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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Picture of the Day

(A glum Iranian supporter of reformist presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi rests his head on his arms, wearing a green T-shirt symbolizing his party's color, as he waits at a Mousavi campaign office in Tehran, Saturday, June 13, 2009. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili))

US carbon stance towards China

This marks a change.
The US said today it would not demand that China commits to binding cuts in its greenhouse gas emissions, marking an important step towards agreement on a global treaty to fight climate change.....

Jonathan Pershing, head of the US ­delegation in Bonn, said developing countries – seeking to grow their economies and alleviate poverty – would instead be asked to commit to other actions. These include increasing energy efficiency standards and improving the take-up of renewable energy, but would not deliver specific reductions.

He said: "We're saying that the actions of developing countries should be binding, not the outcomes of those actions."

Only developed countries, including the US, would be expected to guarantee cuts.

N. Korea

It's getting particularly messy around N. Korean diplomacy. (But then again, trying to transition power to Dear Leader's 26 year old son was always going to be difficult.)

The N. Korean's are saying they're going to enrich their plutonium to bomb levels (estimated 1 bomb,) and the UN Sec Council approved full search and seizure of all N. Korean shipments.

Despite signing on to the 15-0 Sec Council resolution, China is warning against the use of force in implementation, and the US is saying they won't use force, but will trail and "spotlight" any ships refusing. (Bloomberg)

There seems to be a very real fear that N. Korea may be set to sell technology/parts.

An assassination in Iraq

Harith al-Obaidi, head of the Iraqi Accordance Front, the top Sunni parliamentary bloc, was shot dead by a teenager as he left a mosque on Friday.

There's suspicion that it may be Sunni on Sunni violence, but no one knows yet.

(Aswat) Maliki has announced a committee to look into the killing.


"What Fox did is not just create a venue for alternative opinion. It created an alternate reality."

-- Fox news analyst Charles Krauthammer


Friday, June 12, 2009

Murtha becomes a poster boy

I'm not really sure about the tone of this AP "Analysis" piece, but it does lay out the Republican attack lines as Rep. Murtha and others are referred to the ethics committee over PMA donations.

Expect to hear alot of shouting about this.

A word of caution on the Iranian election.

The belief Mousavi might win is partially based on the excitement and size of his rallies, but since he draws young and urban, media coverage of those rallies might be overrepresentative.

Much of Ahmadinejad's support comes from the older, the poorer, and the more rural who are less likely to come to the streets of Tehran and less likely to be picked up by the media.

I don't know what the result will be, I'm just getting this suspicious feeling about the wishful western coverage.

(Extra fact. Turnout might be 80%.)

Picture of the Day

(Iranian women stand in line to cast their votes in the presidential election, at the Masoumeh shrine in Qum, about 120 kms south of Tehran, Friday, June 12, 2009. (AP/Kamran Jebreili))

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Another N. Korean test?

As there are suspicions that N. Korea might be about to stage another nuclear test, I've got to wonder about their strategy.

Don't I remember reports after their first test that they only had enough nuclear material for a half dozen bombs? ...and now they're spending their third bomb on a test?

Random thoughts

Despite it's ability to offer broader access to the world, the internet has narrowed most people's understanding because it has allowed them more access to more material to reinforce their beliefs.

Supporting belief: People tend to seek out "news" to support their already existent belief system. People are more willing to change their "news" to match their beliefs than vice versa.

Third: The distance (and hatred) in our politics derives from the fact that we live in different media realities. (FoxNews vs. MSNBC for example.)

Reiterating: Increasing media choice has not brought us broader understanding through access to more knowledge and viewpoints. It has allowed us to take ourselves further into our previous dispositions.

Kinda creepy

A woman who dodged death when she and her husband narrowly missed Air France Flight 447 before it plunged into the Atlantic Ocean, killing all 228 aboard, was killed in a car accident just over a week later.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Quote of the Day

Shooting at the Holocaust museum.

With all the right wing loonies going on shooting sprees, maybe someone might want to go back to Sarah Palin and all the others who created such an environment for hate in the late 2008 election and ask them if they're still proud of their rhetoric and what it's apparently wrought.

(Also from the campaign, turns out the shooter was a "birther.")

