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

Born at the Crest of the Empire

Saturday, May 09, 2009

This is where the press corps draws the line?

There's been alot of grumbling about the Obama press shop from the White House Press corps. The latest complaint is over a perception of overuse of background briefings.

But I just want to step back a second to ask... they weren't this mad over Iraq intel? ...the years of over rosy reports on Iraq? ..."we do not torture"? ...Rove and Libby had nothing to do with the outing of Valerie Plame?...when it was revealed that the Pentagon was, in effect, paying former generals to lie to them?

No. The cold answer is that they weren't that mad over the Bush administration's lying. Why? Because the Bush press office made an immense effort to make thepress corps' day to day jobs easier.

And that's what their current whinging is about. They don't care whether the information they're given is true, good, or a violation of Federal laws. Their anger comes over an extra step in filing.

It says alot, doesn't it?

100 Days

I think today is Michael Steele's 100th day. How's he doing?

Friday, May 08, 2009

Political bits

(Politico) More "conservatives" go after the new "rebranding" council of Cantor, Bush and Romney. (Funny how McConnel and Boehner have left themselves out of this, especially since it is Cantor trying to steal Boehner's job.)

(UnknownBlog) A rumor that one of Bill Richardson's top fundraisers has been granted immunity. (Can you wear a bolo tie in minimum security?)

And, Bad news if you live in Texas. All of Rick Perry's crazy right stuff (secession, stimulus money refusal fake, anti-evolution politics) is working. He's closed the gap or is ahead of Kay Bailey Hutchison in the most recent primary polling. (Fortunately, Texas has open primaries so I can go vote against him.)

Picture of the Day - 2

(Candy bags are shown at a campaign booth for Meg Whitman, Republican candidate for California Governor, at the Conference of the Professional Business Women of California in San Francisco, Wednesday, May 6, 2009. (AP/Paul Sakuma))


(NYTimes) An insidery piece on the collapse of the Public Integrity section of the Justice Dept. under Bush.

(WaPo) The Obama administration is restarting arms control talks with the Russians.

And, (Politico/CNN) Dick Cheney urges the GOP not to moderate (because Dick Cheney has been so good for the Republican party?)

Stray thought

It seems to me like Tom Ridge would have a really good shot at that Pa Senate seat, and yet he decided not to run.

What does Tom Ridge know that we don't know?

Picture of the Day

(President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are served their burgers as they make an unannounced visit to Ray's Hell Burger in Arlington, Va., to have lunch, Tuesday, May 5, 2009. (AP/Charles Dharapak))

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Notice this

This maybe something or may be nothing, but the NY Fed chair resigns "abruptly" amidst questions over his close ties to Goldman.

Just putting it on the radar.

They're f***in' nuts

I mean, seriously. Secession bills passing in 10 states?

Over what exactly?

(Also: (Politico) Tom Ridge decides not to run, and (Politico) the abstinence only gravy train is over for the favored evangelical groups.)

The Republican death or a 2010 rally?

Two articles. The first is this much linked Time Magazine piece describing the GOP's "death spiral," more conservative pushes more moderates away giving "conservatives" still more influence.... coupled with the shifting demographics.

On the other hand, CQ asks whether, in a non-Obama turnout year, many of the new Dem Congresspeople can hold their seats if the Obama turnout, black, young, doesn't show up at the same rates.


(AFP/BBC) Pakistan is bombing Taleban targets in the Swat valley. There are reports of hundreds of thousands of civilian refugees. (I'm always cynical when the Pakistanis "attack" at the same time they're coming to Washington looking for more money.)

(WaPo) The terror watchlist is a nation endangering joke, containing thousands incorrectly and not including current targets of terror investigations.

(AFP) Violent police/protester clashes break out in Tbilisi, Georgia over the ongoing NATO exercises.

(AP) The Blackwater contract in Iraq expires. They mostly leave, but they still have some operations there.

Political bits

(ADN) Palin's Alaska approval numbers have fallen dramatically. (Not too surprising after all the scandals, ill feelings over VP run, celebrity gossip, and fall in oil prices.) 2008 was her moment.

