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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Picture of the Day Obama mccain

(Senator John McCain listens as U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about immigration reform during a meeting with members from both parties of Congress June 25, 2009. (REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque ))

China props up N. Korea

An interesting WaPo piece on China's trade with N. Korea, which has soared since the nuclear tests and harsher sanctions began. The hard currency from China purchasing minerals is propping up the military and government.

If you're watching N. Korea, it's well worth a read.

Holbrooke: US abandons poppy eradication in Afghanistan

A big change in tactics...
he U.S. has announced a new drug policy for opium-rich Afghanistan, saying it was phasing out funding for eradication efforts and using the money for drug interdiction and alternate crop programs instead.

The U.S. envoy for Afghanistan, Richard Holbrooke, told The Associated Press on Saturday that eradication programs weren't working and were only driving farmers into the hands of the Taliban.

Friday, June 26, 2009


When they stop talking about Michael Jackson, wake me.

Picture of the Day

(North Koreans take part in a mass rally marking anti-U.S. Day in Pyongyang on the 59th anniversary of the start of the Korean War (1950-53) June 25, 2009. (Picture released by North Korea.))


"After 10 days of examination, we did not see any major irregularities....

We have had no fraud in any presidential election and this one was the cleanest election we have had. I can say with certainty that there was no fraud in this election...."

----Guardian Council spokesman to the State News Agency.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

"The Fellowship" makes the WaPo

That weird Christian group that houses 5 Congressmen and maintains utter secrecy made the WaPo after Sanford mentioned it in his press conference.

More Sanford - Hardly sounds like a breakup trip.

On or around the day his wife asked him to move out, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford booked a ten-day trip to Buenos Aires, a person familiar with the governor's travel plans told POLITICO....

An unpopular President in Iran

More than 180 of the 290 Members of Parliament skipped Ahmadinejad's "victory party."

I assume they didn't want the association with the current violence. After all, no one's fixing their elections.

Also, (AP) "Iran's opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi says on his official Web site that his access to people is being restricted and that he is being pressured to withdraw his election challenge."

(There have been various descriptions of Moussavi being "guarded" by the government which sounds very much like house arrest.)

Drifting in Afghanistan

(NYTimes) Hamid Karzai, hugely unpopular, yet expected to win reelection handily.

Quote - Marc Sanford

The governor was not known as a moralist but has frowned on infidelity and as a congressman voted to impeach President Bill Clinton after the Monica Lewinsky affair. “He lied under a different oath, and that’s the oath to his wife,” Mr. Sanford said at the time on CNN. “So it’s got to be taken very, very seriously.”

Or this one,
"I think it would be much better for the country and for him personally (to resign)... I come from the business side," he said. "If you had a chairman or president in the business world facing these allegations, he'd be gone."


Bigger in Texas

Sanford's story is nothing compared to the rumors that circulated about my Governor (if they''re ever proven to be true...)

More bombings in Iraq

More bombings in Iraq kill five Iraqi policemen and two civilians, the latest in a week of bombings that have killed hundreds.

The motivation appears to be destabilization as the US and Iraq attempt to meet the pullout schedule. (They want the US to stay? Or is it an effort to undermine Iraqis confidence in government?)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Picture of the Day

They get a whole collection of photos after how they performed today.

Gov. Sanford

The press conference is about to start. I'll start updating on this post.

Update: He's tearing up and apologizing to his family. How bad is it going to be?

Answer: Long term relationship with a woman in Argentina.

Wife knew about the affair for "about 5 months." (And he took a trip to Argentina to see the woman?)

Question: Did he ever say he cut off the relationship?

Thought: Any press conference that ends with someone shouting, "Are you going to resign as Governor?" is not a good moment.

Flashback to yesterday,
Initially, Ms. Sanford said her husband had told her he needed to get away from their children to "write something."

Addressing reporters who had gathered outside the couple's beach home on Sullivan's Island on Tuesday, Ms. Sanford said, "I am being a mom today. I have not heard from my husband. I am taking care of my children."

Later: Those statements from Ms. Sanford had a really deep subtext. She releases a statement saying that she had forced a "trial separation" and that Sanford hasn't been at home or in contact for two weeks.

Last: Now we get a few emails between Sanford and Maria. Apparently The State got them in December and have been trying to develop the story since.

Gov. Sanford went to Argentina?

Gov. Sanford met the SC paper The State at the airport upon his return to, now claiming he spent his "missing" time in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

But here's a question. If Sanford was in Argentina, why did his office maintain that he was on the Appalachian Trail even after they spoke with him?

Later: CNN: "Sanford wouldn't tell the newspaper exactly what he did in the South American country, besides a drive along the coastline...."

Later: It's very wintery in Argentina for hiking.

Later: Even weirder. If you go back to the CNN story finding the car at the airport, they inventory what's visible in the car. There was a sleeping bag!

