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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Chaos in the Waziristan Taleban

As always, any reports on what's going on inside the Taleban should be taken as speculative, but this story would be something.

The NYTimes reports that according to Pakistani sources Hakimullah Mehsud has been killed by another potential Taleban leader in the fight to determine who will replace Beithullah Mehsud.

(The NYTimes claims this might be good news for Al Qaeda as it might allow them influence over the choice of the next leader, but I might argue that in an organization as "tribal" as the Taleban, having one group's leader kill another is bound to lead to infighting and, potentially, to a whole lot of intelligence for the US.)
Details of the fighting were spotty on Saturday. The Pakistani interior minister, Rehman Malik, confirmed reports of a shootout at a meeting in South Waziristan and said that one of the commanders had been killed but did not name who it was.

“The infighting was between Waliur Rehman and Hakimullah Mehsud,” Mr. Malik told Reuters. “We have information that one of them has been killed. Who was killed we will be able to say later after confirming.”

Reports received by government officials on Saturday indicated that Mr. Mehsud and Mr. Rehman argued over succession at a tribal meeting at Sara Rogha in South Waziristan. A shootout ensued, killing Mr. Mehsud and wounding Mr. Rehman.

So, the jirga broke down into gunfire....

Sarah Palin's Live free or lie

After all Sarah Palin's posturing, Alaska has taken more stimulus money per capita than any other state at $1,024 per person.

That's also significantly more than the next state on the list, Wyoming, with $673 per person.

Semi-related: Palin says an Obama healthcare "death panel" would have probably kill her disabled son "based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society."

But, based on her abuse of per diems, clothing allowances, etc, you can bet she'd take every nickel any such plan would allow.

(So, her resignation was so that she could say really crazy stuff and try to stay below the radar to only target her audience?)

PhRMA is lobbying with the Dems for healthcare?

I don't know what to make of this.

According to this AP piece, PhRMA, the drug industry umbrella lobbying group, is expected to spend $150 million in advertising working with Obama and the Dems to get a healthcare plan passed.

Assuming this is literal and exactly as reported, maybe the drug makers see expanded health coverage as a huge boon for them? 50 million more people taking their drugs?

Strange bedfellows....

Thought for the Day

No matter how crazy or disruptive they are, calling these townhall wackos "un-American," or "terrorists," or whatever else is just as wrong as when the Bush folks claimed the same things about us.

Call them fools. Call them wackos. Call them dangerous. Call them brainwashed drones. But once you bridge into "unAmerican," you're no better than they are.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Political bits (The Republican South)

(Politico) At a townhall, a South Carolina Republican Rep. dares to tell people they might want to turn off Glenn Beck. He's met by boos and people getting up and walking out. (Does the Limbaugh apology policy now extend to Beck?)

(NYTimes) Fla. Sen. Mel Martinez announces he'll resign and not finish his term. (Gov. Crist who is running for that seat, faces the minefield of naming a replacement. Any vote the replacement makes will be pinned on Crist.)

And, Jenny Sanford moves out of the SC governor's mansion.

Picture of the Day

Dear Republican wackos....

Before you start complaining about "not being heard," might I direct your memory to the treatment of Dem protesters at the political conventions of 2004, when they were literally caged in "free speech zones" and surrounded by tens of thousands of cops with riot gear and truncheons... Snipers on the roofs.... Military, DHS, and local police spying, wiretapping, group infiltrations, sneak and peak warrantless searches...

(And to everyone else, remember, this was America just 5 years ago...)

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Critical mass on townhall events

The Republicans keep getting their people fired up, then the people go too far, then the politicians have to distance themselves.

If you'll remember a week ago I wrote a post on this recurring cycle.

Are these reports of violence at the townhalls the critical mass point for this round? Is this where the "repectable people" start backing away from this version of their Frankenstein's monster?

Also, Here's what you do: What the Democrats need to do is pick one of these folks out, make fun of them, maybe even say something slightly unacceptably offensive, and then let the great cable "news" machine do its work. They would drag this person on every 24 hour "news" channel and give them airtime to "defend themselves" against the Dem politician.

