activities and retail practices to determine if there is any unlawful manipulation of the price of gasoline. Sweeps of retail distribution centers should be undertaken to ensure that retail price movements are in response to a change in market conditions and not price gouging. Finally, we recommend that the Federal Trade Commission examine whether spot shortages of gasoline are the result of illegal efforts to manipulate prices.
Given the severity of the current situation regarding gas prices, we believe that the Attorney General and the Federal Trade Commission should devote all necessary resources to expedited review of complaints of price gouging against wholesalers or retailers of gasoline and other distillates.
Additionally, we request that you direct the Chairman of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission to bring heightened scrutiny to the trading of energy futures and derivatives to determine whether spikes in prices of oil, gasoline and other petroleum distillates are a result of improper market manipulation by traders or by energy firms.
We believe that protecting American consumers in these unprecedented market conditions is of paramount importance. We know that you share these goals. Consistent with our constitutional authority, we will ask the committees of jurisdiction to conduct oversight of these important questions.
The Honorable Dennis Hastert The Honorable Bill FristSpeaker Majority Leader
I am officially nominating Hastert and Frist for President and VP of Moronica. With leadership this stupid, maybe we deserve to lose.
Posted by Paul Hogue at 7:08 AM
Had the opportunity to read a copy of the Easy Voter Guide for the June 6th California primary. I went ahead and checked out the pages listing the candidates for Dianne Feinstein’s seat.
My reaction? They all suck.
I wouldn’t vote for any of these people...even if you paid me. In a state of nearly 30 million residents (legal or otherwise), this is the best we can do!?
I’m considering a write-in.
Monday, April 24, 2006
If you were like me and took a short holiday from all-things news over the weekend, you woke today to the tale of Mary McCarthy, the CIA officer fired last week for leaking classified information to the press. Others are writing more with plenty of in-depth analysis as well. But for now, here is my take on it all.
All the developments discussed by Hugh, Tom Maguire, Wretchard at The Belmont Club and more suddenly make Victoria Toensing’s musings about covert ops against the WH by CIA bureaucrats seem a whole lot less fantastic and a whole lot more plausible.
What besides partisanship explains a Clinton appointee and Democratic donor running to the press with classified information about current and important operations? I’m open to suggestions, but for myself can reach no other conclusion.
See here for one explanation as to why this is a really, really, really bad thing.
Posted by Paul Hogue at 6:02 PM
Jaun Williams gets taken to school by the FNS roundtable on Sunday morning:
JUAN WILLIAMS, NPR: Well, I think the Democrats have the best side because not only is it the case that Republicans are in power, but when you look at what Republicans have done in terms of energy policy, it's exactly right when Democrats say it's about tax breaks and subsidies, and they pretend as if demand, which is what Brit's case was -- he said oh, the Chinese, and there's all this new middle class in India that makes demand on oil supply. The fact is oil supplies are at an eight-year high. I mean, it's unbelievable. There's no shortage of oil. What's going on here is speculation about futures in oil as a commodity, and people like Lee Raymond taking, you know, $400 million in retirement.
And so then all of a sudden everybody says well, you know what, the market will bear higher prices, and the prices keep going up, and the government refuses to get involved in any substantial way.
You don't see anything in terms of alternate fuel policy coming out of the energy bill that the Republicans passed last August. Nothing -- all about let's allow for exploration of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge or let's give more tax breaks to the oil companies.
It seems to me that it's about everything but making sure that the oil -- that the prices at the gas pumps are moderated and that the American economy can succeed. The Bush administration says, you know, the economy is going great guns, why don't Americans understand it, let's fire John Snow.
Wait a minute. The reason is 59 percent of Americans -- I think it was in this week's Post-ABC poll -- said the economy is bad or not doing well, one of the two. And the principal reason is gas prices. Maybe they should notice.
HUME: That's economic glossolalia.
WALLACE: Okay. I admit it. And nobody here is willing to admit it. What does that word mean?
HUME: Speaking in unknown tongues.
WALLACE: OK. Well, you were.
HUME: I mean, Juan, you can't repeal the law of supply and demand. If, as you say, fuel supplies were large enough to accommodate the demand, the price of oil would not be sitting where it is today.
WILLIAMS: What I'm trying to say is that's wrong. There's an eight- year high. You can't argue that point. That's a fact.
HUME: I know, but if demand is running at much higher than that, it's going to force the price up. It's how it works in markets. It's simple. It's been true since the dawn of time.
WILLIAMS: I wish it was true, but what's going on here is that investors looking toward to future, saying oh, you know, look at what's going on in Iraq, look at what's going on in Iran, look at Middle East instability -- the prices keep getting pushed higher, and then the oil companies justify driving up the price. There is no relationship here between supply and demand.
HUME: Oh, OK.
KRISTOL: Well, that's ridiculous. It's an international market. It's a world market.
WILLIAMS: I agree.
KRISTOL: Oil prices on the world market have tripled and gas prices have gone up by almost as much. It's an absolutely inevitable economic fact. There's zero that the government can do.
The things you don't like -- the tax breaks -- they increase the supply of oil. If you repealed those tax breaks, oil prices would be higher, not lower, incidentally.
WILLIAMS: No. What's the case here is that you have -- you know, you keep saying the same thing and I keep saying the same thing, but it's true. You have a supply at an eight-year high despite the international demand.
KRISTOL: Look, what are Exxon Mobil's -- how much of the $3 in gas is corporate profits?
WILLIAMS: I don't know.
KRISTOL: About 25 cents. About 25 cents. And you can cut that a little bit if you want to have a windfall profit tax.
WALLACE: They do have huge profits this year. The top four...
WILLIAMS: Huge profits.
WALLACE: ... companies have $80 billion.
KRISTOL: Right, but Exxon Mobil's profit is about 9 percent, which is not that high by corporate standards. I'm not going to defend the Raymond severance package.
But the notion that you can -- I mean, the Democrats will demagogue it and they'll probably succeed to some degree. But the truth is it's purely a function of supply and demand.
