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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Saturday, October 20, 2007

"Values Voters" straw poll. - Updated

Non-scientific, but I think we can safely say Giuliani didn't close the deal.

Candidate Name ... Percentage

1. Mitt Romney ... 27.62 %
2. Mike Huckabee ... 27.10 %
3. Ron Paul ... 14.98%
4. Fred Thompson ... 9.77 %
5. Sam Brownback ... 5.14 %
6. Duncan Hunter ... 2.42 %
7. Tom Tancredo ... 2.30 %
8. Rudy Giuliani ... 1.85 %
9. John McCain ... 1.40 %

From Politico: "Announcing the results, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said the top four issues picked by voters were 1) abortion; 2) marriage; 3) tax cuts; and 4) permanent tax relief for families." (Not terrorism/national security.)

(And don't take too much from the Ron Paul number. For a one dollar contribution to FRC you could vote online.)

Later: Check this out. Most of Romney's strength in this poll came from online votes. Huckabee beat Romney 5 to 1 among actual attendees.

The Romney folks claim they encouraged their people to vote online. What they really did was blast their email list asking for online votes.

Here's a breakdown.


I know nothing about this guy but what is printed here, but the idea that the guy who bailed out George Bush's Arbusto into Harkin energy, arranged the "insider" deal that allowed Bush maximum profit when he sold his Harkin stock to Bahrainis, also had a key and pivotal role in BCCI and is now backing Hillary Clinton....


Picture of the Day

Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., unveils his 'Real Leadership for Rural America' agenda at a farm near Fairfax, Iowa, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2007. (AP Photo/David Lienemann)

Larijani "resigns"

Iran's nuclear negotiator "resigned" suddenly. The official story out of Iran seems to be that Larijani and Ahmadinejad had some sort of difference on position, but I tend to lean more towards this.
Larijani had said on Wednesday that Putin made a special proposal to break the deadlock over the nuclear programme in talks with supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei during his visit to Iran on Tuesday.

But Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying by the semi-official Fars news agency: "There was no nuclear proposal."

Putin carried his (as yet undelineated) "special message" around Ahmadinejad directly to Ayatolah Khamenei, and it was Larijani who made this public. Ahmadinejad's people have vociferously denied any message.

Ahmadinejad may have not liked the revelation that he's not the one in control.

(And then there's that curious bit about the assassination plot against Putin.....)

We're just seeing the tip here.

Claims of politics in terror prosecutions

This is a hell of a claim, but remember, it's single source.
Politically motivated officials at the Pentagon have pushed for convictions of high-profile detainees ahead of the 2008 elections, the former lead prosecutor for terrorism trials at Guantanamo Bay said last night, adding that the pressure played a part in his decision to resign earlier this month.

A single source justifies the Israeli airstrike on Syria

Speaking of single sourced stories, ABCNews has a Martha Raddatz piece outlining the intelligence that showed a developing nuclear plant in Syria used by the Israelis to justify their recent airstrike.

Interesting, but the thing to note is that the entire thing is sourced to a single "senior U.S. official."

With standing proof of the policy divisions between the Cheney and the Rice/Gates factions, and the long history of cherrypicking intelligence, this sort of story is worse than useless. As we've learned through Iraq, this sort of reporting is dangerous.

(And whatever happened to the "two source" standard?)

Friday, October 19, 2007

Now the Kurds up the stakes

This isn't exactly what he's saying, but it sure sounds like the top Kurdish official just said his people and the Kurdish government will go to war to protect the PKK.
The president of the Kurdish region in northern Iraq has said his people will defend themselves if Turkey attacks Kurdish rebels based in the region....

"We frankly say to all parties: if they attack the region of Kurdistan under whatever pretext, we will be completely ready to defend our democratic experiment and the dignity of our people and the sanctity of our homeland," Mr Barzani said.

(Also an AP version with a slightly different coloring.)

Picture of the Day - 2

(President George W. Bush waves from the steps of Air Force One at Waco TSTC airport October 15, 2007. REUTERS/Jason Reed)

Political bits II

I guess after the immigration debacle, the Republicans have given up on Hispanic outreach. Token chairman of the Republican Party, Sen. Mel Martinez, is stepping aside.

(Politico) Reflecting the broader trend, "At the end of September, the DCCC reported over $28 million cash-on-hand, and have only $2.9 million in debt. By contrast, the NRCC reported only $1.6 million cash on hand, with $3.9 million in debt."