(USAToday) Condi Rice gives an interview saying she's glad to be out of the spotlight. (She was Sec State and didn't like the spotlight!)

(Politico) The beginnings of a pushback against the Cantor, Bush, Romney rebranding gimmick. FRC's Tony Perkins takes a shot at them. Huckabee, too.

And, (Politico) After elevating Limbaugh as "the leader of the GOP" when they needed him there, the White House is now boosting Gingrich who is also against the "rebranding" gimmick.


After reading this useless piece about Bristol Palin joining an abstinence only school presentation foundation, (no the kids didn't buy it either,) I got to wondering if there were similar star studded foundations doing school presentations on birth control, and, if so, do schools let them hold assemblies?

It's one of those lowest common denominator questions. The birth control folks don't complain about abstinence stuff, but the abstinence folks complain about birth control stuff, so we end up not presenting the more effective message (hurting the kids.)

Plus, in the hyper political environment, what "star" would risk angering people?

Maybe I should start a star studded evolution tour....

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Picture of the Day - 2

Think Franken will get an ovation from the Dems when he finally gets seated in the Senate?

(Joe Biden met with Al Franken in the White House. (White House photo))

Thoughts on Republican rebranding

For Republicans to effectively present "new ideas," doesn't there have to be some kind of admission of error and disowning of the "old ideas?"

(For an example, see the politics Bush played on "the surge.")

Second thought. It would be a whole lot easier for Republicans to move forward if we weren't watching the exact same people making the exact same arguments. (They may have to wait until the current crop ages out of influence.)

Third thought. I believe that the Republican who can effectively rail against the Republican party without crossing the litmus test issues will be their next ideological leader. Somebody running outsider populist like a Huckabee, but in a more "city on a hill" way and not quite so much of a self-infatuated prick.

Just thinking out loud.

Steele cedes control

Micheal Steele "voluntarily" cedes his control over RNC spending. ("Secretly"?)
Capitulating to critics on the Republican National Committee, embattled Republican Party Chairman Michael S. Steele has signed a secret pact agreeing to controls and restraints on how he spends hundreds of millions of dollars in party funds and contracts, The Washington Times has learned.

Let's remember they just elected Steele on Jan 30.

Political bits

(WaPo) The Dems slap down Arlen Specter, voting to take away his seniority in the committees, saying they "might" revisit the decision in 2011. (Several thoughts: 1) They now have some leverage on his voting. 2) I don't think this happens unless Harry Reid lets it happen. 3) Specter probably shouldn't have repeated "I'm not a loyal democrat" until all the ink was dry.)

(CDaily) Colin Powell weighs in on the GOP civil war. (As if anyone in the GOP listens to him...)

(WaPo) Former Bush officials have "launched a behind-the-scenes campaign to urge Justice Department leaders to soften an ethics report" on torture.

(Politico) Limbaugh calls Cantor/Bush/Romney's townhalls (/grabs for power) a sham.

And, (WaPo) Don't look now, but situations and better Republican recruiting are giving them some shots at 2010 Senate seats. (My state's shame, John Cornyn....)


It takes the WaPo 5 pages to tell us that the Obama folks don't like Karzai, and will do anything to try to work around him.

(Later: Or maybe this is just pre-meeting pressure.)

Stray thought

In a manner of personal characteristics, Mitt Romney looks alot like John Kerry, presidential candidate. Wishy-washy, stiff, elite, lacking conviction because he's mouthing words he doesn't believe....

Think about the way Romney was pilloried over his "hunting" comments....

I just don't think he can overcome that in a Repub primary.

Frightening individual housing stats

I'm well outside the real estate community, so I don't know anything about a website called Zillow, but some of the numbers they're throwing around are horrifying.
....more than one in five homeowners now owing more on their mortgages than their homes are worth....

U.S. homes lost $704 billion in value during the first quarter and have depreciated $3.8 trillion in the past 12 months....

eight regions -- including the Modesto, California, Stockton, California, and Fort Myers, Florida regions -- with median value declines of more than 50 percent since those markets peaked....

