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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Saturday, August 01, 2009

It's a little old, but.....

...while the getting's good

Just one poll and all, but the latest Alaska poll shows Palin's fav/unfav at 47/48.

You gotta figure quitting factors into that, but in such a Republican state and with her high poll numbers less than a year ago, that's quite a change.

Nevada attorney general reinstated

The Obama administration has reappointed Daniel Bogden as US attorney in Nevada (with the recommendation of Harry Reid.) Bogden was one of the US attorneys fired in the controversial (and possibly illegal) Bush US attorney firings.

Officially, no one claims to know why Bogden was on the list to be fired, but I'd guess that, much like the Arkansas US attorney, Bogden was removed to put in a Bush political crony to attack key Dems. Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid would have been a key target (like Clinton in Arkansas.)

If you'll remember, the Bush folks talked about wanting to replace Patrick Fitzgerald, Obama's Chicago US attorney, but they decided they couldn't because of the Plame case.

That's one big part of the US attorney firings that hasn't gotten too much press because it's not yet proven. Rove and the Bush folks wanted "friendly" US attorneys in the home regions of top Dems.

Very, very illegal if it could be proved.

More story?

The first circumstances do sound like these three detained by Iran are innocent, but complete idiots. I mean, what US citizen "goes hiking" on the Kurdistan/Iranian border without some idea that things might go wrong?

Friday, July 31, 2009


"Democratic" Senator Max Baucus says he has "no idea" how he'll vote on Sotomayor.

Is this another, real departure from the caucus, or is he holding out an embarrassing (but inconsequential) Dem "no" vote as part of his healthcare negotiations?

The ignorance and stigma of the Southern drawl

DailyKos bought a poll on the "birther" question. The headline is that 58% of Republicans polled don't believe (28%) or are not sure (30%) about Obama's citizenship which is a really frightening bit of ignorance....

However, I found the really interesting bit in the internals. If you look at the breakdown, almost all of that comes from the South....

So maybe it's time to directly ask the question: Has the GOP completely associated the southern drawl with their most ignorant elements? Has the southern drawl become an identifier and turnoff to everyone else across the country?

Also, why, in this supposedly totally southern GOP are almost all the presidential candidates and rising leaders not tainted with the south and the drawl? (Huckabee certainly has it, and Jindal's southern, but not quite template, but run through the rest of the list: Romney, Palin, Pawlenty, Huntsman, Cantor, Pence, etc.... Not much southern there.)

(PS. For a party where a majority "don't believe" in evolution, selling a birth certificate scam isn't all that surprising.)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Score one for Kay Bailey (....not that there's anything wrong with that.)

Too funny. Kay Bailey Hutchison's website, the Texas Republican gubernatorial primary challenger, contains the invisible text "Rick Perry gay" so that "Rick Perry gay" will link to their site when searched.

Now, they claim the "Rick Perry gay" was added by an unmonitored search assist program, but they really don't seem to mind that the "Rick Perry gay" got out there.
"We did not know these offensive word associations were being searched for by hundreds of thousands of Texans everyday nor do we condone the computer-generated existence on our Web site,"

Yes. We're amazed that the words "Rick Perry gay" would generate such interest among Texans. "Rick Perry gay" is not a message we want to be sending out. We consider mentions of "Rick Perry gay" to be distasteful and will no longer be linking "Rick Perry gay" even though hundreds of thousands of Texans are searching for "Rick Perry gay" every day.

PS. "Rick Perry gay."

Weird local item

At the barbershop today, they had the baseball game on, and in the game, there was an ad for Lincoln Mercury. Near the end, as an almost throwaway line, they said something like, "and we didn't take any bailout money!"

You gotta understand that they're advertising to Houston baseball fans, a very "Red" group, but still.... it's weird that their adwriters thought that that would make a enough of a difference to put it in the ad.


This is one of those things we all kinda knew, but it's nice to have some backing proof for those suspicions.
Political adviser Karl Rove and other high-ranking figures in the Bush White House played a greater role than previously understood in the firing of federal prosecutors almost three years ago, according to e-mails obtained by The Washington Post, in a scandal that led to mass Justice Department resignations and an ongoing criminal probe.

And, yes, it should be notable that the top political figure was pushing to fire US Attorneys for not pursuing politically beneficial cases.

There's a lot of detail in this article, mostly Rove's version, and there's still an assistant US Attorney circling this.

