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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Picture of the Day

The Obama's went to a Hawaii water park yesterday, but to do so, they ditched the reporting pool. There's kind of a standard set of rules, you accept the pool coverage and the press don't chase you like paparazzi.

Obama clearly doesn't like the "every breath" coverage, but ditching the pool will only make things much worse. Plus, pool coverage can be controlled for circumstance and angle.

Ditching the press pool is almost inviting them to chase you (and eventually your children) in competition.

(First picture REUTERS/Hugh Gentry, pool. Second picture CNN, not pool.)

Israel bombs Gaza, at least 120 killed.

So far, we're seeing death tolls from 140 to 155.
Israeli warplanes demolished dozens of Hamas security compounds across Gaza on Saturday in unprecedented waves of simultaneous attacks, and Hamas and medics reported dozens of people were killed..... Israel Army Radio said at least 40 targets were hit.

The Israeli military said it had targeted "terrorist infrastructure" and pledged more strikes if necessary, possibly targeting leaders of the Hamas Islamist militant group.

"This is only just the beginning of an operation launched after a security cabinet decision. It could take time. We have not fixed a timeline and we will act according to the situation on the ground," (Israeli military spokesmen) Benayahu said.

(And they did this in the US lame duck, before Obama became President.)

(AP, Reuters, AFP, BBC, NYTimes)


Should the US be surprised by Pakistan's move towards the Indian border? Shouldn't the US be close enough to the Pakistani military (both overtly and covertly) that there are no surprises?

Broder makes an interesting point

With the "Southern rump" GOP expected to stand against the stimulus package, it's particularly interesting that Obama put long respected GOP House member Lahood in as Transportation Secretary, the man most likely to take their fire in House Committee hearings on any stimulus package.
All the signs are that the stimulus spending will be opposed by congressional Republicans, whose shrunken ranks are increasingly dominated by right-wing Southerners who care not what their stance does to harm the party's national image.

The spectacle of LaHood facing off in congressional testimony against those naysayers will dramatize a split that is crippling the GOP.

I think he'd make a good RNC chair......

Chip Saltsman, Huckabee's former campaign manager, trying for RNC chair, is trying to defend a CD he sent out for Christmas which included "Barack the Magic Negro."
Saltsman said the song, penned by his longtime friend Paul Shanklin, should be easily recognized as satire directed at the (Los Angeles) Times.

But wait, there's more, there's also such tracks as "Wright place, wrong pastor," "Ivory and Ebony" and "The Star Spanglish Banner."

I'm sure they're tasteful, all.

(Frankly, following "the Palin rule," I'm sure this would be liked by over half the Republicans, so, he should be RNC chair, right? He reflects the party.)

Friday, December 26, 2008

Picture of the Day - 2

(President-elect Barack Obama returns from scattering the ashes of his grandmother Madelyn Dunham at a seaside ceremony in Honolulu, Hawaii December 23, 2008. (REUTERS/Hugh Gentry))

Pakistan moves

It's impossible to tell what this means as yet, but there are multiple reports that Pakistan has put its military on alert
Pakistan's military called back troops on leave and placed all personnel on active duty Friday, military sources said.

and is shifting its armed forces from the Afghanistan bordering tribal lands, east towards the Indian border.
Pakistan began moving thousands of troops away from the Afghan border toward India on Friday amid tensions following the Mumbai attacks, intelligence officials said.

This is most likely posturing, and there has also been the suspicion that the Pakistanis would use this "crisis" as an excuse to free themselves from trying to police the tribal lands.

However, the counter case that this could be more significant would be that the Pakistanis probably have pretty good spying on India.

My money is on number one, but any increase in tension along that border could be dangerous.

Later: US response. Skeptical that this is anything more than a message to India.

Palin candidacy bought Sherry Johnston a month

Sarah Palin's daughter's baby daddy's mom (mother in law if they were married, the description of the kinship is enough to describe the social mess,) Sheryl Johnston was saved from a search warrant for over a month by the Palin nomination as VP.
The trooper's affidavit indicates that Sarah Palin's candidacy factored into the investigation, with state officials delaying execution of a search warrant until this month, when Johnston was "no longer under the protection or surveillance of the Secret Service."

And a little more detail, she was busted for selling oxycontin, and was talking about it when she knew she was under surveillance.

(PS. You know you're under surveillance, you've got a month, and you're still busted with drugs in your house?)

Picture of the Day

The famous wink from the VP debate, Oct. 2. (Came across this accidentally and thought it needed to get posted.)