(TheHill) Inevitability pays off for Clinton who is beginning to win the money race among DC insiders.

(Tribune) Patrick Fitzgerald is getting married.

And, has anyone noticed that the Republican conversation has shrunk to include only Giuliani and Romney? The Romney campaign has been successful in pushing Thompson out. Now people are talking about evangelicals finding harbor with Romney....

The Family Research Council (Dobson) meeting this weekend could mark a winnowing in the Republican primary.

(Later: Let's remember that earlier this week Giuliani was trying so hard to pick a fight with Clinton, presumably to go into this FRC meeting repeating his "electability" argument. The Clinton camp didn't play along.)

Are the Pakistanis planning something big?

I'm a little dubious because this is the first we've heard of it, but a Pakistani official tells the ATimes that the Pakistanis are about to go all in on the tribal areas.
An all-out battle for control of Pakistan's restive North and South Waziristan is about to commence between the Pakistani military and the Taliban and al-Qaeda adherents who have made these tribal areas their own.

If you believe this, check out how they prepped for the battle.
According to the security official, an ultimatum had been delivered to the militants recently during a temporary ceasefire. The army would set a deadline and give safe passage into Afghanistan to all al-Qaeda members and Taliban commanders who had gathered in Waziristan to launch a large-scale post-Ramadan operation in Afghanistan. They, along with wanted tribal warrior leaders, would all leave Pakistan, and never return.

On the one hand, the NATO forces are probably pretty happy to finally get the Taleban on some ground where they can shoot at them. On the other hand, Pakistan is giving "safe passage" to all these guys who they know are planning operations in Afghanistan.

It could simply be an empty threat by the Pakistanis to try and get them out. I don't know.

The Turks ask too much

According to Bloomberg,
Turkey called on U.S. forces to seize Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq, as the Iraqi government warned against a Turkish invasion of the oil-rich region.

The U.S. should extradite the militants to Turkey to help prevent an attack on the rebels' bases in neighboring Iraq's Kurdish-controlled north, Egemen Bagis, an adviser to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said today.

The US might be able to free up some special forces to seize a few of these guys, but the politics on the Iraqi side would get really complicated. What happens in the Iraqi government if the Kurds decide to "punish" the US? (Extradition is, I'm sure, off the table.)

Picture of the Day

(A masked Iraqi translator waits for police applicants in a U.S military supervised recruitment of policemen in Baghdad October 15, 2007. U.S. forces hope locally-recruited police will play a key role in maintaining security in their communities. (REUTERS/Erik de Castro))

(In a bit of a hurry this morning. Hopefully, more later.)

Oil at $90 per barrel

We've all heard about the possibility of $100 per barrel oil from the experts, but it seemed so impossible and so far away.....
Oil prices surpassed $90 a barrel for the first time Thursday as the falling dollar drew new foreign investors and speculators to dollar-denominated energy futures.

Props to the AP for mentioning that the collapsing dollar is playing a part.

(And, just as a frame of reference, in March 2003, on the eve of the Iraq war, oil was $ 35 per barrel.)

Political bits

The NYTimes looks back at the smear campaign in 2000 against John McCain. (This is our president of integrity that the evangelicals so love.)

(AFP) The Iowa caucus is now Jan. 3 which means we're likely to see some ridiculous, gaudy Christmas campaigning.

(WaPo) Interesting that sources within the GOP keep saying Dennis Hastert will resign before the end of the year while Hastert says it will be next year.

(WaPo) Cilizza's The Fix takes a look at the top 10 Senate races in play in 2008. 9 of 10 are Republican.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Picture of the Day - 4

This is a frame from TV showing injured people on the road following an explosion that went off near the vehicle carrying former premier of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto , during a parade in Karachi, Pakistan, Thursday, Oct. 18 2007. (AP Photo / APTN)

Former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto leaves her truck into her bullet-proof car after explosions hit her convoy in Karachi, October 19, 2007. (Athar Hussain/Reuters)

The death toll is at 126.

Picture of the Day - 3

This is the man who brought back the Soviet national anthem.

There's been a little coverage that Putin "criticized the US on Iraq," but take a minute to look at what he really said.

Thank God Russia is not Iraq,".... "It is strong enough to protect its interests within the national territory and, by the way, in other regions of the world."

Answering a questioner who asked about supposed U.S. intentions to gain control over Russia's huge, resource-rich interior, Putin said:

"I know that such ideas are brewing in the heads of some politicians. I think it is a sort of political eroticism which maybe gives someone pleasure but will hardly lead anywhere and the best example of that is Iraq."