Later: After watching the Plame scandal so closely, this all so familiar. Rove testifies before a closed room and then he and Luskin try to blanket the press to get their version out to dampen any possible leaks from the investigation. The NYTimes version is an even clearer example.

Clear Channel passes on Palin?

If this is to be believed, no big money talk radio gig for Sarah Palin.

Weird fact

Republican Rep Tom Davis on Hardball,
"The high education areas Obama carried -- 78 of the 100 counties with the highest education. McCain carried 88 of the 100 counties with the lowest education. As we move to cultural politics, that's been the shift."

The return of "the angry white male"

One of the defining elements of the Clinton administration was the shape and tone of his opposition, at the time called "the angry white male." The argument for why was a little complicated, changing US demographics, shifts in the relative power of race and gender, changes in employment, the fact that Republican politicians are primarily white, male, and old....

But, anyway, the primary Republican political face/force of the era was "the angry white male," which consolidated in the rise of your Limbaughs and Gingriches and the incredible heat laid on Hillary Clinton.

(Stray thought: Did the "contract with America work because men are more rule observing and definitional?)

Well, that same element may be coming back. We've seen the FoxNews hosts, the re-rise of Limbaugh, the beginnings of racism.... and now, we add the fire.
In previous recessions, veteran workers were largely spared the pain of widespread job cutbacks, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Layoffs tended to be concentrated among younger workers: The younger you were, the more likely you were to get fired. Traditional, bread-winning older males — especially white men — were the least vulnerable....

Not so today. Aging Baby Boomers are suffering a harsh employment bust....

Glenn Beck: Barack Obama has “a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture....” The "upset" over the Henry Louis Gates thing. The attacks on Sotomayor. That wonderful (now recurring) phrase "reverse racism..."

We're seeing the return of older, white male victimology.

Brace yourselves. It's coming back. And this time they have an entire cable news network.

Tony Blair to be called before Iraq committtee

I'm frequently amazed that Britain is more "democratic" than we are.

Different case entirely, but still "more democratic."

Picture of the Day

(A demonstrator in Italy holds up a picture of Neda Agha-Soltan, an Iranian woman who was killed during post-election unrest in Tehran in June. (AFP/Giuseppe Cacace))

(BBC) Arrests at the cemetery gathering today. Moussavi escorted away without being allowed to speak.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

"Re-branding" fail

Weren't Eric Cantor, Jeb Bush, and Haley Barbour going to "rebrand" and remake the Republican party through townhalls?

Remember the highly announced, National Council for a New America? (CNN, WaPo, Politico)

I think they held that one meeting in that Arlington, Va strip mall pizzeria, and that's it.

Their goal was to try to moderate the party. How's that going?

A movement looking for attachment.

Just three and a half months ago, all of the media was atwitter with the idea that the "teabag" movement was going to represent some great watershed, some great and lasting moment of coalescence of populist resistance against Obama. This idea that the teabaggers were important became so entrenched, that mainstream politicians tried to wheedle their way under the mantle.

But, then the events were actually held, and microphones were put under the noses of the "teabaggers," all white, all far right Republican, all very crazy, and many somewhat racist.

Within a week, politicians began to abandon them, and then the press began to use the phrase "teabaggers" to refer to the far out Republican fringe. Once the CEI and FoxNews abandoned the movement (that they had so successfully astroturfed and promoted,) the whole thing fell, all in about a month.

But the thing is, the anger that brought all those people out for the ridiculous act of dumping a teabag, (I mean, really, how stupid is that?) that anger didn't go away just because mainstream figures and politicians fled from the people who actually make up that group. Those angry people are still out there, and now many of them have moved on to the "birther" movement.

It's my hunch that the "birther" movement is about at its peak right now. The "cause" will certainly continue on the internet, but its volume and popularity seem now set to decline as mainstream Republican figures begin to try to tamp down these crazies once again.

The thing is, Republicans like the idea of this highly motivated angry fringe as it's extremely politically useful. However, they want them angry and seen by the media, ... but not actually heard. The flaws in the argument and the ugliness behind the passion begin to appear when amateurs try to take on the highly skilled job of spokesperson.

I think we can trace this whole thing back a little further through the post Obama election gun purchase spree ("They're gonna take our guns,") back into the McCain campaign after they made the decision to start the "palling around with terrorists" stuff. Remember how crazy that got, with people shouting "kill him" from the crowd until finally McCain had to officially distance and discredit it all in that memorable townhall moment with that really wierd woman?

