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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Pretty much summing it up....

Politico has a piece examining the candidates statements on the Russia/Georgia/Ossetia flareup.
Obama’s statement put him in line with the White House, the European Union, NATO and a series of European powers, while McCain’s initial statement — which he delivered in Iowa and ran on a blog on his Web site under the title “McCain Statement on Russian Invasion of Georgia” — put him more closely in line with the moral clarity and American exceptionalism projected by President Bush’s first term.

(It should probably also be mentioned that McCain, as President of the IRI, was responsible for channeling money to Saakashvilli, helping fund his rise to power.)

Picture of the Day - 2

(President George W. Bush talks to Misty May-Treanor of the U.S. teams, during a beach volleyball practice on Saturday.)

McCain talks about being old?

Wow. Don't miss this. McCain goes on at some length about his physical limitations.
"I think the thing that helps me, I probably -- I don't know if you like this much detail -- if I can sleep in to about 7:30 or 8, then it really helps me,"....

"I just get a little more tired," he said, quickly adding, "Never cranky, or testy. I just think I do better. I kinda can tell, and I think [my staff] can tell you, if I put in three or four 18-hour, 20-hour days in a row, then I'm not sharp. It's just a fact. I can be sharp if I get a little more rest."

Sure is a good thing those international crises can be scheduled.

The Pakistani Army giving up on Musharraf?

All of this is kinda rumory at this point, but,
Pakistan's all-powerful army chief will ask President Pervez Musharraf to resign from office within a week, a senior government official claimed today.

Apologize later

The apology by Mueller is being lauded, but how much do you want to bet that this was about to be revealed in some report.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation said Friday that it had improperly obtained the phone records of reporters for The New York Times and The Washington Post in the newspapers’ Indonesia bureaus in 2004.


I missed this,
In an interview with the Washington Post last week, McCain defended the change of personnel and tactics . "If I win this campaign," he said, "historians will say, 'He was a genius.'"

Picture of the Day

(Georgian tanks from screengrabs from Russian TV, Channel One.)

Friday, August 08, 2008

Picture of the Day - 3

How interesting is this photo? You figure the Georgians probably checked with the US before going into Ossetia, and you figure the Russians probably had that intel and were prepped to go in response.

And here are the two guys, sitting next to each other, being social, while it's all going on.......

(President Bush and Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games at the National Stadium, August 8, 2008. (Eric Gaillard/Reuters))

John Edwards is fair game.

Much like Larry Craig yelling against gays or David Vitter going on about family values, John Edwards should be fair game, not because he cheated on his wife, but because he was a hypocrite.

(As always, sympathy to the wife who has to go through this.)

Operations in Pakistan? Or just another sell job.

Whenever I see a story like this leaked, I always wonder whether to take it literally or whether it was "leaked" for effect.
Top Bush administration officials are pressing the president to direct U.S. troops in Afghanistan to be more aggressive in pursuing militants into Pakistan on foot as part of a proposed radical shift in regional counterterrorism strategy.....

The plan could include sending U.S. special forces teams, temporarily assigned to the CIA, into the tribal areas to hit high-value targets.....

Anonymous sourcing is an absolute must in today's government structure. There are important stories, wiretapping, torture, secret prisons, even the WMD lies, that very understandably would not reach print without the cover of anonymity.

However, over the last two decades, there has been an increasing practice of manipulation by government sources distributing official information as "scoops" only under an agreement of anonymity.

This accepted abuse of practice has substantially corrupted news reporting and frequently turned media outlets into propaganda arms for those in power.

I mean, is the US seriously considering this or is it just another effort to pressure Pakistan by manipulating the AP and its poor journalistic practice.

Get some popcorn....

The Atlantic has an upcoming piece looking at the internal life of the Clinton campaign, complete with about 200 internal emails. Former Clinton advisers are said to be "in a tizzy." All sorts of ugly possibilities, infighting, insight on strategies, emails that contradict public statements......

But, other than a voyeuristic curiosity, I think the impact question is what is in there about Obama?