Similarly, maybe we should go back to those "mainstream Republicans" who just months ago were shouting "tyranny" and "resistance."

After the shooter in New York who was (falsely) convinced that Obama would take his guns away.... After the Tiller murder.....

There's got to be a point at which some responsibility must attach.

Polling the Republican sinkhole

USAToday/Gallup polled Americans on what they think of the Republican party. The headline they chose is that there is still no identified "leader" with old white men making up the list. (Limbaugh, Cheney, McCain, and Gingrich.)

But what caught my eye were the totals down the left side. Skip down to "The Images They Project," and look at the top 10 words words offered to describe the Republican party. (No direction, cater to the rich, George Bush, close minded, cater to big business, bad economics, pro-war.)

Try to build a party off that.

Iran elections Friday

There're some anecdotals that might say the Iranian election Friday my be much more competitive than first thought.

Indications seem to be that (WSJ) moderate challenger Mousavi seems to be picking up late momentum. A Newsweek reporter (bottom of page) claims to have gotten his hands on a "secret(?)" government poll showing Mousavi beating Ahmadinejad, and (CSMonitor) Mousavi seems to be getting some street momentum.

(And an interesting FP piece highlighting that the growing public spectacle of Mousavi's daily appearances is fuelled by the urban Iranian youth.)

I don't know how it'll turn out as the Clerics still control so much and the urban is so much more visible than the rural, but Ahmadinejad seems to have found himself facing an opponent riding a populist wave, so... we'll watch on Friday.

Thought for the Day

South Carolina Governor Marc Sanford still thinks he can win the Presidency.

Tiller's Wichita clinic to close

It appears Dr. Tiller's family has made the decision to close his Wichita Women's Health Clinic.

Twisting a very tiny arm

Palau takes the 17 Uighurs from Guantanamo for over $10 million each, "the U.S. was prepared to give Palau up to $200 million in development.."

Picture of the Day

(Michelle Obama is pictured driven to Downing Street, the official residence of Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown in central London June 8, 2009. (REUTERS/Toby Melville))

Tuesday, June 09, 2009


Despite all the hate and mockery that went towards Bush, I don't think enough was done to highlight the main recurring failure of his administration. They were unprepared, despite warnings, for the four major disasters of that administration.

Despite being warned, they were unprepared for 9/11.

Despite being warned, they were unprepared for an insurgency in Iraq.

Despite being warned, they were not prepared when the levees broke in New Orleans.

Despite being warned, they allowed the banking and credit system to implode.

These aren't so much issues of policy, but of poor management, a flaw that was not corrected after killing thousands again and again and again.

I don't know why I'm thinking about that today, but I am.

(I'm also wondering tonight how William Shatner managed to star in not one, not two, but three different network series....but that's not quite in the normal tone of this blog.)

Thought for the Day

C'mon, anybody besides Terry McAuliffe.

Later: It's not like I even know anything about Creigh Deeds who won. I just remember McAuliffe smiling and lying to an unbelievable degree during the Clinton campaign. It's my belief that the Dems' credibility doesn't need the McAuliffe association right now.


I don't know if it's organic or an effort to win over CIA personnel, but Leon Panetta is working very hard to bureaucratically represent the desires of rank and file CIA personnel.

(NYTimes) Turf Battles on Intelligence Pose Test for Spy Chiefs

(WaPo) CIA Urges Judge To Keep Bush-Era Documents Sealed

Dana Milbank minces.....

Dana Milbank on the Republican dinner last night,
In a burst of optimism, organizers allowed two knives to be placed at each of the 2,000 place settings -- one, apparently, to stick in the food and one to use on fellow Republicans.

Shell pays $15.5 million for Ken Saro-Wiwa

This is pretty unbelievable. Shell reaches a settlement to pay $15.5 million in relation to the killing of Nigerian Delta activists including Ken Saro-Wiwa.

By paying out this settlement, Shell is avoiding the disclosure in open court of much more detail about the campaign coordinated between Shell and the Nigerian army to raid villages, to kill, andto clear opposition from their oil claim.

(Interesting this makes top stories in Britain (BBC), but not US.)

Picture of the Day

Whatever "it" is, she's got "it."

Love her or hate her, people can't stop talking about her. I mean, she had a horrible last year, (can you imagine any other politician surviving all those gaffes?) and yet she still gets all the attention.