Picture of the Day

(Local residents prepare to board into a vehicle to flee from the area in Mingora, the main of town of Pakistan Swat Valley, Tuesday, May 5, 2009. (AP Photo/Naveed Ali))

Tuesday, May 05, 2009


They're doing it again. There's been a run on ammunition because "Obama's gonna take away all our guns."

(How much would you pay for a list of people who can be so easily manipulated by irrational fear? You could reelect an unpopular Republican President with such a list.)

Gauguin did it

I like this version better. A pair of German historians claim it was Gauguin who cut off Van Gogh's ear while fencing.

Monday, May 04, 2009

The battle lines of the Republican civil war

On one side you have the "moderates" and insiders which seem to be coagulating around this "rebranding" effort, which is really their quest for power in the party, Romney, Cantor, etc.

On the other side (outside?,) you apparently have Palin, Limbaugh, Huckabee, and Gingrich. (The insiders claim they're trying to invite/include Palin, but neither side really seems to want that.)

(Then there's also a third category of "left outs" that neither side really seems to want. McConnell, for instance.)

But I think the important thing to notice is that you have this "moderate" insider core against the folks actually loved by the base of the party. Those "outsiders," if they want, can throw a hell of a lot of divisive stones.

And, notice that Michael Steele, the RNC chairman, is apparently on the outside as well. (They're trying to take over the party against the chairman. Maybe that's why they moved to limit his spending discretion.)


On CNN's State of the Union,
Mitt Romney jokingly dismissed Sarah Palin’s inclusion on Time’s list of influential people in an interview broadcast Sunday.

He asked, was “the issue on the most beautiful people or the most influential people?”

Political bits

Harry Reid is spinning, partially for his book rerelease, partially crowing about the Specter switch, and partially feeling his oats as Republicans have been unable to find a 2010 challenger against him. ((WaPo) "Reid: 'I Have My Eye on What I Need to Do', (Politico) The political lessons Harry Reid learned.)

(Politico) Sarah Palin is dead as a 2012 hopeful. Read this Politico piece where the figures of this new GOP "rebranding" effort take shots at her, Romney, Jeb Bush, Mike Murphy....

(CNN) Just out of curiosity, who is managing Meghan McCain? Whoever it is seems to be able to get CNN to print anything she says.

And, (QPac) Specter polls well ahead of Toomey, but is only 3 points ahead of Ridge (46-43.) (And Sestak is still sniffing around a Dem primary challenge.)

Screening questions from 4th graders.....

There's the main issue here of Condi Rice continuing to uncomfortably try to defend herself on torture, but, to me...
Misha's mother, Inna Lerner, said the question her son had initially come up with was even tougher: "If you would work for Obama's administration, would you push for torture?"

"They wanted him to soften it and take out the word 'torture.' But the essence of it was the same," Lerner said.

So, Condi Rice's people are screening questions from fourth graders?

This is the former Secretary of State... top diplomat... responsible for staring down tyrants...

"There, there, little oil friends...."

U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates said on Sunday he would reassure Saudi Arabia this week that the kingdom would not suffer from Washington's efforts to improve its relations with Iran.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Arlen's "clear path"

Have to wait and see if this bears out, but there's a rumor that Tom Ridge may be looking at that Pa. Senate seat.

(This "rumor" is designed to test the waters to see if Ridge can draw enough money and support to beat Toomey in the primary.)

Who greenlighted the attacks on the Kurds?

Just noticing that after a several month hiatus, the Turks and Iranians have started hitting the Kurds in Iraq again.

On Wednesday, the Turks bombed across the border into Iraq, and yesterday, the Iranians fired artillery and sent helicopters across the Iraqi border to attack.

Strange politics in Afghanistan

A very popular governor who had been very far along in his plans to challenge Hamid Karzai in the August election, meets with Karzai, and then suddenly withdraws his interest.

It get weirder when Shirzai reportedly also resigned his governorship immediately after the Karzai meeting, although Karzai reportedly refused the resignation.

So, what could Karzai have presented in this meeting that could have chased this fighter/warlord, and Karzai's only real challenger, not only out of the race, but almost out of all power?

Related: The WaPo looks at the election from Karzai's perspective and finds he's nearing certain reelection status.

Also note the language which makes it sound like the Obama administration isn't really supporting Khalilzad..