Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 | Page 4 | Page 5 | Page 6 | Page 7 | Page 8 | Page 9 | Page 10 | Page 11 | Page 12 | Page 13 | Page 14 | Page 15 | Page 16 | Page 17 | Page 18 | Page 19 | Page 20 | Page 21 | Page 22 | Page 23 | Page 24 | Page 25 | Page 26 | Page 27 | Page 28 | Page 29 | Page 30 | Page 31 | Page 32 | Page 33 | Page 34 | Page 35 | Page 36 | Page 37 | Page 38 | Page 39 | Page 40 | Page 41 | Page 42 | Page 43 | Page 44 | Page 45 | Page 46 | Page 47 | Page 48 | Page 49 | Page 50
Michael Ubaldi, May 4, 2004.
Last week we learned that tax revenues had increased from a private sector base invigorated in large part by President Bush's tax cuts. Following the pipeline, federal deficit projections are therefore dropping:
Smaller-than-expected tax refunds and rising individual tax receipts will pare back federal borrowing significantly for the first half of this year and could reduce the $521 billion deficit projected for the fiscal year by as much as $100 billion, Treasury and congressional budget officials said yesterday. ...G. William Hoagland, a senior economic aide to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), said he dashed off a memo to GOP leadership predicting the 2004 deficit could be trimmed to $420 billion, a record in dollar terms but considerably lower than the White House's $521 billion projection.
GEARS A-SPINNIN': Factory orders in March were up 4.3%, nearly four times the revised growth figure for February, and the highest increase in nearly two years. Among mild concerns about layoffs, a flock of gorgeous numbers from other sectors of the market. Not bad.
Michael Ubaldi, May 4, 2004.
The Republican candidate for Ohio's 10th Congressional District set up shop last week:
Edward Fitzpatrick Herman, Republican candidate for Ohio's 10th Congressional seat, today hosted the official opening of his campaign headquarters located at 14311 Madison Avenue, Lakewood, three blocks from his opponent Dennis Kucinich's district office.
Michael Ubaldi, May 3, 2004.
Even though this was likely the fourth of fifth time I've tried in over ten years, I was lucky enough to find myself talking to Rush Limbaugh's call screener at lunch today. Fifteen minutes earlier, caller "Tiffany" identified herself as "25 years old, a Generation X-er, independent." Independent? What it meant, as Rush probed, was that she chose not to subscribe to a party line despite her flirtation with leftist media connotations and hard-left agitprop. Limbaugh chuckled as the conversation came to a close, having brought the "Bush knew" canard out of her. Was she an infamous "seminar caller"? My guess was that she wasn't; though loud, she sounded too benign to have had an agenda — or an idea of what might actually have constituted Republican and Democratic party platforms.
As was spoken in The Usual Suspects, "The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist." The second greatest trick he pulled was selling irresolution to the world as enlightenment. Refusing loyalty is the oldest method for moving swiftly to do business for yourself — if you can't be defined, you carry no baggage and if you carry no baggage, you can return unrecognized to the town that sent you out with tar and feathers. That's a credo for many politicians but in recent years it seems to have established itself as a fashionable more for society. On one hand, people who are undecided because they know no history and pay little attention to current events win praise for their "independence." On the other, people who could easily understand the consequences of a collection of beliefs — that which might make them rightist, leftist, Republican, Democrat, extremist — deny categorization, insisting that they're better than that, impossible to deduce, and on a path none have tread before. Those who adhere to a set of principles are condemned as unimaginative simpletons, or else hardened, irrational extremists. Mobility over commitment.
My conversation with the call screener was brief but enjoyable. After about seven minutes of dialing and redialing into busy signals, the connection pushed through; after five or six rings, I was pushed to a live feed of Rush. Then the screener picked up. What did I want to contribute to the conversation? I told him: "Tiffany," I thought, was suffering the consequences of moral and political ambivalence, avoiding classification at the impairment of judgment. She chose to stand for nothing so could very well fall for anything. He agreed on the larger part, noting, "Well, that's why Rush is always hammering on so-called 'moderates.'" I made the point that Baby Boomers seem to have turned indecision into a laudable standard. "So you think this is her parents' fault?" he asked.
He'd created a sound bite: that was probably my chance to move to the next tier. In call screening, I assume the kooks and ramblers are dropped immediately, and most prospects for airtime move forward on the basis of their conversational ability and relevance to Rush's direction, with a small minority of special personalities or ideal respondents (Rush makes a comment about the price of yo-yos in China and a Chinese yo-yo designer phones up) put to the front of the line. Was the caller's ambiguity her parents' fault? No, not necessarily; her folks might be straight arrows who have at least temporarily lost their daughter to trend. It's a broad cultural change introduced by that generation, I answered, refining the idea further. The call screener, perhaps knowing more, felt strongly that the girl was in fact a wolf in sheep's clothing. We spoke on a bit longer before he ended the exchange with "Okay, I'll see if Rush has a comment on this." I was then bumped to a line that rang two times, then dropped. If a second-place position exists, for callers who add interesting twists to the dialogue but aren't as form-fitting as others, that'd be me. Even if the parting line was a polite rejection, the experience was well worth ten minutes.
