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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Picture of the Day

(A worker hangs a spider and spider web as he helps decorate the North Portico of the White House for a Halloween reception to be held for local schoolchildren in Washington, October 31, 2009. (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst))

(Oh my god! Obama is a secret Muslim Nazi Spider King!)

Epilogue: Cheney forgets

They released some information about Cheney's 2004 interview with Patrick Fitzgerald, and it was all "I don't recall" evasion.

(Question: Was the timing of this release a message to Cheney to back the f*** off on Afghanistan?)

Later: Nick Baumann taks a first run at a list of Cheney's memory lapses.

Jerry Springer

Levi Johnston says he's thinking about suing the Palin's to guarantee visitation rights, and admitted that many of his comment have been retaliation.

This dude is never going away.

Abdullah to boycot the Afghan runoff.

From Abdullah's side, I get it. Why lend legitimacy to a fixed election? But from the US side, is there any worse result to delegitimize Karzai who we need to be seen as strong and popular?

Friday, October 30, 2009

John Stewart breaks down FoxNews

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"I probably will support some Republican candidates for Congress or Senate in the election in 2010. I'm going to call them as I see them," Lieberman said in an ABC News "Subway Series" interview....

What the Pakistanis think

A somewhat empty article on a Clinton townhall style appearance in Pakistan, but the quotes give a pretty good voice to the way the Pakistanis view the US's actions and presence in the region.

Picture of the Day

(Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, center, is escorted by Pakistani Rangers at the Iqbal Memorial in Lahore, Pakistan, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2009. (AP Photo/Mansoor Ahmed))

Thought for the Day

Not too long ago, the NYTimes thought people would pay $50 to read their editorialists.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Iran rejects nuclear deal.

Not enough detail yet to discern whether this is a real rejection or a negotiating step, but the headline is Iran rejects nuclear deal.

Must Read

Former Obama campaign guru David Plouffe has a teaser for his book in Time magazine.

It's a really interesting read, on the race speech, on the VP selection process, on Palin, on McCain....


Obama talking to Plouffe and Axelrod before the "race" speech.
I already know what I want to say in this speech. I've been thinking about it for almost 30 years....

Iranian nuclear deal close?

The LATimes seems to say that an Iranian nuclear deal is within reach as Ahamadinejad appears to support it. Reuters focuses more on the changes the Iranians want, although it's not clear how much of that is required and how much is negotiation.

I don't really know where we are, but both sides appear to be talking seriously, and that's gotta be a good thing.

Picture of the Day

(President Barack Obama salutes as a carry team carries the transfer case containing the remains of Army Sgt. Dale R. Griffin of Terre Haute, Ind., who, accordng to the Department of Defense died in Afghanistan, during the dignified transfer event at Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Del., Thursday, Oct. 29, 2009. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh))


Hillary Clinton in Pakistan.
As a way of repudiating past U.S. policies toward Pakistan, Clinton told the students "there is a huge difference" between the Obama administration's approach and that of former President George W. Bush. "I spent my entire eight years in the Senate opposing him," she said to a burst of applause from the audience of several hundred students.

Thought for the Day

It really doesn't look like Palin's running for 2012.

(Oh, and she gets more for an appearance than George Bush?)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

American news in the British press

Haven't seen this anywhere else yet. From BBC:
The leader of a radical fundamentalist Islamic group has been shot dead in an FBI raid near the US city of Detroit, officials say.

Luqman Ameen Abdullah, 53, died in a firefight with agents in Dearborn after refusing to surrender, the FBI says.

Later: Finally, the WaPo has much more. The guy sounds like a whack job.

Big in Texas

Dick Cheney is going to come to Texas to endorse Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison for Governor against Rick Perry.

After NY-23, this Texas gubernatorial primary next spring may be the next "soul of the Republican party" contest. The difference is, this one won't be "conservative"/moderate. This primary will be the Palin/religious wing who Perry has courted fanatically since Hutchison announced her bid vs. Hutchison who is coming at an unpopular governor from the "serious" and financial Republican faction.

It's actually much more complicated with Perry a state joke outside his factional supporters and Hutchison widely thought of as stupid, but, to you national folks, it'll be boiled down to religious v. business in the largest Red state.

It should be interesting. (We'll have to wait and see who can tap into their faction's national money.)


Levi Johnston on Sarah Palin in a CBS interview.
"There are some things that I have that are huge. And I haven't said them because I'm not gonna hurt her that way.

" ... I have things that can, you know -- that would get her in trouble, and could hurt her. Will hurt her. But I'm not gonna go that far. You know, I mean, if I really wanted to hurt her, I could, very easily. But there's -- I'm not gonna do it. I'm not going that far."

Thought for the Day

Sarah Palin supposedly got $1.25 million for her book. Laura Bush got $1.6 million. Meghan McCain got "high six figures."

Wouldn't you think that negotiating in December, at the peak of her bubble, Palin would have gotten more?

Karzai's brother paid by the CIA

I don't find it particularly surprising that Karzai's brother is receiving checks from the CIA. He's a powerful man in some difficult areas in S. Afghanistan. The US gives checks to lots of folks down there, and the description of the "services" doesn't sound all that unusual. What I find really curious is why "current and former American officials" felt the need to make his CIA association public right now.

The NYTimes indirectly frames the release as part of the debate over Afghan strategy, so is it that simple? Is this a few "rogues" disagreeing with the with the payments to a fairly dirty Walid Karzai? Anybody inside enough to know about this, would also have to know the complicating impacts of dropping this undermining bombshell into the runoff election, so I find it almost impossible to believe that this release is just about Walid.

Could this be about the overall payments program, and the CIA's ties to drug lords, using Walid as an attention getting name? I find that hard to believe as, again, the election impacts are fairly predictable and the release happened timed to the election.

Which leaves me with the conclusion that despite all the rationalizations offered by the NYTimes, the releasers are specifically trying to damage Hamid Karzai in the Presidential runoff.

So, I guess the next question is who are "current and former American officials?" Is this "rogues" truly unhappy with the US tied to Hamid Karzai? (This would be a career ending release if you were caught.) Or maybe this is from Bush favoring folks who are losing the internal US strategic debate? (Don't read "former officials" as necessarily previous administration. "Former officials" often serve as mouthpiece for current employees who can't speak against policy.)

Or, is this release authorized by the top US levels, a real and directed effort to undermine and potentially abandon Hamid Karzai, released through lower levels to allow top level distance? (It is interesting that this comes only after they got Karzai inextricably roped into a runoff.)

In the end, I don't know the who or why at this point, but the political and strategic goal of damaging President Karzai seems pretty clear. This is a big and important, intentional impact story. I just wish I had more context of who planted it so I had a better sense of what it implicates in the US Afganistan strategy debate.

(Walid Karzai, like so many regional/tribal/criminal powerhouses has been receiving payments for 8 years, and it just comes out now? Maybe it's an effort to force President Karzai to distance himself from his brother and other criminal folks, to force him to "clean government?")

Also today, (AP) Gunman stormed a UN residential compound in the heart of Kabul killing 12 "in the biggest in a series of attacks intended to undermine next month's presidential runoff election."

Picture of the Day

(Shops burn following a deadly car bomb blast in Peshawar which ripped through a packed Pakistani market, slaughtering at least 86 people and underscoring the blood-drenched scale of the extremist threat. (AFP/A Majeed)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Dear God, Will he ever shut up about that rug?

Bush's "Get Motivated" appearance.
Nearly 15,000 people heard the former president, known more for mangling the English language than for his eloquence, reminisce about his White House days. Bush, who is writing a book about the dozen toughest decisions he had to make, used much of his 28 minutes onstage to talk about lighter topics such as picking out a rug design for the Oval Office that reflected his "optimism."


"Hugely influential" FoxNews only had an average of 881,000 viewers a night for Bill O'Reilly, their flagship show.

Admittedly, that blows the other cable networks away, but still, by my guess, that's probably less than half the registered Republicans just in the greater Houston area.

The power of FoxNews is greater because it affects the other news organizations and journalists, not because it reaches tons of people.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Thought for the Day

Remember when questioning President Bush was called treason?

Once again,,,

The "opt out" option on the public option probably means that we'll likely have public option in all the states pretty soon.

So long as there are a critical mass of states that "opt in" in the first place to make the public option work, I find it impossible to believe that even the most diehard Republican governors will be able to long stand the calls from constituents who are watching their neighbors one state over save thousands.

Opt-out is a bit of trickery to allow the Ben Nelson's to say they didn't vote for a public option, even though, given time, they really did.

Polling identity

Expect to hear alot about this,
(Gallup) Conservatives continue to outnumber moderates and liberals in the American populace in 2009, confirming a finding that Gallup first noted in June. Forty percent of Americans describe their political views as conservative, 36% as moderate, and 20% as liberal. This marks a shift from 2005 through 2008, when moderates were tied with conservatives as the most prevalent group.

With the associations that have been established to "conservative, liberal, moderate" you might argue that this self identification is a little weak as a politically significant measure (after all, in the last round of major polling, only 20% self identified as Republican,) but we can probably expect many citations of this poll in the near future as we're once again told that "America is a "conservative" country."

(I would argue that with the negative stigma towards "liberal," many liberals self-identify as "moderate.")

Also, what does this say about the GOP? I imagine a cartoon with the crazy wingers leading top 2012 candidates away as moderates stand in the middle saying "wait, we're over here."


From a "tea party" event in California.
"People just sense that something's wrong," said Dominic Harkay, who stood at the San Diego, California, rally holding a banner that read "Oust the Marxist Usurper, His Czars and Thugs … Honduras Did!"

Honduras is your model? Really? That's where you're going?

14 Americans killed in two chopper incidents

11 US soldiers were killed and three US civilians after two helicopter incidents on Afghanistan.
In the first crash, a helicopter went down in the west of the country after leaving the scene of a firefight with insurgents, killing 10 Americans — seven troops and three civilians working for the government. Eleven American troops, one U.S. civilian and 14 Afghans were also injured.

In a separate incident in the south, two other U.S. choppers collided while in flight, killing four American troops and wounding two more, the military said.

It's working

After a fairly unwatchable minute of the Fox "news" anchor and the guest overtalking the Dem and refusing the answer that healthcare legislation is, in fact, within the Constitution, which is the non-wingnut reality, the Dem says, "Can we have a ittle "fair and balanced," and the Fox host is very, very perturbed.

I think this is the clearest indication yet that the attacks on Fox are landing, that behind the scenes in the "news" portions of the day, they are worrying about it.

Smiling after you get hit

In boxing/fighting/whatever, you can always tell when a fighter is hurt by a punch because they back up a step, talke a moment, and then smile to try and show they weren't hurt.

I thought of that as I read this interview with a Chamber of Commerce guy. The Obama folks have singled them out and thrown a few punches (see next,) and, despite the attempted smile, it's clear the Chamber doesn't like it.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Going after the Republican levers of power

This might be uncoordinated. It might just be a lack of patience of a series of decisions to take on obstructionist Republican "third party" institutions on particular policies, but after the Obama administration's confrontation of FoxNews, challenging the very Republican Chamber of Commerce business organization seems to take on a little more meaning.

The Chamber has always been right leaning, but over the last decade, like so many other Republican leaning organizations, it has taken on new leadership become much more political, much more partisan, and much more politically active. This matters because Chamber members collectively donate big money to political campaigns and run influential "independent" television ads targeting local low money races.

According to this LATimes piece, the Obama folks are favoring/trying to raise up the smaller Business Roundtable group as a rival.

Overall, I don't know, but this feels important.It feels like confirmation of a trend to not just placate the Republican levers, but to shine a light on them and challenge them.

It feels like after losing control in the August of the ranting townhalls, they've decided to go after these third party Republican institutions.

The White House has lots of levers of soft power. We'll have to wait and see how it goes.

(It's like an attempt to dismantle some of the residual structures built off the K Street project.

And, do we tie this in with the repeated attempts to be "bipartisan" by reaching one or two Congressional Republicans? I mean, Specter and Snowe are classic Chamber and FoxNews targets. What are the ramifications of helping to protect moderate Republicans?)


(AP) Two car bombs targeting Baghdad city offices kill at least 72.

(WaPo) Karzai and Abdullah rule out a power sharing government.

(AP) Israeli police stormed the Al Aqsa mosque to dislodge Palestinian protesters.

(Reuters) UN inspectors are set to inspect the recently disclosed Iranian nuclar facility that's under construction.