"... What we are doing to increase our defense capability is the correct choice and we will continue to do that," Putin added.

Am I mistaken in reading this as a threat to the US to keep its hands out of Russia and its "interests" in "other regions of the world?"

I've been pondering the recent Russian hostility and the "special message" that Putin carried to Ayatollah Khamenei. Was it "give up your nukes and we'll protect you?" (That would be a win for the Russians in the form of a permanently bound client state.)

The Russians are definitely active: (AP) "Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert made a surprise trip to Moscow on Thursday to discuss Iran's nuclear program with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who just returned from talks with Iranian leaders in Tehran."

What if the Russians come up with a different solution which leaves the US isolated? Are the Russians going to "win" the Iranian showdown?

(President Vladimir Putin listens to a question in Moscow's Kremlin, Thursday, Oct. 18, 2007. (AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Vladimir Rodionov, Presidential Press Service))

Political bits

Isn't it wonderfully ironic that Rudy Giuliani is trying to sell himself to Republicans as the only one who can stop Hillary Clinton, while at the same time, Mitt Romney is trying to sell himself to Christian conservatives as the only one who can stop Rudy Giuliani?

(Politico) The Clinton camp is trying to sell the line that they will claim a substantial portion (24%) of the Republican women's vote. Couple this with a statement saying that Giuliani's appeal is limited to white male, and the Clinton campaign seems to be trying to set the media conventional wisdom.

(TPM) The prostitutes have shown up at the Brent Wilkes trial.

(ThinkProgress) And, maybe not coincidentally, Dennis Hastert, whose name came up in the testimony, moves his retirement forward. (NBC) Or maybe he doesn't.

(Bloomberg) "Several freshman Democrats who have boosted their chances of hanging onto hard-won seats by using their fundraising prowess to scare off challengers."

(AP) A claim in the NYDaily News that Giuliani's "conservative support" is not really all that "conservative." (I'm sick of that word.)

(CNN) A video segment looking at Fred Thompson's falling fortunes in New Hampshire. (It looks like the bubble is bursting. And, god, is he awful on the stump.) The main criticism is that he's not campaigning enough. (But he's not lazy.)

And, if anyone cares, (AP) Brownback is quitting.

Next time you're on a plane......

Not to be lost today,
Security screeners at two of the nation's busiest airports failed to find fake bombs hidden on undercover agents posing as passengers in more than 60% of tests last year, according to a classified report obtained by USA TODAY.

Picture of the Day - 2

(President Bush looks at the Capitol Rotunda with Dalai Lama during the presentation of the Congressional Gold Medal to Dalai Lama at a ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda, October 17, 2007. (Larry Downing/Reuters))

The Turks (somewhat) hollow threat

In all the discussion of the politics of the Turkish resolution authorizing cross border operations into Kurdistan, there has been very little discussion of the practicality of such a move.

Without a change in the situation, there's a very real possibility that the Turks might make some sort of visible token incursion at some point to try and move along US and Iraqi government measures aimed at limiting the PKK, but as for a significant or extended operation, I find that idea pretty unlikely.

Anyone who has watched any of the recent conflicts has to recognize the mess the Turks would be stepping into. Israel's disastrous attempt to dislodge Hezbullah. the US's efforts towards insurgents in Iraq, or more exactly, the efforts against the Taleban in the mountains of Pakistan. The Russians in Chechnya.

A Turkish incursion would face an enemy hiding in some godawful mountainous terrain, with local support on both sides of the border. They would have little to no control over the easy flow of almost unlimited armaments coming up from Iraq, and would be limited in their use air support on the Iraqi side of the border.

Perhaps they could "raid" and take out targeted key PKK personnel, but the military aspects of a larger operation are unbelievably daunting.

(AFP) Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Wednesday said he would support a Turkish incursion into northern Iraq....

Because Condi Rice is incompetent....

Condi Rice isn't trusted with Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkey.... She's only allowed to go to Russia with a Robert Gates backbone. The major powers view her only as a messenger and do all their deal making with Cheney or Hadley.

So, as the Middle East "peace deal," the only major initiative Condi Rice has been working on, looks likely to fall through, in goes Stephen Hadley.
President Bush is sending his national security adviser to the Middle East next week to keep up pressure on Israel and the Palestinians to reach agreement on launching formal peace talks, a senior U.S. official said on Thursday.