Here she is arriving at the NRCC/NSRC fundraiser to applause. ((AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Monday, June 08, 2009

Jim Jones coordinates the Republicans

EPM pointed earlier today to a right wing movement towards boycotting GM. I couldn't believe that, but there it is, and it's blowing up. Rush Limbaugh supports the idea of boycotting GM.

Politically, a GM boycott seems like suicide to me, almost like "rooting against the troops." That's the identity they're risking.

We'll probably see some of the elected officials trying to walk this back as they will certainly see the Jim Jones quality of it, but the bottom line is that they hitched their identity to the populist anti-Obama teabagger movement and they're now firmly bound to it.

Republicans will once again face the identity question, "Do you want America/GM to fail just so you can claim Obama is wrong?"

That is the common identity hurdle for opposition parties, and thus far they're not handling it very well at all.

(PS. Maybe the Republicans have finally realized that "working class white males" is the only demographic they haven't alienated so they decided to attack a half a million jobs so they could be unpopular with everybody.)

It's all about who gets credit

Notice that Republicans are now trying to deny Obama credit for any economic rebound. It would be death for them, after shouting "socialist"and blanket opposition for so long, to have Obama's policies given credit for the recovery.

(I'm not qualified to say whether the Stim bill has anything to do with any rebound. I'm not arguing that. What I am saying is that a perception that "Obama saved the economy" would be politically huge and hugely damaging to the Republicans.)

Related: How does banks repaying TARP money factor into the argument?

Also related: One of the new GOP strategy points tells Republicans to attack Obama's bailout of GM, hoping that a failure of the policy will reinforce their argument. (Dear GOP, Invoking Katrina automatically invalidates your argument, akin to calling someone a Nazi.)

Picture of the Day

(AP) "But the loudest roars came when his first guest, Gen. Ray Odierno, accepted a videotaped order from President Barack Obama to shave Colbert's head.

The towering, bald general started the job with an electric razor, although a stylist finished it off."

Clinton threatens Iran

In a very curious section of her interview on This Week, Clinton vaguely asserts that other "enemies" of Iran might strike their nuclear facilities, trying to obliquely say that "Arab countries" of the region (read Saudi Arabia) might be the ones to do the deed.

That's new.

(Interview here. Do a find on the word "enemy.")

All they have to do is ask her a few questions

The internal politics of the NRCC/NRSC fundraiser get even messier as Sarah Palin is once again out as a speaker (and now not attending at all) after an invitation to speak was proffered then withdrawn.

(I'm very curious about the fear of "upstaging" Gingrich. How much do you want to bet the objection to her speaking came from the Gingrich folks? I have a hunch Gingrich intends to use this event as the centerpiece of his "relaunch.")

PS. Kinda screws up your fundraising when you embarrass a fan favorite like Palin.


As we read that "the government has no central database of the identities of all these (Iraq and Afghanistan) contractors, what they do or how much they're paid, " I've really gotta wonder about all that money.

Have we ever seen a hard number total of how much the US has spent on "contractors" in our wars?

Yes, they're connected

(NYTimes) U.S. Weighs Intercepting North Korean Shipments

(NYTimes) N. Korea Sentences 2 U.S. Journalists to 12 Years of Hard Labor

Sunday, June 07, 2009

There's a story here.

CNN is reporting that 5 US security contractors have been taken by the Iraqi police and are being held in relation to the killing of another American contractor inside the Green Zone who owned a construction company. (Was construction all he was doing?)

The details get interesting. The FBI is investigating,and the US coordinated on the operation, but both allowed the Iraqis to take the 5 men. (Pressure to get them to talk?)

The man was found bound, blindfolded, and stabbed in his car. (Why do 5 men bind him if they're not looking for information or taking him to someone else? Why would 5 trained mercenaries work together when you would think one or two with surprise would be enough? Why did they leave him to be discovered bound?)

Reports also say the 5 "knew" the man.

What's going on?


Sen. Arlen Specter told Pennsylvania's Democratic leaders Saturday he's "pleased and proud" to be back in the party he left shortly after launching his political career more than four decades ago.

"I'm no longer a Republican in name only. I'm again a Democrat," the fifth term senator said in an introductory speech to the Democratic State Committee at a downtown hotel.