The Spectacle Blog
I'd say it's less than 50/50 that good GDP numbers cause a market selloff today, Prowler. Fed Chief Bernanke said before Congress yesterday that the OMC was unlikely to raise interest rates at their next meeting, and might even be done with that for a while. I don't think Bernanke will be surprised by today's GDP numbers. According to this morning's IBD, "Futures markets adjusted their rate-hike projections on his comments. The chances of a quarter-point June hike fell to 34% from 66% on Wednesday. The market already has priced in a 16th straight hike, to 5%, for the Fed's May meeting."
Ok, ok, I'll grant you that the century is yet young. And that there is fierce competition for that title. But we may already have a winner.
Ari Richter writes in the Weekly Standard that the president should consider replacing Donald Rumsfeld with John McCain. John McCain?
Not only must Rumsfeld stay, for all the reasons I've written again and again. But were he to go, McCain would be precisely the wrong person for the job because his track record (the phony anti-torture amendment, for example) would leave too many in the military distrustful of him to ever function well as SecDef.
Among the interestingly incorrect assumptions in Richter's piece is his assertion that McCain would be easily confirmed by his Senate pals. Doesn't anyone remember John Tower? Guess not. And Tower was toppled in a time when the Senate was less fiercely divided on partisan lines.
Blundering bookwriters are having a good -- that is, terrible -- year. Joining the list of the sorrowful that includes failed autobiographer James Frey and the men who would sue Dan Brown, for writing about something they did too, is young Harvardian Kaavya Viswanathan. She takes a nice picture, and pictures never lie. But how many pictures worth of words did she lift unconsciously from two of her favorite books? Enough for a battle to loom; enough to establish a sad pattern of laziness and mindless reprocessing in the ding-dong world of big publishers. Line 'em up and whack away -- they won't get the message without taking their lumps.
Not a lot of tea-leaf reading to do here. The WSJ Online, based on comments from the Fed, is saying the the U.S. economy is churning into the second quarter with a full head of steam.
GDP numbers will be released tomorrow, and the rumors are that they will be impressive, perhaps more than impressive. This will again fuel inflation fears and the notion that the Fed is going to have to hang another quarter point of interest during its next meeting.
But with such good economic numbers - and don't forget, lost in this week's gas price hysteria were impressive consumer confidence numbers - one has to wonder: why isn't the White House doing a better job of getting its economic message out? And why aren't Republicans on Capitol Hill doing everything in their power to help get that message out?
Tiger Woods is as branded as a Texas steer. He has no business on the links wearing that filthy baseball hat with the Swoosh stitched across it. In the words of Hunter Thompson, may it become a flaming shroud. How long until Air Tiger golf shoes? Spare me.
On the other hand, we have golf to thank for permitting powerful people to conduct private conversations in what appear to be public places.
Earlier this week I complained that not enough of the top tour pros are playing at this week's stop on the PGA Tour, in New Orleans -- while praising Phil Mickelson and David Toms for coming. But this story gives me the warm fuzzies all over -- in a very good way. Mickelson, Toms, and New Orleans-native tour pro Kelly Gibson are doing great things for post-Katrina charity, and I salute them. Mickelson's quotes are just fantastic. He just went way up in my estimation. Meanwhile, a nod to Kelly, whom I know (only slightly, but enough so that he recognizes me, unprompted -- this has happened more than once -- in a small, random crowd of fans if I attend a tourney he's playing in) and whom I played against (sort of: I was the fifth seed on my school's team; he was the top seed on his school's team, and one of the best golfers in the state, so we only actually played one round in the same group, and that was by mistake) in high school. Kelly Gibson always has been one of the world's "good guys," and he is quite popular on tour, I hear.
This front-section story from the Washington Post about the so-called lobbying "reform" bill due for a House vote today perfectly captures, in the course of straight reporting, the problem with the House GOP: ALL they seem to do is think in terms of short-term politics, not in terms of long-term principles and not in terms of whether a policy is wise or ill-conceived, right or wrong, ethical or unethical. One key passage is this: Lawmakers acknowledge that the bill is more limited in its scope and impact than the provisions promised by congressional leaders immediately after Abramoff's guilty plea to federal charges of bribery, conspiracy, tax evasion and mail fraud nearly four months ago. But they say they do not feel compelled to push more stringent measures partly because voters do not appear to be demanding them.
Dana Milbank turns in some solid reporting on Capitol Hill today -- checking to see just how serious these members of Congress are about energy problems. As they bleat about fuel economy, they're driven the one or two blocks between the Capitol and their offices in low-fuel-economy vehicles.