.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Born at the Crest of the Empire

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Big trouble

I'm having sporadic internet trouble this weekend, so if I disappear for awhile, that's what it is.

Picture of the Day

There's a point in many relationships where you both know it's over, you're just going through the motions, but you just can't yet say goodbye.....

(President George W. Bush greets Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz to the Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy, Friday, Nov.14, 2008, in Washington. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds))

G20 trial balloon?

It is interesting that Hillary Clinton's name leaked in what appears to be a very intentional way right before all the top world leaders arrived for the G20.....

Maybe a way to tell those world offiicials that, although Obama won't outline positions right now, maybe their friends the Clintons are worth a visit?

Another breakthrough?

As deep as I was into this election, I didn't know that Obama deputy campaign manager Steve Hildebrand was openly gay.

That's pretty cool that such a high ranking figure in a presidential campaign can be publicly out, and it's so little of a deal that no one even mentions it.

Pretty damn cool.

Quote - Karl Rove, Q and A-hole

Q: Do you like Joe Biden?

A(-hole): I think he has an odd combination of longevity and long-windedness that passes for wisdom in Washington.


Seemingly not happy with his list of Secretary of State options, Barack Obama reached out to Hillary Clinton.

Seemingly not happy with his VP choices, John McCain reached out to Sarah Palin.

We elected the right guy.

Friday, November 14, 2008

G20 point of interest

Just as a point of interest, at the G20 dinner tonight, Bush was flanked by Chinese Premier Hu and Brazilian President Lula da Silva. He also had a photo op with Indian PM Manmohan Singh.

My point being that Bush made substantial appearance not with Europe or Japan, but with 3 of the 4 BRIC countries (not Russia.) Just an interesting bit of posturing.

(PS. Be nice to China. We need their money.)

Picture of the Day - 2

(Vice President Dick Cheney greets Vice President-elect Joe Biden at the Vice President's residence in Washington November 13, 2008. (REUTERS/Molly Riley))

One more Clinton bit.....

I find it interesting that the Dem caucus laid out their turf on healthcare, like Kennedy and Baucus, and on seniority/leadership, like Reid, right at about the same time the first Clinton as Sec State rumors apparently began swirling in the backrooms.

Two possibilities. 1) The Obama camp hit on a couple of allies in Kennedy and Reid to show Clinton that she wouldn't get what she wanted if she stayed in the Senate, creating pressure for her to take the job, or, probably more likely, 2) Clinton heard the rumors and started trying to feel out her immediate future in the Senate inciting these reactive turf protections.

Anyway you look at this, her immediate Senate opportunities were significantly closed off to her right around the time the Sec State rumblings started.

It's looking so much more likely now......

(Of course, you still have the Bill Clinton issues, his foundation, economic vetting, and how he uses his connections.)

Bush for auto bailout

The White House comes out in favor of a $25 billion auto bailout. Seems a bit of a positional tournabout.

Obama has been pressing this as one of his pre-office priorities. So, what shifted to get the Bush admin to change?

Also notice this is being announced in the "Friday dump."

Soooo much money......

The Obama campaign finished with so much money that they're paying bonuses, up to a month's wages, to many of the campaign's footsoldiers.

Stray thought

What sort of oppo research did the Obama camp have on McCain (or Palin) that they didn't have to/chose not to use?

Picture of the Day

(President George W. Bush winks before speaking at the United Nations headquarters in New York, Thursday, Nov. 13, 2008. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig))

Clinton as Sec State?

I don't know what to think about floating Hillary Clinton as Sec State. My first gut reaction is that floating her name is a payoff.

From the Clinton side, there's no reason for her to take that job. Afterward, she would have no opportunities she doesn't have now, plus she'd have given up her Senate seat.

From the Obama side, you still would have that competing centers of power problem that kept her from being VP.

Then again, there seems to be a second wave of reporting murmurs giving this more credibility.

And, (CNN) Clinton and Obama did meet in Chicago yesterday.

Also very odd. All the stories in all the major outlets contain exactly two aides confirming the story which says this is a very coordinated and intentional "leak."

Later: Definitely add FirstRead's political calculus on this.
(Take a rival out of the Senate. Take Clinton off all domestic policy (healthcare.) Remove Clinton from campaigning and domestic politics. Cynical, but very interesting.)

PS. If she does end up as Sec State, I think she'd do one hell of a job. (I really think she'd be great at anything she wants to do.)

The only complication would be Bill Clinton who would surely become a very influential backchannel, which could be amazingly powerful or very complicating depending upon how it was used.

