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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Political bits

(NewScientist) Red states consume more online porn.

(Politico) The interim finance director for the RNC was forced to quit suddenly after just two weeks on the job. No explanation as to why. (He's also finance director of Palin's PAC.)

(AP) James Dobson resigns as Focus on the Family chair.

(TPM) Jindal's Katrina story continues to be debunked with an older more detailed version of events Jindal never saw.

And, In this anecdote of a man berating Rumsfeld on the street, I think the real question is, how low has Don Rumsfeld sunk that he is taking a public bus? (If you've got people shouting war criminal at you, I find it hard to believe you're not driving point to point.)

Plus, the NYTimes magazine does a too long piece on the possible Gingrich revival.

Video killed the radio star....

Newspapers closing everywhere. Broadcast networks losing their audiences and primacy. The models for the music and video industries under threat....

I'm sorry to see several of these historic newspapers go, and yes, there are a host of issues coming from the closings, but c'mon, it's been coming inexorably for a decade.

I mean, who could have foreseen dislocating technologies?

(The Buggles reference may not make sense if you aren't tight to my generation. It was the first MTV video ever broadcast, and, within music, it marked the change of the world.)


The Obama folks have made a couple of big vetting mistakes, but I don't think their internal political shop is getting enough credit.

I mean, look at the Stimulus battle. They came out of that thing smelling great while Republican approval fell substantially. Their budget came out, and they didn't really get smashed for a trillion dollar deficit. Republicans are looking crazier and crazier and are now even expressing caution in their criticism.

Or take this. Tell me this isn't some sweet spin for an administration ending a war.
President Barack Obama leaned heavily toward field commanders' preferences in settling a time frame for ending the war in Iraq, as he weighed the fervent desires of the anti-war community that propelled him into office and the equally strong worries of the generals commanding troops in the war zone.

Withdrawing, but being heard to shade on the side of commanders is a great split down the political middle, and having this fact "leak" is good politics. (Heck, I think if they can take some public flak from the "anti-war left," it only helps them politically.)

Frankly, I don't know if where the Obama folks are governing is actually the center, but they're doing a hell of a job crafting opinion so that it is.

It's funny, after Karl Rove was so public, now we have David Axelrod and his politics shop not even getting mentioned. (...because the Obama White House is beyond politics? Yeah right.)

Later: As another example, take a look at this. The Obama folks get their Saturday message carried as the AP's second story, and it's about defining the budget/agenda fight primarily as Obama against "lobbies", laying the groundwork to tar anyone against him as part of a "lobby."

(Interesting they chose "lobbies" rather than lobbyists. "Lobbies" is far more inclusive and makes opponents part of the lobby rather than influenced by lobbyists. And, "lobbies" rather than the more traditional but externalizing "special interests.")

I'm kinda circling around this thing. My point is, the Obama folks are playing politics and playing them pretty damn well, and thus far, they're doing so quietly enough that nobody really seems to be noticing.

Pretty impressive, Axelrod.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Limbaugh as arch villain

As I said when the Obama folks first launched this thing, I really believe it might work.
Top Democratic operatives are planning a stepped up campaign to promote Rush Limbaugh as the public face of the GOP — an effort that will include recruiting Dem governors to make this case on talk shows, getting elected officials to pen Op eds arguing it, and running more ads pushing it, a senior Democratic operative says.

Key leadership staff in the House and Senate, and in all the political committees, have been encouraged by senior Dem operatives to push this message wherever possible, the operative says....

Picture of the Day - 2

Notice the caption says "former."

(Former Republican Sen. Norm Coleman sits pensively during a court delay before the start of the Senate vote recount trial Thursday, Feb. 26, 2009 in St. Paul, Minn. (AP Photo/Jim Mone))

Jindal's Katrina story is slipping away

National TV, your big break, and you get your own hero story wrong?

I had fully believed that this speech was just a bad moment for Jindal and that he would, to some degree, bounce back, but getting caught telling false stories of your own heroism in a pre-written speech of that magnitude....