Picture of the Day - 2

I think I favor the Americans in this event.

(Or.... a commentary on NBC.....)

(A toilet with an Olympic sticker attached can be seen at the Olympic village in Beijing July 27, 2008. (REUTERS/David Gray))

Picture of the Day

(President George W. Bush greets members of the 2008 U.S. Summer Olympic Team in Beijing August 8, 2008.(REUTERS/Larry Downing))

How very Presidential......

Quickhits - lies, coverups, and war

(WaPo) The think tank ISIS issues a report saying that an attack on Iran's nuclear program won't work and might backfire.

(WaPo) Russia Asks That Iran Be Given More Time

(McClatchy) War in Georgia as they move to "retake" Ossetia.

(CNN) Georgian leader Saakashvili says the Russians are moving in planes, tanks, and troops.

(AFP) Musharraf aides say he may fight the impeachment.

(CQBlog) Ron Suskind says he will release transcripts of his interviews with CIA officials who told him that the Bush administration had ordered a forged document to tie Saddam Hussein to 9-11.

This comes after the White House released statements from these CIA folks denying what was apparently said in the interviews.

(If you're following all this, it's probably worth reading Froomkin from yesterday who deconstructed the White House's "weak denials.)

And, from a controversy past, the WaPo has a piece on, then Congressman Gerald Ford's, communications with the Warren Commission.
A December 1963 memo recounts that Ford, then a Republican congressman from Michigan, told FBI Assistant Director Cartha D. "Deke" DeLoach that two members of the seven-person commission remained unconvinced that Kennedy had been shot from the sixth-floor window of the Texas Book Depository. In addition, three commission members "failed to understand" the trajectory of the slugs, Ford said.

The use of "metrics" are always a sign of a failing effort.......

Reading this Politico piece on McCain "revving up" his ground game, I'm struck by how much the McCain campaign is trying to use "metrics" to create a storyline that they're not woefully behind in volunteers and structure.

The piece reads like a McCain press release.....

Thursday, August 07, 2008


From an Entertainment Weekly interview with the candidates,
EW: Who controls the remote at home, you or Cindy?

McCain: Sometimes I win the arm wrestling contest, but foolishly she continues to try to assert her control over the remote.

Yes, "foolish" woman..... expressing what she wants.....

Now get up there, get your top off, and dance for those bikers.....

Picture of the Day - 2

(Andy McCain, Meghan McCain, and Cindy McCain listen as their father and husband Republican presidential candidate, Sen. John McCain is introduced during a town hall meeting, Thursday, Aug. 7, 2008 in Lima, Ohio. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer))

McCain to return "straw man" donations

The McCain campaign is returning all the Harry Sargeant/Mustafa Abu Naba'a bundled donations. (For details, check this post.)

We might actually be leaving Iraq

I'm not gonna believe it until it's done, but the AP's got a story....
Two Iraqi officials say the U.S. and Iraq are close to a deal under which all American combat troops would leave by October 2010 with remaining U.S. forces gone about three years later.

Notice the timing. Almost exactly 16 months after the next President (Obama) takes the oath of office.

The Clinton legacy....

From here on out, to some degree, the Clinton legacy is out of Hillary Clinton's hands. The statements and mistakes she made in the primaries are now out in the public sphere.
Hillary Clinton's critics said her strident attacks on Barack Obama would return as Republican fodder, and it came to pass Thursday as she made her debut in an ad for White House hopeful John McCain.....

"I know Senator McCain has a lifetime of experience he will bring to the White House. And Senator Obama has a speech he gave in 2002," she says in the Republican's ad.

Not all of America will see the all of the concessions made to her around the convention, but, as many predicted, most of America will likely see that line over and over in ads.

(The real stupidity of this statement is that it was made March 2 right before the Texas/Ohio primaries, at which point, the polling made clear that she wouldn't decisively win those states, and thus, wouldn't win the primary.

She had already sensibly lost, and this was a desperate gamble on her part.... And now here it is.)

Two more thoughts: 1. In one way, this benefits Obama because it increases the "unity" pressure on Clinton who was, just yesterday, talking about wanting her name submitted at the convention.