Later Still: Nico Pitney of HuffPo claims that Obama offered Clinton the Sec State position at their meeting. I'm skeptical.

McCain to Chicago

The Obama camp seems set on (at least) the image of bipartisanship and reconciliation.
"On Monday, President-elect Barack Obama and Senator John McCain will meet in Chicago at transition headquarters.... They will be joined in the meeting by Senator Lindsey Graham and Congressman Rahm Emanual," she said in the emailed statement.

Nice of them to invite the poodle (Lindsey Graham,) too.

(Finally, the transition is getting interesting.)

Retail sales

Retail sales fall by record amount in October

The Commerce Department said Friday that retail sales fell by 2.8 percent last month, surpassing the old mark of a 2.65 percent drop in November 2001 in the wake of the terrorist attacks that year.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Picture of the Day - 2

Joe and Jill Biden met with the Cheneys at the Vice President's residence today......

"Over here you'll see the Doomsday device.... Lynn? Where's the Doomsday device?.... We have to keep moving it because the grandkids keep getting into the damn thing.

What? Oh, of course.... Third door on your left.... and if you hit the media room slash dungeon you've gone too far."

Pawlenty is playing his cards at the RGA....

Tim Pawlenty is making the most of his time at the Republican Governors' Association meeting. Yesterday, he laid down the most compelling case for a more inclusive (read larger) Republican party.

Today, he extended those remarks, seeming to try and cast himself as the vision of a New Republican party.

Interesting. Especially the effort to move the GOP past Reagan. That's either heresy or brilliant. We'll see how it's received.

Also note the way he's setting himself up as "new ideas" and vision in juxtaposition to Palin's talking points. At an event of this level, I think that's a good play.

(I guess when he cut the mullet we should have seen the coming ambition.)

How can we miss her if she won't go away (Day 9)

After all the people bewailing the historically long, two year presidential campaign, isn't anyone going to be disgusted that the Republican campaign for 2012 has already started?

Also, the backroom story on Palin's press conference this morning sounds really interesting. Why the change? Why did the other governors want to be out there behind her? Why was the press conference cut from 20 minutes to 3? What's the backstory here?

I'd be talking about the Democrats if there was anything to say. I'm not going to give you daily photos and updates of Obama going to the gym.

Gingrich concedes RNC chair race

If you read the fifth paragraph, it appears Gingrich is giving up on the race for the GOP chairmanship. My prediction was wrong. It looks like it may be Michael Steele

Dear Republicans,

I know you want to believe it, but this is not 1992.

Barack Obama did not win the presidency with 43% of the vote.

There aren't 19% of dissatified Perot voters out there to help you win back Congress in 1994.

"Protectionism?" That's George Bush's concern?

With the world economy turning to crap, it appears George Bush is going to carry anti-protectionism as his message into the G-20 economic summit.

Even more unbelievably, "the president's aides" are saying that they're not really going to do anything before Bush leaves office.
The president's aides pledge the summit will produce thorough discussions and concrete results but warn there will be no sudden fixes. The summit is just the first in a series intended to deal with the enormity of the economic meltdown, and the next meeting won't be until after Bush leaves office on Jan. 20......

Bush will also emphasize that reforms, while essential, won't work unless they are accompanied by open trade and competition.

Free trade. That's the issue to them. Unbelievable.

(Let's remember the rumor that Bush was trying to barter the Colombian free trade agreement to allow immediate support for the Auto companies. (Because a trade agreement with Colombia will turn our economy around.) Again, unbelievable.)

Worst President ever (and don't candy coat that)

As I lay awake this morning, way too early, worried about my investments and future, I really got to thinking how George Bush has really screwed us all, how many lives this presidency has touched in such a bad way.

As I think about George Bush leaving office, I keep wondering to what degree the media coverage of him will soften, trying to find something good to say about Bush as he leaves. They shouldn't.

George Bush really has been the worst President ever, not in hyperbole, but in the actual facts and breadth of his administration's failure. He will leave this nation, poorer, weaker, and less safe on virtually every front.

So, please, Mr. Media man, don't start telling me how personable George Bush is. Don't give me anecdotes or shoot the gauzy lens retrospectives like you're so prone to do. Shoot the end of this presidency in video. Just show us what's really there.

After all of this, you owe us that much.

Iraqi soldier turns his gun on Americans

Two American soldiers were killed in Iraq yesterday and six more were wounded when an Iraqi soldier on patrol with an American unit turned his gun on the Americans and started firing.

