Saturday, June 09, 2007

Thompson's Missteps; McCain's Final Days?

I think McCain's campaign will be in serious trouble if they can't meet the fundraising goal they set after 're-launching' the campaign some weeks ago. Combined with the stink of the immigration mess, it sounds like he's in real trouble:

George W. Bush's 2004 campaign fund-raisers and contributors are being bombarded with appeals for money by Sen. John McCain's heavy-spending, money-short 2008 campaign.

McCain is concentrating heavily on the rich target of lawyers and lobbyists in Washington, D.C. They have been invited to multiple McCain fund-raising events held in the nation's capital, currently a $1,000-a-ticket reception June 26 at the Capitol Hill Club with a potential "event co-chair" asked to raise $50,000. A large percentage of the Bush fund-raising team remains uncommitted, a signal that the Republican establishment is not satisfied with the present field seeking the party's nomination.

McCain's money-raisers are hard put to reach the $10 million goal set for the second quarter of 2008 by the June 30 deadline, after collecting $12 million in the first quarter. McCain raised $2 million in April and $3 million in May, and is expected to reach $2-3 million in June -- falling short of the $10 million goal and of what his opponents have raised.

Read the rest of Novak's piece for info on the nascent Thompson campaign.

Liquid Water Discovered on Mars

How cool would this be?

A new analysis of pictures taken by the exploration rover Opportunity reveals what appear to be small ponds of liquid water on the surface of Mars.

The report identifies specific spots that appear to have contained liquid water two years ago, when Opportunity was exploring a crater called Endurance. It is a highly controversial claim, as many scientists believe that liquid water cannot exist on the surface of Mars today because of the planet’s thin atmosphere.

Looks rather a lot like water to me.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Economy on the Rebound?

It's strange that on a day when the White House is officially lowering its estimate for economic growth this year, new trade figures show growth to be more robust than previously thought. First the slowdown:

The White House on Wednesday lowered its forecast for economic growth this year even as it slightly upgraded its outlook for unemployment.

Under the administration's new forecast, gross domestic product, or GDP, will grow by 2.3 percent as measured from the fourth quarter of last year to the fourth quarter of this year. That's down from a previous projection of 2.9 percent.

The main reason for the downgrade: The first three months of 2007 got off to an extremely weak start. Economic growth at that time had skidded to nearly a halt, increasing at a rate of just 0.6 percent, the worst showing in more than four years.

The news of the rebound is from the Financial Times, and it's directly linked to strong export growth :

Global demand for US exports helped shrink the country’s trade gap in April in a strong sign that the American economy is picking up speed.

The trade deficit fell by more than even the most optimistic Wall Street economists were expecting and prompted many to upgrade their forecasts for economic growth in the second quarter...

Bruce C. Kasman, chief economist at JPMorgan, said he was raising his forecast for growth in the second quarter to 4 per cent from 2.5 per cent after an expansion of only 0.6 per cent last quarter.

The Economist -- in an article dated yesterday -- speaks about 2.5 percent growth in the second quarter, and notes that exports may be expected to rebound quickly (as they apparently have done), even as the housing market remains disappointing.

It sounds as if the remainder of 2007 may see relatively strong growth. Of course, with the unemployment rate currently around 4.5 percent, there's not much room for it to get better.

Ham Nation: Sopranos Tribute

Very funny. It took me a little while to realize I wasn't actually watching the opening:

Politico Interview with David Zucker

This is a little old, apparently, but I'm just coming to it now.

The Politico has an interesting interview with David Zucker -- one of the creative minds behind 'Airplane,' 'Top Secret,' 'Kentucky Fried Movie,' and other funny films. In the last few election cycles, Zucker has created several memorable commercials that poke fun at Democrats. Most memorable is this one featuring Madeline Albright:

Another good one is the 'Taxman' ad:

And here is one he apparently made on the ISG recommendations:

The Zucker interview is interesting for several items -- notably his kind words for High Hewitt, his description of himself as a JFK Democrat, and his observation that 'Republicans think Democrats are just wrong; but Democrats think Republicans are bad'

Politico doesn't seem to allow embedding, so here's the link.


How do businesses make money in New York - and how much do they make? New York magazine explains profits and costs for a range of different types of business.

(Hat Tip: Mary)

Giuliani plans to debut a plan to significantly reform health insurance in the US. Good for him. I'm unsure whether he'll be able to sell a system where many people see fewer things covered than they do today, but providing a tax incentive to purchase insurance on the private market seems a valuable idea. Ending the preference for employer-provided health insurance and allowing consumers more choice can only be to the good.

Michael Barone has nice things to say about his reception on the Daily Show, and regarding Jon Stewart personally. Here's the interview.

Danny Glover of Beltway Blogroll writes on the Gartner Group's finding that government agencies will shy away from alternate worlds like 'Second Life.'

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Spoiling the Sopranos

Don't worry; I'm not about to do it. (In fact, I can't do it).