Of course, since I didn't get on air, Rush's challenge of "Come on, Gen-X-ers, you've got to do better than this" still stands. Danny? Gabe?
Michael Ubaldi, April 30, 2004.
In polling, George Bush beats John Kerry with a consistent 10-point edge on national security. That's not news. What is news is the president's recent jump to a six-point lead over his opponent on economic policy. Let's see if it holds steady.
Also noteworthy is the Presidential Tracking Poll. For weeks it's been oscillating between challenger and incumbent: from a four-point spread to a tie, to another three or four points in the opposite direction, and back again. The pendulum's swings towards Kerry have been fainter over the last several cycles — since the 15th of April, Kerry has enjoyed a lead no larger than two points, and then only once. Maybe it's nothing; after all, only Bush's lead on April 26th and Kerry's lead on April 7th have been outside the margin of error. But for a contest conventional wisdom has defined a horserace, worth watching.
Michael Ubaldi, April 30, 2004.
Art Laffer once theorized that a happy medium for tax rates exists, where the private sector's incentive is greatly increased by a treasury extracting only the least effective percentage of earnings, resulting in the highest possible tax collection. President Bush's front-loaded tax cuts passed last year and, Lo and Behold, tax revenues have shot skyward with the market. Moral of the story: if returns are stagnant and a government wishes to both increase its treasury and stimulate the economy over a medium term after an initial drop in receipts, lowering taxes are exactly the right thing to do. Jeffrey Bowyer has more.
Michael Ubaldi, April 29, 2004.
Its front page may be pulling for John Kerry, but the editorial page of the Washington Post is more lucid and fair than it is not:
[T]he Kerry campaign's response to Mr. Cheney's speech this week was...inadequate. In his address in Fulton, Mo., Mr. Cheney was unsparing in his criticism of Mr. Kerry, but his line of attack had nothing to do with Vietnam. Rather, Mr. Cheney questioned Mr. Kerry's record on defense and foreign policy, asserting that he "has given us ample grounds to doubt the judgment and the attitude he brings to bear on vital issues of national security." Some of his points were unfair; for instance, Mr. Kerry's proposed cuts in the intelligence budget a decade ago aren't evidence, as Mr. Cheney would have it, of a "deeply irresponsible" attitude toward funding the war on terrorism. But the vice president's recitation of what he termed Mr. Kerry's "inconsistencies and changing rationales" on Iraq, from the Persian Gulf War to the present, gets to the heart of what this campaign needs to be about: America's place in the world, the right and wrong times to use force and similar weighty questions. Recalling Mr. Cheney's multiple draft deferments isn't a rebuttal; both campaigns need to engage on the merits.
No, it isn't that these men didn't serve — or that anyone speaking as a Republican authority has ever made John Kerry's military record campaign material — it's that one side of a historically contentious debate ran out of reason and resorted to insult. It's not Kerry the Soldier that rightists are worried about; it's Kerry the Civilian. That's been made fairly clear. For John Kerry and Democrats to conflate the two services is wrong and a supreme underestimation of Americans' ability to distinguish between the two, even when not particularly paying attention to a presidential campaign. That Senator Lautenberg turned on Americans in his speech, chastising them for not coming around to his party's point of view, shows contempt for a public that believes real heroes will not allow themselves or others to recognize them as such. Read accounts of some of America's finest, the veterans from the 101st Airborne in the Second World War. The heroes, they say, are the ones who didn't return. How does that square with Kerry's spokesmen telling us over and over about the bullets he took in Vietnam when someone asks about a Senate vote?
John Derbyshire raised the issue on the Corner, making some wonderful points on today's bottom-tier ad hominem dolled up as biting wit. He pushed the issue into a broader context: what about voluntary service? My view as a twenty-something is similar: we take it upon ourselves in a pluralist democracy to assign a division of labor, and it is out of an implicit respect, a code of honor, that those who are best suited for dangerous tasks are entrusted to them. Volunteer service, with its rewards of quality on the battlefield and equity at home, is the best articulation of individual liberty versus soldiery. For war opponents to seize on this delicate contract, like a crazed spouse picking up and heaving anything they can get their hands on, is to be dangerously wrong on two counts. First: do they believe in a praetorian America where only a warrior caste can legislate, execute or judge the making of war? Second, if they believe that, say, a police department and fire department are vital to civil order, why aren't they out on the beat or in the truck right now, risking their lives daily for those who do not? That's a silly argument - but so is the extremists' use of service as a dialectical truncheon.
THE TRUTH IS...: Opus looks more like a puffin than a penguin. And Steven Den Beste knows why the left, for one, is itching for the draft.
Michael Ubaldi, April 29, 2004.