2. The McCain campaign released this ad the day before Clinton is scheduled to campaign for Obama alone. Every story on Clinton campaigning will now contain this quote.


The fact is, Barack Obama already has more pre-presidential experience in government than three of the four guys on Mount Rushmore....

Picture of the Day

Sometimes I just like the photo....

(Sen. Barack Obama talks with Georgie Jolivette, 6, during a stop at Stahl's Farm Market in Ravenna, Ohio, Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2008. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon))

Son of the Return of The Obama Fret

So..... Here we go again. It seems we're in another round of the "Obama fret." The first few rounds were demographically specific, "he can't win women/Hispanics/working class whites/Jews/etc" except that he's polling just fine among all those groups.

This round of "Obama fret" is even more unbelievable. The mantra seems to be "he's not winning by enough."


Obama is up +5 consistently in the major polls. He's pretty handily winning all the electoral projections, and neither of those numbers is moving away from him. If he were to win the general election by +5 or +6, loosely estimating, the electoral vote would be a landslide 330-208 or so.

But, according to the media mantra, that's still not enough.

Now he's got to be up +10 or he's a failure.


Remember when "nobody was going to vote for a black man"?

(Addendum: For 2 1/2 months the polls haven't moved... at all. Obama in the high 40's, McCain in the low 40's.

Barring something huge, this vote appears to be pretty calcified. The battle is all over that last 10%.)

More questions on McCain's "straw man" donations

The NYTimes extends the possible "straw man" donations story this morning, apparently finding a whole raft of middle class and poor Jordanians willing to donate over the max to the McCain campaign.

No hard evidence of anything illegal yet, but it sure does smell funny.
Abdullah Makhlouf, the owner of a discount stereo store who is one of Mr. Abdullah’s closest friends, and his wife contributed $9,200.

“He’s like a worse copy than Bush,” Mr. Makhlouf said of Mr. McCain.

When a reporter initially contacted Mr. Makhlouf, he denied giving to the McCain campaign.

After eventually admitting to the donation, Mr. Makhlouf added, “I’m still not going to vote for him.”

The curious thing is, these may not be "straw man" donations. But, then, what sort of relationships or pressure are getting these people to donate way out of their income league for a candidate they don't like when many of them don't even vote.

This is weird......

Pakistan to impeach Musharraf

The Pakistani governing coalition has agreed to begin an impeachment process against Musharraf. (Reuters, AFP, BBC....)

There's a news conference today to announce intentions, and the BBC points out that the ruling PPP and PML don't have the 2/3 majority needed to impeach, even without the dissension in their own parties.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

From the department of symbolism

John McCain's campaign bus was in a minor crash.

John McCain wasn't on board.....

But Joe Lieberman was.....?

A year later, still the same in Iraq......

Has it already been a year since everyone was complaining about the Iraqi government going on vacation not having gotten anything done....?
Iraqi lawmakers adjourned for the summer on Wednesday without passing a crucial election law.....

The Sunnis are blaming the Shia. The Sadrists are blaming Dawa and SIIC. The Kurds thought they had a deal, only to have Kirkuk yanked from under them.

Still no oil law. Still no elections deal. Still no decision on Kirkuk.

Picture of the Day

(President George W. Bush speaks at the 2008 Annual Meeting of the West Virginia Coal Association in White Sulphur Springs July 31, 2008. (REUTERS/Jim Young))

Coup in Mauritania

I know nothing about the politics of Mauritania, but the news of a coup is a little less surprising when this line is included in the story, "The coup in Africa's newest oil producer...."

Anybody seen Mark Thatcher lately.....?

The first real attack on McCain.

The Obama campaign crafts its first real, direct attack ad on McCain. This is a taste of what the future of the campaign probably looks like.

(It does mark a new tone. Two Obama quotes over the last two days, "In the coming days it’s going to be interesting to watch this debate between John McCain and John McCain," and, regarding the GOP in general, "It's like these guys take pride in being ignorant.")