So, either he (unbelievably) carried his passport in his plan to hike the Appalachian Trail, or he threw a sleeping bag in the car for someone's benefit (his wife?) before taking off to Argentina?

Sounding more like he spent Father's Day with hookers, no?

Later Still: The AP carries the story, but seems to doubt "driving along the coast, too.
Trying to drive along the coast could frustrate a weekend visitor to Argentina. In Buenos Aires, the Avenida Costanera is the only coastal road, and it's less than two miles long. Reaching coastal resorts to the south requires a drive of nearly four hours on an inland highway with views of endless cattle ranches. To the north is a river delta of islands reached only by boat.

Later: Make note that they didn't come out and announce Sanford was in Argentina. He was caught getting off a plane from Argentina. They probably would have tried to stick to Appalachian Trail.

Later: Sanford scheduled a press conference at 2PM EST.


(Reuters) US drones are "prowling" Afghanistan's S. Waziristan on the backside of Pakistan's offensive.

(BBC) A US drone attack yesterday on a funeral (of sa militant leader killed in an earlier drone attack) killed at least 43.

(AP) Khamenei says he will not back down on the election result.

(CNN) US sends ambassador to Syria 4 years after it was withdrawn in the wake of the Hariri killing.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


From the latest round of Nixon tapes....
Nixon worried that greater access to abortions would foster “permissiveness,” and said that “it breaks the family.” But he also saw a need for abortion in some cases, such as interracial pregnancies.

“There are times when an abortion is necessary. I know that. When you have a black and a white,” he told an aide, before adding: “Or a rape.”

Our current "black and a white" President was 11 at the time.

Not the Appalachian Trail....

Gov. Marc Sanford had better have a hell of a good story when he gets back tomorrow. His "I was hiking the Appalachian Trail" story appears to have just blown up.

Sanford was spotted getting on a plane at the Atlanta airport and the vehicle he was last seen driving was also found at the Atlanta airport.

So, now we come to the questions. 1) Just where did he go and what was he doing? Working for the poor, meeting with someone he wants hidden, or was it an underaged sex romp in Thailand or a Klan meeting? (Apparently he disappears somewhat regularly.)

2) Despite their statements of ignorance, did his wife/staff/etc know what he's been doing?

3) Did his Republican political opponents have some idea what he was up to, and that's why they brought this story to The State and out into the limelight?

Now, I really want to know what he was doing. Don't you?

(Warning, this still might be some giant stunt....)

Later: CNN claims to have found the vehicle at the Columbia Metropolitan airport. (A likely first first leg leading to an Atlanta hub.)
A parking permit for the school attended by Sanford’s children is visible on the windshield.

We really gotta know where he went.....

Republican strength at the Governor's level....

Whatever supposed "strength" there was supposed to be in the Republican party was supposed to be at the Governor's level, but it's being decimated as all the dreaming Gov's entertain outlandish ideas that they might be the one in 2012.

Pawlenty's already quit. Palin looks likely to quit. Sanford's gone walkabout. Jindal's made a public fool of himself. Crist is going for Senate. Huntsman's gone to China, and Haley Barbour is just dreaming....

That's the "strong bench of Republican Governors" the press keeps mooning over.

(I've said it before. Republicans sure are working hard to make sure that they get to be the Bob Dole of 2012.)

More Nixon tapes released

Another round of Nixon tapes are going to be released,
During this time, Nixon forced South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu to accept a settlement with North Vietnam that both men recognized would lead to a Communist military victory. Nixon needed the settlement to conceal the failure of his "Vietnamization and negotiation" strategy to achieve the goal of a South Vietnam that could defend and govern itself.

One of my unlikely life wishes is that I'll live the forty years to see the similar declassification of the Bush documents.

(Fortunately, with so many Bush opponents being so young, there will be plenty of others still around to properly frame the disaster of his Presidency.)

Next for Iran

Even if they stay in power, as looks likely, the influence and legitimacy of both Khamenei and Ahmadinejad have already been undermined. The battle now becomes a longer term struggle for power.

The reformist leaders now seem to be shifting their focus to turn the protesters into a longer term oppositional force. The word is now that they will slowly abandon the street protests and try to start strikes and work stoppages in key areas.

(At the top level, Khamenei, Rafsanjani, Khatami, Moussavi, Larijani, this was always about Khamenei's power and influence.)

A story they want to write

The "Obama support slipping stories" are everywhere, but if you actually read the stories, the "slip" is relatively minor with most of the "slip" being Republicans giving up on Obama.

However, such headlines do create a momentum of their own, so even if the "slip" is from 60 to 55%, the Obama people have to treat the headlines seriously to stave off a media/opinion cycle.

So, press conference today to try and charm the press into writing more positive stories.

Later: Here's a great example of "the story they want to write."

(ABC) Obama polls a 65% approval rating, his polling on the economy is still over 50%, and yet the headline asks "Trouble ahead?"

Monday, June 22, 2009

SC Gov Marc Sanford "missing" since Thursday

SC Gov. Marc Sanford has been missing since Thursday. Nobody claims to know where he is, not his family, not his office, not the folks charged with his security....

But then again, it may all be a stunt.
Jenny Sanford (the Gov's wife) said she was not concerned.

She said the governor said he needed time away from their children to write something.

So, maybe he comes back with a 2012 Presidential campaign manifesto, coupled with a story of his needing to go and find a space of manly wilderness to rediscover his values?

Do you think he'd pull a stunt that big?

(Later: Sounding more and more like a stunt.)

On the other hand, Josh Marshall says we should be getting worried.

Thought for the Day

Many people think Shepard Smith is too left wing for FoxNews.

Picture of the Day

The US Men's National team deserves a picture after that insanely ridiculous escape yesterday into the second round of the Confederations Cup.

(It was lucky, and still doesn't resolve my issues with Bob Bradley, but you've got to tip your hat at the result.)


While nobody's noticing, the violence in Iraq is once again heating up as the US prepares to leave the Iraqi cities. Multiple bombings in Baghdad yesterday, at least 13 killed.

Iran update.

(AP) The Revolutionary Guard warns of much more violence waiting for protesters,
A statement posted Monday on the Guard's Web site warned protesters to "be prepared for a resolution and revolutionary confrontation with the Guards, Basij and other security forces and disciplinary forces."

(Reuters) Moussavi urges more protests. ""In your protests, continue to show restraint. I am expecting armed forces to avoid irreversible damage," he said."

(Reuters) And former PM Khatami chimes back in, "warned of "dangerous consequences" if the people were prevented from expressing their demands in peaceful ways. "

(AFP) Iran arrested 457 demonstrators yesterday per state radio. (Rafsanjani's daughter has been relesed.)

(AFP) More Parliamentary Speaker Larijani, "But in a sign of the divisions emerging among senior Iranian figures over the vote, parliament speaker Ali Larijani said: "A large portion of the people perceived the election result to be different to the one officially announced. This perception must be respected."

(Are there any non-appointed or former senior political figures speaking for Khamenei? Right now, all the pressure is on Khamenei, and very little is on Moussavi, Rafsanjani, Khatami, etc.)

AND, Here's a pretty amazing video from Iran of protesters turning back the police. Watch all the way until the end.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Tomorrow's Iran story

Now, I don't really know the source, so tread lightly, but it does read like the Guardian Council spokesman just admitted that in 50 cities, the number of votes cast is higher than the number of voters eligible.

Probably should wait for confirmation and a check on the translation, but that would seem to be a huge story.

Later: A little more definition. The AFP says it's 50 of 366 electoral districts, but the NYTimes repeats the "in 50 cities" quote.

Picture of the Day

(Screengrab from a video on YouTube showing a wounded girl identified as Neda, during protests in Iran. Her death has become powerful.)


(AP) Rafsanjani's daughter and four other family members were arrested related to the demonstrations. (A clear message to Rafsanjani.)

(NBC) 13 deaths yesterday. 100 injured, reported by government officials.

There was a politically significant suicide bombing at the symbolic Khomenei mausoleum, that the government blames on protesters and the protesters blame on the government (to justfy crackdown.)

(Reuters) Moussavi makes his strongest statements yet,
Opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi said the Islamic Republic must be purged of what he called lies and dishonesty, sending out a direct challenge to conservative rulers after a week of unrest in Iran....

"We are not against the Islamic system and its laws but against lies and deviations and just want to reform it," he said in a statement on his website at the end of a tumultuous day.

He said if authorities refused to allow peaceful protests they would face the "consequences" -- an apparent rejoinder to Khamenei's warning that opposition leaders would be held responsible for any bloodshed resulting from protests.

(CNN) Parliamentary Speaker Larjani declares a side, "Although the Guardian Council is made up of religious individuals, I wish certain members would not side with a certain presidential candidate..."

The WaPo features an anonymous oped from an Iranian student with an eyewitness account of the violence on the street yesterday.

And, A good BBC analysis piece notes the irony of it all, "the supreme leader now finds himself faced with a "green revolution" just as Washington stopped calling for regime change in Iran."

It was the offers of engagement that fractured Iran, not blind threats of regime change which were propping up the hardliners.

(Much better than this garbagy piece in the NYTimes outlining the Washington argument over credit which seems very detached from the real Iran.)

Singapore commits to search ship

In the developing saga of the N. Korean ship suspected of carrying illegal weapons from N. Korea (probably missile parts,) Singapore, the expected port of call, says it will search the ship if it lands there.

The Pakistan battles

Pakistan (and the US) have tried to stand up "local militias" in the tribal areas to fight the Taleban. During this current Pakistani Swat offensive, a number of these militias have struck against Taleban fighters, like today's report of a "militia" in Upper Dir killing 7 Taleban.

I just wonder what's going to happen to these locals when the Pakistanis end their offensive, and the locals are once again on their own.