So, here's the question: Do you think Jindal knowingly told a false version, or is the false version of his importance what he "remembers?" (And if #2, what does that say about the psychology of the man?)

Does anybody remember the campaign?

After all the crap McCain tried to throw in the campaign, he's "cautiously optimistic that the plan as laid out by the President can lead to success" in Iraq. Incredible.

If you wonder why they're being such pricks....

"By shifting the focus of government policy away from upper- income Americans and targeting the vast numbers who consider themselves middle-class, Obama's proposals may yield dividends for the Democratic Party. Just as Franklin Roosevelt used the New Deal to create a loyal voter base that endured for four decades, Obama's approach to fixing the economy offers the president an opportunity to recast political allegiances among swing voters."

Michael Steele at CPAC - Bush years, "my bad."

That whole Iraq thing, crushed economy.... "my bad."
“Tonight, we tell America that Republican values, conservative values, are right for America,” he said, admitting that the party has made some mistakes. “Tonight, we tell America: we know the past, we know we did wrong. My bad. But we go forward in appreciation of the values that brought us to this point.”

The stuff coming out of CPAC is just delusional.

Quote - media bias

As one reporter observed after the briefing, "Did you notice all the questions about taxes came from reporters making over $250,000 a year, especially the TV guys?"

Picture of the Day

(Note: These are the listed rates, not the actual percentage of income paid in taxes.)

Somebody knifed Judd Gregg?

An "AP investigation" finds out that Judd Gregg and his brother personally profited off real estate from appropriations Gregg steered into his state, but as always, I'm as intrigued by the "who 'did him'" as the story itself.

So, did this come out during vetting? Is this why Gregg stepped aside so abruptly? Was this GOP leverage that leaked out? Dem retribution? Someone up in NH who wanted to be sure Gregg didn't live happily ever after?

Normally, such kind of dirty leaks would be routed through "trusted" reporters at the NYTimes, WaPo, or the local paper. I don't know the writer, so she may be a local "picked up" under an AP byline, which would tend to support a NH source.

This just doesn't feel like something that came without a pointer from somebody, but this could certainly explain why Gregg suddenly and inexplicably changed his mind.

We'll never know for sure, but I love the intrigue.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


Why is it "class warfare" only when it negatively impacts the rich?

When the poor get screwed, it doesn't have a name.

(Thank Politico for reintroducing the term.)


....because rich people will no longer want to be rich if you raise their taxes by 5%....

Bill Gates, George Soros, the doctor or lawyer down the block, they'll just just ditch their lifestyle, give it all up to become school custodians...

Because, after all, people's drive to be successful comes from changes in marginal tax rates, not anything to do with their personality, character, or anything else.

It's the tax rate, and only the tax rate.

Picture of the Day - 2

Geithner really needs to work on his public skills, because that look does not make a good image.

(Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner listens as President Barack Obama makes comments on the fiscal budget. (AFP/Jim Watson))

Huckabee's working the right

Very quietly, Mike Huckabee has been working the hard right. The link is dead, but Huckabee has been voicing yet another wide distribution set of anti-abortion robocalls, and now at CPAC he blasts McCain for "join(ing) meekly" with Obama on the Sept. bailout vote, and used this line,
“The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics may be dead, but the Union of American Socialist Republics is being born,” he said.

I guess he figures he lost the 2008 nomination for not being conservative/economic hard assed enough, so now he's going over the top to try and create an early image.

If Palin taught him anything..... They're going after the same voters.


Racist, classist, offensive....

Not hidden as a political liability

News organizations will be allowed to photograph the homecomings of America's war dead under a new Pentagon policy, defense and congressional officials said Thursday.

What's the difference?

Jindal is being skewered so much worse than Tim Kaine was, and I'd put the two SoTU responses about on par with each other.

Maybe it's because the Republicans this year needed it so much more?

Maybe it's because Republicans are criticizing where Dems didn't?

Maybe it's because Kaine was seen to have weak message and delivery while Jindal is seen to have pushed bad message?

I don't know.

