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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Saturday, September 27, 2008

McCain and gambling

I haven't really plowed through this massive NYTimes piece on McCain and his relations with the gambling industry, but I did find this interesting about his pursuit of Abramoff.
For McCain-connected lobbyists who were rivals of Mr. Abramoff, the scandal presented a chance to crush a competitor. For senior McCain advisers, the inquiry allowed them to collect fees from the very Indians that Mr. Abramoff had ripped off. And the investigation enabled Mr. McCain to confront political enemies who helped defeat him in his 2000 presidential run while polishing his maverick image.

Inside the White House meeting.

Take a minute to read page three of this WaPo article detailing what went on in that White House meeting on the bailout deal. It sounds like the Dems and Obama called out McCain who wanted to come in, sit quietly, and not take a position.

It's why McCain apparently left the meeting first. (Early?)

Picture of the Day - 2

(This is the image the McCain camp wants out there. They invited the photog into the campaign headquarters for this shot.)

(John McCain speaks on the phone at his campaign headquarters in Arlington, Virginia.... made a flurry of calls designed to help seal a 700 billion dollar finance industry bailout before markets open on Monday.(AFP/Mandel Ngan))

Good news for Obama, bad news for McCain

This is from CBS's snap poll(.pdf) from last night, so, judge it for what it is, but some of the economic numbers for Obama coming from that debate should give the McCain folks shivers. (Post debate numbers, just about the debate, among "uncommitted's".)

Who would make the right decisions about the economy? Obama 66, McCain 42.

Understands your needs and problems? Obama 79, McCain 41.

Obama got huge bumps on both of these, and in this economic year, those are important numbers, especially since Obama's "relatability" had been polling kinda low.

I guess it's not surprising off this polling (and the likely similar Obama campaign internal polling,) that Obama is pounding an economic message today and talking lots about the middle class.

(Also, pre-debate presidential preference, Obama +2, post debate, Obama +12. He "closed the deal" with some in this sample.)

Later: Obama's big running a populist economic ad right now. They're hitting this hard. I do think they saw something in their internal focus groups.

If they can find the language or the issues to connect with that middle/lower income rustbelt voter, this thing won't even be close.

Obama wins the snap poll.

From the CNN/OPR snap poll on the debate.
Fifty-one percent of those polled thought Obama did the better job in Friday night's debate, while 38 percent said John McCain did better.

Men were nearly evenly split between the two candidates, with 46 percent giving the win to McCain and 43 percent to Obama. But women voters tended to give Obama higher marks, with 59 percent calling him the night's winner, while just 31 percent said McCain won.....

More than two-thirds of debate watchers agreed that both McCain and Obama would be able to handle the job of president if elected.

There was a strong Dem skew in the sample, (41 Dem, 27 Repub, no data on men/women,) but that's who watched, so you figure McCain won with men and lost bigger with women. (Angry John) Frankly, women probably watched at higher rates, and are really the battleground of this year's election, so the Obama folks would probably be happy with this result if it holds.

(Slightly losing men in the national security debate to McCain is probably pretty acceptable to them, too.)

Bottom line, I'll fall back to what I said last night. McCain needs to win voters through these debates, and it's my impression that he didn't.

Also, CBS has a snap poll, too. In theirs, Obama won undecideds 40/22. Again, McCain didn't pick up voters.

(Disclaimer. Snap polls frequently do not capture the impression of the debate two or three days later.)

Controlling the House and Senate

Now we see if the Congressional Dems can convert their majority status in the House and Senate into a cold, hard advantage.

It's now their job to take the topic back off the debate and right back onto the economy.

Friday, September 26, 2008


Joe Biden can go on the networks to talk about the debate.

Sarah Palin can't.

Who won the debate?

I gotta be honest, we're only an hour in and I'm already bored.

And I'm a wonk. I can't imagine what this is like for the "average" viewer.

I may change my mind later, but to me, thus far, I don't think this changes anybody's mind or vote, and frankly, trailing in the polls, that's what McCain needs.

I'll be curious to see the viewership hour by hour.

(On the other hand, this does take the topic off McCain torpedoing the entire economy.)

Later. It got better for those who stayed tuned in.

CNN had a live focus group feedback running along the bottom. McCain's lowest point was when he directly said he thought Obama wasn't qualified. Obama's best moment was in his last statement when he said his goal was to restore America's role of prestige in the world.

And McCain got in POW in the very last answer.