She is really, really bad, and they know it, but they won't replace her.

Picture of the Day

(A car drives past a billboard showing the image of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in Karachi. Bhutto has vowed to restore democracy to Pakistan on the eve of her homecoming after eight years in exile, defying Al-Qaeda threats and government pressure to delay. (AFP/Rizwan Tabassum))

(Still no word on whether Musharraf's election will stand.)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


(NYTimes) "Iraq has agreed to award $1.1 billion in contracts to Iranian and Chinese companies to build a pair of enormous power plants, the Iraqi electricity minister said Tuesday."

(And, of course, the US sees a red under every bed. “As you know, it’s not always as it appears. Their Quds Force routinely uses the cover of a business to mask their real purpose as an intelligence operative.”)

(AP) "The Pentagon is preparing to alert eight National Guard units that they should be ready to go to Iraq or Afghanistan beginning late next summer.... Some of those being alerted this week have done tours in the war zone already." (Just one weekend a month.....)

(Reuters) "Russian President Vladimir Putin gave Iran a "special message" on its disputed atomic program and other issues, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator was quoted as saying on Wednesday, without giving details."

Later: The NYTimes also talks about "the special message," "proposed a new way to help resolve the standoff over Iran’s nuclear program..."

(RollCall) Dennis Hastert is expected to announce tomorrow that he won't run again.

And, Everyone seems amazed that AG nominee Mukasey is saying he'll be independent and protect civil liberties. Really, what did you expect him to say?

Picture of the Day - 3

You can tell by the way I use my walk, I' m a woman's man, no time to talk..... Stayin' Aliiiiiiivvvee......

(Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama takes a walking tour of downtown Vinton, Iowa, Oct. 16, 2007. (AP Photo/David Lienemann))

How do you spot a Republican in trouble?

"Brownback to pitch proposal apologizing for slavery."

Giuliani, Thompson skip out on the RNC?

What is this?
Two of the four leading Republican contenders left before speaking to a fundraising dinner Tuesday night for the Republican National Committee.....

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Sen. Fred Thompson (Tenn.) made brief remarks to a closed-press reception before the dinner began but then left even though they were scheduled to address the dinner.

What? They had somewhere else to be?

Bush's shifting language on Iran

Watching the Bush press conference, I noticed that he was pressing a slightly different language regarding the Iranian nuclear program. He repeatedly used some version of "we must prevent Iran from obtaining the knowledge of how to build a nuclear bomb."

That has a very different timetable than "we must prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear bomb." It would set the "deadlines for action" much further forward.

I don't know if this is a significant shift or if he simply got stuck on the phrase, but it seemed intentional. (Transcript not up yet.)

Picture of the Day - 2

If there's one thing I know, it's that the Dalai Lama is all about the bling.

After all, it's the very core of Buddhism to seek out awards and external symbols.

(President George W. Bush and top US lawmakers were to lead an unprecedented official US tribute to the Dalai Lama, bucking China's angry warnings of crippled Sino-US relations(AFP/Volker Hartmann))

Giuliani throws a gauntlet (or looks for a lifeline)

I understand that Rudy Giuliani is looking to position himself as the Republican "anti-Clinton," but is this really the road he wants to take? (This is a Drudge "flash," so the link may disappear, and the content may not be wholly true.)
Excerpt from Mayor Giuliani's interview that airs tonight on FOXNEWS's Hannity & Colmes at 9PM ET:

R. GIULIANI: "Honestly, in most respects, I don't know Hillary's experience. She's never run a city, she's never run a state. She's never run a business. She has never met a payroll. She has never been responsible for the safety and security of millions of people, much less even hundreds of people.

"So I'm trying to figure out where the experience is here. It would seem to me that in a time of difficult problems and war we don't want on the job training for an executive. The reality is that these areas in which - maybe there are some areas in which she has experience but the areas of having the responsibility of the safety and security of millions of people on your shoulders is not something Hillary has ever had any experience with."

I think they're just praying that Clinton will fire back. Giuliani needs this fight to win the primary, so, if you're the Clinton camp, do you help Giuliani by firing back?

I don't think you can take it lying down, but where do you go? Do you fire back by talking about he pile workers, or the affairs, or the business dealings? Do you want to help Giuliani?

It just got interesting.