My point is this: We can debate the reasons these people are so angry (race, "culture" (which probably includes elements of race), or susceptibility to propaganda (Obama as Hitler, Stailin, socialist, fascist, etc.,)) but the bottom line is that these folks are going to stay angry, and not go away.

The "birther" movement may crest, but another "terrorist," "take our guns away," "socialist," "teabagger," "birther" movement will come behind, attempting to tap into these folks' anger. There's just too much power and profit to be had exploiting these folks for them to allowed to fade into the woodwork.

But, each time, it will likely follow this same recurring pattern. Movement, someone exploiting and promoting that movement, politicians trying to glom onto the movement. Movement hits critical mass where footsoldiers actually get on TV, and then politicians and media start to distance and discredit.

I can't tell you what the next movement will be, but I can guarantee that the "birthers" will fade only to be replaced by something else outlandish.

Way too long a post, but I hope you get my point.


Sorry. Nothing lit me up this morning. Maybe later.

Picture of the Day - 2

(Vice President Joe Biden welcomes Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, left, as Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, center, looks on, Friday, July 24, 2009, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds))

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Straight up influence peddling

In the midst of hammering out details on the "bipartisan healthcare agreement," three of the Republican Senators involved held a fundraiser specifically for healthcare lobbyists, offering special access to these Senators for just a little more in donations.

No, I'm not kidding.

Not thumping the terror drum

How different is the Obama treatment of terror cases in comparison to the Bush treatment?

Under Bush, an arrest much less than the 7 in North Carolina would have been trumpeted as the saving of the union, coupled with a statement of braggadocio from the President saying that he, and only he, can save us from the terr'ists.

Under Obama, it's just another successful case, meriting little mention. It's what's supposed to happen.

(...but then again, the Obama administration isn't trying to hide the Bush failings, incompetence, and corruption by draping itself in the flag.)

Max Baucus: Bought and paid for.

WaPo one week ago,
Industry Cash Flowed To Drafters of Reform: Baucus Is a Leading Recipient

Health-related companies and their employees gave Baucus's political committees nearly $1.5 million in 2007 and 2008, when he began holding hearings and making preparations for this year's reform debate....

The sector gave nearly $170 million to federal lawmakers in 2007 and 2008...Many of these contributions have been focused on Baucus, Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) and other senators in the moderate camps of their respective parties,

Or maybe this one from the local Billings Gazette,
In the past six years, nearly one-fourth of every dime raised by the Montana Democrat and his political action committee has come from groups and individuals associated with drug companies, insurers, hospitals, medical supply firms, health service companies and other health professionals.

These donations total about $3.4 million, or $1,500 a day, every day, from January 2003 through 2008.

Unfortunately, I can't figure out how to get Open Secrets to give me a list of Baucus' donors., but the Sunlight Foundation has a decent bit on Baucus's donors.

Or this bit from another post,
Lobbying disclosure filings for the first quarter of 2009 reveal that five of Baucus’ former staffers currently work for a total of twenty-seven different organizations that are either in the health care or insurance sector or have a noted interest in the outcome....

The former staffers turned lobbyists include two former chiefs of staff, David Castagnetti and Jeff Forbes, and one former legislative assistant....

PS. We're talking HUGE MONEY in tiny media Montana. Let's burn this guy down.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Worse health option.

Somebody really wants it out there today that there's a "bipartisan" movement on healthcare. You'll see that mentioned all over the place.

But have you looked at what they're actually supposedly coalescing around? No public option. No requirement for employers to insure employees. No cap on what insurance companies can charge, so long as they charge everyone the same.

So, how does this increase the amount of people insured? It doesn't.

Later: Oh, My God. More detail and it just gets worse. On top of everything else, they're going to cut Medicare.

The business interests only Chamber of Commerce endorses. The giant drug lobby is spending tons to air commercials supporting it.

Healthcare has reached the critical mass. The big lobbies are no longer trying to block it. They're now trying to coopt it. They've apparently bought themselves a few Dem Senators and are going to try to turn healthcare into the Bush Prescription Drug plan that robbed America blind.

(PS. Notice the multiple part rollout today. This is very big and very coordinated, trying to create momentum for their plan.)

Fortunately, I don't think something like this would pass the House, but it gives you a really good idea of which Dem Senators can be bought. I mean, Medicare cuts and no real increase in the number of insured? That's their healthcare solution?

Later Still: The six Senators in the room? Dems: Baucus, Montana. Conrad, North Dakota. Bingaman, New Mexico. Repubs: Enzi, Wyoming. Grassley, Iowa, Snowe, Maine.