The oil companies are not making nearly as much of a return on their investment as an awful lot of other companies are. But as a political matter, you know, the Bush administration has to get out and explain this.
HUME: And the other thing is if you -- remember this. The price of oil can only rise so far and stay there only for so long, and the reason for that is that it is a paradox of the energy market that the price determines the supply to some extent.
And at a certain level of price, all sorts of fuels, including even oil itself, which remains in old wells, hard to bring to the surface, become economically viable, and that will restrain the price. This will happen over time.
We're not going to go back to the days of the '50s when gasoline was 29 cents a gallon, but these prices at this level will be hard to sustain over a long period of time. WALLACE: Mara, you've got, quickly, the last word.
LIASSON: I think the political bottom line is when somebody goes to the pump, fills up their car, it makes them angry and dispirited. Do they add that to all of the other things that they are unhappy with this current administration?
HUME: And the answer is yes.
LIASSON: And the answer is probably yes.
Don't take just my word for it. Read people who work with money all day, every day.
Posted by Paul Hogue at 7:05 AM
Sunday, April 23, 2006
Saturday, April 22, 2006
I watched Thursday, along with many others it seems, the unfolding of a bizarre saga--a phenomenon that seems unique to the world of the Internet. I first noted the multiple posts at HughHewitt.com that detailed the ongoing feud between LA Times reporter Michael Hiltzik and blogger Patrick Frey, aka Patterico.
As described by Frey, it is a dispute about the use of pseudonyms in blog posts. Sounds fairly innocuous at first, but it ultimately cuts to the fundamental issue of credibility.
Anyone who has read this blog from the beginning, knows that Sim and I have a certain amount of experience with the world of online message boards/chat rooms and blogs. The internet in general fosters a sense of anonymity and these kinds of venues specifically leave one feeling like it’s impossible for folks to really know who you are.
In the case of The Place that shall remain Nameless, both of us are familiar with folks who obviously cloned themselves for one reason or another in hopes of adding a sympathetic and supportive voice to their own arguments. In Sim’s case, he’s even been accused of that by someone else. In my case, it was a temptation I fell prey to once for a short time (about 2 weeks) and something that once I was “outed”, never occurred again.
In both our cases such use or alleged-use of pseudonyms was not at all a big deal. A close reading of Patterico’s post sheds insight on the real nature of the problem with Michael Hiltzik’s behavior.
Hiltzik's response wants it to be about the simple use of pseudonyms:
...seems to think that pseudonymous posting is deceptive, though he can’t articulate why that should be, given the abundance of pseudonyms and anonymity on his own blog starting with the name on the banner. He makes a stab at rationalizing his selective exposure of one out of his scores of pseudonymous commenters by complaining that my comments were “acid-tongued” or “insulting.”
As Patterico makes clear, and his commenters echo, the problem is not that. It's not the "what" rather it's the "how" and the "why":
Why does this matter — or does it? After all, I’m obviously not objecting to use of pseudonyms by bloggers and blog commenters. How could I be? I mean, you’re reading a post by someone who calls himself “Patterico.” And, while I made the decision to make my real name public long ago (it’s Patrick Frey), many of my commenters use pseudonyms. So what’s the big deal?
Here’s the thing. I am actually a strong defender of people’s right to comment anonymously, or pseudonymously. I myself was semi-pseudonymous for the first several months of this blog. But I don’t think that commenters should use pseudonyms to pretend to be something or somebody they aren’t.
The problem is presenting yourself as a third-party to pimp your own arguments and ideas. As I stated earlier, it's a fundamental issue.
Hiltzik's behavior was fundamentally dishonest and deceitful. The simple fact that it can be done doesn't make it any less wrong.
If we are to accept a premise that such deceit is acceptable in the blogosphere, then the blogosphere is unreadable. How will you ever know who or what you're reading is accurate?
Worthwhile blogs run on two things: Expertise and Credibility. Expertise makes us want to read somebody and their credibility is why we read them. Take it away and what have you got?
Posted by Paul Hogue at 12:17 PM
I saw the NBA playoffs which kick off today described thus this morning. A little over the top...me thinks so.
But they hold the possibility for seeing some very interesting stuff. Imagine...
-The Clippers winning a playoff series.
-The Suns and Lakers playing defense.
-LeBron gets introduced to playoff basketball.
Posted by Paul Hogue at 10:30 AM
For the civil-war crowd:
Iraq's president formally designated Shiite politician Jawad al-Maliki to form a new government Saturday, starting a process aimed at healing ethnic and religious wounds and pulling the nation out of insurgency and sectarian strife.
The designation ends months of political deadlock among Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds that threatened to drag the nation into civil war. Al-Maliki has 30 days to present his Cabinet to parliament for approval.
Creating a new government from scratch isn't supposed to be easy...
Posted by Paul Hogue at 10:12 AM
Friday, April 21, 2006
I don’t really know what to make of this report:
A Forbes Magazine article this month names Lompoc's minimum-security prison camp as one of the “top 12 places to go to prison.”
Apparently, we’re a desired destination for minimum-security inmates: Lompoc made the list because of its nice weather, staff professionalism and outdoor opportunities given to camp inmates working on the prison's large dairy farm program, said criminal defense attorney Alan Ellis, who compiled the list for Forbes.
“It's a very difficult place to get into. It's a popular place, small. There's a high demand to get there,” said Ellis, who publishes an annual federal prison guidebook. “It's where I'd want to go.”
Getting on publishers Top Anything list is a feather in the cap for any municipality. Most of the time though it’s something positive; “Top ten small city’s in America” or “Top ten vacation destinations”…something that a city can use in promoting itself.
Not sure what Lompoc can do with this…unless the local Visitor’s Bureau is already working on some sort of Tourism campaign incorporating our "Award-winning Prisons”.
Meanwhile, this is more the kind of thing I was talking about.