Also: (WaPo) "More than a third of the top fundraisers who helped elect George W. Bush president remain on the sidelines in 2008, contributing to a gaping financial disparity between the GOP candidates and their Democratic counterparts..... More than two dozen have actually made contributions to Democrats."

US buying loyalty of 'concerned' Iraqis

I found this AFP piece a very interesting read.
American commanders are unashamedly buying the loyalty of Iraqi tribal leaders and junior officials, a strategy they trumpet as a major success but which critics fear will lead to hidden costs in terms of militia and sectarian strife.

These low-level Iraqi leaders from the Madain area south of Baghdad are meeting top US military brass for the second time in four days.....

"Tell me how I can help you," asks Major-General Rick Lynch, commander of US-led forces in central Iraq.

A Sunni sheikh who lost his son to an Al-Qaeda suicide bomber says he needs more bodyguards as he has hardly left his house in three months for fear of attack. Others list money, drinkable water, more uniforms, more projects.

One mentions weapons, but the general insists: "I can give you money to work in terms of improving the area. What I cannot do - this is very important - is give you weapons."

The gravity of the war council in a tent at the US forward operating base at Camp Assassin is suspended for a few moments as one of the local Iraqi leaders says jokingly but knowingly: "Don't worry! Weapons are cheap in Iraq."

"That's right, that's exactly right," laughs Lynch in reply.


It's really no surprise that the Turkish Paliament will vote to authorize cross border military action into northern Iraq. The internal politics of this almost demand it. PKK guerillas are repeatedly conducting attacks and killing Turkish soldiers inside Turkey.

The authorization is almost mandated by the situation. The thing to watch is what the Turkish government does with that authority, and, thus far, they're saying an incursion is not imminent.


Reuters/Zogby: Bush approval - 24%. Wow.

I would treat it as a bit of an outlier, but it is a major poll.

What the hell?

This is not Islamists or rebels. This is Somali government forces.
Somali government forces stormed the UN compound in Mogadishu on Wednesday and abducted the World Food Programme's (WFP) top representative in the capital.....

Government officials could not be immediately be reached for comment.

Picture of the Day

There was so much media about the Putin Ahmadinejad meeting, but this was the really important meeting. Ahmadinejad's come and go, but the Islamic Council is the core of the country's politics.

(Russian President Vladimir Putin meets Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for talks in Tehran. Putin has left Iran after a trip which saw him reinforce ties with the Islamic republic and distance himself from Western warnings over its nuclear programme. (AFP))

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

US 'delayed' British withdrawal from Basra

I wonder how this is going to go down with the British public?
British forces were prevented from pulling out of their last base in Basra City for five months because the Americans refused to move their consulate, according to senior military sources.....

A senior defence source involved in planning the pull-back to Basra airport said: "The decision to stay on was made in London; it was a political and not a logistical one."

Meanwhile, the administration has sent Debra Cagan to every backwater ex-Soviet Republic hunting for small troop commitments.

Picture of the Day - 2

"Ohhh, that's so sweet, but you don't have to propose to get my vote...."

Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani, right, greets Sivia Kaye, left, during a stop to greet locals at Rose's New York style restaurant in Portland, Ore., Saturday, Sept. 29, 2007. (AP Photo/Greg Wahl-Stephens)

Political bits

Inside the massive GQ McCain tell all by ex-McCain aide Salter is the revelation that McCain almost quit the race in July.

(ABCRadar) McCain is at a 95% burn rate, spending money as fast as it comes in.

(Politico) Business abandons GOP for Democrats

(USAToday) New polling showing a Clinton stretching her lead. Notably, she also holds the most committed support of any candidate.

(WSJblog) The Giuliani campaign is returning those $9.11 checks.

(LATimes) Retirement season hits GOP hard

And, You really have to wonder about a system that allows campaign funds to be converted into defense lawyer payments in criminal actions.

I'm sure that's what people wanted when they donated to the campaigns.

Verizon admits it

Confirmation from Verizon of previous reporting.
Verizon Communications, the nation's second-largest telecom company, told congressional investigators that it has provided customers' telephone records to federal authorities in emergency cases without court orders hundreds of times since 2005.....

From January 2005 to September 2007, Verizon provided data to federal authorities on an emergency basis 720 times, it said in the letter. The records included Internet protocol addresses as well as phone data.

The telecoms claim they already have immunity under existing law.

