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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Ridiculous media frame

Did the Washington Post ever say that George Bush's carefully screened audiences were a detriment to Bush because they didn't allow him to confront his critics?

Apparently, Obama not finding protesters storming the stage is bad news for Obama.


While officials told ABC News that the President's daily threat matrix has yet to reflect a sharp increase in threats, White House officials privately admit deep concern and have told the Secret Service to keep security tight, even if Obama objects.

Friday, August 14, 2009

A huge signal to lobbyists from Dems on the Hill

Because of his FreedomWorks' actions organizing the mobs plaguing the townhalls, Dick Armey is forced to resign from his day job at a lobbying firm.

Don't miss the importance of this. Armey was forced to leave Piper presumably because Dem lawmakers, the majority and Piper's primary clients forced it to happen. Not only is this important to Piper and Armey, but it's also a VERY clear signal to other lobbying firms to play nice and by the Dem's rules.

Armey was big, and every lobbyist in town got the message.


"I think the president has, in effect, triggered fears amongst fairly large numbers of white people in this country that they are somehow losing their country, that the battle is lost," Mark Potok (of the Southern Poverty Law Center) told ABC News. "The nation that their Christian white forefathers created has somehow been taken from them."

Sadly expecting

How does the dynamic change when one of these wackos (inevitably?) engages in political violence?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Stupid, stupid, stupid....

Any elected official who actually voted for "death panels" would be decisively ousted in the next election.

I guess paranoia brooks no logic.

Thought for the Day

Rich foreigners coming to the US for procedures is frequently cited as proof of an excellent US healthcare system.

Nobody ever mentions all those Americans who go to specially run US style Mexican clinics for surgeries because they're too expensive here.

I don't know about the rest of the country, but here on the border states, that's not uncommon. Some doctors and hospitals here have ties with these places and offer it as an option to their patients. Sometimes your US doctor will go down and do the procedure there.

I must be wrong

I've been feeling that there would be a mainstream backlash against the screaming townhall crazies, but, now that David Broder says it, I wonder if I must be wrong.

Framing the defenseless for torture

Yesterday, the NYTimes had a long piece laying the design of the torture/detainee program at the feet of two contractor psychologists. My contention was that these two politically disconnected and virtually defenseless targets were being set up to take the fall. Well, today, the NYTimes does it again.
In March 2003, two C.I.A. officials surprised Kyle D. Foggo, then the chief of the agency’s main European supply base, with an unusual request. They wanted his help building secret prisons to hold some of the world’s most threatening terrorists....

With that, Mr. Foggo went on to oversee construction of three detention centers, each built to house about a half-dozen detainees, according to former intelligence officials and others briefed on the matter. One jail was a renovated building on a busy street in Bucharest, Romania, the officials disclosed. Another was a steel-beam structure at a remote site in Morocco that was apparently never used. The third, another remodeling project, was outside another former Eastern bloc city. They were designed to appear identical, so prisoners would be disoriented and not know where they were if they were shuttled back and forth. They were kept in isolated cells.

The existence of the network of prisons to detain and interrogate senior operatives of Al Qaeda has long been known, but details about them have been a closely guarded secret. In recent interviews, though, several former intelligence officials have provided a fuller account of how they were built, where they were located and life inside them.

I'm not saying that Foggo and the two psychologists aren't complicit or involved or whatever. What I'm saying is that there appears to be a very direct effort towards "leaking" a narrative that puts all the weight on these guys (and the NYTimes is playing along.)

These two psychologists and Foggo are now way outside the Washington system and can gather little support against these attacks. Meanwhile, the institutions which okayed and implemented these policies, and the individuals who ordered them go completely without mention.

I mean, how do you write an article on the orders Foggo received without ever mentioning who gave the orders? How do you write an article on the contractors who designed the CIA interrogation program without mentioning one name of who placed the order or who signed the guys' checks?

I sure hope this series is building towards the higher ups. Otherwise, the NYTimes is simply printing what they're told and are complicit in a frame up designed to exculpate those who are truly responsible, those who ordered and authorized these programs.

Thus far, this series is a journalistic disgrace.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Remember under the Bush administration that anti-business "eco-terrorism" was actually written into the anti-terror laws? Funny how these guys forming crazy, heavily armed groups, explicitly preparing for a battle with the government got an exemption.
Militia groups with gripes against the government are regrouping across the country and could grow rapidly, according to an organization that tracks such trends.

See, white supremacists explicitly organizing against the government aren't "terrorists." People who free lab animals are.

Picture of the Day - She earned that

She's not Jackie Robinson, but she was/is fearless and had to fight for every inch she got.

Billie Jean King kisses her Presidential Medal of Freedom. (REUTERS/Jason Reed)

Stray thought

Can you imagine Mitt Romney trying to deal with all these crazies in a Presidential campaign?

Shooting their crazy wad way too early.

After just the first months of the Obama administration, (we're only in month seven,) where do the right wing crazies have left to go?

They have at least three years and another presidential campaign to fill. How crazy are they going to have to be to keep finding more outlandish conspiracies? Where do you go from Hitler/Stalin/death panels/etc?

(PS. Glenn Beck charges that the entire Obama administration is about reparations.

(and Geico, Men's Wearhouse, and Sargento are also pulling their ads from Beck's show.))

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The NYTimes skewers psychologists who designed torture

This is a pretty unbelievable read in the NYTimes about the two "contractor" psychologists who were hired to design the interrogation program.
They had never carried out a real interrogation, only mock sessions in the military training they had overseen. They had no relevant scholarship; their Ph.D. dissertations were on high blood pressure and family therapy. They had no language skills and no expertise on Al Qaeda.

But they had psychology credentials and an intimate knowledge of a brutal treatment regimen used decades ago by Chinese Communists. For an administration eager to get tough on those who had killed 3,000 Americans, that was enough.

But the real story is that the more this stuff "leaks" out, the more it looks like everyone's setting these guys up to take the fall for detainee treatment/torture. If you'll remember, the WaPo had a somewhat similar piece targeting these guys a couple weeks ago.

I think they're already under the bus. They're facing massive institutions (CIA, military, intelligence, Congress) trying to protect themselves, and these guys don't have the political firepower to defend.

So, if you're placing a bet, bet on these guys to take the fall.

Rove deep in the US atty firings

I don't know enough of the legal code on this to try and establish his level of jeopardy, but the evidence released today shows political operative Karl Rove was hip deep in the firing of US Attorney David Iglesias.
Former White House political adviser Karl Rove played a central role in the ouster of a U.S. attorney in New Mexico, one of nine prosecutors fired in a scandal in 2006 over political interference with the Justice Department, according to transcripts of closed-door testimony released Tuesday....

The documents show that staffers in Rove's office were actively seeking to have Iglesias removed after Republican figures in New Mexico complained that he was not pursuing voter fraud cases they wanted.

This will likely keep unfuring for a few days, and then we'll have a better grip on Rove's legal jeopardy.

Orly Taitz unplugged.

Yeah, I know she's now a discredited mess, but Orly Taitz's paranoid rantings trying to get the AG of Kentucky to investigate Obama are pretty funny.

Oh, and apparently Obama as non-citizen is just the tip of the iceberg. Evil corporations plotting genocide, US camps to intern citizens, train cars with shackles, and, my favorite, Hugo Chavez and the Saudis have taken over a voting machine company and fixed the last election.....

Are we nearing critical mass on the townhall "protests?"

The crazy is clearly out of hand at these townhall "protests," and the crazy (and the misinformation) is now becoming the main story of the protesters.

However the beginnings of the appearance of concealed guns at multiple "protests" and the increasing likelihood that we may see something REALLY out of hand at some of these events, are we about to see the "responsible" politicians start to back away from the movement?

(Especially when you have FoxNews and some of the radio figures warning people about their need to protect themselves from "union goons.")