Dead on

Gail Collins NYTimes OpEd.
Louisiana has gotten $130 billion in post-Katrina aid. How is it that the stars of the Republican austerity movement come from the states that suck up the most federal money? Taxpayers in New York send way more to Washington than they get back so more can go to places like Alaska and Louisiana.

(More broadly, decades of Republican control means that Red states probably do receive more than their share, eh? I know that Texas is a "net importer.")


With the economy in the crapper, and everyone angry at Wall Street and CEO's in general, the Republican effort to protect the rich from taxes will be as difficult as it's ever been.

To my mind, it will come down to who wins the narrative. Will Obama's < $250K no tax increases penetrate, or will the Republicans once again be able to dominate with the blanket "taxes hurt the economy?"

I'll be curious because the environment is so different this time (angry at the rich), and Obama has laid an unusual amount of groundwork on that < $250K figure.

Second thought

The current language is "tax increases," but what we're really talking about is letting the Bush tax cuts on the wealthiest lapse.

I recognize that the primary reason those Bush tax cuts will expire is because they had to insert that sunset provision to get them past a tight Congress, but this morning I'm wondering if they really believed that would not be a problem as it happened during their visions of a "permanent Republican majority."

The party of no

A Politico piece looking at the broad Republican strategy.

CIA policy and other foreign bits

Beyond this interesting tidbit, this article lays out a whole raft of Panetta's CIA policy. (although I would disagree with the headline of Bush "continuity.)
Among changes under way at the CIA, the agency is now assembling a daily Economic Intelligence Brief to monitor the global economic slowdown's impact on stability. Argentina, Ecuador and Venezuela are facing "serious problems" that threaten their economic stability, Mr. Panetta said.

Semirelated: DHS chief Napolitano says Mexican drug cartels represent "a major threat," and
The Syrian ambassador to the United States has been invited to meet with a top U.S. diplomat at the State Department this morning, signaling a potential thaw in relations between Damascus and Washington.

Picture of the Day - Seriously?

So, let me get this straight, Cokie... You're writing more on a sleeveless dress than you ever did about intentional efforts to press false WMD intel....?

It's easy to see how you earned your place as one of Washington's elite.

ABC News' Cokie Roberts, author of "Ladies of Liberty: The Women Who Shaped Our Nation," said she fielded an e-mail from a staunch feminist fan of the first lady's who nevertheless added, "but enough with the sleeveless dresses."

"It does raise some hackles. I'm a little curious about it because it's cold in the House gallery," Roberts said. "I suppose that the sense of sleeveless dress being somewhat inappropriate comes from churches. ... There does seem to be some sense of decorum having to do with covering your shoulders."

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Jindal solidified

The panning of Jindal hits the AP's top ten and becomes CW: Republicans, Democrats criticize Jindal's speech.

Later: Howard Kurtz rounds up the Jindal reaction.

Quote - FirstRead

Republicans must have read the same polls we have because, overall, their tone in responding to Obama’s speech last night was much softer than we’ve seen in the past several days.

Picture of the Day

(Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who recently revealed that she is suffering from pancreatic cancer, gets a hug from President Barack Obama as he arrived for his primetime address to a joint session of Congress, February 24, 2009.(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque))


Less than 24 hours ago, it was widely presented that Bobby Jindal is the best the GOP has to offer.


(AP) Beginning floats of an 18 month withdrawal from Iraq.

(NYTimes) G.I.’s Attacked by Iraqis in Uniforms. 1 killed.

(NYTimes) Pakistan's supreme court bars Nawaz Sharif from public office.

(NYTimes) Pakistan says US missile strikes worsen Taleban.

(Chron) George Bush "dropped in" on a Poli Sci class at SMU.

(YouTube) Here's the PBS/David Brooks response last night.

(Politico) Apparently the "local sheriff" Jindal praised as an example of what Americans can do, has an unapologetic history of over the top African American racial profiling.

(StarTribune) If anybody still cares, more setbacks for Coleman's recount lawsuits.