Thursday, December 25, 2008


There's nothing big out there today, so go enjoy your life, but, if you are a compulsive "coffee and news" like me, here are a few reads.

(NYTimes) Bush grants a pardon and then yanks it away from a real estate developer. (Psych.)

(CNN) Franken wins a Supreme Court ruling that looks very likely to make him Senator Franken.

My daily mancrush: (CNN) Obama approval at 82% and (WaPo frontpage) Obama works out.

(CNN) Pat Robertson praises Obama, criticizes Bush. (Knows where the wind is blowing.)

(Politico) Jindal's looking at 2016.

(McClatchy) In the Iraqi provincial elections, "An average of 33 candidates is running for each position..." which could easily lead to chaos over the results with candidates winning with 10-20%.

The NYTimes has an interesting piece on the different tones of Bush and Cheney as they give their exit interviews.

And, (CBS) This is one of those great, nearly costless international programs that helps so many and just took someone to come along and organize it.

Have a great day.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Picture of the Day - 2

(Santa Claus chats with Sienna Smithson when the 2-year-old visited him at Penn Square Mall in Oklahoma City, Dec. 12, 2008. (AP/Daily Oklahoman, Jim Beckel))


Did somebody remember to send Ahmadinejad a Christmas Card?

He'll be pissed if we forget.....

Picture of the Day

Some people just don't get it.

Runners, dressed as Santa Claus, one of them carrying a cross on his shoulders to resemble Jesus Christ, take part of the 'Christmas Corrida Race' in the streets of Issy Les Moulineaux, west outskirts of Paris, Sunday, Dec. 14, 2008. (AP Photo/ Francois Mori)

Sometimes it's better to say nothing at all.....

SEC chair Chris Cox begins his own program of legacy defense, but sometimes it's better to say nothing at all.

The collapse of the investment banks, Madoff......

When reality hits the myth.....

I ask this every year: If global warming melts the polar ice caps, what happens to Santa at the North Pole?

Do we build him a raft or boat? Does he reside on one lonely piece of floating ice? Do we have to rewrite the cultural myth? What do we do with all the Christmas specials?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Picture of the Day - 3

(Danny Nichols, breaks into tears at the thought of sitting on Santa's lap during a visit to Penn Square Mall in Oklahoma City, Dec. 12, 2008.(AP Photo/The Oklahoman, Jim Beckel))

The Obama transition Blagojevich report

So far, we've seen nothing to suggest anything earthshaking will come out of the Obama transition Blagojevich report, but the visuals do look like it's something they don't want to talk about.

Released late the day before Christmas Eve. The President elect in Hawaii, sequestered from the media for a few days.... and now Rahm Emanuel, the most likely trouble spot, heading to Africa, leaving right before the report is released.....

Later: Here's the Obama transition report. As expected, nothing there to incriminate anybody, but still orchestrated so that neither of the principals is around to answer questions.

Picture of the Day - 2

I know he's supposed to be watching who's naughty and nice, but does Laura Bush really warrant that sort of personal scrutiny?

(First lady Laura Bush reads a holiday story book to patients and parents at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, Monday, Dec. 15, 2008.(AP Photo/Staff))

No fuzzy lensed retrospectives yet.....

I'm still watching to see how the media covers Bush leaving office. For months I've been wondering just how fuzzy and warm the retrospectives would be for a president with a 28% approval rating.

One of the interesting elements of this battle is how the efforts by the administration to rewrite its history seem to be creating an opposite, fact checking response (like in this Politico piece.)

I have been really expecting to see the images of Bush standing on the rubble of the World Trade Center with the talking heads gushing about his "leadership moment." (The day of skipping around the country on Air Force One making shaky statements forgotten. ...or My Pet Goat.)

Thus far, the departure softening hasn't materialized yet, and I have to admit, I'm a little surprised. I'm still watching, though.....

(A real retrospective would be far less kind, and I haven't seen that yet either.)

Reaching for history

The transition announced today that Obama will be sworn in on the same bible Lincoln was.

There are going to be alot of moments at this inauguration.

Picture of the Day - Holy Crap! Look at those abs.....

47 years old, right?

(From the British tabloid The Sun.)


Have you ever stopped to think about what a logistical nightmare it will be withdrawing the US presence in Iraq?

I'm not talking so much about the military tactics of a withdrawal, but, instead, the incredible logistical nightmare of removing all the trucks, tanks, electronics, and equipment. We've seen plenty of evidence of how poor the bookkeeping and organization was of stuff going in. I can't imagine being in charge of scheduling and sorting it all coming out.