The great charade.....

(Politico) "John McCain did a few hours of high-level debate prep in his Arlington, Va., condo last night with podiums and mock questions, a top aide said today."

(Later: Anonymous points out in the comments, Who keeps podia sitting around their condo?)

Picture of the Day - 3

I'll ask again. How is it that the 47 year old comes across as the grownup in the room?

(Sen. Barack Obama waves after speaking to the media on his plane on the tarmac at Ronald Reagan National Airport in Arlington, Va. Friday, Sept. 26, 2008. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon))

Of course McCain was going to debate.

Do you really think that after the blowup and all the blame that's been thrust on him that McCain would let Obama frame this week for an hour and a half with 80 million viewers all his own?

McCain needs this debate for damage control.

To give you an idea of how bad an idea the White House meeting was,

White House spokesman Dana Perino tromps out the "history will be the judge" defense regarding the wisdom of yesterday's White House meeting.

Picture of the Day - 2

(AP/Lauren Victoria Burke)

Grumblings on the right,

In a much discussed column on the right, Kathleen Parker, calls for Sarah Palin to drop out of the race.

And, Huckabee calls McCain's suspension a "huge mistake."

Picture of the Day - The f***ed up McCain campaign

This McCain ad was running on the web this morning.

(And these guys want to run our country.)

McCain un-suspends his campaign.....

The McCain campaign tries to climb down from its campaign "suspension." He will be at the debate tonight.

(The more I look at this, the more it looks like his participation in the Bush plan immigration debate. Remember when he tried to parachute into the process on the last day to try and claim some of the credit. Remember?)

Blame the Republicans

Right now, it appears the primary narrative is that the Republicans are to blame for the blowup in Washington, and that, to some lesser degree, McCain's decision to interject himself has also led to the failure.

In theory, the Republican position was sort of strong because of the vast popular anger about the bailout plan, but, I'm not sure it plays out that way going forward.

The real question is whether you believe this is all some grand kabuki for McCain to save the day. To me, the level of chaos would seem to indicate it's not. (Or if it was, they've kind of lost control of the storyline.)

And, even if it is a stunt, Republicans eventually caving to the mainstream plan will not give them strength. (Because that capital gains alternative isn't going to pass.)

WaMu spectacularly collapsing, the increasingly dire predictions that are everywhere, and the potential stock market slide puts all the pressure against their position.

At this point, I just don't see a way McCain turns the narrative around and comes out of this riding a white horse.

Later: Bush make a very short statement trying to exculpate Congressional Republicans and shape the narrative blaming the "legislative process" for the breakdown.

So Boehner's problem was that McCain would not get credit?

Now that's presidential. (From the NYTimes)
But a top aide to Mr. Boehner said it was Democrats who had done the political posturing. The aide, Kevin Smith, said Republicans revolted, in part, because they were chafing at what they saw as an attempt by Democrats to jam through an agreement on the bailout early Thursday and deny Mr. McCain an opportunity to participate in the agreement.

It sure is a good thing McCain flew in to grandstand on this one.

(Again, it is notable that McCain's only stop besides the White House, his first stop in Washington, was Boehner's office.)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Recap and catchup (Updated Friday morning)

So much today, I'm afraid things are getting lost, so relinking Palin's disastrous CBS interview, and new linking this WaPo story on Palin accepting big gifts from people with matters before her as Governor.

McCain never read the Paulson plan until likely yesterday, and the decision to suspend his campaign came in the middle of a debate prep session. (Guessing the debate prep wasn't going well.)

There was shooting between the Pakistanis and US forces..... and carbon emissions shattered even the most dire predictions last year.

Oh, and that little matter of the largest bank failure in history.

More from Friday morning. (AP) A US soldier died in a roadside bombing in Iraq. 22 soldiers have died in Iraq this month.

The Guardian has a report that Israel sought a green light to attack Iran at the May meeting between Bush and Olmert and Bush refused.

And, (NYTimes) Putin offers Venezuela another $1 billion in weapons, and (Reuters) talks about offering Venezuela civilian nuclear help.

Waiting for someone to say.....

When John McCain was a POW......

Picture of the Day - 3

(AFP/Getty Images/Jonathan Ernst)

Suspending his campaign for this?

From a NYTimes story highlighting the dubiousness of McCain's decision to wade into this mess.
At the bipartisan White House meeting that Mr. McCain had called for a day earlier, he sat silently for more than 40 minutes, more observer than leader, and then offered only a vague sense of where he stood, according to people in the meeting.