Posted by Paul Hogue at 6:30 PM
The textbook example of excess profits—a phenomenon that occurs when investors and entrepreneurs after seeing huge profits in a specific industry rush to join the party--in Econ 101 is the late 70’s/early 80’s phenomenon of the video arcade. Investors saw the profit potential of such stores and soon most cities had more than a few where they’d not too soon before had only one or maybe even none.
The entry of competitors bled off the excess profits and soon also drove the poorly run stores out of business. All part of the business cycle.
This phenomenon exists everywhere, and when you look for it you can find numerous examples. Surely it applies to the current record-breaking profits reported by the large oil companies.
Instead of promoting development and exploration we have many a government type instead flogging oil companies over their record-setting profits (never minding that the key observation is that the profit-margin remains essentially unchanged despite the increase in price at the pump). As Walter Williams put it in his CapMag piece last fall:
According to the American Petroleum Institute, over the last 10 years, it has cost the oil industry $47 billion to comply with costly and sometimes useless environmental controls. There are restrictions on exploiting the huge oil reserves in Alaska, the Gulf and the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.
Speaker Hastert said, "These are extraordinary times that call for extraordinary measures. We expect oil companies to do their part to help ease the pain American families are feeling from high energy prices."
Instead of mouthing platitudes and beating up on oil executives, Speaker Hastert should lead the effort to reduce restrictions on drilling and refinery construction. Sen. Dorgan should review our 1970s experience with an oil windfall profits tax that reduced American production and increased our dependence on foreign sources.
The question is at this point, when will profits reach a point where oil companies and alt energy firms as well move into the market? What, if anything, is slowing that process?
Posted by Paul Hogue at 7:29 AM
From the Corner last night:
A left-wing website, citing "sources close" to the CIA leak investigation, reports that:
Just as the news broke Wednesday about Scott McClellan resigning as White House press secretary and Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove shedding some of his policy duties, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald met with the grand jury hearing evidence in the CIA leak case and introduced additional evidence against Rove, attorneys and other US officials close to the investigation said.
The grand jury session in federal court in Washington, DC, sources close to the case said, was the first time this year that Fitzgerald told the jurors that he would soon present them with a list of criminal charges he intends to file against Rove in hopes of having the grand jury return a multi-count indictment against Rove.
The only problem, according to, well, sources knowledgeable about the investigation, is that Fitzgerald was in Chicago on Wednesday.
Posted by Paul Hogue at 7:27 AM
Jim Gerahty at TKS noted the other day some significant happenings in the WOT and wonders aloud what the Administration has to do to catch a break in the whole “message thing”:
Why is the Bush administration losing the message game? Well, for starters, almost nobody has blogged about this, and almost nobody has covered this. (I realize that there are several spellings of his name and several aliases, but even searching for variations, there just hasn't been much talk about this guy.)
Does the President have to put this guy's head on a stick on the White House lawn to get people to notice our victories in the war on terror?
Or would Rummy have to unveil the corpse at his next press conference to get anybody to notice this?
"See this? This is a dead al-Qaeda. This is our job in this building, and we're doing a pretty darn good job at it."
"Mr. Secretary, isn't killing this al-Qaeda just a way of distracting the American people from the shocking and unexpected news that Wes Clark thinks you should resign?"
Furthermore, he goes on to point out additional good news and it’s coverage: Oh, by the way, senior Taliban commander killed in a raid by Afghan police in Zabul province, five militants killed by U.S. and Afghan military forces in Kunar province, eight militants captured in southern Khandahar.
The headline in the New York Times today? "Afghan Battles See Higher Toll for Civilians."
As to the not-small point he mentions above, I will gladly step up and report it while acknowledging that we could do more to inform the blogosphere’s tail about these things more regularly!
Posted by Paul Hogue at 7:23 AM
Thursday, April 20, 2006
Robert Novak lets us in on a not-so-secret today: Robert Novak said Wednesday that special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald knows who outed a CIA agent to the Chicago Sun-Times columnist but hasn't acted on the information because Novak's source committed no crime.
Novak also claimed that investigators know who leaked the information, although he did not say how they know.
"The question is, does Mr. Fitzgerald know who the source was?" Novak asked. "Of course. He's known for years who the first source is. If he knows the source, why didn't he indict him? Because no crime was committed."
Novak said he doesn't believe his source violated laws forbidding the disclosure of a CIA agent's identity.
Apparently, David Corn isn’t the only person who knows who the leaker is. So does Fitzgerald; all of which of course begs the questions as to why exactly he hasn’t indicted said leaker or anyone else on the specific charge of leaking classified information.
Hint:Because no crime was committed.
TM as is the case most days is all over this little development.
Posted by Paul Hogue at 6:21 PM
For work yesterday I was compiling a list of state-wide candidates and ballot initiatives in the course of hunting down political ad dollars during this election cycle. One of the candidates for California Lt. Governor is state senator Liz Figueroa.
Not being an expert on California state politics, I'm not at all familiar with Ms. Figueroa or her candidacy, which is why candidates have web sites. From her bio:
State Senator Liz Figueroa (D-Fremont) has a long history of overcoming adversity in the service of others. The importance of helping others in order to build a better future is a lesson she learned from her parents, who themselves immigrated from El Salvador to give their children brighter opportunities. As a young woman, she started a small business that specialized in helping injured workers find jobs. Herself a fluent Spanish speaker, she saw at an early age that many Latinos were disengaged in California's political process, so she decided to become a role model. In 1994, she was elected to the State Assembly, becoming the first Latina from Northern California ever elected to the State Legislature, and she is now attempting to overcome one more hurdle to become the first Latina ever elected to statewide office.
Innocuous enough description of her career. It continues on, highlighting her accomplishments as part of the legislature and her hopes for her time in the Lt. Governor's office. Pretty standard stuff.However, I was drawn to that picture in the middle of the page:
I know that name. Dolores Huerta...where have I heard that name?!
Then it comes to me. I read about it earlier in the week, and told you about it a day later. Dolores is the Labor Activist who told a gymnasium full of Tucson High school students that the GOP "hates Latinos."