Also, add this one from today, "Senator McCain’s energy plan reads like an early Christmas list for oil and gas lobbyists. And it’s no wonder – because many of his top advisors are former oil and gas lobbyists."

Definitely a new tone.

Picture of the Day - 2

(Sen. Barack Obama gets off the plane at South Bend Regional Airport in South Bend, Ind., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2008.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon))

"Straw man" donations to the McCain campaign

McClatchy has picked up the story of the possible "straw man" donations from Hess oil, the office manager and her Amtrak foreman husband who gave $61,000 to the McCain campaign.

And, today, we have a WaPo frontpager on McCain bundler which seems to have the clear implication of many, many more "straw man" donations to McCain.

(LATER: FirstRead/NBC points out that the bundler in the WaPo article made all his money through some questionable bidding practices on shipping oil into Iraq.)

Separate from the legal issues, if this "breaks through", it could be politically explosive in that it reinforces the "rich Republicans trying to buy the election" narrative undermining several of McCain's policy points on tax cuts, energy, business regulation, and reinforces the corrupt GOP narrative.

If this "breaks through," it turns him into a regular Republican.

(This might well be going on in the Obama campaign, too, but we're yet to hear of it.

The NYTimes has a frontpager on Obama's big donors saying 1/3 of his money comes from $1,000 or more donations, but doesn't that also mean 2/3 comes from $1,000 or less?)

Semi-related: It's also notable that the Swiftboaters are trying to come back, but their money man and backer, T. Boone Pickens, is nowhere to be found among Republican moneymen. He's pushing his own energy plan, and saying nice things about Obama.

Picture of the Day

I get that you want to press nuclear energy, but don't cooling towers have a decidedly negative association, (even with the overt "nature scene" in the short background?)

(Sen. John McCain speaks to reporters after a tour of the Enrico Femi Nuclear Plant Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2008, in Newport, Mich.(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer))

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


Just putting it out there for later reference.
A Syrian general shot to death at a beach resort over the weekend was a top overseer of his country's weapons shipments to Hezbollah......

Israel's Haaretz newspaper said Israeli officials believed Suleiman had been in charge of shipping Iranian and Syrian weapons to the armed Lebanese movement Hezbollah, including long-range rockets used in attacks on Israel.

Haaretz did not identify its sources. Israel's Yedioth Ahronoth daily said the slain man also had been in charge of Syria's alleged nuclear program.

Picture of the Day - 2

Another banner day for the McCain advance team. First that awfully stupid comment about his wife, and now the "Buffalo Chip" shirt "open" on the rack.

If he can't manage the people in his campaign......

(Sen. John McCain and his wife Cindy shop for shirts during a visit to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Monday, Aug. 4, 2008. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer))


“McCain joked that he had encouraged his wife to enter the annual Sturgis beauty contest, one in which nudity is not uncommon. The engines roared again. ‘I told her with a little luck she could be the only lady to serve as first lady and Miss Buffalo Chip,’ he said with a broad grin.”

Later: These comments are both not as bad and far worse than you think. If you watch the video, it's obvious McCain doesn't know what the hell he's talking about, but, at the same time, be aware that this contest is a couple steps worse than a Spring Break wet t-shirt event.

(Should a possible President be saying stuff like this? If someone else had talked about McCain's wife dancing topless on a bar, how do you think that would go over?

My guess is, this is a staff screwup. Some staffer thought it'd be a cute line, not knowing what the hell he was talking about.)

The NPR Suskind interview

Here's the NPR Suskind interview about the Bush admin ordering the CIA to forge a document linking Saddam Hussein to Mohammed Atta (Explained below.) If you're interested in the story, it's worth a listen.

Picture of the Day

After weeks of complaints from journalists traveling with McCain about his lack of availability, the McCain campaign decides it'd be funny to give them a big cardboard standup McCain on the plane.

Hahaha we're screwing you.... Hahaha isn't that funny?

(PS. McCain became "unavailable" right when the campaign decided to start attacking. Some coincidence, huh?)