Any one of these jackasses would leap a the chance to spout their propaganda built opinions on the cable shows, and I can't imagine a better way to discredit the whole effort than to put a microphone in front of one of them to hear their "theories on the world."

Think about the recent examples. Joe the Plumber. The teabag protest interviews. The folks in the Palin rally lines... Orly Taitz...

Claiming a great conspiracy by healthcare companies isn't really working, so, Dems, seize your moment. You can choose the crazy, discrediting face of this movement.

Beitullah Mehsud killed?

Yesterday morning it was announced that Beitullah Mehsud's wife had been killed in a US drone strike on a house.

Tonight, US and Pakistani sources are leaking that they're trying to determine if Mehsud himself was killed in the same strike.

This could just be rumor or an intentional leak to force Meshud to make an appearance, but if it's real, this would be a really big deal.

Later: (AP, NYTimes, WaPo) A Mehsud aide says, "I confirm that Baitullah Mehsud and his wife died in the American missile attack in South Waziristan..."

This is really, really big.

(Later Still: The NYTimes reports that Mehsud was at the house getting kidney treatment. What's the deal with Taleban/Al Qaeda folks and kidney problems?)

Twitter shutdown was targeting one guy?

I'm finding this a bit hard to swallow, but the Twitter folks and several outside security experts seem to believe that the Twitter shutdown yesterday was targeting one Georgian blogger to silence him on the anniversary of the Russian invasion.

FoxNews might notice that

Three big sponsors have pulled out of the Glenn Beck show.

(And, I'm linking the ThinkProgress piece, but not through to the organization that's trying to claim credit. I think everybody was calling sponsors on Beck.)

Gog and Magog and a sense of divine will

Treat this as rumor until you see it in real print, but there's a rumor out there that Bush was citing the biblical Gog and Magog in his 2003 appeal to Jaques Chirac to join the Iraq war.

I'm not quite so sure it's as literal or as central to the argument as this piece characterizes, but, still, you wouldn't expect those names to come up in a top level, serious diplomatic call over something as dire as invading Iraq.

(This is powerful because it plays into an already believed stereotype about Bush and echoes the reports from June 2003 that Bush told the Palestinians "god told me to invade Iraq." It also puts a little harder spin on the recent GQ report that Rumsfeld was fronting his daily briefing books for Bush with bible verses.)

Wednesday, August 05, 2009


The American Psychological Association has declared that mental health professionals should not tell gay clients that they can become straight through therapy or other treatments.

Instead, the APA is urging therapists to consider multiple options — that could range from celibacy to switching churches — for helping clients whose sexual orientation and religious faith conflict.

In a resolution adopted by the APA's governing council and in a comprehensive report based on two years of research, the association puts itself firmly on record in opposition of so-called "reparative therapy" which seeks to change sexual orientation.


Why do I care how Republican Senator X from whatever non-influential southern backwater votes on Sotomayor?

Stiffing Ahmadinejad

A bunch of significant political figures skipped Ahmadinejad's swearing in. Only 13 of 70 reformer MP's attended, and "a number of the attending lawmakers staged a walk out once President Ahmadinejad began his speech."

Also notably absent, Rafsanjani, Khatami, the influential Tehran mayor, and no representatives "
from the family of the founder of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini."

Killing Beitullah Meshud's wife

Beitullah Meshud's wife was killed in an US drone strike presumably meant for him.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009


I sure hope this whole healthcare thing gets sorted before next year's remake of Logan's Run starts doing its pre-press.

Russian nuclear subs off the east coast

In an unusual move, the Russians send two nuclear subs to cruise the international waters off the east coast.

I'm assuming the US making this public is a bit of a gambit, too.

Picture of the Day - 2

(Former U.S. President Bill Clinton greets U.S. journalists Laura Ling (in green) and Euna Lee (in red) as they board a chartered plane to depart Pyongyang August 5, 2009. (REUTERS/Xinhua/Zhang Binyang))

Thought for the Day #3(?)

All these people are screaming against a healthcare plan that, so far, isn't defined anywhere (but in their heads.)

The worst thing I can imagine is pretty horrible, too.

Glenn Beck urges his followers not to kill public figures.

What does it say that crazy, crazy Glenn Beck feels he has to spend 3 minutes on his TV show to implore his people not to engage in Timothy McVeigh type violence? (No, I'm not kidding.)

(Is this a network "forced" statement after his "Obama has a deep seated hatred of white people" comment?)

And, if you'll notice, his objection isn't so much that bombings would be wrong and kill people, but that "liberals" would use such incidents against his causes.

Thought for the Day

Is "birther" leader Orly Taitz a Sasha Baron Cohen character?

(Video of Taitz on MSNBC yesterday.)

Thought for the Day - 2

I wonder if the Republican strategists think that the "teabaggers" could be their attempt at an equivalent of Obama's grassroots online community organization?

I wonder if that's a model they're working after? Or maybe they're trying to coopt the teabaggers into that?

Republicans were hugely envious and saw an online/community organizing gap in the last election. I'm just wondering if the Freedomworks' of the Republican world are trying to build a lasting online/community operation out of all this. I mean, they're spending real money and effort after the deal.

Just thinking out loud.

Picture of the Day


Right now with H1N1 in this mild form, this isn't too big a deal, but this is another step.
Health officials said they had found cases of Tamiflu-resistant swine flu along the US border with Mexico, as India and South Africa announced their first deaths from the A(H1N1) virus.

A huge part of our planned pandemic response is Tamiflu....

Monday, August 03, 2009

Compare the populations....

Gallup has a poll looking at states with clear Dem party affiliation advantages (29 plus DC,) and the states with clear Repub party affiliation advantages (4).

Here's a look at the states and the top ten on each side.

Although, I wonder about this data. By their polling Texas is "competitive" (42 Dem/40 Repub)?

I'm thinking this extreme might be something of an artifact of the political environment with "independents" leaning Dem more prone to claim Dem affiliation while "independents" leaning Repub are more likely to deny their party.

Still interesting though.

Interesting points

FirstRead takes a long look at the 1994/2010 Congressional election comparisons. Interesting and well worth a read.

And, Let's not forget that in 1992 Bush+Perot was well over 50%. There was a sizable Republican leaning majority going into 1994.

Peak oil

The top oil estimater at the IAEA says there will be an oil production peak in 10 years as current fields begin to mark their decline.

This is a very inexact field of estimate, and we've heard alot of this before, but when one of the top oil guys at the IAEA puts his name on a fairly near term prediction, I think we have to notice.

(PS. There's a ton of oil in tar sands and other hard to get places, so we're not going to run out of oil. The issue is much more about extraction cost. The tar sands and some of the other untapped/undertapped reserves are out there, they're just in an entirely different extraction cost tier.

There will always be oil. It's just a question of cost and how different cost tiers (and their onsets) will alter the economy.)

Picture of the Day

(President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (R) kisses Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani (L) looks at them, after Ahmadinejad received a certificate declaring him as president of the Islamic Republic of Iran from Khamenei in Tehran August 3, 2009.)

(AFP) "Among those who did not attend were Ahmadinejad's defeated rivals Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, along with powerful cleric Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and former reformist president Mohammad Khatami, it said."

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Big time Palin rumor

Definitely, treat this for the sheer rumor mongering it is, but there are rumors of big trouble in Palin's marriage.

Could certainly be a misreading of tea leaves, but divorce rumors are coming out of the lefty Alaska blogs. One of the more rumory says that there will be no public recognition of problems until she can make some money.

So, rumor, rumor, rumor, and the Palin camp firmly denies it, but because she's the most recognized and talked about Republican, I thought I'd mention it.

(Later: I find it hard to believe they'd publicly split right now simply because of the money involved. Sarah Palin's economic viability would be seriously damaged by a public split, so, even if there was serious trouble, I would think they'd, at the very least, fake it until her book breaks and she can find some paying contractual gig.)

Tomorrow's read

Tomorrow's main read will be Dan Balz's and Haynes Johnson's book teaser that talks about the Palin VP selection.

Today's read

The WaPo carries a long teaser/condensation for Dan Balz's and Haynes Johnson's new book on the Obama campaign. It's not revelational, but it's reasonably interesting.