And now it's sounding like McCain will back down and debate.

He's also already ordered his ads to start again Saturday.

And, they're trying to pull back the townhall defense?

Working hard...... (Updated)

(Politico) "John McCain will appear on all three network newscasts tonight, a top aide said."

Later: (Politico) "McCain left ABC at 5:46 pm after speaking to all the nets inside. He arrived at his residence at 5:57 pm."

So, McCain flew into Washington mid afternoon, stopped by Boehner's office briefly, went to the meeting at the White House, was the first to leave, did three interviews with all the networks, and then went straight home.

Oh, but he's working so hard on the bill.....


When asked by reporters if he wanted McCain sitting in blow-by-blow negotiations Rep. Adam Putnam, the No. 3 House Republican, simply smirked, mute for ten seconds as reporters laughed.

Picture of the Day - 2

Because so much is going to be accomplished at this meeting?

(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Building a storyline

By all reports, the framework of a bailout deal is done.

However, GOP House leader John Boehner issues a statement insisting that it's not, raising the likelihood that Boehner will try to say that only McCain could make the deal.

Boehner's statement comes, of course, shortly after a closed door session in his office with McCain.

(White House Spokesman Dana Perino revealed that the White House meeting today came from the McCain campaign.)

Dangerously not ready......

I keep reading rumblings that the second half of the Couric/Palin interview is a disaster.

CBS has a crazy teaser of Palin trying to explain why being close to Russia gives her foreign policy experience, and ThinkProgress has a nonsensical teaser where she's talking about...I don't know what. (Take a minute to check them out.)

Also, she took three and a half questions at Ground Zero this morning. A short read, but revealing as to her lack of depth.


Even, still, more unbelievable.
McCain revealed in an interview with a Cleveland TV station Tuesday that he hadn’t yet read the administration’s three-page bailout proposal.

: (TheHill) "Republican presidential nominee John McCain has not introduced any banking or housing bills in the 110th Congress, while Democratic rival Barack Obama has proposed five."

Picture of the Day

Won't somebody answer David Letterman's question. Why suspend the campaign, rather than letting the VP candidate carry the load for a few days?

(Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh greets Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, September 24, 2008. (REUTERS/Brian Snyder))

(They're even trying to cancel her VP debate.)

A very different version of the McCain "suspension"

Read this, and then tell me if you think McCain's debate preparations were going well.
Mr. McCain had not planned to devote large blocks of time to debate practice as did Mr. Obama, who was holing up with a tight circle of advisers at a hotel in Clearwater, Fla., on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday to prepare. Mr. McCain had a preparatory session on Wednesday afternoon at the Morgan Library in Manhattan, but advisers said it had been interrupted by his decision, announced immediately afterward, to suspend his campaign.

So, at some point during the mock debate preparations, McCain himself suddenly threw up his hands and said, "I can't go through with this. We gotta suspend the campaign."?

Rick Davis keeps giving

The McCain camp is caught lying on Rick Davis again. Newsweek.
Rick Davis, John McCain's campaign manager, has remained the treasurer and a corporate director of his lobbying firm this year, despite repeated statements by campaign officials that he had ended his relationship with the firm in 2006, according to corporate records.

On the suspension "gimmick"

Thinking about it overnight, I think the "campaign suspension" went too far. I think if McCain had said he was leaving the trail for a few days to focus on the problem, and even if he'd hinted at postponing the debate, it might have worked.

But to my mind, the confrontational nature of "suspending the campaign" went too far. It injected his campaign interests into the consideration of his actions. It changed the move from an impression of earnestness into a political ploy.

GOP strategists "on background"

Publicly, Republicans are making predictable statements of support, but, privately,
But privately, three Republican strategists were sharply critical, viewing McCain's decision as a high-risk move that entails uncertain negotiations in Washington at the possible expense of a debate they believe McCain badly needs to get back on the offensive. One strategist called the move "desperate and nuts," and another said in an e-mail, "I don't get it at all."

(This kinda thing does matter, as it shapes how the political reporters view, and then report on, this "suspension" stunt.)

On foreclosures and voting rights

The NYTimes has a pretty good story on the GOP's plan to try to invalidate voters who have been foreclosed on. According to the NYTimes, it's a big number, up to a million nationwide, and you gotta figure that the "foreclosed on" demographic is very likely a solid Dem voting bloc.