One of the items I'm watching in all this is the "calling circle" or community requests. (Suspect calls person A, and the government then "taps" person A to person B.)
Yesterday's 13-page Verizon letter indicated that the requests went further than previously known. Verizon said it had received FBI administrative subpoenas, called national security letters, requesting data that would "identify a calling circle" for subscribers' telephone numbers, including people contacted by the people contacted by the subscriber. Verizon said it does not keep such information.

Then there's the very real, and as yet unanswered question, of whether all these non-court ordered activities have resulted in anything useful. Is there anything to suggest that doing these requests illegally yielded more results?


(AP) "Russian leader Vladimir Putin met his Iranian counterpart Tuesday and implicitly warned the U.S. not to use a former Soviet republic to stage an attack on Iran. He also said nations shouldn't pursue oil pipeline projects in the area if they weren't backed by regional powers.....

It was a clear reference to long-standing rumors that the U.S. was planning to use Azerbaijan, a former Soviet republic, as a staging ground for any possible military action against Iran."

(AP) The controversial US-India nuclear deal is breaking down from the Indian side.

(Reuters) Condi Rice's middle east peace deal is getting knocked down by regional Sunni powers, Egypt, Syria, and Saudi Arabia. (Significant because the Saudis played the key role in bringing the Fatah half of Palestine to the table.)

(AFP) Another ceasefire in the Pakistani border regions?

(Reuters) A "misfired" Patriot missile hit a farm in Qatar. (Certainly could be a misfire, but it would be a viable cover story.)

(WaPo) 12 Captains in the US military write a WaPo oped on Iraq blasting the current policy, saying "abandon our volunteer military for compulsory service" or just get out.

And, I'm not alleging anything, but it is curious,
The second-highest-ranking member of the Air Force’s procurement office was found dead Sunday in an apparent suicide, Air Force and police officials said Monday.

The civilian official, Charles D. Riechers, 47, came under scrutiny by the Senate Armed Services Committee this month after reports that the Air Force had arranged for him to be paid about $13,400 a month by a private contractor, Commonwealth Research Institute, while he awaited clearance from the White House for his selection as principal deputy assistant secretary for acquisition.

Picture of the Day

Some days it's hard to be an optimist.

(President Bush waves to onlookers from under an umbrella as he heads toward Air Force One in Waco, Texas, Monday, Oct. 15, 2007, on his way to Rogers, Ark. after spending the weekend at his ranch. (AP Photo/Jerry Larson))

Monday, October 15, 2007

Cash on hand.

Ten days ago I commented on the seemingly low cash on hand figures for the Republicans just 90 days before the primaries start. (Giuliani $12 million, Romney $9 million, Thompson less than that.)

Well, today we get to peek in the Democrats' pockets....
Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton ended September with more money in the bank than rival Barack Obama, holding $35 million cash on hand for the presidential primary contests to his $32 million.

That's quite a gap, no?

Also: (AP) Republican detail on fundraising. Romney spent $21 million in the third quarter.

(As a reminder, "primary money" is money that can be spent up until the nominating conventions in August/September.)

The Russians are playing up the Putin threat.

It's still not really clear the circumstances of the leak of the threat to Putin, but the Kremlin seems to be doing everything they can to keep it in the headlines.

Putin delayed his trip by several hours guaranteeing more coverage, but will still show up at the meeting with the Iranians. (What a brave and glorious leader of the people.....)

Thompson retools and goes after Giuliani?

In the post below titled "Lazy," I noted that Fred Thompson had been carrying a very light schedule and had even canceled some appearances in New Hampshire. One of the questions was, "is he retooling?" and it sounds like he is, coming out firing at Giuliani in what will be a well covered speech tonight before the New York Conservative Party.

I guess they weren't happy with a gentleman's B in the polls.

(For weeks we've had Rudy and Romney fighting, and now we've got McCain going after Romney and apparently, Thompson going after Giuliani and Romney as well. With no really strong frontrunner, it's getting nasty.)

Picture of the Day - 2

(Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton smiles as Theronee Foster, 6, stands next to her during a campaign stop at 'Wise Young Minds After School Program Friday Oct. 12, 2007, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Mary Ann Chastian))

Those evil OPEC bastards

You know, after reading yet another story about oil hitting a record high ($86 a barrel Monday,) I gotta wonder if the press will ever mention that a fair part of that rise is due to the total collapse of the US Dollar.

No, the US government does not set the price of oil, but they can (and have) done a number of things to make it all so much worse..... Now, let's go bomb Iran.

Picture of the Day

I'd be curious how this came about, because you know this is a photo the Giuliani campaign wanted so badly.