(Mark Salter, adviser to John McCain arrives to talk to journalists at the reporters section of the Straight Talk Air campaign charter jet decorated with a cut-out of McCain and photographs taken during the campaign Monday, Aug. 4, 2008. (AP/Mary Altaffer))

Knowingly falsifying evidence is a whole 'nother level

We'll have to wait and see how this shakes out, but the White House ordering the forgery of a letter directly linking Iraq to 9-11 would be a really, really big deal.
A new book by the author Ron Suskind claims that the White House ordered the CIA to forge a back-dated, handwritten letter from the head of Iraqi intelligence to Saddam Hussein.

The White House denies this, of course.

This is especially interesting because of the recent revelation by Scott McClellan that the White House coordinated talking points with the FoxNews evening hosts,
Fox's Bill O'Reilly trumpeted the story Sunday night on 'The O'Reilly Factor,' talking breathlessly about details of the story and exhorting, 'Now, if this is true, that blows the lid off al Qaeda—Saddam.'

Notes: 1) Be aware that this was well after, not before, the war started. This was part of the "pushback" against claims that there were no WMD. (Roughly synchronous with Joe Wilson/Valerie Plame.)

2) I heard a great interview with Suskind this morning on NPR. I'll come back and link that, and some of the other relevant coverage as it is available.

(Whatever happened to the Niger forgeries investigation?)


Obama, "informally," with reporters on his plane, talking about the McCain "celebrity ad."
“last week I think was just a series of distractions,” he said. “It felt, I guess, like a squid that sent out ink.” He added: “The question for me is always how do you avoid getting pulled into that kind of politics without getting slapped around.”

That hurricane thing......

If I disappear for awhile, it's not because I don't love you. More than likely it means I've lost power or internet connection from the tropical storm.

(From where I sit, it doesn't look like much anymore.)

Attacking McCain on gas prices

Following on yesterday's post, the Obama campaign has apparently decided to go on the offensive against McCain on energy. Another new ad.

A British "secret deal" with the Mahdi

The British Times reports,
British soldiers in Iraq were prevented from coming to the aid of their American and Iraqi allies during battles in Basra because of a deal between British forces and the Mahdi Army militia, The Times reported Tuesday.

The British government denies this.

Picture of the Day

President Bush heads to Asia.....

(President Bush arrives with first lady Laura Bush and daughter Barbara Bush to make remarks to military personnel in Eielson AFB, Alaska, Monday, Aug. 4, 2008. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert))

Monday, August 04, 2008

On McCain and offshore drilling, and the Obama pushback

One of the real openings that John McCain has, if you believe the polling, is on energy/gas prices. He's ranked way down on healthcare, economy, etc, but the offshore drilling pitch has been pretty successful. It's the one valid avenue he has into voters' economic concerns.....

So, I'm not surprised to see this story coming out, "Multiple Oil Company Executives Gave Huge Contributions To Electing McCain Just Days After Offshore Drilling Reversal." ($285,000 all from Hess folks on just June 24th.)

(Later: An office manager and her husband, and Amtrak worker, also went in for $57,000. (How much does an Amtrak worker make?))

Put that story in as the second slam after the Obama campaign ad slamming McCain for receiving donations from oil companies, and I think we have ourselves an Obama campaign push to try and undermine McCain on energy/offshore drilling.

This is the way the Obama campaign "plays dirty." They tried to argue against the policy on the merits, but were losing the spin war, so, now, they throw up alot of chaff and sorta coopt the position.

And if the McCain campaign tries to yell, "they're flipping to our positions," the Obama campaign replies, "yeah, but you were only there because you're dirty with oil money."

This is pretty good politics, but it takes patience to set it up.

Picture of the Day - 2

Amidst all the outcry against McCain's recent campaign tactics, the McCain campaign slogans and their fully intended comparative implications should probably also be mentioned.

"Country First" and perhaps far more offensively, "An American President for America."

(Sen. John McCain during a town hall-style meeting , July 31, 2008 in Racine, Wis.(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer))

Did Bush threaten Pakistan?