And, (Politico) I don't know who to root for in a Bunning/Cornyn free for all.

Quote - On the losing end.....

You know you're in trouble when your top national figure has to begin his criticism like this.
"He's likable. We all like him," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. "We're not here to attack the president. We're here to talk about spending. And we think we're off on the wrong foot with the rate of spending that we're engaged in."

We're screwed.....

In the last 5 years or so, have you ever seen any climate story that said new research shows better than earlier predictions?
Antarctic glaciers are melting faster than previously thought, which could lead to an unprecedented rise in sea levels, scientists said Wednesday.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

It was supposed to be his big moment.....

Like most of America, I turned off long before Bobby Jindal.

(From early reaction, it sounds like that was to Jindal's benefit.)

Meanwhile, the snap polling once again strongly favors Obama.

Later Still: Here's a two part Youtube of Jindal's response. It is pretty awful. It reminds me of Gov weird eyebrows (Tim Kaine's) SoTU response a couple years ago.

Picture of the Day - Fallen

(Sen. John McCain directs a question to President Barack Obama, before the close the Fiscal Responsibility Summit, Monday, Feb. 23, 2009.(AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais))

Thought for the Day

Bobby Jindal has been Governor of Louisiana for 13 months.

Quote - WaPo/Stromberg

Besides, the more Obama makes it seem like he is reaching out, the higher the price the Republicans will have to pay in order to oppose him. Obama’s persistence after failing to woo Republicans in the stimulus debate serves to paint GOP holdouts as obstinate.

Quote - Rahm Emanuel

“The public wants bipartisanship,” he said. “We just have to try. We don’t have to succeed.”


A few Republican governors are willing to let some of their citizens go hungry for a little national spotlight.

"Not running for President...."

In order to receive preview excerpts of Jindal's response tonight, you have to give Jindal's website your email address.

Not that he's using his moment to bolster his national email list....

(And, repeating from yesterday, the press wants to love him.)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Not exactly in the narrative.....

From the NYTimes,
A majority of people surveyed in both parties said Mr. Obama was striving to work in a bipartisan way, but most faulted Republicans for their response to the president.... Most said Mr. Obama should pursue the priorities he campaigned on, the poll found, rather than seek middle ground with Republicans....

Or maybe you prefer WaPo polling,
Large majorities of Americans in a new Washington Post-ABC News poll support his $787 billion economic stimulus package and the recently unveiled $75 billion plan to stem mortgage foreclosures. Nearly seven in 10 poll respondents said Obama is delivering on his pledge to bring needed change to Washington, and about eight in 10 said he is meeting or exceeding their expectations.

Or a different look at the WaPo numbers,
Asked whether they trusted Obama or Republicans in Congress to do a better job of handling the economy, six in ten (61 percent) sided with the chief executive while roughly one in four (26 percent) opted for congressional GOPers. Among crucial independent voters, 62 percent trust Obama more on the economy while just 23 percent side with Republicans.

Not exactly what I've been hearing on my TV, eh?


North Korea chooses today to "launch a satellite" in an effort to grab attention on Obama's SoTU day. (I'm gonna hold my breath....)

(AFP) Iraqi Electricity Minister invites France to build a nuclear reactor in Iraq. (What?)

(BBC) The Taleban extend their Swat ceasefire.

And, (CNN) it's sad that John McCain has gone from wanting to run the free world to bitching about the time horizons of the Marine One replacements? (That's his priority?)

Picture of the Day - 2 - Lieberman meets Lieberman

Senator Joe Lieberman met right-wing Israeli leader Avigdor Lieberman Sunday for discussion and photo op.

(Avigdor Lieberman promotes forced ethnic cleansing of Israeli citizen Arabs from Israel.)

"I'll give some speeches, to replenish the ol' coffers."

George Bush's profile goes up at the Washington Speakers Bureau.
President George W. Bush served in the Oval Office for eight of the most consequential years in American history. Faced with challenges from a terrorist attack to a global financial crisis, he made difficult decisions that will shape the nation's course and world affairs for decades to come.....