I suppose in a state like California where the GOP is experiencing a historic lull in terms of it's electoral status in state-wide office, such potentially poor judgment on the part of the Senator is not of huge consequence. In fact, it might even be a favorable.
But it shouldn't be.
Posted by Paul Hogue at 7:13 AM
Last baseball season was a nightmare—in the real world I watched my (admittedly not well-run on the field or in the front office) team suffer yet another mediocre season after a blistering start in April.
In Fantasy land, my defending-champions—a team built on and around pitching—got off to a horrible start, never recovered and left me pulling my hair out all summer long. Well, history it seems is repeating itself.
The only difference is that this year, I have no one to blame. My draft was horrible, my everyday players are less than ordinary. There isn’t a star in the bunch, much less a superstar. And my pitching…well, crap is putting it nicely.
Yet again, Tim Hudson and Jason Schmidt are off to horrible starts. Hudson did attempt to throw that early assessment right out the window yesterday though when he pitched a 3-hit, complete game for the victory.
Good thing I’d benched him.
Walmart held it's annual Media conference this week. In case Michael Barbaro is wondering, yes I was invited. Due to the many blogging restraints- and others- that I face, taking time off work, flying out to Arkansas and back just wasn't gonna work. Not that I didn't hope it would though!
One of the bloggers who took the challenge was Tom Forbes at Palousitics. He live-blogged the event over two days. Here's one of the more interesting posts on an issue of significance to most Wal-bashers.
Posted by Paul Hogue at 6:57 AM
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
I sit here tonight incredibly frustrated.
It's one of those times where the sheer size and number of things going on is overwhelming, despite the fact that none of these irritations taken separately is anywhere near as potent as the force they generate together. It's one of those times where, as I heard myself exclaiming in a moment of futility earlier this evening, "I just want one thing to go right! Just one!"
Turns out I wasn't the only one who was unhappy at work with the implementation of new policies and procedures. It's been promised that we'll revisit the issue in next week's meeting, but there are no promises of a fairer, more equitable resolution.
Frankly, I don't need the accounting department's help in lowering my commissions. I'm doing quite well on that front as we've seen a number of advertisers leave the market and drop my year-to-year revenue nearly 15% on average each of the last three months. The scramble to replace the missing revenue is a slow, painful process and one that will not yield results near as quickly as we'd like.
In the meantime, on the home-front we're left doing a serious juggling act to make our humongous mortgage payment. A stressor that neither my wife nor I need.
The blog continues to be a source of frustration as well; there appears no way that I can keep ahead of the curve on any stories, no way to keep current and relevant on many things I'd like to discuss. It's work enough to write three short posts a day that risk being irrelevant bits of information by the time they're even posted.
My partner in crime feels the same pinch, only much worse. His output is minimal though his desire is great. So where are we?
To my mind this blog is just drifting along, no real direction in terms of where we want to take it, no clear vision as to how to get...anywhere with it and no real following. Our numbers have never been huge, but last summer we were at the point that with some concerted effort we could have grown into some respectable readership.
Instead, all our momentum evaporated in the fall as first I, then Sim both moved and missed weeks at a time while resettling into new homes, jobs and schedules. So here we are.
Where ever that is.
Posted by Paul Hogue at 7:48 PM
We already know there is no conclusive DNA evidence linking the Duke lacrosse players to the alleged rape victim. Now the local ABC affiliate in Raleigh-Durham has looked at another piece of evidence in the case, and it appears to undermine the DA’s case as well.
Mary Katherine Ham looks at the info, pointing out the obvious: The D.A. has been saying that the alleged attack took place in the bathroom of the house for 30 minutes between midnight, when the girls arrived, and 12:55 a.m., when the police responded to the first 911 call to find an empty house. The only gap in the picture timeline is from 12:10-12:30 a.m., but the pictures show she was injured before that gap.
Also, one of the accused players, Reade Seligmann, apparently has an alibi:..
Additionally, LaShawn Barber addresses the photo timeline as well.
This can’t be going anywhere fast. Why? Simple:
1) No physical (DNA) evidence links any of the players to the victim.
2) The victim’s friend has said that she had not witnessed any rape nor any personal knowledge that such an act occurred.
3) Now we have photos that show the victim with her injuries prior to the alleged incidents occurrence and substantiate the claim made by folks at the party that she was sloppy-drunk and passed out; a point substantiated as well by police communications made that night.
What else does Mr. Nifong know that the rest of us don’t? ‘Cause the only way he’s got any case at all here it seems is if he’s in possession of a seriously magic bullet.
Posted by Paul Hogue at 7:17 PM
I hit the web this morning unaware of the WH shake-ups. Interesting stuff I thought to myself. As I continued on in my regular reading, I came across this piece of…well, you know what, disguised as journalism over at Vanity Fair.
Michael Wolff’s piece is the nastiest bit of stuff I’ve seen in a long time. Condescending and arrogant both, it is a text-book example of how to write a hit piece.
Others have looked at it as well. Tom Bevan at the RCP Blog and Tom Elia at The New Editor both note the unbridled arrogance of Wolff’s words.
From Bevan’s analysis: But given the hostility and contempt with which the press so often treats this White House, why on earth wouldn't McClellan want to have a record of what was said in the interview? It turns out McClellan's suspicions were fully justified - though if he knew just what a hatchet job Wolff already had in mind I'm sure he never would have agreed to sit down with him at all.
Were I McClellan, Wolff would be getting a second call; this one to give him an earful.
I remember the Reagan years with less than full-clarity; I was an apolitical HS sophomore when they began and only out of college for a year-and-a-half when they ended. It was clear that the press didn’t think much of the man, or of his Administration. But they were never rude, never in this blatant a fashion.
Will they ever figure out why fewer and fewer are reading and caring about what they have to say?
Posted by Paul Hogue at 6:35 PM
David Corn appears to have gotten to the bottom of the entire Plame affair. In a seemingly clear and concise statement in this piece Monday—one that seems also to have not much to do with his ultimate point—Corn lets the cat out of the bag:
But in this frenzy to undercut Joe Wilson, Rove disclosed Valerie Wilson's CIA employment--which was classified information--to conservative columnist Bob Novak, who then outed her in print as a CIA operative.