Did Giuliani have to donate or pull strings, or did Scalia just accept an invitation?

(National Italian American Foundation awardee and Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, laugh at the NIAF 32nd Anniversary Awards Gala, Saturday, Oct. 13, 2007, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta))

Update: More pictures were posted this morning, and it wasn't just Scalia. Giuliani got himself sandwiched between Scalia and Alito.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The headline says......

Petraeus, Fallon and experts question this assessment, but it did get the "Al-Qaeda In Iraq Reported Crippled" on the WaPo frontpage, and that's all some people wanted.
The U.S. military believes it has dealt devastating and perhaps irreversible blows to al-Qaeda in Iraq in recent months, leading some generals to advocate a declaration of victory over the group, which the Bush administration has long described as the most lethal U.S. adversary in Iraq.

I would strongly question the use of the word "irreversible." I think "degraded" might be a better term.

And there is an interesting question of Al Qaeda priorities. Unlike a traditional military enemy, we cannot really assess their troop movements, so there is a real question of whether we have "crippled" Al Qaeda or whether they have just "gone quiet" or shifted resources to the Pakistani/Afghani border regions.

The fact that we're talking about reduced Sunni foreign activity in Iraq is good news, but an assessment of victory makes certain assumptions that can't necessarily be supported.

(Later: Probably should add that Al Qaeda in Iraq didn't exist until 2004.)

A plot to kill Putin?

This is interesting.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has been told about a plot to assassinate him during a visit to Iran this week, a Kremlin spokeswoman said Sunday....

Interfax news agency, citing a source in Russia's special services, said suicide terrorists had been trained to carry out the assassination.

A spokesman for Iran's foreign ministry, Mohammad Ali Hosseini, denied any such plot had been uncovered, characterizing the news as disinformation spread by Iran's adversaries.

The plot is attributed to Chechens.


A couple of reporters are noticing "the lazy."

(Politico, Oct. 12) "Fred Thompson has no public events scheduled for this weekend. Nor did he have any last weekend when he was hunkered down doing debate prep.

The week in between didn't seem to be all that intense, either, except for the debate on Tuesday.

And the early part of next week? There is a Fox hit with Neil Cavuto on Monday afternoon and a speech that night to the New York Conservative Party. Two more speeches follow the next day back in D.C."

(CNN) "Besides participating in his first presidential debate in Michigan last Tuesday, Thompson was missing from the campaign trail. The former Tennessee senator and star of NBC's "Law & Order" was scheduled to be in New Hampshire this weekend, but canceled."

So, is he retooling? Desperately fundraising? Or is his only campaign stop on Fox News?

Picture of the Day - 2

Image control.

A few weeks ago I wrote a post complimenting how agile the Obama campaign had been at managing the pictures of him. Pictures of his family laughing and loving, pictures of Obama in front of huge raucous rallies, closeups of Obama meeting with starstruck supporters.... A real feel of likability and populism.

Now there's this disaster.

There were better pictures from the door to door event, but this is the one that is being posted with all the Obama and Clinton articles right now because it seems to echo a broader conventional wisdom. With Clinton's "inevitability" growing, and the polls trending her way, this image of a frustrated Obama "locked out" is an image control disaster because it echoes a broader sense of a campaign that has stalled.

(Presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., waits patiently for someone to answer the door during a neighborhood canvas in Des Moines, Iowa, Saturday, Oct. 13, 2007. (AP Photo/Kevin Sanders))

Oh, and this is pretty disgusting. "What is it about South Carolina and ugly whisper campaigns?"

Who had expectations?

Because everyone was expecting so much from Condi Rice and the US's middle east policy?

(AP) "U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice played down expectations for breakthroughs as she opened a critical round of Mideast shuttle diplomacy Sunday and warned Israel against moves that might erode confidence in the process."

(Reuters) ""I don't expect ... that there will be any particular outcome in the sense of breakthroughs on the document," Rice told reporters as she flew to Tel Aviv from Moscow.

"I would just warn in advance not to expect that, because this is really a work in progress....."

Update: (AP) "Obstacles stall Rice's Mideast diplomacy"

Picture of the Day

People stand around a statue of Mexico's former President Vicente Fox after it was pulled down by residents in Boca del Rio, Mexico, Saturday, Oct. 13, 2007, the same day it was placed by authorities. The inauguration of the statue was planned for the next day. (AP Photo/Horacio Zamora)