Note: The state numbers cited in this article are change of address, not foreclosure, which is probably less Dem, but if you're watching the broader numbers game, this is a must read.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Letterman asks the hard question no one else asked: Why suspend the campaign? Can't Palin continue it?

With all those highly paid political experts on my TV all afternoon, it's Letterman who asks the salient question. (paraphrase)
If McCain is a Senator who feels he has to go back to Washington to work on this problem, then fine. But why suspend the campaign? It can certainly go on without him.

Shouldn't his VP selection simply step in to continue the campaign in his place?

Can't McCain trust her to campaign for him for a few days?

Letterman continued "This doesn't smell right. This isn't the way a tested hero behaves..."

Seriously, watch it. The above selection starts 3:20 in.

(Oh, and that $5,000 makeup lady is working on him before the Couric interview.)

Another goal of the stunt? ("Not ready for primetime")

Now the McCain campaign is floating a trial balloon to schedule this Friday's debate forward to Oct 2, canceling the currently scheduled VP debate.

According to their plan, the VP debate will be delayed until some other (unspecified) time. (Just how "unready" is she?)

(Palin did pretty poorly in the Couric interview.)

"The fundamentals of the economy are strong."

McCain advisors deny that there is a political calculation in this and say without action the country could slide into a Depression by Monday.

This is from the same people who ferociously argued for months that it wasn't a technical recession because we hadn't had two quarters of falling growth.

Now, it's "a Depression by Monday."

Picture of the Day - 2

How is it that the 72 year old is not the grownup in the room?

Buck up everybody.....

Think about what this says about McCain's perception of the race.

You don't pull this stunt if you think you're on a path to winning.

Desperate for a narrative change

Wow. What a ploy. Check this out,
John McCain is calling for the first presidential debate, scheduled for Friday in Mississippi, to be delayed so he can focus on the economic crisis.

Because he's been so involved in the legislation thus far?

Here's a little more from TPM,
The McCain camp has just sent word that the senator is suspending his campaign and returning to Washington to deal with the financial crisis.

As this is breaking right now, I'll try to save some analysis for a little later when we have a little more detail, but, at first blush, this has a smell of desperation to it, trying to reshape the macro narrative, trying to take the headlines away from Rick Davis, the Obama polling surge, the perception that he's losing on the economy, and ten days of chaotic messaging.

This is yet another wild gamble. He's desperately swinging for a narrative "reset."

Also, This is part of that broader effort to turn the race into personality, not issues. Whenever "issues" start to drag on McCain's polling numbers, they pull a stunt.

I think the key question is this: Does the press cover this as serious or as a gimmick?

PS. It's his party that's killing the bailout, and he's been roped into the position of having to vote for it.

Later: The more I think about this, the more I think this is about "personality campaigning." McCain as "a man of action" who puts "country first" and is willing to work "bi-partisan."

Also, I think this is part of a "rebranding effort," however, he will be fighting his well established brand, Obama's brand, and the brand of both parties on the economy.

On the economy, he's not branded as "maverick." It's his worst ground.

And, a good point, this crisis is so important that he'll cancel the debate, but not important enough to cancel his speech tomorrow at the Clinton Global Initiative?

Political bits....

The National Enquirer claims (with multiple sources and a polygraph test) that Sarah Palin had an extra-marital affair in '96 while she was mayor of Wasilla. (Judge for yourself.)

The new NBC/WSJ poll teases with this, "Forty-nine percent say that Palin is unqualified to be president if the need arises, compared with 40 percent who say she's qualified."

A FoxNews poll has Obama +6 nationally. (NBC poll tonight.)

(Pollster) An interesting piece on Pew and the "cell phone effect" arguing that it may skew 2 points off Obama.

(Ambinder has something on the Pew study, too.)

(LynnSweet) Rick Davis, the McCain campaign manager who took millions from Freddie Mac, is dodging reporters today, canceled a meeting and didn't participate in the daily conference call.

(CNN) Laura Bush is asked whether Palin has appropriate foreign policy experience. "Of course she doesn't have that."


From a Politico piece on money, spending, and strategy,
“We have enough base voters in Florida to win the election if we can just turn them out,” Plouffe said.


So, Joe Biden gets extended nationally televised coverage on a highly partisan speech framing Obama v. McCain on national security just two days before the "national security" debate? Interesting.