So it was Rove!? Has anyone told Fitzgerald about this? In a piece filed yesterday, also penned by Corn:
Fitzgerald has not indicted Rove, and his exact role in the leak remains murky--though he reportedly was the second source for the Bob Novak column that disclosed Valerie Wilson's CIA employment.
So which is it, David? Did he tell Bob first, or second? Is he the source or is he not the source? Pick an argument and stick with it!
Posted by Paul Hogue at 7:10 AM
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Am I the only person who fears the nationalization of things such as health care and other services because I envision all my interaction with government on par with what I get at the DMV?
Speaking of, we registered the first of our two vehicles in California back in January. Got it paid, got the paperwork, went and got the car smogged and waited patiently for the new registration, tags and shiny license plates.
And waited. And waited some more.
It’s April and still no sign of anything remotely resembling tags and/or plates. After much frustration and it’s by-product, procrastination, I finally revisited our local DMV office to find out what the problem was.
"You were supposed to bring the smog certificate in."
Never mind the fact that I was explicitly told that the certificate would be sent to Sacramento electronically. Not just once at the DMV, but again at the smog station.
"You were supposed to bring the smog certificate in. Otherwise we wouldn't get it."
Stuff of nightmares.
Posted by Paul Hogue at 7:09 AM
One of the Tucson dailies ran a rather embarrassing headline on Friday. The ombudsman ran this apology on Saturday:
'Republicans Hate Latinos'' read the headline on Friday's front-page in red, all-capital letters. No attribution. Just stated as fact.
That quote has been in the news since labor activist Dolores Huerta used the phrase in an April 3 speech at Tucson High School. The statement appeared as a quotation above four photos, including one of Huerta.
Yet in the Star's presentation, the quote was not attributed, instead presented as fact and in eye-catching red.
Gary Durrenberger called the headline: "perhaps the single most irresponsible piece of journalism I've ever seen.'' His e-mail continued: "Now, I understand it is not the (main) headline and after having read the story I also understand how the banner can be taken out of context. But, you cannot tell me that this page could not have been laid out better as to avoid the appearance of slander against Republicans.''
Managing Editor Teri Hayt, too, was troubled by the presentation. The quote "should have been attributed properly and not highlighted in red type. The reader is right, perception is reality and in this case we did not put the focus where it belonged — on Ms. Huerta.''
I checked the job listings and it appears they aren’t short a managing editor, so you tell me how that got by.
Posted by Paul Hogue at 7:03 AM
Monday, April 17, 2006
From the editorial board today:
The average American might look at the phrase "Tax Freedom Day" and think, oh goodie, a day without any taxes.
No such luck.
Tax Freedom Day actually is a project of the nonprofit Tax Foundation, which puts a great deal of effort into calculating how many days a person has to work to satisfy all of his or her federal, state and local tax obligations.
So, a better name might be "The Day You Finally Get All your Taxes Paid Day."
The average worker has to put in a few hours behind the desk or shovel to pay all of his or her taxes. This year, the federal Tax Freedom Day falls on April 26, which means it takes 77 days to fulfill your federal tax obligation. Paying off state and local taxes will require another 39 days of labor.
It differs from state to state, because states have different tax structures, but in California, Tax Freedom Day doesn't occur until April 30, based on the Tax Foundation's computation that Californians devote 10.9 percent of their annual incomes to paying taxes.
This year's Tax Freedom Day comes three days later than it did last year, because of taxes tacked on between 2005 and 2006 - and despite President Bush's tax cuts.
It's still not as bad as it was in 2000, a boom year, when Tax Freedom Day didn't arrive nationally until May 3. And we're certain you'll be comforted by the fact that the average American's tax burden is a greater drain on their income than food, clothing and housing combined.
But at least we have Amtrak, a true national treasure!
Posted by Paul Hogue at 6:15 PM
At least one retired General doesn't believe that Rumsfeld should be fired. After hearing all week the complaints of several former Generals involved in the planning process for war in Iraq, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Richard B. Myers had this to say yesterday on ABC's This Week:
"We gave him our best military advice and I think that's what we're obligated to do," Myers said on "This Week" on ABC. "If we don't do that, we should be shot."
A half-dozen retired generals have called for Rumsfeld's ouster, citing mistakes in the conduct of the war in Iraq. Some have suggested that intimidation by Rumsfeld kept military leaders quiet even when they thought policies were flawed.
"You'd have to believe that everybody in the chain of command is intimidated, and I don't believe that," Myers said. He added that Rumsfeld allowed "tremendous access" for presenting arguments.
"In our system, when it's all said and done ... the civilians make the decisions," he said. "And we live by those decisions."
Friday, April 14, 2006
We’re in an American boom and I cannot understand why there is so much pessimism.
So claimed Larry Kudlow yesterday. I wonder as well, but from a different viewpoint.
Working in advertising exposes one to the vagaries of the business cycle. In good times, it's a great living; in bad times it's one of the most difficult industries there is.
It's a well-known truism that ad dollars are the first thing to go away when the economy turns south and the last thing to come back once fortunes are reversed. When you look at the raw economic numbers right now, we're very far from "gone south." So where's the money?
Given the reality of advertising's place in the corporate food chain, it's not a difficult question to answer, it's all about the lag. Unemployment is down to 4.7% yet my largest telecom advertiser has restructured their ad buy for 2006 and allocated zero corporate dollars for our market. Our other largest telecom client has reduced spending in their markets for '06 substantially--nearly 45% from year-to-year in our case.
The money is there, it's a matter of finding it.
Posted by Paul Hogue at 3:39 PM
Tom Maguire at JustOneMinute turned in another look at Plame-gate filings earlier in the week. I would have written this yesterday were I not so busy feeling awful.
