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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Picture of the Day

(Michelle Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attend a ceremony announcing this year's recipients of the Secretary of State's Award for International Women of Courage in Washington March 11, 2009. (REUTERS/Jim Young))


The US military spends all this money on "connectivity" and data information to the front line in the military, but if we ever run into a real enemy again, a China, the Soviets, etc, aren't they going to play havoc with all the wireless communications, jamming them at least, sending false data at worst?

(I know it freaks everybody out, but for the mid to long future, we really should be seeking autonomy in our drones.)


Oh look. It's another locally popular unknown Republican Governor who someone says is going to be the next face of the GOP......

Romney, Palin, Pawlenty, Jindal, .... Huntsman?
“It’s like the world began in November,” Mr. Huntsman, 48, a moderate second-term Republican with billionaire roots, intense personal popularity and obvious national ambitions, said in an interview in his office here.

Yes. I'm sure the governor of Utah will land smack in the middle of America's political spectrum because Utah is America's political future.

The thing that I think the GOP and media establishment don't get is that the way the Republican party is set up right now, sans any influential moderates, they're not going to put forth anyone with enough reach to hit the middle. Somehow, they're going to have to loosen some of their principles in the primary before they find "the guy." (ie. They need Charlie Crist, but they'll never elect him.)

.... NEXT!

Quote - Michael Steele

Red blooded, gun-toting, "real American...."
"I love the Oscars," he said. "I'm looking for who's got what dress on, you know? . . . I'm looking at what they're doing with the hair...."

Weird little bit of local.

A local story in last week's Houston Chronicle has started several conversations lately. I can't find the link, but it was an anecdotal talking about wealthy businessmen in Mexico moving their families to Houston to get them safely away from Mexico's increasing crime and kidnapping.

Just interesting to me.

Front page insanity

Obama should stop saying that Bush had anything to do with the current economic mess, so says the front page of the WaPo.

Yes, Obama should come forward and say, it's all his 54 day old fault. Crazy.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Steele problems

I'm not going to track all the Republicans complaining about Michael Steele. There's just too much.

But, I do think it's important that the GOP is having this internal rift as they're undertaking their "talent search" to find new candidate challengers and line up funding for the 2010 elections.

Would a sense of national party chaos make the best candidates more or less likely to sign on for 2010? Do you think Steele is effectively running the fundraising operation while he's trying to bat all of this away?

Also this year, the GOP is supposed to be rewriting its 2012 primary calendar and it looks like that may be more chaotic with a wounded and disliked chairman. (Does pro life become a factor? Do certain states or caucuses move up as a result of Steele's social issues rifts?)

There's alot of groundwork that has to be done before September of this year, and I doubt it's getting done effectively right now.

(Also, How does the conflict affect the internal RNC restructuring. Steele fired a bunch of people. Who is taking a job with Steele under threat?)

Just thinking out loud.


Ahead of the G20, Chinese Premier Wen Jibao says this about US Treasury security,
"We have made a huge amount of loans to the United States. Of course we are concerned about the safety of our assets. To be honest, I'm a little bit worried," Wen said at a news conference following the closing of China's annual legislative session. "I would like to call on the United States to honor its words, stay a credible nation and ensure the safety of Chinese assets."

What's the play here, BRIC leverage at the G20? An attempt to warn the US about too much debt?

(It should be noted that this was deep in a news conference on China's plans and recovery, but they had to know it would gain notice. China is not incautious.)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Tempting Specter

With Arlen Specter possibly being that 60th Senate Cloture vote and likely facing 2010 challenges from the right in the primary and from the left in the general, this rumor is interesting,
Senior officials with the powerful AFL-CIO have privately assured GOP Senator Arlen Specter that they’ll throw their full support behind him in the 2010 Senate race if he votes for the Employee Free Choice Act, a senior labor strategist working closely with the AFL on the issue tells me.

My State's shame, part 2

Governor Goodhair turns down Stimulus money for unemployment.

The legislature is going to take the money anyhow, but you can smell that governor's primary coming in the last big red state.

Also, Gov. Marc Sanford of SC did exactly the same thing. Their legislature is going to claim the money, too.

Picture of the Day - 2

(Former Republican Sen. Norm Coleman listens during the Senate vote recount trial Thursday, March 12, 2009 in St. Paul, Minn. (AP Photo/Jim Mone,Pool))

Sy Hersh alleges an "executive assassination ring"

Sy Hersh, in a Minnesota appearance, mentions an "executive assassination ring" (referring to the executive branch of our government.)