Not one big state among them. Not one big city. Really, no giant employer's home bases. No inner cities..... Four small western states, a farm state, and Maine, and they're the ones writing health policy for the rest of the nation?

Afternoon diversion

I'm not really a fan of this sort of "journalism," but, for an afternoon diversion, it's pretty OK. Republican Congressmen running from/responding to a HuffPo guy asking them about the "birther" issue.

Thought for the Day

By the standards of the last half century, journalism today is poor, especially when compared to the golden era of journalists who came back from covering World War II and instituted the very moral "just the facts" school of journalism.

However, by historical US standards, journalism today is pretty mild.

Palin quote from her "farewell" speech

Explain please.
And she told the media: ''How about, in honor of the American soldier, you quit makin' things up?''

Ahmadinejad's bumpy second transition

Frankly, I don't really know enough about Iranian politics to put this in its full and proper context, but it does seem significant that Ahmadinejad is having a lot of bumps in staffing up his second administration. (BBC, WaPo)

There was his first VP selection who he had to had to eventually let go of after lots of pressure from the hardliners, and now he's fired his intelligence minister (without explanation?) and had his culture minister quit with this quote,
"Unfortunately due to the recent events which shows the esteemed government's weakness, I will no longer consider myself the minister of culture and will not show up at the ministry as of tomorrow."

And, If you want something really weird in all this, Ahamadinejad's first VP choice was pushed out by Khamenei and hardliners after past friendlier comments towards Israel, and, according to the BBC, Ahmadinejad's new Chief of Staff will likely face the same resistance after past friendlier comments towards Israel.

Under normal circumstances, I would say Ahmadinejad is trying to create space between himself and the hardliners over Israel, but with his history of viciously anti-Israel statements, that doesn't really work. So, what's going on with Ahmadinejad naming people deemed too "friendly" to Israel? (A relative term.)

China Taiwan earthshift?

For the first time since the Maoist revolution, the President of China has sent a message directly to the Taiwanese leader. It congratulated him on his election win.
"I hope both our parties can continue to promote peaceful development in cross-strait relations, and help bolster mutual trust between the two sides in political affairs," Hu's telegram said. China's state-owned Xinhua News Agency has confirmed that Hu sent the note.

China and Taiwan have communicated through lower downs forever, (and apparently, Hu and Ma communicated when Ma was a minority figure,) BUT, direct leader to leader contact, however banal, is a major diplomatic watershed.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A different (more effective) "law enforcement" approach to terror

A kinda interesting article on the different treatment of Bryant Neal Vinas, the US citizen charged with terror crimes in New York earlier this week.

I found alot in it, but the headline is that the government's treatment of this guy was different than the Guantanamo/torture treatment used in the past and seems to have resulted in a "gold mine" of information.

This would seem to be another point in the repudiation of the Cheney/Bush torture/detention model pursued for so may years. (This guy was arrested under Bush, but it wasn't until the last days of his presidency that Bush began to give up the "harsh" policies.)

Stray question. Why did anyone really listen to Cheney on these matters? He had no past expertise. He was a politician and CEO.

Thought for the Day

All the Sarah Palin stories today about her last day as governor actually say nothing. There's no news there except her celebrity.

Biden: Every two weeks or so.....

Russia's struggling economy and its leaders' pragmatism will push it to make deals on nuclear arms reduction as Washington seeks to reset ties with Moscow, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said....

"All of a sudden, did they have an epiphany and say, 'Hey man, we don't want to threaten our neighbors?' No. They can't sustain it," Biden said....

"These guys aren't absolute average-intellect ideologues who are clinging to something nobody believes in. They're pretty pragmatic in the end," he said.

It is difficult for the former Soviet superpower to deal with "loss of empire," Biden said, and the United States should not overplay its hand in dealing with Russia.

So, why not go out there and publicly link the arms control we want with their "loss of empire" and "loss of face?" Not helpful.

(I'm wondering if the White House team is cringing at the thought of Biden's first foreign state funeral.)

Using the dead in Iran

Tell me this public request doesn't put the Iranian reime in a tough spot.
Iran's opposition leader asked authorities Sunday for permission to hold a memorial service for victims of last month's post-election unrest, including a young woman whose death was caught on video and became a symbol for protesters, said the leader's top aide.

A gathering sure to reignite the passion of the street opposition, but, at the same time, how do you say no?