There are two very distinct versions of this story. ABC has one version, the Iraqi version, that a US and Iraqi soldier got into an argument "with the U.S. soldier apparently slapping the Iraqi."

CNN has the US military's version, there was no interaction of any kind, and the soldier walked into the courtyard and just started firing. (The NYTimes tries to balance the two.)

If you ask me, I'm more prone to believe the first version as it would make sense that the US unit would not immediately tell their superiors if one of theirs provoked the incident.

In the end, the details don't matter as much. There are still two more US soldiers dead, and six more wounded, needlessly.

And, Afghanistan continues to get hotter. One American killed, multiple large attacks.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Picture of the Day

What is it? Republican sex scandal rehab day?

First we have Mark Foley giving an interview trying to distinguish what he did from pedophilia, and now we've got former pastor Ted Haggard blaming his gay sex on having been abused as a child.

What is going on today? Can I get a what what from Larry Craig?


I'm kinda having an off day, but here's another interesting little bit where Josh Marshall theorizes that SecDef Gates' staying on has to do with his ties to Scowcroft, Powell, and the realists. (trying to undo the neocons? Trying to reestablish themselves as the center?)

I don't know, but it got me thinking.

Pelosi's groundbreaking has already been forgotten

As Pelosi enters her third year as speaker, by any measure,
she has become the most powerful woman in U.S. political history and is now preparing to wield her gavel in a way that few,
if any, recent speakers could match.

Mark Foley on trading explicit messages with teenagers

In his first interview, Mark Foley disgusts me all over again.
"There was never anywhere in those conversations where someone said, 'Stop,' or 'I'm not enjoying this,' or 'This is inappropriate...'"


(AP) The US military is already beginning to pull back out of Iraqi cities (as will eventually be required in the SoFA.)

(WaPo) Both the DNI and CIA director are expected to be replaced by Obama "both have publicly supported controversial Bush administration policies on interrogation and telephone surveillance."

The medium is the message.....

There are endemic cultural differences between the Republican and Democratic structures which have pushed them towards success and failure in their secondary media efforts.

The Republicans have been successful on talk radio because their demographics are far more singular, and thus their cultural structure is more befitting a top down distribution of message.

The Dems have generally been more successful on the internet because they consist of a more chaotic cloud of interests and causes who are all seeking a voice.

Efforts to cross these media lines face structural impediments.

For the Republicans to successfully launch an internet effort, they will need to develop a different model than the Obama and blogger realm of "bottom up" chaos, as they seem less comfortable with an open and shifting "multiple voices" model.

For the Dems to succeed in hosted shows they would have to find a large enough audience willing to accept a single top down message.

(Yes, I know about Olberman and Maddow, but let's wait to see how they do once they lose the unifying anti-Bush theme.)

This post drastically oversimplifies, but I think you get my point. The success in different media comes from the differing cultures of the audiences. Efforts to bridge those media divides are not as simple as developing an infrastructure.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Picture of the Day - 2

(President-elect Obama and Iraq war veteran Tammy Duckworth leave following a wreath laying ceremony at the Bronze Soldiers Memorial in honor of Veteran's Day, Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2008, in Chicago.(AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais))

No Cabinet appointments before Thanksgiving

John Podesta, head of the Obama transition team, announced today that there will be no major cabinet appointments made before Thanksgiving, so enjoy your turkey.


John McCain hasn't really been putting himself out to defend Sarah Palin, has he?

David Brooks on the Republican civil war

Definitely worth a read (although you should probably replace "traditionalists" with "right wing crazies.") Brooks' contention is that, in the near term at least, the "traditionalists" will win.


Obama after the White House meeting,
The motorcade encountered crowds of people gathered outside the White House as it made its way off campus and headed toward Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. After arriving, President-elect Obama went into a previously unannounced "private" meeting at the airport's Fire Station 301. We're not being told who it's with but it will last about an hour. Podesta was not in the meeting, or at least did not stay around in the meeting....

Picture of the Day

In body language terms, that hand on the back is a big dominance play, pushing/guiding the submissive where you want them to go. Bush always had his hand on Tony Blair's back, for instance. (AP/Evan Vucci)

Second Picture, here's a battle to put the hand on the back as they enter the Oval Office. (AP/Charles Dharapak)

If you look back at the old photos, Bush is very good at this move. It often creates a discomfort in the other figure which is part of his bullying image.

While I'm at it, here's another one from the initial greeting, the hand on elbow handshake.

(Obama started the meeting clearly dominant, but got less so as it went on.....)

How can we miss her if she won't go away?

I don't watch the morning shows, but, wow, what a stunt.
Lauer also visits with Palin's husband and kids in the family kitchen, as Palin cooks dinner.

(Palin has interviews today and tomorrow across TV outlets.)

Actual policy

(WSJ) "President-elect Barack Obama is unlikely to radically overhaul controversial Bush administration intelligence policies, advisers say, an approach that is almost certain to create tension within the Democratic Party...."

(WSJ) "Obama Leans Toward Asking Gates To Remain at Pentagon for a Year"

(WaPo) "The incoming Obama administration plans to explore a more regional strategy to the war in Afghanistan -- including possible talks with Iran -- and looks favorably on the nascent dialogue between the Afghan government and "reconcilable" elements of the Taliban, according to Obama national security advisers....."

(CNN) "President-elect Barack Obama's transition team has begun examining what to do with suspected terrorists at the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, which Obama has pledged to close, an aide said Monday."

And, (ABC) Another article positing a post-inauguration wave of leakers on warrantless wiretapping.

My continuing fascination with the GOP chair battle

Washington Times,
A behind-the-scenes battle to take the reins of the Republican National Committee is taking off between former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele.

Neither man will acknowledge his interest in the post, but Republicans close to each are burning up the phone lines and firing off e-mails to fellow party members in an effort to oust RNC Chairman Mike Duncan in the wake of the second consecutive drubbing of Republican candidates at the polls.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Southern rump.....

I'm not a believer that this election marked a permanent political or geographic realignment, I tend to view it more as a Dem high tide, but, to some lesser degree, the broader trends do feel real, Democrats increasing their holds in the midwest, pushing down south into Virginia, beginning to make some gains in the west and southwest..... Even beyond this election, Dems are eating into traditional Republican ground.

There is an argument, broader than this election, that the Republican party is potentially turning into a "Southern rump." That is the great battle. That is the great Republican civil war.

The real danger for the GOP is that their major voices, their top figures in Washington, are now mostly from the crazy Southern wing of the party. To some degree, that's out of their control as the more moderate reps in the more moderate districts were bound to be more susceptible against a rising Dem tide, but the real danger is that their remaining major voices on the national stage, those representatives in "deep red" enough districts to have survived, are way, way out of the mainstream.

For example, take this yobo, a Congressman from Georgia in an on the record interview with the AP,
"It may sound a bit crazy and off base, but the thing is, he's the one who proposed this national security force," Rep. Paul Broun said of Obama in an interview Monday with The Associated Press. "I'm just trying to bring attention to the fact that we may — may not, I hope not — but we may have a problem with that type of philosophy of radical socialism or Marxism."

Or maybe this from the "next great hope" of the Republican party, Sarah Palin,
"I'm like, OK, God, if there is an open door for me somewhere, this is what I always pray, I'm like, don't let me miss the open door," Palin said in an interview with Fox News on Monday. "And if there is an open door in '12 or four years later, and if it is something that is going to be good for my family, for my state, for my nation, an opportunity for me, then I'll plow through that door."

That's the real battle for the Republican party. These people, these ideological "dead enders," clinging on to their ideology long after its been rejected.... The ones that are left are broadly way out of the mainstream. The centrist core has been substantially eroded.

So, how does the GOP mainline structure come to explain that "crazy" doesn't sell anymore?

Really, for such a transformation to take place, it will likely take a concerted effort across the more populist arm of the GOP's media spectrum. It'll take Fox"News," Limbaugh, Hannity, Dobson and the religious leaders, and all the rest of them to drag the rank and file GOP'ers out of the culdesac where they've been led.

It's interesting. For twenty years, the GOP has been cultivating its own media channels specifically to insulate its followers from the mainstream. So, how now do they begin to reintegrate them?

Because if they don't, if they do continue to "cling to guns and religion" as their issues (I know, out of context,) they truly may end up being that southern rump.

And, as we all know, there's nothing more appealing to the rest of America than ignorant, opinionated Southerners.

(Again, I do believe that we're at a Republican low ebb, so this probably overstates the issue, but there is a way that the Republican party could go very, very wrong here. I thought that piece in the WSJ yesterday really captured the perils of a GOP that embraces ignorance.)

The one benefit the GOP do have is that, thus far, there isn't one of those "southern Republicans" poised and in position to take over the GOP. Most of the supposed favorites don't come out of that wing. Watch the RNC chair battle, and the effects coming out of the Republican Governors Association meeting. It will give a sense of the ground where the battle is being fought. Are they trying to "out Republican" each other or are they trying to lead in a different direction? And which message sells better?