If your city is looking for jobs, maybe you should lobby to be the return hub. There is going to be one HUGE return lot where they try to sort it all out.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Picture of the Day - 2

(President-elect Barack Obama takes a group photo with Marines after his workout at the Kaneohe Bay Marine Corps Base in Kailua, Hawaii, Monday, Dec. 22, 2008.(AP Photo/Lawrence Jackson))

Must be from all those attempts to pat himself on the back.....

President George W. Bush had an MRI of his left shoulder on Monday in an attempt to understand why he has experienced pain recently.

Bush had the exam during a visit to Walter Reed Army Medical Center to see soldiers recovering from severe injuries suffered in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said.

Picture of the Day

(President Bush jokes with FBI graduate T.A. Staderman II, who received the physical training award, during a graduation ceremony for FBI Special Agents Oct 30 in Quantico, Va. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak))

The world......

(WaPo) The US might increase the presence in Afghanistan by as much as 30,000, doubling the current force size.

(AFP) The US conducts 2 more drone/missile strikes in the Pakistani tribal lands. 8 killed and fires in the target villages.

(USAToday/AP) "Israeli diplomats have been instructed to highlight the plight of Israelis under rocket fire from Gaza, officials said Monday, with the apparent aim of preparing world opinion for possible stepped-up action by Israel's military."

(AFP) Russia warns Ukraine about cutting natural gas supplies.

(AP) Russia emphasizes that it is only selling Iran "defensive weapons." (30 year old and 10 year old anti aircraft systems.)

(BBC) The Russians approved an extension of the Presidential term to 6 years, seen as a precursor to Putin retaking the office.

(AFP) The Iraqi trial of al-Zaidi, the shoe thrower, starts Dec. 31.

And, (AFP) The Iraqi government talks about expelling the anti-Iranian MEK.

Cheney's exit interview

In a rare interview with FoxNews, Cheney said some stuff: Denigrating a return to a normal vice presidency, defending the dubious constitutional acts by comparing Lincoln and FDR, and disagreeing with the decision to fire Rumsfeld.

(Or this.)

The "legacy project"

I guess they couldn't find anyone more credible to print this propagandist piece of crap, so obviously gifted and planted in the Washington Times.

Soon we'll be hearing about all the Bush administration secretly did for the victims of Katrina.....

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Picture of the Day - 2

Joe Biden and his new (as yet unnamed) German Shepherd puppy.

(If it matters (it does to me,) he got it from a breeder not a shelter.)

Remember when Biden was consigliere?

The further we get from the election, the fuzzier and less central the role apportioned to Joe Biden seems to be. From the convention to the election, Biden was to be a seasoned foreign policy hand on Obama's shoulder. Then, shortly after the election, Biden was to act in a quiet advisory role.....

But, the further we get from the election, and the more the cabinet is filled with seasoned hands, the less we're hearing about Biden as consigliere, and the more we're reading about him being tasked to mushy, out of the power channel responsibilities like this.
Vice President-elect Joe Biden announced Sunday that he will chair a task force charged with determining the status of the middle class—whether it's growing or shrinking, better or worse off.

It will be Biden's first major task as vice president.

Certainly it gives him a profile and a platform for image building photo ops and statements, but tell me how that assignment affects the chains of power? Tell me that's not moving Biden to the sidelines.....

But Biden doesn't seem to be complaining.... Let's go back a week to look at this Biden sourced piece,
Joe Biden is laying plans to significantly shrink the role of the vice presidency in Barack Obama’s White House, according to an official familiar with his thinking.....

Biden will not begin every day with his own intelligence briefing before sitting in on the president’s. He will not always be the last person Obama speaks to before making a decision.

But I guess the thing to notice is this from the same article (not sourced to the Biden camp,)
In fact, Biden’s goal of restoring the office to its “traditional role” is something he and Obama agreed on before the Delaware senator was named to the Democratic ticket, the transition official said.

So, it's state fairs and state funerals, but everybody seems happy with the arrangement. I never expected him to be Cheney, but I'm just a little surprised it's worked out this way.

On the other hand, Biden (if he can control his mouth) is more or less perfect for that "traditional" VP role. He looks good in a suit, and is a glad hander extraordinaire.

Later: Biden is now telling anyone who will listen that he'll "be in the room" for every important decision. (If he has to assert that, that tells you his status.)

Picture of the Day

(From Monday, Dec. 1, 2008, President-elect Barack Obama leaves a Chicago news conference with Secretary of State-designate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Vice President-elect Joe Biden. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak))