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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Fact - Coleman's raised $5 million since election day.

Amidst a Politico story repeating the idea that the Republicans are fighting the Minn Senate race simply to prevent a 59th Dem vote,
Cornyn said Coleman said Coleman has raised $5 million since election day – and that even that isn’t enough.

(By my math, he raised about $18 million total in 2008.)

Warning: Sudden shifts in narrative may cause neck injury.

Boy, we went from "problems in the White House/clouds on the horizon" to "major victory" awfully quickly.

Picture of the Day - 2

It's amazing how fast the "black First Family" storyline got subsumed.

(President Barack Obama and family are greeted by Andrews Air Force Base Commander Col. Steve Shepro, right, and his wife Helen Shepro, left of Obama, as they walk from Marine One to board Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. Friday, Feb. 13, 2009.(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert))

Drone/missile attack in Pakistan

Another US missile attack in S. Waziristan kills at least 27.
The accounts of Saturday's incident could not be verified independently. The tribally governed region is unsafe for reporters. The U.S. Embassy had no comment, while Pakistani government and army spokesman were unavailable.

(Now we'll see if Dianne Feinstein's little slip has legs.)

The CBO estimates the Stimulus

It seems awfully specific, but the CBO makes some guesses as to the impacts of the Stimulus bill.
The Congressional Budget Office said the legislation would deliver its largest benefits to the nation's total gross domestic product by the end of this year, with the effect dropping some in 2010 and disappearing altogether by 2013.

The budget office said the bill would have its greatest effect in terms of increasing employment next year, when about 3.6 million jobs could be created. But the report added that the package could have a positive effect on employment for the next five years, perhaps leading to the creation of as many as 11.6 million jobs during that span.

(PS. The Republicans (Boehner) say it will only generate 3.46 million jobs this year. That's their low end counter argument..... Well, we'd better oppose it then, eh?)


Most Presidencies extend an early hand and then give up. If the Obama folks can win the definitional war so that "bipartisanship" simply means a good civil effort, they're pretty smart.
Advisers concluded that they allowed the measure of bipartisanship to be defined as winning Republican votes rather than bringing civility to the debate, distracting attention from what have otherwise been major legislative victories. Although Mr. Obama vowed to keep reaching out to Republicans, advisers now believe the environment will probably not change in coming months.

Senate vote "color"

The proceedings remained open for five painstaking hours as Senate leaders awaited the climactic return of Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), who flew in from Ohio and cast the decisive 60th aye vote.

Brown strode into the chamber at 10:45 p.m., wearing a dark suit and no smile. He placed his arm around Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), shook the hand of Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) and then gave the clerk a thumbs up, ending what had been one of the longest votes in Senate history. Brown's was the critical vote Senate Democrats needed to ensure that the signature legislation of President Obama's young administration passed without a GOP filibuster. Three Republicans broke ranks to support it.

Brown, whose 88-year-old mother died of leukemia last week, had dashed from her memorial viewing in Ohio last night and boarded a government aircraft provided by the White House that landed at Andrews Air Force Base. The journey illustrated the extraordinary steps Democrats took to guarantee a major victory.


Picture of the Day

She was spoken of as historically powerful before she had this giant majority....

(AFP/Getty/Mark Wilson)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Blackwater changes name

Blackwater changes its corporate name to Xe following the Phillip Morris/Altria example.

(How many people have to die as the direct result of your business model for changing the letterhead to make economic sense?)

A different yardstick

How in the hell can the media look in the mirror?

8 years of George Bush, 4 of which were under 50% approval, the last two of which were under 35% approval, at record lows, the last year under 30%, and CNN wonders if Obama dropping to 61% on transition issues represents "trouble signs" for Obama.
While 61 percent is a solid majority, it's far lower than the 80 percent of respondents who say Obama is providing strong leadership for the country, the 76 percent who feel he's doing a good job handling foreign policy, the 72 percent who indicate Obama's doing a good job dealing with the economy and the 68 percent who give the President a thumbs-up when it comes to handling policies on terrorism.

It's also 15 points lower than the president's overall approval rating of 76 percent.

Oh yeah. 76%. That's a presidency teetering.

How do you print an article saying a 76% approval marks "trouble signs?" How is that possible? How narrative framed is your thinking?

Picture of the Day

Feinstein steps in it, greatly complicating Pakistan

If you're going to be the head of the Intel Committee, you don't do stupid assed stuff like this.
At a hearing, Feinstein expressed surprise over Pakistani opposition to the campaign of Predator-launched CIA missile strikes against Islamic extremist targets along Pakistan's northwestern border.

"As I understand it, these are flown out of a Pakistani base," she said.

I mean, c'mon, Feinstein. You've screwed the Pakistani government and guaranteed weeks of negative Pakistani reporting on the incredibly contentious issue of drone strikes.

Now, the race is on in Pakistan to find the sites and dig the details.

What you already knew....

The DNI's annual threat assessment says the economic crisis is "the biggest near term security concern."

Number 2 is Al Qaeda with Afghanistan deteriorating and Pakistan losing its border regions. Number 3 is Iran, predicated mostly on "potential for an Iran-Israeli confrontation or crisis." (Israel is much more likely to attack, but it's Iran's fault.)

I'm assuming this report is primarily Bush administration.


This is just disgusting. Two judges in Pa. took $2.6 million in bribes to sentence juvenile offenders to a particular corporation's privately run juvenile prisons.

It's actually even worse than it sounds. It's not just kickbacks. They actually shut down the county-run facility, and then set up the contract with the private jailer.

5,000 possibly falsely jailed, how many lives destroyed, and they each got a little over seven years. That's it.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The interplay on Gregg

Judd Gregg withdraws his name for Commerce Secretary and fires off a statement as a first public explanation of why it fell through, seemingly without warning the White House.

Someone on the Dem side decided that was too kind to Gregg, so they leaked that he lobbied for the job, hard.
Gregg "sat with [Obama], said he wanted the job, knew his policies and erratically dropped out without warning," said the source, minutes after the Republican senator announced his withdrawal from consideration.

(And WH spokesman Gibbs echoes this.)

The recriminations aren't over.

Later: Gregg says he's staying in the Senate, but won't seek reelection in 2010. Did some Republican come along with the right job offer to keep him out of the Obama administration?

Later: Yes. This is intended and executed to damage the Obama administration as much as possible.

Picture of the Day - 3

(Gallup survey)

60 in 2010

Sabato looks at the Senate balance and the 2010 election.
But that's about the only good news for Republicans in the early Senate going. Remarkably, even after losing six net Senate seats in 2006 and another seven or eight (pending the Minnesota resolution) in 2008, the GOP still has more seats up (19) than Democrats (17) in 2010. (There will be a big reversal in 2012, with 24 Democratic seats to only 9 Republican ones-but that's getting too far ahead of the story.)

In 2012, the wheel swings back. The 2010 Republican Senators were last elected on Bush's 2004 coattails. The 2012 Senators were last elected in the 2006 Dem year.

Very capable

That attack on Kabul that killed 20 was meant as a symbol, coming right before Holbrooke's visit.

And the attackers wanted to create a Pakistani "trail."
"As they were entering the Ministry of Justice and before starting the indiscriminate killing of the civilians there, they sent three messages to Pakistan, calling for the blessing of their mastermind," Saleh told a news conference.

Picture of the Day - 2

I wonder if he asked him to sign his boob?

(President Barack Obama greets Chris Matthews at a celebration of the Lincoln Bicentennial, February 11, 2009. (REUTERS/Jason Reed))

Pakistan admits something in Mumbai probe

Pakistan finally admits that the Mumbai bombings were committed by people associated with Lashkar-e-Taiba and were planned, in part, in Pakistan.

The admission comes right before new US special envoy Richard Holbrooke arrives for his first meeting.

(Put the admission of Lashkar involvement within the context of Holbrooke's official/unofficial brief. The Indians lobbied very hard to get Kashmir excluded from Holbrooke's brief, to keep it just between India and Pakistan. Now the Pakistanis seem to want it on Holbrooke's plate.)

10 years after impeachment

Ten years ago, America was willing to impeach a president for lying about sex. Ten years later, there was no concomitant political push to impeach the next president for lying about the justifications for the deadly war in Iraq. Did the expensive lessons and bitter taste of the former preclude any chance for the latter?


For a man who is supposedly perfect, Johnny Ratz sure spends alot of time trying to make up for mistakes.

Picture of the Day

(President Barack Obama during a celebration of Lincoln's birth at Ford's Theatre in Washington February 11, 2009. (REUTERS/Jason Reed))

(No Mary Todd reenactor?)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


....because Barack Obama should have completely resolved the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression in 21 days.....

Are we about to get new scandal on Sarah Palin?

Two odd bits in the last two days.

1) Sarah Palin cancels her CPAC appearance just two weeks away. She was certainly the top attraction, and also likely to win the straw poll, so why bow out? It's not like her to dodge attention.

2) Sarah Palin's Alberto Gonzales, a nobody she propped up in the Alaska AG post, suddenly resigns for no apparent reason.

Later: She's sending a taped message instead.


"When I was in high school, my desire was to be a sportscaster. ESPN was just kicking off, just getting off the ground, and I thought that's what I was going to do in life, is be one of the first woman sportscasters. Until I learned that you'd have to move to Bristol, Connecticut. It was far away. So instead, I had a daughter and named her Bristol."


Political thought - The Republicans have their Liebermans

It's going to be a pain to watch Snowe, Collins, and Specter extort too much for their votes time and again, but it also does serve to show just how far out to the right the rest of the Republican party is.

The Republican leadership will be forced, time and again, to try to straddle the explanation in defense of these "moderates," while still arguing for the rest of the Republicans' positions. The "moderates" will undermine the branding effort, but the leadership, for reasons of 60, will be constantly running cover for them.

Think of Joe Lieberman, times three, in a party teetering on collapse.

It'll be a constant grain of sand in their ideological butt crack.

(Plus, it'll likely expose Specter to a serious primary challenge.)

Where are these people?

Mike Huckabee brands the Stimulus as "anti-religious."

Norm Coleman is holding a DC fundraiser for his "recount efforts."

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Picture of the Day - 2

Charlie Crist is soooo savvy.... winning Democratic voters, raising his national profile, helping his Senate chances....
(AP/Charles Dharapak)


White House aides note that during President Obama's trip to Elkhart, Indiana yesterday he faced an audience that had not been pre-screened and who had instead received their tickets on a first come, first served basis. The same will be true for his trip to Fort Myers, Florida later today.

Picture of the Day - 2

Kurtz: "In prompting the broadcast networks to preempt such fare as "The Bachelor" and "House," Obama guaranteed himself a sizable audience. And by talking until 9 p.m., he left virtually no time for analysis on those networks."

Interesting point. Was 9PM intentional? Fill all the space with your message, and leave nothing for the networks to frame?


"If you delay acting on an economy of this severity, then you potentially create a negative spiral that becomes much more difficult for us to get out of. This is not your ordinary, run-of-the-mill recession, we are going through the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression."



“It’s a little hard for me to take criticism from folks about this recovery package after they presided over a doubling of the national debt,” (Obama) said at the news conference. “I’m not sure they have a lot of credibility when it comes to fiscal responsibility.”

Picture of the Day

(Students wave Iran's national flag as others hold pictures of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (R) and Iran's late leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini during a ceremony to mark the anniversary of Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution, in Tehran's Azadi (Freedom) Square February 10, 2009.(REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi))

Related: Ahmadinejad says Iran is ready for talks with the US.

And, Mohammad Khatami, the moderate and former President, has stepped back up to run for President. He was President until the first election after the Iraq invasion.

Israel votes today

Israel is holding its elections today. It's expected to be close with the far right siphoning off Likud's support.


FBI raids a lobbying shop known to be close to Congressman John Murtha, though, nothing directly tied to Murtha yet.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Ft. Detrick orders suspension

Ft. Detrick, the bioweapons research facility, has been shut down because they found a number of pathogens in the freezers that weren't in the records.

Remember, this is the facility where the 2001 anthrax came from (and they still don't have their records straight!)

Black RNC chair means more overt racism

I think Todd predicted this.
Just ran into new RNC Chairman Michael Steele who watched President Obama's town hall in Indiana and wasn't impressed.