On the heels of his embarrassing correction, it seems that Fitzgerald now finds himself under serious pressure from the defense to open the floodgates of information:
The press had a great time taking a Fitzgerald comment out of context - in making a banal point about the difficulty of delivering documents with the objective of proving a negative, Fitzgerald wrote that "it is hard to conceive of what evidence there could be that would disprove the existence of White House efforts to 'punish' Wilson." (Here, for example, is the Tuesday Times pretending that Fitzgerald was claiming to have an overwhelming case demonstrating a conspiracy.)
One hopes that Mr. Fitzgerald enjoyed his headlines - now, if the defense is successful in using all that press attention as additional leverage, he gets to deliver the documents he was trying to retain.
Fitz has insinuated the broader of the left's talking points on this issue--that Wilson was targeted by the Administration by virtue of his outspoken opposition and his wife's outing was a deliberate act--for some time now. Meanwhile, Libby and his team have turned up the pressure by announcing that there were no orders--standing or otherwise--from on high to leak Plame's name to the press. Additionally, the defense is asking for--in the most detail to date--for Fitzgerald's documentation as to Plame's standing as a covert officer, among other things.
Byron York over at NRO wrote a piece on that tidbit yesterday. I found this little blurb over at the Corner actually more revealing:
I have a story up on the latest in the CIA leak case, in which Lewis Libby says that neither President Bush, Vice President Cheney nor anyone else instructed him to discuss Valerie Plame Wilson with reporters. That's news. But what is perhaps bigger news is not explicitly stated anywhere in the legal papers, and that is that prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald appears to be losing control of the case.
Since indicting Libby on perjury and obstruction of justice charges last year, Fitzgerald has said that he wants to keep the case narrowly confined to the question of whether Libby lied to the grand jury and obstructed the investigation. But actually trying the case -- and we're just in the discovery stage now -- has forced Fitzgerald to put forward a theory of Libby's motive and to try to place Libby's actions in the larger context of an alleged White House plot to punish Joseph Wilson. And doing that has forced Fitzgerald to open the whole pre-war intelligence can of worms and to argue at length about the White House's effort to rebut the arguments of critics like Wilson, which is not specifically part of the charges against Libby.
Yet even as he has fallen into the trap of widening his arguments to include the Bush case for war, making the case seem more and more like a political prosecution, Fitzgerald is still refusing to hand over evidence to Libby -- for example, documents relating to whether Valerie Wilson's CIA status was classified or not -- on the grounds that Libby does not need such evidence to defend himself against the narrow perjury and obstruction charges. So on the one hand, Fitzgerald is increasingly bringing the big picture into the case, and on the other he is desperately trying to keep the case tightly focused on the little picture. It's not going to work. Either through his own errors, or his own lack of insight, or perhaps just the impossible nature of the case, Fitzgerald is moving himself into an untenable position. And the case is really just starting.
I have a sneaking suspicion that if this case actually sees the light of day, that many a screaming-meemie on the left who has been waiting impatiently for Karl Rove's frog-marching is going to be unpleasantly surprised by where things go.
Posted by Paul Hogue at 3:18 PM
Tired of coughing. Really tired of that. Coughed non-stop yesterday from about four in the afternoon until bedtime at 10:30. Maybe I'm exaggerating, but it certainly didn't feel like it.
Tired of not sleeping. Really, really tired of this. Haven't had a restful nights sleep in a week.
Why? See "Tired of coughing"...
Posted by Paul Hogue at 2:56 PM
Thursday, April 13, 2006
Swells of questions resurface about every six months regarding why Donald Rumsfeld is still our Secrtary of Defense. While I personally respect Rumsfeld, believe he is doing what he thinks is right, etc. you can't argue with... errrrr ...results. He should be gone. Long gone.
The Drez addresses the latest swell and turns the question on its head to great effect:
Question to Rummy-supporters: how can this kind of criticism be ignored? Why should Rummy still be the Secretary of Defense?
Posted by Simian Logician at 7:15 PM
On Tuesday night, I caught a part of Bryant Gumbel's newest episode of REAL Sports before going to bed. The story I caught focused on alleged mismanagement of the Jockey Guild by former Guild President L. Wayne Gertmenian:
In the sport of horse racing, a jockey without medical insurance is the equivalent of a NASCAR driver without a seatbelt. Yet for the men and women who ride 1,200-pound thoroughbreds, a helmet is often the only coverage they have. This is problematic in a sport where serious injuries are always possible, but finding fault has been difficult. Jockey Guild members have accused the association's embattled ex-president, Wayne Gertmanian, of mismanaging funds. But Gertmanian has countered that the blame lies elsewhere. Bryant Gumbel investigates this troubling situation, as jockeys struggle to pay their medical bills and gain the representation of their guild's highest office.
Gertmenian is a former member of the Nixon Administration and currently a Professor of Economics at Pepperdine University. In fact, my professor of Economics in 2000 while moving through the MBA program.
An engaging storyteller, he is a fine teacher and expert at involving people he's working with and recognized negotiations expert. If the REAL Sports report is taken at face value, he's also a world-class manipulator.
The segment highlights the involvement of Gertmenian's family members and long-time friends in the Guild, and includes some very unflattering video of the Doctor before a Congressional committee. All of which runs counter to my personal experience with the man, but I'm not in a position to really know at the moment.
I went to bed very perplexed by the entire thing and not certain what to think.
Posted by Paul Hogue at 7:05 AM
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
10%. Not a particularly impressive percentage. Particularly if you're playing basketball or baseball, even football as 10% is a pitifully horrible completion percentage (unless you're Ryan Leaf).
But it struck me as an interesting number in the context I heard it today. Heard it proclaimed on the radio today, so must confess I'm unsure of it's accuracy or origin. The factoid goes something like this: 1 out of every 10 people born in Mexico, alive today is residing in the United States; legally or otherwise.
Startling to say the least if it's true.
Posted by Paul Hogue at 7:33 PM
The Washington Post today ran this “blockbuster” piece from Joby Warrick. Ed Morrisey digs deep and has an analysis of his own:
So where's the issue? It turns out that the minority report was the correct analysis after all, of course, but at the time Bush spoke it was just that -- a minority report. To put it in advertising terms, two out of three inspectors agreed that the trailers were part of Saddam's WMD effort. The Pentagon relied on that majority opinion, as did the administration, and no one can argue that doing so constituted either an intent to deceive or even an unreasonable decision at the time.
No one can argue that, of course, but the Post and the media in general. Instead of simply reporting that the Pentagon didn't have consensus on this issue and that the minority report wound up being the most accurate, Joby Warrick turns the story into a Geraldo Rivera my-life-is-actually-in-danger type of journalism that substitutes cheap sensationalism for accuracy. Prior to informing the readers of the existence of two separate analyses that contradicted the report supplied by the leakers, Warrick enthralls us with a paragraph stating how none of the leakers will identify themselves for fear of retribution and a colorful epithet that the leakers considered the trailers "sand toilet[s]".
There’s more, but for my money that’s the center of the universe on this issue. In my experience debating the left about the “non-existent” WMD’s, a discussion of conflicting analysis is inevitable.
In this case, the DIA team differed from the preliminary CIA report on these trailers. In other situations, the State Department differed with CIA and so on. In any such circumstance, left-leaners nearly always reach one conclusion:
The fact that a dissenting opinion exists is proof enough that the Administration's take was wrong. Not only wrong, but illegitimate and only reachable with an agenda of war in Iraq.
When you look at the many incorrect interpretations of data on Iraq, you do indeed see a pattern in the Administration's judgment; they nearly always took the worst-case. Many times, such as with the bio-labs, a preponderance of available evidence made it appear that such was the prudent choice.
To most, if not all, on the left that I've been (un)fortunate enough to discuss this with, that is the taking-off point for the most tried-and-true criticism of President Bush on Iraq, that he lied.
To believe that however, one must assign motives that aren't clear and, up to now--if ever they will be--proven. I hear the words of the President, I hear the explanations and I take him at his word that he was viewing the situation through new prism, one that put 9/11 in the backdrop of every discussion, every contemplation of national security risks. Maybe it's just because I do as well.
But we know many on the left don't buy that either.
Posted by Paul Hogue at 7:28 PM
Yesterday I railed on President Bush and placed some context around my ill-fated vote for John Forbes Kerry. I asserted that he was the best of bad options.
Perhaps I was wrong.
Oxblog's David Adesnik deconstructs Kerry's Sunday performance on Meet The Press and the Gore-like realities faced by the man who once laughably reported for duty.
Here's a bite-sized knockwurst to get you started:
SEN. KERRY: Tim, it’s unconscionable that any young American is dying because Iraqis, five months after an election, are dithering and squabbling and cannot find the ability to compromise and come together in a democracy. Our kids didn’t die for that. Our kids didn’t go over there to do that. Our soldiers have done their job. They’ve given them several elections, three elections. They’ve given them a government, the opportunity to have a government.
Unconscionable? Kerry seems to believe that it was fully conscionable for young Americans to die throughout the first thirty months of the occupation, during which three elections were held. Yet somehow, it has become unconscionable for our servicemen and -women to die now that the formation of a government based on those elections is taking longer than expected. "The opportunity to have a government." For a long time now, it has been plausible to argue that Iraqis had their opportunity and wasted it. But if Kerry believes the three elections were valuable enough to fight for, how can he advocate walking away if Iraqis won't meet his forty-day deadline?The only way we made the elections work -- with more voters and fewer attacks on each polling day -- was by waging an unrelenting war against the insurgents for almost three years. None of the political progress in Iraq has come quickly or easily. How can Kerry insist that now it should?
Posted by Simian Logician at 3:20 PM
Went to the doctor yesterday. I'd had a physical scheduled for a month, well before this cold-from-hell got me.
The good news? I'm alive; my labwork is good, the diabetes is under good control, blood-pressure and cholesterol are okay.
The bad news? By virtue of my last birthday, I'm now a member of the "Who's yer daddy!," club.
Posted by Paul Hogue at 7:02 AM
The US economy isn't just producing jobs these days, it's also producing good jobs. Alongside the ads for jobs handling a cash register or a spatula are these new opportunities:
In St. Louis, AFB International is enlisting both technicians, paid $30,000 to $40,000, and PhD scientists, offered $80,000 to $100,000, in its quest for the perfect pet food.
In Delaware, Honeywell plans to hire people at $40,000 to $100,000 to work in a data-storage center.
In southern California, some of the latest openings involve working on the railroad, for $35,000 to $70,000 a year. Union Pacific plans to add 2,000 employees altogether.
These reports in the past month symbolize a welcome trend during an economic expansion that at first offered only tepid job gains, both in quantity and quality.
"Deep, dark depression, excessive misery!"
This good news about the breadth of job creation comes against a backdrop of labor-market anxiety that has persisted despite the economy's solid overall footing. Competition from imported goods, the threat of outsourcing services abroad, and a controversial influx of illegal laborers are just some of the forces that make many workers worried about their future.
Creating good jobs - the kinds that can keep American living standards rising - appears likely to remain a challenge. But the current employment picture at least indicates movement in a positive direction. "We're creating lots of all kinds of jobs, across many industries, occupations, and pay scales," says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Economy.com. But he adds: "If your skill sets are rusty, or at the low end of the skill range, you're going to have a tougher time."
The economy added 211,000 jobs in March, according to a Labor Department report Friday - a solid showing about on par with expectations. The unemployment rate fell a notch, to 4.7 percent.
The new jobs still include plenty at the low end: An analysis by Merrill Lynch finds that some 40 percent of the net gain in March came in two areas known for low pay: retail services and leisure/hospitality, which includes restaurants.
But this is just part of a broader tapestry. Management and professional occupations are employing 1.2 million more people this month than a year ago - or about 1 in 3 new jobs in America. This is the highest-paying of five broad categories tracked by the Labor Department. Not all of them are CEOs or engineers, but the median paycheck for full-time workers in this category is $937 a week, far above the US median of $651.