Pardon me for a moment....... (Polling porn)

Don't put anything in this poll result, it's obviously a ridiculous outlier, but as a clear Obama partisan, it still feels good to write:

ABC/WaPo, Obama 52, McCain 43 among likely voters.

(Lots of dubious, but gratifying, internals, too.)

It's getting lots of coverage (Reuters, MSNBC) and it will move those semi-worthless polling averages, but it's still a clear outlier.

Okay, now back to serious analysis.

(Later: The ABC poll seems to seriously over represent Dem over Repub. NBC poll due out late afternoon.)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

McCain's campaign manager still on the Freddie payroll.

McCain campaign manager Rick Davis was definitely still on the Freddie Mac payroll, (NYTimes, RollCall, WaPo.)

From the reporting it's becoming clearer and clearer that he wasn't doing any actual work for that money which means it was just "pay for access" which is about as slimy as it gets.
They said Mr. Davis’s firm, Davis Manafort, had been kept on the payroll because of his close ties to Mr. McCain, the Republican presidential nominee, who by 2006 was widely expected to run again for the White House.

Mr. Davis took a leave from Davis Manafort for the presidential campaign, but as an equity holder continues to benefit from its income. No one at Davis Manafort other than Mr. Davis was involved in efforts on Freddie Mac’s behalf, the people familiar with the arrangement said.

So, McCain's campaign manager was semi-secretly taking millions just to whisper in John McCain's ear. That's a story, right?

Picture of the Day - 2

(Republican vice-presidential nominee Alaska Governor Sarah Palin meets former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger at his office in New York September 23, 2008. (REUTERS/Brian Snyder))

Political bits

(ABC) The Dems in Congress are leveraging the White House. "If McCain doesn't vote for the bailout, it wont pass." (Pretty smart. It forces the White House to take away McCain's "maverick" option.)

(TPM) Obama's beginning to ramp up ad spending in Florida, Penn, Colo, and Nevada. (As we watch the spending shift, it gives some idea of how close the campaigns see these states.)

(AP) "Less than a week after balking at the Alaska Legislature's investigation into her alleged abuse of power, Gov. Sarah Palin on Monday indicated she will cooperate with a separate probe run by people she can fire."

(Politico) Has anyone noticed that the much touted Freedom's Watch has relegated itself to House races, not the Presidential campaign?

Sarah Palin was briefed by the Director of National Intelligence, Admiral Michael McConnell today. (Fill in your comedy sketch here. "But I can't see North Korea from Alaska...")

And, Obama has been pounding McCain with ads. Just today, there's "Destination" (Ouch,) a "foreign vehicles" ad specifically for Michigan, and this very effective ad featuring Lilly Ledbetter (distribution unknown.)

GOP platform

From the GOP platform, passed just two weeks ago,
We do not support government bailouts of private institutions. Government interference in the markets exacerbates problems in the marketplace and causes the free market to take longer to correct itself.


.....because raising the minimum wage was going to destroy the economy.....

No Questions for Palin

Sarah Palin is meeting with Karzai today, along with a few others, but print and TV reporters will not be allowed. Only photographers.

So, giving images with world leaders, but still dodging questions.

Later: This thing blew up. TPM has a "tick tock" on the process, and they limited the photographers to 29 seconds. (Taking no chances.)

The AP also has an unflattering version.

Later: 40 days since a McCain press availability. 25 days for Palin.

McCain is scheduled to hold a 15 minute press conference today (just long enough to reset the clock so he can claim he held one.)

McCain slacking among seniors in Florida?

There are alot of potential reasons for this, (many of the Florida seniors come from east coast blue states, their Florida real estate investments have been hit harder than most,) but still, Obama trails by only 4 among "Seniors" in Florida???

Read the whole first paragraph from FirstRead. It might make you hopeful that Florida is really in play.

If nothing else, it sets up a very expensive place where McCain has to play defense.

Picture of the Day

(Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is seen reflected in the TelePrompTer as she appears at a rally, in Media, Pa., Monday, Sept. 22, 2008.(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert))


As the Bush administration enters its twilight months, many senior national security policy officials and military commanders say there is a new urgency to put the mission in Afghanistan on the right path. Among the reasons are the standard updates required of military strategy in a time of war. But officials acknowledge there are aspects of legacy-building, an effort to make sure the next president, whoever he is, cannot accuse the Bush administration of leaving Afghan policy in disarray.