The Obama-backed stimulus, he said, "is just a wish list from a lot of people who have been on the sidelines for years.. to get a little bling, bling."

Because the only people for the stimulus are "bling bling-ers" looking for "taxpayers" money.

Obama says, "Pass my imperfect bill"

I found this a really interesting way to go at this. Obama tore at parts of the Stimulus bill (and the Congressional process) in a very familiar way in front of a very friendly audience today in Elkhart to create an odd but compelling case for the bill.
Now I'm not going to tell you that this bill is perfect. It isn't. But it is the right size, the right scope, and has the right priorities to create jobs that will jumpstart our economy and transform it for the twenty-first century.

I also can't tell you with one hundred percent certainty that everything in this plan will work exactly as we hope. But I can tell you with complete confidence that endless delay or paralysis in Washington in the face of this crisis will bring only deepening disaster.

We've had a good debate. Now it's time to act.

(He knows the bill will be mostly rebuilt when it reaches the conference process. This is about the politics of getting votes, not defining the details.)


Did CNN run a self-promotional ad campaign motto-ed "keeping them honest" at anytime during the Bush administration?

Kinda runs against the CW I see on my TV.

(Gallup survey here.)


.....because John McCain's economic plan would have sailed through the Democratic Congress.......

Picture of the Day

(Vice President Joe Biden meets with the President of Georgia Mikhail Saakashvili for bilateral talks during the International Conference on Security Policy, at a hotel in Munich, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009. (AP/Frank Augstein))

Plouffe to Azerbaijan

David Plouffe is making a paid speech in Azerbaijan, and he's expected to meet with Ilham Aliyev, the President and near dictator.

Republicans are betting against America

One key element of the Republican political strategy on the Stimulus is being overlooked. In order for their oppositional stance to work politically, they need the Stimulus to fail.... They need America to suffer.

"Clinton's fault...."

Seriously, they're still going there.....

Can barely get a meal in this town.....

For example, Ricks recounts former defense secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's visit shortly after he was booted out of the Pentagon, to Buck's Fishing and Camping, an upscale Washington eatery.

As an example of the "loathing Rumsfeld had generated" he writes that chef-owner Carole Greenwood told her co-owner, James Alefantis, to kick Rumsfeld out.

"I'm not serving a war criminal in my restaurant," she said.

....Greenwood relented, Ricks writes, "but only on the condition that someone else cook Rumsfeld's meal."

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Picture of the Day - 2

(President Barack Obama with his family walk on the South Lawn of the White House to board Marine One in Washington, Saturday, Feb. 7, 2009. The First Family was preparing to fly to Camp David for their first visit and overnight stay.(AP Photo/Lawrence Jackson))

Obama looking at Afghanistan

Treat this as rumory as it seems very interpolative, and so far sourced only here, but it is interesting.
The Pentagon was set to announce the deployment of 17,000 extra soldiers and marines last week but Robert Gates, the defence secretary, postponed the decision after questions from Obama.

The president was concerned by a lack of strategy at his first meeting with Gates and the US joint chiefs of staff last month in “the tank”, the secure conference room in the Pentagon. He asked: “What’s the endgame?” and did not receive a convincing answer.

The new foreign policy mechanism

I'm not really sure how this shapes out to policy, but this restructuring of the NSC towards broader inclusion of departments, and what appears a far greater influence and impact, will drastically change the information flow and foreign policy balance within the White House.

Assuming this works as presented, however, this will greatly reduce alot of the "personality influence" that has touched so many of the recent presidencies. In theory, this structure would reduce a Cheney, Kissinger, or whoever backchannelling to the President, making policy around the traditional balances.

21st century, right?

The last two Democratic first ladies were Harvard trained lawyers with pretty big careers of their own.

The last three Republican first ladies were Laura and Barbara Bush and Nancy Reagan.

(So, of course, Democratic first ladies "don't know their place."..... I guess they should be baking cookies, right NYTimes?)

Wonky insidery thought

Chuck Todd was much more valuable (and interesting) in the NBC studios doing analysis than being White House correspondent.

However, in a traditional TV news path, being on air is more important than doing good reporting.

Picture of the Day

(From the Australian wildfires which have now killed 84. (Photo: BBC))