We know that when Pakistani PM Gilani visited Washington, the US "presented evidence" of ties between the ISI and Taleban, but what was left unreported was, to what degree, there was a backside threat.

This is from a Pakistani paper, so judge for yourself, but it seems to imply a pretty menacing, if vague, threat in the conversation.
President George W Bush confronted Yusuf Raza Gilani in Washington last week with evidence of involvement by the ISI in a deadly attack on the Afghan capital and warned of retaliation if it continues.....

Gilani, on his first official US visit since being elected in February, was left in no doubt that the Bush administration had lost patience with the ISIís alleged double game. Bush warned that if one more attack in Afghanistan or elsewhere were traced back to Pakistan, he would have to take 'serious action'.

Political bits

The WaPo frontpages with a new poll showing Obama handily winning "low wage workers." (This is not really a surprise, but +10 among white workers is news because the press was carrying the "he can't win whites" line out of the primaries.)

The NYTimes has a graphic looking at the eight possible Dem pickups in the Senate. (My guess is 5 or 6. I don't think Franken gets over the top.)

(Kurtz) More and more media grumbling at McCain's inaccessibility to the press.

(CNN) Obama unveils his energy plan today. (A big deal with energy polling at the top of voters concerns. We can probably expect alot of McCain campaign chaff today to try and take away focus.)

The NYSun previews the attack lines against some of Obama's VP choices.

(HuffPo) McCain will "participate in" the Sturgis biker rally?

And, Today is Barack Obama's 47th birthday and the election is three months from today.

Maybe a huge breakthrough in solar power

This is probably years from practical use, but it maybe a major breakthrough in solar energy technology.

A conspiracy theory is borne

I'm not watching every twist and turn as the anthrax case spills out into the public, but, two days in a row, we have stories putting questions on Ivins guilt. Yesterday it was the WaPo quoting people working with him saying "he couldn't have done it." Today, it's a long NYTimes article arguing "circumstantial evidence."

Then you've got stuff like this floating around, (NYDailyNews)
In the immediate aftermath of the 2001 anthrax attacks, White House officials repeatedly pressed FBI Director Robert Mueller to prove it was a second-wave assault by Al Qaeda, but investigators ruled that out, the Daily News has learned.

They really need to make the case public.

(And here's a question someone needs to ask, (WaPo) "Researcher Kept Security Clearance as FBI Closed In.")

Picture of the Day

(Brooke Keith, from Alexandira, Va., holds a sign as she listens to Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Barack Obama D-Ill., speak at the Nissan Pavilion in Bristow, Va, June 5, 2008.(AP/Alex Brandon))

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Does McCain want to be remembered as the last racist?

Trading comments with Anonymous got me thinking about McCain, "the race card," and history.

No matter how this election comes out, the first serious non-white candidate for President is going to be a major event in every history class and textbook for the next century.

Even if he somehow won the presidency, if the narrative ever becomes "McCain playing racial politics," even by association, it'll become his historical legacy.

I think his campaign staff, not faced with their names being memorized by generations of high school students, are more willing to dance closer to that racial line, and I'll be curious how far they'll end up dragging him.

Would you want to be that guy in the history books? Those are the consequences of the game he's playing.

(Of course, even David Gergen says the McCain campaign is playing the "uppity" card.)

If you're going to watch the Sunday shows, be warned.....

Here's a dirty little secret. If McCain's recent attacks are perceived to be moving the polls, the TV pundits and "analysts" will give him a pass on ethics.

They might mention it, but then they'll gush on about effectiveness.

C'mon, you know it's true.

Picture of the Day

(Sen. John McCain and his wife Cindy smile as they are introduced during a town hall meeting at the Racine Civic Center Thursday, July 31, 2008 in Racine, Wisc. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer))

What is it about Russia?

Why is McCain so anti-Russia, and yet so pro-Chinese?

He's proposed that wacky-assed "league of democracies" solely intended to target Russia. During his stint leading the IRI, he channeled tons of funding into anti-Russian opposition groups in the former Soviet States.

Why does McCain hate Russia so much?

As he's running for president, we really should know.