Hersh alleges a special operations unit which supposedly conducted foreign assassinations reporting around the military chain of command to Dick Cheney's office alone .

Hersh is famous both for his investigative and unusual single source reporting, so we'll have to wait and see exactly what this is when he publishes formally in a book in a year or two.

(PS. Just skip down to the indent which actually contains Hersh's words.)


Technically, earmarks are not spending in the budget. Technically, they are the forced allocation of already appropriated monies within budget line items towards designated projects.

Hard times everywhere

From the Forbes list through Feb. 13.
The net worth of the world's billionaires fell from $4.4 trillion to $2.4 trillion, while the number of billionaires was down to 793 from 1,125.

Interesting read in its way.

(Sorta related: A small "tent city" has sprung up in Sacramento. (Pictures))

"Best healthcare system in the world...."

A new report looks at the cost of the US healthcare system and relates that to the services provided and the actual health of Americans and finds the US cost-benefit ratio ranks well behind most of our competitor nations (who employ all kinds of different health systems.)

The interesting bit is that this isn't coming from a traditional health agenda group, but from the Business Roundtable. They frame it as an issue of competitiveness.

Picture of the Day

This morning, I find myself wondering if all those "social conservatives" recognize the feeling that they were spun. That, in essence, their morals were manipulated to keep their votes.

(Sen. John McCain greets Levi Johnston, boyfriend of Bristol Palin, Sept. 3, 2008.(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak))

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

How did they pick Michael Steele?

Michael Steele gives an interview to GQ that is, once again, amazing. He's all over the map, seeming both off the proper seriousness and off message. (Check out the priest section where he talks about his old love life and his belief that homosexuality is nature and he shouldn't challenge that.)

Or this,
Q: Are you saying you think women have the right to choose abortion?

Steele: Yeah. I mean, again, I think that’s an individual choice.

Maybe we should take it as a measure of just how desperate the Republicans are that they are finding these unknowns and thrusting them forward?

Later: Blowback begins over the "choice" statement.

And, (TPM) This interview was actually conducted weeks ago, before Steele talked himself into all his other troubles.

So big as to be useless...

The terror watch list has now hit a million entries which I think means 1 million names. How useful could that be?

In the past two years, 51,000 people have sought redress. Only 830 of the resolved challenges have proved to be correctly on the list.

Unwed mother

This is a rumor from Johnston side of the family: Bristol Palin & Levi Johnston Break Off Engagement.

I'm definitely not in favor of a shotgun wedding, but, in the party of family values, this has to have some resonance.

(PS. Dear Palin family, I wouldn't get into a media war with the Johnstons. I think they'll go Jerry Springer on your asses.)


A DSCC spokesman twists the DC Madam/hooker knife after Sen. Vitter reportedly had a public meltdown at Dulles airport.
“Sooner or later Senator Vitter should learn how to control himself,” said Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesman Eric Schultz.


Michael Steele, head of his party, calls his top elected officials "scurrying mice."
Mr. Steele said he is in stage two of a two-stage process to reform and transform the Republican Party. He won't reveal details, because, "The mice who are scurrying about the Hill are upset because they no longer have access to the cheese, so they don't know what's going on." He says his process has been "insular" because he doesn't want people "pontificating" on his decisions or second-guessing them before they are made.

(Maybe he's trying to lose the job....)

Too damn funny

So, I took a look at the Gingrich interview in Essence magazine (nothing huge except Newt is pushing himself hard,) but then I saw this little link under the picture, "See photos of some famous black Republicans," so you know I gotta check this out.

The first three aren't that surprising, Michael Steele, Colin Powell, and Clarence Thomas. OK, I get that. But where does it go from there?

Ward Connerly and Alan Keyes are 4 and 5. By number 7 we're to "Lt. Martin Kendall," Denise's husband from the Cosby Show. Number 8 is a FoxNews figure who got her start as a beauty queen, and number 9 is Jimmie "JJ" Walker.

Condi Rice comes in at ten (below Jimmie Walker?,) and then we've got Don King and Karl Malone.

This list constitutes the top black Republicans, and Alan Keyes, "Lt. Martin Kendall," and Jimmie Walker make the top 10. This is just too damn funny.

Picture of the Day - 2

(Minnesota Democratic Senate candidate Al Franken arrives for the Democratic policy luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 10, 2009. (AP Photo/Harry Hamburg))

Quote of the Day

John Stewart in his smackdown of Jim Cramer/NBC last night on Joe Scarborough.
"I like my news like I like my coffee, white and bitter."


