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HURRICANE NO MORE: Isaac has been downgraded back to a tropical storm, with max sustained winds right around 70 mph. According to the last update we've seen from the National Weather Service, the storm is 60 miles west of New Orleans, and steadily crawling northwest at a frustratingly slow 6-mph pace.
SO IT'S OVER? In a word: No. In a few more (from the NWS): "Even though Isaac is no longer a hurricane, life-threatening hazards from storm surge and inland flooding are still occurring."
THE GOOD NEWS: At least from what we can tell right now, New Orleans' levees and flood-protection service appears to have largely held strong. "The system is performing as intended, as we expected," an Army Corps spokeswoman said earlier today. "We don't see any issues with the hurricane system at this point."
THE BAD: Isaac may not have lived up to its Katrina-like billing, but it nonetheless is dumping its fair share of water on the Gulf Coast, leaving hundreds of thousands of people without power in the process. The area that has so far fared the worst is Plaquemines Parish (90-odd miles outside of New Orleans), where a local levee has been unable to keep the surge at bay.
AP: "Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said officials may cut a hole in a levee on the east bank of Plaquemines Parish to relieve pressure on the structure. At a news conference in Baton Rouge, Jindal said there was no estimate on when that might occur. He said as many as 40 people are reportedly in need of rescue in the area."
STORM STIMULUS: "Natural disasters lead to a surge of activity, not permanent depressions—we need to apply those lessons to recovering from the financial crisis." Matthew Yglesias explains.
It's Wednesday. Welcome to the Slatest PM, where now that we have the weather report out of the way we'll do our best to make sense of the wide-ranging aftermath of last night's RNC festivities.
BUT FIRST: President Obama took to Reddit today for an AMA (Ask Me Anything). Seriously.
GRAMMAR POLICE: Obama writes [emphasis added]: "And although their will be occasional disagreements on the details of various legislative proposals, I won't stray from that principle - and it will be reflected in the platform." He must be so embarrassed.
HOT MIC: "They are happy to have a party with black people drowning." Those were the words that cost Yahoo! News Washington bureau chief his job today, after his comments were recorded during last night's online broadcast by a live microphone.
Yahoo!: "David Chalian's statement was inappropriate and does not represent the views of Yahoo!. He has been terminated effective immediately. We have already reached out to the Romney campaign, and we apologize to Mitt Romney, his staff, their supporters and anyone who was offended."
"THIS IS HOW WE FEED THE ANIMALS": Those were the words that a pair of RNC attendees reportedly shouted at a black CNN camerawoman last night, prompting convention organizers to give them the boot.
RNC: "Two attendees tonight exhibited deplorable behavior. Their conduct was inexcusable and unacceptable. This kind of behavior will not be tolerated."
NOT SO FAST ON THIS ONE: Delegates didn't shower boos on a Puerto Rican party functionary yesterday, as some have reported. The boos instead were an unrelated display of emotion from Ron Paul fans.
BUT WHAT ABOUT THE SPEECHES? Slate's RNC Breakfast Club has you covered:
John Dickerson: "Ann Romney gave a wonderful speech. ... But was it a great political speech? I'm not so sure. It depends on what your previous feelings were about Mitt Romney and if you watched it on television or are going to hear about it later."
Sasha Issenberg: "Ann's [speech] seemed to miss the mark not only because, as John neatly outlined, it was entirely free of revealing anecdote. I felt as though it confused hardship with the humdrum in a way that seemed even more detached from the way most Americans live than any car elevator or Swiss bank account"
Kerry Howley: "I feel especially dubious about journalistic speculation—my own included—on the emotional power of this speech. It was a speech written for the base; no one else cares about conventions."
WORD CLOUD: Last night's GOP speakers loved "Mitt" but not as much as they loved "America."
TV WARS: Politico: "Fox News outperformed the competition on night one of the GOP convention, drawing more viewers than NBC, ABC, and CBS in the 10 p.m. hour and at least four-times as many viewers as its cable competitors MSNBC and CNN, according to preliminary Nielsen ratings. NBC News won the most viewers in the coveted 25-54-year-old demographic."
TONIGHT'S MARQUEE: John McCain, Mike Huckabee, Condi Rice and Paul Ryan.
WHAT TO EXPECT: WSJ: "Vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan will take the stage on Wednesday evening at the Republican National Convention, bringing his message about the need to drastically shrink the size of the federal government and overhaul the social safety net to a prime-time audience."
JUST SOME POLITICIAN THAT HE USED TO KNOW: Slate's Will Saletan has fallen out of love with the VP nominee who set his heart aflutter only weeks ago. Read his break-up letter here.
RUNNING THE TRAPS—
NYT: "President Bashar al-Assad of Syria said in an excerpt from a television interview broadcast Wednesday that his government’s battle against opposition forces would need 'time' and had not yet been resolved, in what appeared to be a sober assessment of the resilience of the armed insurgency and the limits of a military hobbled by a steady stream of defections."
WSJ: "The Obama campaign crowds appear to be getting bigger. For months, he’s been addressing crowds of two or three thousand people, sometimes less—respectable, and bigger than what rival Mitt Romney was used to, at least before Rep. Paul Ryan joined the GOP ticket. But the Obama rallies were nowhere near what he saw in 2008."
AP: "A firsthand account of the Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden contradicts previous accounts by administration officials, raising questions as to whether the terror mastermind presented a clear threat when SEALs first fired upon him."
We'll see you back here tomorrow. In the meantime, tell your friends to subscribe here. You can also follow the whole team at @slatest and your host at @JoshVoorhees. Or fill his inbox with links, mini-explainer requests and anything else that's on your mind at firstname.lastname@example.org.