From a WaPo/Q polling article on Mi, Wis, Co, and Minn.
While McCain's pick of Palin -- and the resultant flood of press coverage -- was painted as a game-changing moment in the campaign, there is little evidence that the Alaska governor has fundamentally altered the contest.


Another McCain aide tied to Freddie

(Bloomberg) McCain's unofficial transition coordinator "earned more than a quarter of a million dollars this year representing Freddie Mac."


Yesterday was a reactionary spike, but if oil prices and gas prices go significantly back up, it will directly affect the election.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Picture of the Day - 2

"And right over there you could put in your golden hot tub...."

(Kuwaiti PM Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah tours the New York Stock Exchange, Monday Sept. 22, 2008. (AP Photo/Richard Drew))

CNN poll

I'm not a huge fan of the CNN/OPR poll because for some reason, it never feels solid to me, but this one contains a curious bit.
"In two core McCain constituencies: Men, who now narrowly favor Obama. And seniors, who have also flipped from McCain to Obama," says CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider.

Really? Obama ahead among 55+? Call me skeptical as that runs counter to pretty much a year of polling. I'd like to see that in some other polls before we really react. (Concerns over market swings and retirement accounts? Social Security?)

(Oh yeah. Obama 51/46 RV, 51/47 LV.)

And, Rasmussen has some battleground state polling which shows everybody pretty much where you think they are.

Also, Look at Virginia, Rasmussen McCain +2?
ABC/WaPo Obama +3? SUSA Obama +6?

Attacking the messenger.....

A pretty desperate "attack the messenger" from the McCain campaign on Rick Davis taking almost $2 million from Fannie and Freddie,
“Everything that is read in The New York Times that attacks this campaign should be evaluated by the American people from that perspective – that it is an organization that has made a decision to deemphasize its journalistic integrity and tradition, to advocate for the defeat of one candidate – in this case, John McCain – and to advocate for the election of the other candidate, Barack Obama.”

I assume this level of response means they're really worried about the story and are trying to warn off other media organizations.

(Oh, and I guess this also means that they don't want to throw Rick Davis overboard.)

Later: The call from the McCain camp was supposed to be about "guilt by association" on Obama, but, I don't think the effort was too convincing. From the Politico's story on the call,
But the call was so rife with simple, often inexplicable misstatements of fact that it may have had the opposite effect: to deepen the perception, dangerous to McCain, that he and his aides have little regard for factual accuracy.

(And let's remember that this attempt at mudslinging is about distracting the other side before the debates.)

McCain campaign manager paid $1.8 million to help Fannie and Freddie on regulation

McCain's campaign manager, Rick Davis, took $1.8 million from Fannie and Freddie to help stave off regulation.
“The value that he (Davis) brought to the relationship was the closeness to Senator McCain and the possibility that Senator McCain was going to run for president again,” said Robert McCarson, a former spokesman for Fannie Mae....

More than a half-dozen current and former executives, however, said the Homeownership Alliance was set up mainly to defend Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac by promoting their role in the housing market, and the two companies paid almost the entire cost of the group’s operations.

Picture of the Day

This man is expected to lead us out of crisis. (AFP/Saul Loeb)

Debate prep.

Looking more like Reagan every day...
To get in the debating mood, Republican John McCain will host a town-hall event and take a short nap.

Pakistan's growing problems

(AP, BBC) Probably the most significant Pakistan news is that Pakistan's top leaders were scheduled for a meeting in the Islamabad Marriott right as the bomb went off. That would indicate both a serious security leak and the fact that the bombers weren't just targeting a foreign symbol in the attack, but the Pakistani leadership itself. (Did the Pakistani government know an attack was coming and do nothing?)

(Reuters) There's another (as yet unconfirmed) report that Pakistani troops fired on and turned back US helicopters along the Pakistani border. Drone flights, however, do seem to be continuing.

(NYTimes) The first Pakistani response to the bombing is to pledge more military efforts in the tribal areas, but there seems to be alot of skepticism that the Pakistani government will pull that off because of the popular mood.

(WaPo) PM Zardari is headed to the UN meeting where he will also meet with Bush.

(And, I think you have to include this NYTimes piece on India's growing regional military presence fueled largely by US supplied weapons, ships, and aircraft.)

The many faces of Pakistan

Then, of course, you have reports of stuff like this,
Pakistani military forces flew repeated helicopter missions into Afghanistan to resupply the Taliban during a fierce battle in June 2007, according to a Marine lieutenant colonel, who says his information is based on multiple U.S. and Afghan intelligence reports.

The revelation by Lt. Col. Chris Nash, who commanded an embedded training team in eastern Afghanistan from June 2007 to March 2008, adds a new twist to the controversy over a U.S. special operations raid into Pakistan Sept. 3.

It's good to have friends.....

So UBS, the foreign firm where McCain adviser Phil Gramm is both lobbyist and vice chairman, is now going to be included in the bailout after they "lobbied successfully over the weekend?"

Related: McCain campaign spokesman refuses to rule out naming Gramm as Treasury Secretary.

A quote to pay attention to.....

The Treasury plan, which follows a new federal guarantee for money market fund holdings, would push Washington's potential bailout tab to $1.8 trillion.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Picture of the Day - 2

Since we, the US taxpayers, have paid $85 billion for AIG, can we now put USA on the Manchester United jerseys?

Two early voting bits

As Colorado and Nevada may be key this year, this caught my eye,
Early voting in Colorado, Nevada, Tennessee and Arizona could top 40 percent or even 50 percent of total votes cast.

Same article, in Ohio, there's a legal battle over whether you can register and early vote on the same day. The Democratic Secretary of State (boy, that's a difference from 2004) says it's okay and the Republicans are suing. If it holds, it'll be a huge turnout benefit for the Dems with college students and other first time voters.

Sunday read

A kinda long (but interesting if you're into it) article on Obama's microtargeting groundgame.

"The Great De-regulator"

That's a new insult Obama is trying out against McCain today in a speech on the economic crisis.

I don't know why, but something tells me, that mocking, "The Great De-regulator" might stick. It doesn't write very well, but there's something in that shorthand....

Terrorism 101

The bombing of the Marriott in Islamabad is a rather straightforward example of the tactics of terrorism. The ultimate goal is not to kill people; the ultimate goal is to create a political shock which creates an effect. (Unfortunately, killing people in a highly visible way is the most effective way to create that political shock.)

In this one act by just a few individuals, Al Qaeda, the Pakistani Taleban, or whoever pulled this off, put huge political pressure on the Pakistani government to (at least publicly) separate themselves from the US putting in question several of the US's crossborder tactics.

(AP) Bomb a warning to end Pakistan-US cooperation

(Bloomberg) Islamabad Marriott Blast May Deepen Strains With U.S.

This is what terrorism is. It's an asymmetrical "tipping point" strategy targeting public opinion and politics. It is designed for impact on "hearts and minds." It is designed to evoke response.

(And let me add, I'm not trying to devalue the loss of life, it's horrific. I'm just trying to frame the tactics of the enemy, and this attack is a very clear cut example of how terrorism works.)

Watch the Pakistani response. Politically, they will have to put Pakistan first.

Transition teams

Both candidates are (understandably) building early versions of their "transition teams," the people responsible for staffing the administrations if they win.

This really does matter as the cabinet and key posts do alot of the shaping of an administration. As an extreme example, Cheney ran the Bush transition and placed his sympathetics at power points or secondary observational positions in almost every key department, giving him unprecedented direct and influential control which led us.... well, here.

Obama has named John D. Podesta, a former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, as the head of the early transition efforts which likely means center left, DLC types in the early running for top positions.

On the other side, McCain's transition work is being coordinated by William E. Timmons, a longtime Washington lobbyist whose clients have included the American Petroleum Institute and the mortgage company Freddie Mac.

(One of those questions I would like to see, "Sen. McCain, if elected President, which of George Bush's appointees will you keep in your administration?")

Picture of the Day

(Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson briefs President Bush in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington September 19, 2008. (Larry Downing/Reuters))

Thought - The MBA President

With the financial bailouts costing almost a trillion dollars so far, by my math, that would mean that the Bush presidency will push the national debt up to about $10.5 trillion, and he will likely leave office having almost doubled the national debt.

Quick math. Bush will have added a little over $16, 500 in national debt for every man woman and child in the US or approximately $45,000 in debt for every single taxpayer.

(And that doesn't include higher oil, weaker dollar, rebuilding/reequipping the army, military healthcare/benefits or whatever other costs you want to attribute.)

Related: (AP) "The (bailout) proposal would raise the statutory limit on the national debt from $10.6 trillion to $11.3 trillion to make room for the massive rescue."