(WaPo) A somewhat interesting WaPo article on Citibank's history of overreach. (I didn't know they played a role in pushing stock sales to the middle class in the late 20's.)

(WaPo) It sounds like Joe Lieberman is going to use his homeland security chairmanship to grandstand about US Somalis as a terror risk. ("Some say" they represent a threat while USG officials say "they do not warrant a major concern." Stir up some fear Lieberman. You got your WaPo frontpage teaser.)

(WaPo) "The overall situation -- and the intelligence community agrees on this -- [is] that Iran has not decided to press forward . . . to have a nuclear weapon on top of a ballistic missile," (DNI Dennis) Blair told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

(TheNews) Pakistan "house arrests" Nawaz Sharif and his brothers as well as arrests of many other opposition leaders ahead of an opposition protest.

(NYTimes) Libya is complaining that it didn't get enough for giving up its WMD program. (From previous descriptions of their "program," they probably shouldn't have gotten much more than a 2 for 1 Arby's coupon.)

And, (Politico) A collection (cabal) of former Bush aides are coordinating to try and defend (salvage) the Bush legacy.

Picture of the Day

(House Republican Leader Rep. John Boehner, seen here on February 12, 2009, listens during a news briefing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (AFP/Getty/Alex Wong))

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Political bits

(Reuters) "For the GOP a vacancy is as good as electing Coleman," David Schultz, a professor at Minnesota's Hamline University.

(538) "According to multiple former high-level RNC staffers familiar with the dynamics involved, Steele is unlikely to survive in the post if favored Republican Jim Tedisco loses his open-seat race (NY - Gillibrand's seat) to Democrat Scott Murphy."

(CNN) "The House voted Monday night to approve the creation of a panel to plan a celebration of the centennial of Ronald Reagan's birth in February of 2011."

Interesting read

The Christian Science Monitor carries an oped by some evangelical I've never heard of saying that the evangelical movement is near collapse. I'm not endorsing the piece, but there were alot of bits in there that I found thought provoking.

On the "social issue" politics: "We fell for the trap of believing in a cause more than a faith."

On the fundie colleges, "Christian education has not produced a product that can withstand the rising tide of secularism. Evangelicalism has used its educational system primarily to staff its own needs and talk to itself."

Interesting read.

Chuck Norris goes black helicopter

That didn't take long. Chuck Norris "claims that thousands of right wing cell groups have organized and are ready for a second American Revolution."

For your calendar, "The right wing cells will meet during a live telecast, "We Surround Them," on Friday March 13 at 5 p.m."

It's amazing how fast the "Michigan militia/black helicopter crowd" has reemerged. I don't think you can ever compare the "looney left" to these guys. They openly talk about violent overthrow of the government (which is supposed to get you in trouble.)

Last thought: Chuck Norris supposedly gave Mike Huckabee some credibility.

Picture of the Day

Our future rides on that left hand

(President Barack Obama signs an Executive Order on stem cells and a Presidential Memorandum on scientific integrity, Monday, March 9, 2009. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert))

Blog disclaimer

I've got to admit, the economic situation is just crushing me, emotionally at least. I've been trying to maintain a forced denial and detachment, but it's been getting harder and harder as those stray thoughts of worry from the fall diffuse deeper and more broadly across more of my day.

It's my opinion that the blog is suffering a bit as my mood darkens. It's kind of difficult to maintain tone as I grow more worried about what's going on in my direct world. As I hurt, my world shrinks in, this doesn't seem as important, and less stuff feels bloggable.

This post may represent only a momentary yelp, and let me make it clear, I'm not abandoning here, but I felt like I had to explain. I'm feeling the pressure, and it feels like it's affecting everything I do. I'm sure I'm not alone in this.

(Pardon the self indulgence. I don't do it often.)


From one of the most depressing economy articles I've seen. The USAToday reports on a Gallup "wellness index."
"Maybe we were dreaming the American dream, you know what I mean?" says David McLimans, a steelworker.

Another bombing in Baghdad

A bomb in Baghdad targeting dignitaries at a reconciliation conference kills at least 33.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Chinese tests new President, echoing 2001

This is so weird as it so closely parallels the occurrence in the early Bush administration when the Chinese effectively forced down a US electronic surveillance (spy) plane right on the edge of their sovereign space. Remember?

Well, they didn't seize this ship, but the "back off" signal is identical to the one they tried to send to an early Bush administration.
A senior defense official confirms that five Chinese ships "aggressively maneuvered" and shadowed a U.S. Navy surveillance ship yesterday.