This feels like it could all turn so violently ugly, and I think many figures on the right are starting to see that. I would expect over the next few days to see some efforts at distancing and deniability across the right wing spectrum.

Thought for the Day

How does the likely return of Swine Flu impact the healthcare discussion?

Assuming the healthcare discussion drags into October, we should be seeing the beginning of a swine flu resurgence by then.

Poor management

Who coordinated the release of a scathing IG report on the State Department's Africa bureau to coincide with Secretary Clinton's trip to Africa?

That's a bad, undermining coincidence that shouldn't have happened.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The US military/anti-drug support is moving into Colombia

Haven't seen this anywhere else. The US is looking to sign a limited Status of Forces Agreement with Columbia to shift the hub of its anti-drug military presence from Ecuador to Colombian military bases.

Needless to say, this is a big deal in the region as Colombia would also become the hub of any non-anti-drug military operations by the US.

Death toll unknown.

Typhoon Morakot triggered a mudslide in Taiwan that buried an entire village. The estimate is that somewhere between 600-800 were killed.

Also, in Eastern China, the rains from Morakot caused another landslide in Pengxi China which toppled 6 apartment buildings. Death toll unknown.

Picture of the Day

A hotel collapses into the flood waters of typhoon Morakot in Taiwan.


The "party of life" doesn't seem particularly concerned with the people dying prematurely under the current healthcare system.

Too stupid for irony

The guy who claims he was injured outside the St. Louis townhall opposing healthcare is appearing on FoxNews trying to raise money because he has no healthcare.

Funny how that didn't come up in the FoxNews interview.

Thought for the Day

The FoxNews' and Rush Limbaughs have their success by fueling emotion. People tune in, not for information, but for a fix of that self justifying outrage. So, it's not a surprise that FoxNews has turned the election of Obama into a 45% jump in viewership.

When nuclear proliferation hits Myanmar...

Not sure I believe it, but there are concerns about Myanmar?
"With increasing reports of North Korea helping Myanmar build a nuclear reactor, any vessel floating in Indian waters without a possible reason will be checked and India is rightly concerned," said Naresh Chandra, a former envoy to Washington.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

An Israel-neocon rift?

The Israeli consul in Boston got recalled after a memo he wrote "leaked." The center of the memo seems to be his concern that the current Israeli stance on settlements is putting too much distance in the US-Israel relationship.

BUT, what made me post is this very interesting bit,
"There are people in US and Israeli politics who ideologically oppose Obama, and are willing to sacrifice the special relationship between the two countries in order to advance their political agenda."

The "atmosphere of confrontation", he warned, was alienating the US public and putting the Jewish community in a difficult position.

"Many of them are distancing themselves from the state of Israel because of this conflict," he wrote.

To me, that reads like this. "Our neocon friends in the US are damaging their value to Israel in their monomaniacal opposition of Obama. They're casting support for Israel into a Republican/Democratic issue which is costing critical support among US Democratic Jews and others who are sympathetic."

I doubt that criticism will be taken on board, but it has very interesting implications if it is. (Bill Kristol, John Bolton shut up? or, more unbelievably, try to find common ground with the Obama administration?)

Certainly, this is just the opinion of one lower down, and he was "recalled" after it leaked, but it's such a very rarely expressed viewpoint, I thought I'd post it.

An extremely deeply seated Democratic/Republican bias

After Bill Clinton returned from North Korea with the two women "prisoners," all of the secondary media discussion was whether Bill Clinton "had to give something up" to get them freed.

It's funny how no one... no one made the assumption that he went with a threat "to take something away."

(Reuters) North Korean ship detained by the Indians.

Republican 2012 candidates playing with money

Politico has a kinda interesting piece on the way the potential 2012 Republican Presidential candidates are playing with their PAC money. (At this point, they're using their PACs to build out their infrastructure, not donating to candidates.)

Curious question. Do you think folks targeting the 2012 Republican primaries are likely to give their cash to moderates or to continue to fund the move further right?