No mention that it was his decisions that made those years "consequential."

(No price listed. Call for quote.)


I could be wrong, but something tells me the press is getting ready to go gaga over Jindal's response.

Brace yourself. Obama is over.....

Later: Here's a preview of Jindal (from after the Governor's meeting.)

Picture of the Day - 2

What does it say about the man that he's still wearing the Presidential seal jacket, even in jokey local moments like this visit to a hardware store?


Reading this kinda "nothing article," I got to wondering to what degree the Washington environment reinforced/amplified the GOP's opposition?

I mean, they got so collectively amped up to be "opposition," did they get into a group think on the Stimulus Bill that is perhaps separate from some of their individual interests?

Or maybe they're reflecting...

On the other hand, the GOP opposition to the Stimulus bill seems to be somewhat resonating with the GOP base.
The entire rise in concern about the deficit over the past two months has been among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents.

(They do need more than that, though, to win elections.)

One more

Politico has an interesting piece pointing out that the GOP is consciously echoing 1994 (and pointing out that the environment, with incredible economic worry and a popular Obama, is not 1994.)

Stuff we kinda knew

(WaPo) Hillary Clinton is outspoken causing some nervousness.

(NYTimes) The US has military advisers in Pakistan helping the Pakistani army with tactics, logistics, and intel.

(NYTimes) The Russians are flexing their regional muscles affecting US logistics around Afghanistan.

Three books?

Who the hell wants to read three books by Condi Rice?

You know she's not going to "tell all," so, what, I'm going to read 1,200 pages of how great Bush was? Or about her stellar time as Sec State?

(On the other hand, credit to her agent.)

Business opportunity

Reading that my state's shame, Sen. John Cornyn, is giving back (some of) the donations he received from Robert Stanford got me thinking.....

I think there is an opening, a demand really, for a political donation "Jesse Jackson." You know, someone you can go to when you get caught with bad money so you can publicly display contrition, to receive the money and grant some degree of absolution.

Picture of the Day

America's a truly amazing place.

(First lady Michelle Obama sits with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger at the Governors dinner at the White House in Washington February 22, 2009. (REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque))

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Britain's torture loophole

According to the Guardian, Human Rights Watch is about to come out with a report saying that the British questioned British terror suspects shortly after the Pakistani security forces tortured them.

Related: (WaPo) Did a Guantanamo stint turn a low level Taleban into a suicide bomber?

Iran, Iraq, and nukes

This is one of those "I'm not sure whether it's true" stories, as its divulgence serves a secondary political purpose against Iran, but, if you read it with that caveat, it's interesting.
Iran offered to stop attacking troops in Iraq if the West dropped opposition to its nuclear programme, a top British official said in comments to be broadcast Saturday.

(Especially following the very dicey allegations injected into the media on Friday about the state of the Iranian nuclear program.)

US tests military exit routes out of Iraq

I'm not sure it's "testing," but it is an early stage of retraction of equipment.

Quote - Clinton in China

"I certainly do think that the Chinese government and central bank are making a smart decision by continuing to invest in Treasury bonds," (Clinnton) said during an interview Sunday with the popular talk show "One on One." "It's a safe investment. The United States has a well-deserved financial reputation."

"It would not be in China's interest if we were unable to get our economy moving," Clinton said. "So by continuing to support American Treasury instruments, the Chinese are recognizing our interconnection. We are truly going to rise or fall together. We are in the same boat and, thankfully, we are rowing in the same direction."

50 million Frenchmen can't be wrong......

Remember when America's right was so excited over Sarkozy?

Now Sarkozy's approval is at 36%.

(I guess he is France's Giuliani after all.... Helloooo, Florida.)

The cyniciam of Meg Whitman

So it appears the McCain-Meg Whitman 2008 partnership was a "use=use" relationship. He got a profile female and business figure, and she got profile, a speaking slot at the convention, and a platform from which she will now run for California governor.

Was the McCain campaign just a GOP farm team?


Does anyone apologize to Gary Condit?