The Chinese vessels moved into "dangerous proximity" to the USNS Impeccable, "in an apparent coordinated effort to harass the U.S. ocean surveillance ship," which was operating on a routine mission in international waters, the senior defense official says.

Picture of the Day - 2

(The Obamas returning to the White House on the South Lawn, Sunday, March 8, 2009 in Washington.(AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais))


(NYTimes) A funny piece on the anti-global warming conference finds that they are fracturing and falling apart (since Exxon stopped funding them.)

North Korea is stamping its feet warning (Reuters) it's on full military readiness, and that (AP) it will respond if its next missile launch is disturbed. (They claim it's a satellite launch.)

(NYTimes) David Axelrod gets dragged into the light in a profile. Previous to this he's done a pretty good job of keeping his political role in the background.

(NYTimes) John Yoo and some of the other detainee memo lawyers are finding a very rough time of it on the outside. (A very interesting read. I love the opening anecdote about the war crimes panel.)

(NYTimes) The dollar is rising as a safe haven with some effects abroad.

(USAToday) Religious self identification is down since 1990.

And, suddenly, (AP) Joe Lieberman is all praise for Obama, even on foreign policy. (The article frames this as Lieberman worried about his elected future, but I would argue that his non-elected future is now at risk as well. That token AEI spot, the big money consultant stuff in Conn are all at risk in his being so publicly on the wrong side.)

Really, really, really stray thought on healthcare

There are people out in the world who have had themselves (or their heads) frozen "cryogenically" so that one day they might be revived and cured or whatever.

I know they've paid whatever for the freezing, but did they put money aside for the curing part?

That would be pretty ironic, eh?

Picture of the Day

(Vice President Joe Biden gestures as he prepares to leave after addressing visitors and guests at the Miami Intermodal Center in Miami, Thursday, March 5, 2009. (AP/Alan Diaz))

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Your moment of schadenfreude

The AP carries an article on the status of the GOP, unpopular, perceived without leaders or message, and facing an uphill battle in 2010....


(AP) Obama says he might to reach out to moderate elements of the Taleban. (The military has been talking about this for months.)

The NYTimes Week in Review has a piece asking if splitting the Taleban is realistic strategy.

(NYTimes) "Asked if the United States was winning in Afghanistan.... Mr. Obama replied flatly, “No.”

(AFP) "Taliban militants on Saturday shot down a suspected drone aircraft in a Pakistani tribal area bordering Afghanistan, officials said." (Might've been a crash.)

(Haaretz) Iran gives some signals that it might want to cooperate on Afghanistan.

(NYTimes) US, Syria begin low level talks.

(AP) Israeli planes drop a couple of bombs on Gaza.

(AP) A big suicide bombing outside the main police academy in Baghdad kills at least 26.

The NYTimes lances Michael Steele

The NYTimes takes on Michael Steele and the vision they show is not a pretty one, lightweight, thin resume, scents of scandal, only where he is by the color of his skin....

And they more or less bracket the article with these two sections.
Mr. Steele is the party’s first African-American chairman, his election a response to a history-making Democratic president. But now his performance is raising questions: Does he have a strategy, or is he simply saying whatever comes to mind?....

And as tempestuous as the past month has been, Mr. Steele said in the interview, Republicans should get ready for more. “I’m very spontaneous,” he said, comparing working with him to riding a roller coaster without knowing when the next dip or curve might come.

“Be prepared; you have no idea,” he said. “Just buckle up and get ready to go.”

It's ugly. When "the paper of record" casts this image, it just serves to make him a lighter weight than he is already perceived to be.

(And, yes, I know that getting trashed by the NYTimes doesn't hurt him in the GOP, but it does hurt him in the influence game in Washington, and that's at least half his job.)

Obama's support

From Charlie Cook.
One striking feature of recent polls is the breadth and strength of Obama's support among Americans ages 50 to 64, arguably the people most hurt by the stock market's nosedive. In the most recent Gallup Poll, the president's approval rating among those in this age group was higher than ever -- 65 percent -- and was second only to his support among the youngest voters. In the latest Cook/RT survey, Obama's backing among the 50-to-64 set was 68 percent, the highest of any age group. And 47 percent strongly approved of his performance -- again, the highest of any age group.

Picture of the Day

(President Barack Obama walks down the West Wing Colonnade at the White House in Washington, DC. (AFP/Saul Loeb))