The construction industry continues to hammer out more than its share of new jobs. It accounts for about 6.4 percent of US jobs, but has provided 14.4 percent of the past year's job growth. The quality of construction jobs is mixed - often offering higher hourly pay than the US median but with lower benefits.
Even the manufacturing sector, which has long offered blue-collar workers a measure of middle-class prosperity, appears to be stabilizing after a period of heavy job losses. Despite downsizing in the automotive industry, 175,000 more people are employed in production occupations today than a year ago.
"As this recovery gets under way, professional services have begun adding jobs fairly broadly," says Jared Bernstein, an economist at the liberal Economic Policy Institute (EPI) in Washington.
EPI tracks the weighting of higher- versus lower-paying jobs that are being added to the economy. For much of the current expansion, which began at the end of 2001, that indicator has been negative.
In the past year, however, it has turned positive, meaning that the new jobs in the economy are the kind that tend to pull average wages up, not down.
"If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all!"
Beyond professional services, one example may be construction. The housing market is cooling, but commercial building is heating up.
"More of the work will be in nonresidential construction," predicts Michael Carliner, an economist at the National Association of Home Builders. That could mean demand for higher skills, such as equipment operation, that boost pay.
The question, however, is how much of today's strengthening labor market represents cyclical trends, rather than long-term gains.
At this point, perhaps midway into an expansion phase, it's not unusual to see the job mix improve and pay to rise in new and existing jobs alike. "I would expect wages and compensation to increase faster," says Rae Hederman of the conservative Heritage Foundation in Washington.
How long that pattern lasts will depend in some measure on the Federal Reserve, which is now trying to decide whether to raise interest rates further. Setting rates too high, some experts warn, could slow the economy and dampen job growth.
The labor market's gains are beginning to take on the shape of a barbell, with growth weighted heavily at the two ends of the pay scale. During the current expansion, the bulk of new jobs have come in either the highest-paid of five broad occupational categories - management and professional - or the lowest-paid, services. Together the two sectors now account for more than half of all jobs. (The other three major categories are sales and office work, construction and natural resources, and production/transportation.)
The economy's overall share of jobs with strong pay and benefits has failed to grow during the past quarter century, even though workers today have higher skills and more technology to make them productive, says John Schmitt, an economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a liberal research institute in Washington. That's a break with the past, he says, when "wages typically tracked closely with productivity."
"Gloom, Despair and Agony on Me!"
Posted by Paul Hogue at 6:57 AM
But she's right:
Oprah Winfrey is a rich woman – and she's got no problem with that.
Speaking in Baltimore on Monday at a fundraiser for Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School, Winfrey told the audience, "I have lots of things, like all these Manolo Blahniks. I have all that and I think it's great. I'm not one of those people like, 'Well, we must renounce ourselves.' No, I have a closet full of shoes and it's a good thing." Winfrey, 52, who is reportedly worth more than $1 billion, said she doesn't feel guilty about her wealth. "I was coming back from Africa on one of my trips," she said. "I had taken one of my wealthy friends with me. She said, 'Don't you just feel guilty? Don't you just feel terrible?' I said, 'No, I don't. I do not know how me being destitute is going to help them,'..."
Has she been reading?
Posted by Paul Hogue at 6:49 AM
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Yes. More Wilson.
NRO's Byron York on a move today by Patrick Fitzgerald. Apparently he's filed a correction with Judge Reggie Walton. That would of course mean that something in response to Libby's request that became last week's story du jour was wrong.
So what exactly is going on? To Byron:
An embarrassing move this afternoon from CIA leak prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. In his now-famous court filing in which he said that former Cheney chief of staff Lewis Libby testified that he had been authorized to leak portions of the then-classified National Intelligence Estimate, Fitzgerald wrote, "Defendant understood that he was to tell [New York Times reporter Judith] Miller, among other things, that a key judgment of the NIE held that Iraq was 'vigorously trying to procure' uranium."
That sentence led a number of reporters and commentators to suggest that, beyond the issue of the leak itself, the administration was lying about the NIE, because the African uranium segment was not in fact among the NIE's key judgments. For example, in a front page story on Sunday, the Washington Post reported:
At Cheney's instruction, Libby testified, he told Miller that the uranium story was a "key judgment" of the intelligence estimate, a term of art indicating there was consensus on a question of central importance.
In fact, the alleged effort to buy uranium was not among the estimate's key judgments, which were identified by a headline and bold type and set out in bullet form in the first five pages of the 96-page document.
A few hours ago, however, Fitzgerald sent a letter to judge Reggie Walton, asking to correct his filing. The letter reads:
We are writing to correct a sentence from the Government's Response to Defendant's Third Motion to Compel Discovery, filed on April 5, 2006. The sentence, which is the second sentence of the second paragraph on page 23, reads, 'Defendant understood that he was to tell Miller, among other things, that a key judgment of the NIE held that Iraq was 'vigorously trying to procure' uranium." That sentence should read, "Defendant understood that he was to tell Miller, among other things, some of the key judgments of the NIE, and that the NIE stated that Iraq was 'vigorously trying to procure' uranium."
Posted by Paul Hogue at 6:49 PM
Or is this an absurd statement: Nifong stopped short of confirming the defense assessment of the DNA results, but said the case would not be hampered by a lack of DNA evidence.
"It doesn't mean nothing happened," Nifong said at a public forum at North Carolina Central University, where the 27-year-old alleged victim is a student. "It just means nothing was left behind."
This comes in the wake of yesterday's announcement that none of the Duke University lacrosse players whose DNA was tested in relation to the alleged rape of woman at an on-campus party on March 13th.
How exactly Mr. Nifong expects to prove that the woman was raped at the party escapes me. No evidence, short of eyewitness testimony exists that could prove it.
Isn't it more likely that whatever happened, happened somewhere else?
If Nifong turns out to be right, then I say good for him. His persistence will have paid off and this crime will be prosecuted, as it should be.
I just wonder though if no DNA was left behind, aren't the odds better that it wasn't any one of the tested athletes?
One black woman's opinion on the news of no matches.
Posted by Paul Hogue at 3:02 PM