This is just late night stream of consciousness, so treat it as such.

(Kinda spawned by (NYTimes) Sparring Starts as Republicans Ponder Future and (NYTimes) For South, a Waning Hold on National Politics.)

Picture of the Day - 2 - Tribute

Farewell, Howard Dean.

You've done your job. You've made your point. You've built your dream.

+45 Congressional seats, +13 or more Senate seats, a Democratic President winning in Va, NC, Ind, Colo, and Nv, all in just 4 years.

Nobody's laughing at you now.

I'll miss you.

How can we miss her if she won't go away? (Day 6)

How many Nieman's labels did she have in her wardrobe 2 months ago?
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin spent part of the weekend going through her clothing to determine what belongs to the Republican Party after it spent $150,000-plus on a wardrobe for the vice presidential nominee, according to Palin's father.

(Supposedly, the RNC is sending an auditor up there, presumably to check disposition vs. receipts. And she's on FoxNews tonight.)


TPM reports that Bill Clinton is making calls on Lieberman's behalf, and that Obama wants Lieberman to stay in the Dem caucus.

My solution? Strip him of the committee chairmanship, and then put the party decision back on him. If he flips, it's his fault and he's petulant. If he stays, he presents contrition.

Tracking my prediction

Newt Gingrich self-deprecatingly throws his hat into the RNC ring.

Can we throw out the Congressional approve/disapprove number forever?

When 410 of 435 Congressmen are reelected, trying to use that 10% approval of Congress for any purpose is hugely disingenuous.

The meaningful question is, "do you like your Congressman?"

Picture of the Day

(President-elect Obama drops his daughters Malia and Sasha, off at school in Chicago, Monday, Nov. 10, 2008. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak))

(I keep thinking about how hard it's going to be for those girls to go through adolescence with all the spotlight and Secret Service and everything.)

Part of the reason Pakistan is such a mess.....

Something I've noticed over the years on Pakistan, every eight years or so, the Americans flip sides.
Traditionally the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party has been close to the Democrats, while the army has always preferred the Republicans - perhaps because Republican presidents rarely question military rule.


Quote - Ohio

In the battleground state of Ohio, where Mr. Kerry lost the presidency to George W. Bush, the 2.74 million votes he received almost precisely matched Mr. Obama’s 2008 total. Mr. Obama won because John McCain received 300,000 fewer votes than Mr. Bush did.

That points to a cautionary reminder for Mr. Obama and his team: the election turned partly on what they did right, but also on what Republicans did wrong....

The cynical view of presidential/media honeymoons

It's not so much that the media loves new presidents, as that they flatter new administrations to try to get inside.
"There will be a lot of beat-sweetener pieces to cultivate sources," he says. "But within the year, normal competitive impulses will take over."

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Sunday reading

I can't really explain this in brief, but if you've got two minutes....

Chris Dodd defends his fellow Connecticutian, Joe Lieberman?

I thought this was a bit odd.


With McCain pushing an across the board tax cut, and Obama pushing a < $250,000 tax cut, McCain was left in the much more difficult position of trying to defend tax cuts for the rich rather than the usual Republican position of "tax cuts for all."

Picture of the Day - 2

The McCain image rehab officially starts on Tuesday with an appearance on Leno for Veteran's Day.

Expect lots of self deprecating humor and compliments all around.

The "darling" of the right

You kind of suspected this, but.....
Sarah Palin blamed by the US Secret Service over death threats against Barack Obama

Sarah Palin's attacks on Barack Obama's patriotism provoked a spike in death threats against the future president, Secret Service agents revealed during the final weeks of the campaign.

Note: For the Secret Service to leak is EXCEEDINGLY RARE.

Sunday Reading

It's kinda slow out there today, so if you're looking for something to read, that massive Newsweek campaign history is now online.

The "chapters" are listed in the "Secrets of the 2008 campaign" banner.

Quote - The Obama campaign's view of the media.

Made me laugh.
This aide's other metaphor for the world of TV pundits and Internet bloggers was a kids' soccer game. The swarm moved from topic to topic (and target to target) in a pack, like a herd of yelping kids chasing the ball at Saturday-morning soccer. The trick was to try to nudge the ball in a certain direction so all the kids would follow.

Picture of the Day

Suddenly, a different world.

(President-elect Barack Obama answers a journalist's question during his first press conference following his election victory in Chicago, November 7, 2008.(Carlos Barria/Reuters))