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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Saturday, November 28, 2009


Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann are the co-keynotes for the "tea party" convention.

As a serious question, what does it say about that movement, this political moment, and the state of the Republican party that these are their heroes? That absolute certainty in ignorance seems to be a cherished value?

I mean, there are far more capable folks who are "right" on tea party issues, but I don't think there are many who are more "certain," belligerent, and willfully ignorant.

Is it a seeking of reassurance or reinforcement of a party rocked and in the wilderness that all those thinkers must be wrong? Is it looking for validation that "my ideas" are right and mainstream? Is it some weird "reality show" type dynamic?

So, seriously, put on your sociologist's/political scientist's hat, and tell me what's going on. What is the dynamic that's valuing certainty over everything else? What is the dynamic (that Bush tapped into) that says that knowledge is bad?

He really wanted to be King of New York

According to the NYTimes, Michael Bloomberg $102 million to be (closely) reelected as Mayor of New York City (making $264 million to win all three elections. $261 million of which came right out of his own pocket.)

Certainly he has the money to do this, but wow.

For a baseline, the most expensive Senate race in history (Coleman-Franken believe it or not) cost $50+ million between both candidates.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Binge, Purge

In a quiet, but significant move, the Obama administration is flushing all the lobbyists out of all of the governmental advisory boards.

This is a big deal in the second tier political class as many, many, many have made their livings off lobbying money based on their board placements and connections. Plus, it's something of a partisan wash as many of those placement favors granted by the Bush flacks and the Republican Congresses are washed out.

Now, this doesn't remove everybody, but it significantly reshapes the industry and Republican partisan balance of second tier political policy Washington.

"the preservation of its assets....."

Another horrible story of the Catholic hierarchy conspiring to hide child sex abuse, this one out of Ireland, but what really caught my eye was this paragraph.
...the church was concerned only with “the maintenance of secrecy, the avoidance of scandal, the protection of the reputation of the church, and the preservation of its assets,” said the 700-page report...

...because that's what Jesus would have wanted....

Cold Turkey bits

(AP) Dubai World, UAE's part government development company, misses a major debt payment. (Too many man made island resorts, indoor ski slopes, and giant sail boat shaped buildings....)

(AP) The IAEA "censures" Iran over its nuclear program. (Guess that trip to China did yield something, huh?)

(USAToday) In power Dem committees continue to outraise Republicans, collectively sitting on a significant cash on hand advantage. (It's good to be the king...)

(AP) A weird, but interesting story about a Princeton grad Major League pitcher (Pirates) who is interning at the Ag department in the off season because he likes the work.

And, (Chron) Texas Republican leadership loses a major defense contract (BAE - trucks) because they no longer have the influence or Senators with enough clout.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Interesting Thanksgiving dump

I don't know what to make of this, dumped on Thanksgiving, a big WaPo story on how Obama security officials got concessions from China on Iran's nuke program through a variety of vague threats about things that might destabilize China, Iranian oil shipment disruptions, oil price rises, and threats about rapid proliferation.

It's just a weird bit revealing discussions with the Chinese (which is very rarely done because the Chinese don't like to appear pressured.) So this is meant to accomplish something.

Dumped on Thanksgiving, you have to figure the target is foreign. Russia? Iran?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Quote - "Presidential"

Sarah Palin to a Canadian TV comic who went to one of her appearances.
Palin strolled over, looking down on Walsh and her crew to tell them that "Canada needs to dismantle its public health-care system and allow private enterprise to get involved and turn a profit."

The Obamas are cool

Forget everything else. They're the "coolest" since the Kennedy's.

Also the WaPo story on the State Dinner.


"They made a porn movie about Sarah Palin, and the same actress, Lisa Ann, played me in the porn version of 30 Rock. Weirdly, of the three of us, Lisa Ann knows the most about foreign policy."

-- Tina Fey, speaking at Ad Council gala


Dana Perino, former Bush spokesman,
"We did not have a terrorist attack on our country during President Bush's term"

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


After Sarah Palin made such an effort to dodge another Katie Couric interview, her would be 2012 primary challenger Huckabee makes a point to do an interview Couric right now.

(While effusing about all the Republican possibles, I think he's trying to highlight a point to the party elders. That "war on the liberal media" thing may sell to the base, but media friendly is needed for a general election.)

Shouldn't go without mention

A group of GOPers are proposing a "purity test" resolution at the next RNC meeting. The premise is that future GOP candidates must pledge fealty to at least 8 of the 10 bullet points or receive no financial support or endorsements from any party structures.

There's two ways to read this. First, as has been portrayed in most of the political blogs, that this represents another effort to tighten the crazies' grip on the party.

However, I also see it as perhaps a clever way to avoid another NY-23. The bullet points are fairly vague, and most could be committed to without much contortion. (Notice the abortion bullet #9 that doesn't actually require opposing abortion.)

Effectively what this would do is enable the party structures to determine "who is a Republican" which would avoid allowing the crazies to claim the right to make that determination. Handled properly, this moves all the power back to the party structures. It would be a way for the party seniors to tamp down NY-23 type fires before they burned up opportunities to win elections.

Just offering a different spin.

Life Stuff

Had some life stuff this morning, so I'll leave you for now with another video of illuminating interviews from a Sarah Palin book line.

Monday, November 23, 2009


A provocative new study forthcoming in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences seems to show that people perceive a bi-racial candidate to have lighter skin color when they agree with him.....

Anyway, the research's most practical consequence finding seems to be that devious political hacks don't need to play games with candidates' pictures because the voters are doing it themselves:

PS. I don't like the way this was written. 1) "Perceiving lighter skin when they agree with him" doesn't highlight the other side, perceiving darker skin when they don't.

2) "Play games with" is a way too soft euphemism for the race baiting tactic of darkening black candidates' pictures.

Lou Dobbs 2012

Please, oh please, let Lou Dobbs run as a third party candidate for president in 2012.

Maybe scarier than Palin

Talking point for a debate

Well, the question isn't about the debt right now..... The normal mode of things is that you save during the good times so that you have something to spend on the inevitable rainy days, and the worst economic situation since the Great Depression certainly qualifies as more than a sprinkle....

The question, my Republican opponent, is not why we're spending now to try to save the economy and save jobs... the question is why your party broke the bank, taking our country trillions into debt, when times were arguably good.

President Clinton, when times were good, balanced the budget. Your party, when times were good, gave a trillion dollar tax break to the wealthiest, gave hundreds of billions unnecessarily to drug companies, and, for the first time in history, cut taxes while fighting a war.

Prior to this crisis, the worst debt offenders in the last 30 years have all been Republican presidents, no matter how much you may spin, and almost all of that debt was added in good times.

Even squirrels know that when the weather's warm, you put a little something away for the inevitable winter. And yet Republicans spent and spent and spent, creating trillions of debt in good times.

So, don't try to lecture me about economics. Republicans certainly have the talking points, but if we really look at the record, Republicans do not have the credibility....

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thought for the Day

People who were in the majority against the Iraq war weren't "serious" enough for the media to cover, but every crazy person who believes whatever fantasy shit about Barack Obama gets a quote in the NYTimes.

Does India have an Exxon?

Right before the big international climate summit in Copenhagen, India's environmental minister questions "western" scientists' views on global warming.

Funny how they discover this position requiring fewer concessions just weeks before they're entering negotiations.

Show us what you've got

Iran on Thursday began large-scale air defense war games aimed at protecting the country's nuclear facilities against any possible attack, state television reported.

Maybe it's aimed at the domestic audience, because I don't see any such demonstration acting to put the US or Israel off if they really want to go. If anything, it would seem to be showing their hand.