But Gawker is suggesting that someone has ruined the surprise ending of the series with a sloppy E-mail subject line:

Dear Leslie Taylor of Big Machine Media,

We're so happy for your client that he has managed to snag an appearance on the finale of the Sopranos. And how helpful to know that he is "A SAG, AFTRA and AEA member!" But what the HOLY HECK were you thinking sending out a mass email describing the role he'll play in the SUBJECT LINE OF THE EMAIL? Are you the worst person alive? Do you eat puppies? We'd wish a horrible fate on you, but you already rep Janice Dickinson so that seems to be covered.


The Universe

If I get the E-mail from Ms. Taylor, I'll let you know.

Obey: You Can Review Earmarks, But Can't Do Anything About Them

Over at the Standard.

Hillary vs. Obama

Hang around until the end; it's kind of funny.

Mild content warning:

Hat Tip: Red State

House Votes for the 'H' Prize

Congressional Quarterly reports that the House did something sensible yesterday, passing legislation to create the hydrogen energy version of the 'X Prize:'

The government would offer a series of cash prizes for innovations in hydrogen energy under a bill the House passed Wednesday.

The bill (HR 632), by Daniel Lipinski, D-Ill., would be intended to bring clean-burning hydrogen-powered vehicles closer to reality. It passed by a 408-8 vote. “The future possibilities of this energy source are enormous,” Lipinski said...

Every two years, H-Prizes worth $1 million would be given in four categories: production, storage, distribution and utilization. One $4 million prize would be awarded for hydrogen vehicles. At the end of 10 years, a $10 million grand prize would be given for a “transformational advance in hydrogen energy technology.”

FuturePundit offered thoughts on the value of prizes a little while ago.

Aimlessness on Energy

I commented over at the Standard yesterday that Democrats seem not to know where they want to go on energy legislation. Their overall goals appear to include lower production of petroleum and gasoline (seen in opposition to drilling in ANWR and opposition to coal liquification), increased use of more expensive and less efficient alternate fuels, and lower prices.

See anything amiss there?

The Hill looks today at both the House and Senate energy bills, and notes fights over coal liquification and CAFE standards.

And don't underestimate the importance of the fight over renewable fuel goals. As Foreign Affairs has noted, a lot of corn is going into ethanol production, dramatically raising prices for corn-based foods. One commodity affected? Chicken feed:

Meanwhile, efforts by interest groups could further open regional divides. Livestock producers are pushing for an amendment that would waive implementation of the renewable fuels standard if corn prices grew too high. They say that increased demand for ethanol — a high priority for agriculture-state lawmakers — is driving up the prices for livestock feed to record levels.

The price of chicken feed, for instance, has increased 60 percent over the last several months.

“We’re hoping for some relief,” said Richard Lobb, spokesman for the National Chicken Council, a trade group.

According to Dr. Bruce Babcock of Iowa State University, the average American grocery bill will rise by $50 in the next two years alone, simply because of the increased use of corn for ethanol:

Hart says that'll mean a hike of about 5% in the price of milk, beef, pork and chicken. "The producer will see it, but not enough to change consumption patterns," Hart said.

And, Ag Secretary Mike Johanns says livestock producers-- and their consumers-- may not get a break for two years. But, ethanol producers call this a "short term situation." "We don't like high corn prices either," said Don Endres, VeraSun CEO. "But, we're convinced that the "long-term" is very good."

Ethanol and other alternative fuels have ramifications and costs that are not generally discussed. We ought to discuss them.


The very talented Jon Henke has joined the campaign of Fred Thompson, and will be returning to the QandO blog. Given the failure of the Republican candidates to take internet organizing seriously, I suspect that Jon and the Thompson campaign will seize the initiative. The question is whether the other candidates can follow.

The T-Rex did not move fast.

The Edwards campaign is not ready for prime time. (Hat Tip: Insty).

Barone has thoughts on the Republican numbers. They show Giuliani with a slight lead over Thompson, Romney and McCain. He does not assert -- but I will -- that Thompson's numbers are likely to improve once he actually, really announces.

See Fred on Hannity:

Novak writes about the significant problems with the Edwards campaign - even if he wins the nomination.

David All explains how the Thompson online team is far better than any of his GOP opponents.

Monday, June 04, 2007

The Fleeting Nature of the Forever Door

This is just a personal observation. The Forever Door is actually as fleeting as many other things in life. You may think you've got a door that'll be working superbly long after you're gone, only to find that it lasts only a few years.

Or put another way, it might last forever -- but if it doesn't, you're the one who has to pay for it.


Is Al Gore running? Who cares. He would not be an especially strong candidate in the general election, anyway.

Fred Barnes says there's a lot to like in the immigration bill.

Why did Berger give up his license so easily?

John Podhoretz is not a fan of 'Knocked Up.'

Bill O'Reilly opposes the immigration bill, because it seeks to upset the white, male, Christian power structure of the country. There are those who believe this would be a great reason to support it.

Bill Jefferson will be indicted.

Fred Thompson's campaign will depend heavily on internet organizing and fundraising. This is a welcome development, and one that's likely to push Giuliani, McCain, Romney and others to try to catch up.

Check out the latest culinary triumph from Brooklyn: deep fried pizza. Is there anything that can't be deep-fried?

Sunday, June 03, 2007

AP Discovers Democratic Hypocrisy

They're not following the rules they instituted at the start of the Congress. Who knew?

The Pendulum Swings Back

I heard this advertised on the radio yesterday: