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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Saturday, April 17, 2010

2010 Elections

I haven't seen it mentioned in awhile, but the 2010 election will also, in many, many states, elect the state legislators and governors who will be redrawing the Congressional districts.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Playing games with Midterms

The DNC is saying it's planning to spend big, $50 million in the midterms spread across Congressional races and governorships.

....but don't miss the broader context of the announcement. The DNC didn't have to say this out loud, but they did so to heighten the juxtaposition and dissatisfaction with Michael Steele and the RNC who couldn't pull together that kind of money.

The idea, I assume, is to broaden the Republican infighting during this key period of fundraising.

Thought for the Day

With healthcare passed and the teapartiers now causing some electoral trouble for the Republican establishment, it seems this year's "tea party" protests received alot less support than last year's "summer of rage."

There was a fair amount of lip service paid to them as no Republican wants to be on their bad side, but their particular crazy noise is just not as strategically useful going into an election year.

State Secrets

Both the AP and the NYTimes have a big story on the CIA's destruction of the video tapes of the "interrogation" of Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri in Thailand based on documents released through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by the ACLU.

The key points in this release are on two tracks. 1) The tapes were ordered destroyed by Jose Rodriguez Jr, then the head of clandestine services (although he denies it,) and that Porter Goss knew of the debate, seemed to support the decision, but wasn't directly involved in the orders, and that the White House's official contact, (Supreme Court nominee) Harriet Miers, knew nothing until afterwards.

And, better represented by the AP ,2)
The videos showed CIA interrogators using waterboarding, a simulated drowning technique, on terrorism suspect Abu Zubaydah. The videos showed that interrogators did not follow the waterboarding procedures authorized by President George W. Bush's administration, the documents show.

Jose Rodriguez, the agency's top clandestine officer, worried the tapes would be "devastating" to the CIA if they ever surfaced, the documents show.

And, as always, think about the sourcing. Remember this is just a first version based on a FOIA, not part of the final official report.

There's alot of politics left before the final version gets written.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Counter narrative for the day

First Read questions Sarah Palin's bona fides,
Is she more influential with the media than she is with Republicans?

I think you could write a book on the context of her media relationship.

Short version: The decades of Republican screaming about "liberal media bias" coupled with the relative prominence and success of FoxNews (despite the fact that only a few percent ff Americans actually watch it,) has led the "elite media" to take on board the idea that they are not connected to "real America," and has led editorial staffs to bend over backwards to accommodate far right narratives and voices and to attempt to "estimate" what they believe "real America" is.

Sarah Palin is just such an estimation.

Palin's PAC finances lifestyle

I don't think you'll be all that surprised, but Sarah Palin's PAC is being primarily used to finance her travel with just a tiny amount going to other candidates.

PAC's are a very useful way to travel on other people's money if you're not in an official campaign.

Ask Newt Gingrich who has lived off his PAC for 14 years.

The tea party poll

It's probably worth buzzing the NYTimes article polling the tea partiers as it is likely to drive some coverage in the days ahead and shape the way they are presented which is a key battle in their political impact.

This poll may serve to "mainstream" the tea party folks.

(Although I really don't like the way this article is written. "Tea Party supporters are more likely to believe than other Americans..." tends to read more absolutely than the underlying numbers.)

Later: Kurtz does a sort of interesting meandering into the efforts to define the tea party.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Observation on retaking Congress

With all the discussion of 2010 marking a Republican Congressional revival, has anyone else noticed that the Repubs are seeing really good candidates pass on some of those second tier opportunities?

For instance. Tommy Thompson has decided not to challenge Feingold, and it appears that rookie (and perceived target) Gillibrand may run (practically) unopposed in New York.

The Republicans are going to have lots of opportunities, Harry Reid, Blanche Lincoln, etc, but to really get the "win" they would need these second tier races, and it would seem that the best candidates doubt their ability to win these races.

Related: What's the expectation going into the 2010 election? If the Dems lose one seat is it a stinging rebuke for Obama? If the Repubs don't capture 20 new seats, is it a great failure for them? Where are the expectations set?


As the economy recovers, it could cause the Republicans real political problems. I understand it was easy to rail against the policies, but did they really believe it was never coming back? (I'd guess the regional levels of recovery and joblessness are really going to matter.)

It's meaningless, but Obama still comfortably outpolls (50+%) all the floating GOP 2012 names.

Republican consultants (besides Dick Armey) have figured out how to exploit the tea partiers for organizational gain.

And, In Sarah Palin's speaking contracts, it appears she's requiring event holders to collaborate to offer only pre-screened questions.

Stealing a joke

Think Obama is going to nominate Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Get your tin foil hats....

The right begins to question the story about Obama ditching the press pool for his daughter's soccer game Saturday.

I have no idea, but I feel pretty sure we'll soon be hearing allegations that Obama snuck off to meet with.....

Pawlenty embarrasses himself

(Trying to draw lines with Romney I assume) Tim Pawlenty declares April in Minnesota "Abortion Recovery Month."

Absolutely meaningless, except, of course, politically.

Supreme Court pre-game

I have a hunch the Democratic strategy will be subsumed by Republican yelling, but here's the Dem strategy, go populist and anti-corporate, hinging on the recent Roberts/Scalia/Alito/Thomas bloc's decisions,
“I don’t think people are going to tell the nominee, ‘It is terrible what the Roberts court has done — what are you going to do to reverse it?’” said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), laying out the argument to POLITICO on Monday.

“But I think what people are going to do is say, ‘Do you share our concern about the fact that the court always seems to side with the big corporate interests against the average American?’” he added. “I think there’s going to be more of the public realizing they really do have a stake in who’s on the Supreme Court.”

It's been a long time since the Dems have called on their "social issues," as Republican attacks over "anti-business" have cowed them.

Nuclear progress.

Very quietly, the Obama folks appear to have gotten some concessions from China on Iran and a serious commitment from Ukraine (and a less significant but similar commitment from Chile) to give up their highly enriched Uranium.

Tax Day

Today is tax day for me, so I'll be in and out on the blog.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Whackjobs go mianstream in Oklahoma

"Tea Party" members are trying to form a state government recognized militia to stop "infringements" by the federal government.

Frighteningly, some state politicians (with an eye on the next election) are encouraging them.


The BBC has an interesting piece asking whether the should National Enquirer win the Pulitzer for the John Edwards story.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Thi ISI frees Taleban

I know it's not really too much of a surprise, but US officials are "leaking" that the Pakistani ISI has released senior Taleban members.