We laughed when prescient minds warned of a lobby against restauranteurs from health fanatics and tort lawyers — then it came. Today it's vogue to lampoon the country's second pastime of fast food dining. A movie was made to document one man's descent, by a month of eating McDonald's for every meal, into vegetable oil-slicked oblivion. Nobody wants to associate themselves with gluttony or the latest patrician scapegoat. Burger and fries? Me? Er, no, how about sushi instead? McDonald's itself is running scared. Then came along Soso Whaley, defender of American assembly line cuisine:
Soso's long march through Mickey D's menu is an effective demonstration that maligning McDonald's as one uniquely lethal food group is ridiculous in an age when its restaurants offer far more variety than in the past. There's green in those golden arches. Vegetables have been spotted! And by vegetables I don't mean either the wrecks of a Russet that the burger chain calls "fries" or, for that matter, the people prepared to eat them. McDonald's sells salads, lots of them. Two weeks into her big adventure, Soso had already chowed down on side salad, and, scourge of the henhouse that she is, Bacon Ranch Salad with Grilled Chicken, Caesar Salad with Crispy Chicken, and the California Cobb Salad.
Michael Ubaldi, April 27, 2004.
When investors are happy, we should be, too:
U.S. stocks were solidly higher Tuesday afternoon, boosted by bullish news on consumer confidence and home sales as well as another dose of good earnings numbers. "On the fundamental side, it's a pretty positive backdrop here," said Joe Liro, equity strategist at Stone & McCarthy. "We have a solid economy, a Fed that still shows signs of being relatively patient ... and you've got just absolutely great earnings numbers."
Michael Ubaldi, April 26, 2004.
I hadn't intended on making Candidate Mxyzptlk a series of entries but off went John Kerry one way while recorded fact went another [emphasis mine]:
Contradicting his statements as a candidate for president, Sen. John Kerry claimed in a 1971 television interview that he threw away as many as nine of his combat medals to protest the war in Vietnam....Throughout his presidential campaign, Kerry has denied that he threw away any of his 11 medals during an anti-war protest in April, 1971. His campaign Web site calls it a "right wing fiction" and a smear. And in an interview with ABCNEWS' Peter Jennings last December, he said it was a "myth."
THIS IS JOHN KERRY: Drudge has the Good Morning America transcript. Bizarre. Unpresidential. Harboring questions about Bush is normal and can work within supporting him for reelection; it doesn't require choosing his inconsistent, even mendacious opponent. Can you understand my shock about this revelation from anyone but a partisan Democrat now?
A THOUGHT: The "ribbons versus medals" element was introduced by Kerry himself; whether employed intentionally or reflexively to deflect responsibility, the dichotomy is quite capable of reducing this otherwise serious contradiction into a minor or, worse, partisan quibble — especially if adversarial press agencies or pundits latch onto it. Kerry has also massaged the discrepancy, on one hand claiming only his ribbons were thrown but on the other, suggesting that they're all the same to the military. Tricky work. At the very least, Kerry benefits from what the definition of "medal" is. It's a blind alley, all to Kerry's advantage. I would guess he intends to exploit any dithering, so the bait should be ignored. Remember, this man is untrustworthy; not unintelligent.
YES, BUT NO: Via IP, Thomas Oliphant vouches for Kerry. But if what Oliphant says is true, why did Kerry claim he'd dumped the Bronze, Silver and Purple? And that contradicts another eyewitness, ABC's Charlie Gibson. As John Podhoretz says, "In 1971, he wanted people to think he had thrown away his medals. In 1984 and ever since, he has wanted people to know he had kept his medals."
Finally, while the Democrats shake their fists at "right-wing attack machines" for defaming Kerry's military service — despite the fact that ABC, of all parties, has been pushing this issue — Kerry and Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe impugn the president and vice president, respectively.
Michael Ubaldi, April 23, 2004.
John Kerry has a little problem with publicly positioning himself diametrically opposite to where he actually stands. He told American voters that he's a stalwart defender of Washington against special interests, an opponent of outsourcing, a crusader for ample supplies of troop body armor; his wife even took a shot at Walmart because they "destroy communities." It's since been revealed that John Kerry is the largest recipient of special interest funds in the United States Senate, is the husband to the catsup heiress whose factories pump out the Best Thing for Those Who Wait on 57 plots of ground that aren't American, has voted in favor of depleting body armor stocks, and whose wife owns rather a rather healthy marital trust investment in Walmart. Do as I say on the stump, not what I do, eh?
Kerry's latest conflict between campaign statement and reality has come in the color green — politics, to be exact. The Democratic presidential candidate aims to please his party's anti-capitalist constituents with rhetoric against sport utility vehicles and a promise to choke automobile manufacturers by imposing arbitrary fuel standards by arbitrary deadlines. Swivel one hundred and eighty degrees:
On Earth Day, Democrat John Kerry reluctantly admitted to having a gas-guzzling SUV in the family - but blamed his wife. "The family has it. I don't have it," Kerry said yesterday. But at first, Kerry - quizzed by reporters on a conference call - tried to deny any links to a gas-guzzler on a day when he was touting his credentials as an environmentalist. "I don't own an SUV," he initially insisted - but 'fessed up when asked if his wife, ketchup heiress Teresa Heinz Kerry, owned the Chevrolet Suburban seen at their Sun Valley ski lodge.
WHAT?: Title is care of Superman, explained here. How many more times need John Kerry get his positions backwards before he's sent back to the Fifth Dimension — I mean, Massachusetts?