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

Born at the Crest of the Empire

Saturday, September 12, 2009

History, but interesting.

Neocon object of worship Margaret Thatcher told Gorbachev she did not want German reunification or the "de-communism" of the eastern bloc.

A desire to keep tens of millions under then Soviet control is hardly the great "spreading of freedom" her public image now carries.

Good observation

"It's bad for Republicans because in the absence of any real leadership, the freaks fill the void and define the party," (Mark) McKinnon (Former McCain adviser) said.

I highlight this because no one has really mentioned the complete lack of leadership in the GOP. The GOP is being defined by folks who make profit off of filling that leadership void, Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity....

The emergence of "the crazy" really does indicate a collapse of party leadership. The sled dogs are pulling the runaway sled. (Alaska reference intentional.)

I mean, look at today's "rally." The Republican "leaders" are hoping the crazies will allow them to attach themselves onto it. They're not leading it.

Thought for the Day

Remember all the outcry when the Obama folks tried to define Rush Limbaugh as the "head of the GOP?"

Well, time has shown us it's actually worse than that. It's actually Glenn Beck who is driving the rank and file.

Friday, September 11, 2009

NBC's FirstRead touches the third rail.

FirstRead actually says aloud what so many in Washington have been discussing at their dinner parties. Opposition to Obama, especially in the South, is about race more than anything else.

Personally, I don't think it's necessarily a conscious racism in alot of these people, but probably a much more amorphous sense of the foreign and "the other." Obama's "difference" acts as a symbol of a larger intrusion of the modern, complex society into the Andy Griffith fantasyland they want to believe in. The violence of the reaction is almost a tearing of denial.

Not perfectly said, but I think you get my point.

A very weakened Al Qaeda?

I wouldn't cite this Guardian story as definitive, but their descriptions of Al Qaeda's weakened state are definitely worth a read. Organizational troubles, no real training camps, defecting foreign affiliates.... Interesting, not definitive.

Related: (NYTimes) The Pakistanis announce the arrest of Swat Taleban spokesman Muslim Khan, and several others.

The BBC makes the arrest sound bigger, "The BBC's M Ilyas Khan in Islamabad says this is a milestone for the army's operation there."

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Netanyahu's mystery trip

A lot of buzz around Netanyahu's missing day. The general consensus is that he went to Russia most likely to discuss the sales of anti-aircraft missiles to Iran.

(Just to fill this out a little, there's been a rumor going around that that "disappeared" Russian freighter, The Arctic Sea, was carrying weapons to Iran (on an extremely indirect route!), and was intercepted by the Israelis. All RUMOR.)

Related: (NYTimes) "Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov on Thursday all but ruled out imposing new sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program...."

Is there a GOP without FreedomWorks?

There was a "rally" outside the Capitol of about 800 "GOP activists."
About 800 activists gathered for the rally, which was sponsored by FreedomWorks a small-government organization that helped to stir up a conservative frenzy that spilled over on angry town hall meetings last month.

PS. Dear Politico, FreedomWorks is not "a small government organization." They're an anti-Democrat organization.

The contrition

I know I shouldn't be chasing this Rep. Wilson thing, but I'm finding the dynamics of House politics interesting. After a first "interview" response this morning trying to justify to Politico, came this moment. Tell me Rep. Wilson doesn't look like he's gotten his ass handed to him by leadership.

It matters

In all the harumphing among the Washington insiders about Rep Joe Wilson's "breach of protocol," I think it's also really important to remember that Rep Wilson was also unquestionably factually wrong.

I don't know how this spins, but I would think the fact that the new face of healthcare opposition is so woefully, willingly, and passionately misinformed has to color the perception of the debate. (Or at least it should.) Even his apology maintains the falsehood.

Thought for the Day

After watching the reaction, interviews, commentary, etc, on the cable channels, I have only one thought.

Does anyone else know that this country isn't all white?

Apparently, non-white people don't use healthcare. Who knew?

Wild fires

We are so lucky that the H1N1 flu virus isn't a killer. At Washington State University, they've got a cluster of 2,500 cases.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Hope they didn't like government cheese.

Watching Pelosi and Biden's reaction to South Carolina Rep Wilson shouting out/heckling during Obama's speech, I have a hunch we can name one South Carolina district that will not receive one dime of federal money for many, many years to come.

Stupid Thought for the Day

Five years down the road, you would think that Blogger's spell checker would stop flagging the plural "bloggers."

Oppo research

This is kinda nothing, but as it meshes with the earlier post about resurgent Dem oppo research, I thought I'd mention it.

The DCCC dumps a little oppo research on tonight's "Republican response" speaker to Obama's healthcare speech. It turns out that Rep Boustany allegedly tried to buy an English noble title for $68,000 in the mid 90's. (He was defrauded.)

(And through the less formal channels, it's being pressed that Boustany is a "birther.")

Three points marks a trend, right?

The invisible war

IT's never really talked about, but Congo's regional war in the east has killed millions. The New York Review of Books has a nice (probably too long) piece that starts with a good history of the formation of the conflict.

Not too crazy about it once they get into the discussion of the book, but the first two sections (10 paragraphs) are one of the better brief explanatory histories I've seen of the war.

Just noticing

On Saturday, a NYTimes reporter was captured by Afghan militants. (Since freed by British commandos.)

On Tuesday, McClatchy's deserved award winner Jonathan Landay found himself pinned down in a firefight. (A compelling war story read.)

Certainly could be a coincidence, probably is, however, the way the Afghan side leaks, it's also possible that the militants knew these reporters would be there. Not enough evidence to say they're targeting US journalists, but something to keep an eye on.

(PS. If you read the BBC's more complete version of the rescue, the Afghani journalist/interpreter who was captured with the NYTimes reporter was killed when he broke out of custody and ran towards the rescuing forces shouting "Journalist! Journalist!")

...and he's walking around free

It's still amazing to me that AQ Khan, the world's top illicit nuclear proliferator, is walking free. He gives an interview to Pakistani television that claims credit for the Iranian weapons program, somewhat for the North Korean uranium program, and makes his most direct public statements yet that he was operating with official cooperation. (He says the aid to Iran was to balance the Israeli weapons. The Muslim bomb.)

Worth a read. It's short.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Fighting back.

Gotta hand it to the folks running the NJ and Va. gubernatorial campaigns. The "revelations" (most certainly provided by the oppo research folks) are tying the Republican candidates in contorted knots.

In NJ, there's the story of Chris Christie driving the wrong way on a one way street and sending a motorcyclist to the hospital. That buried skeleton just keeps revealing itself.

In Va, you've got Bob McDonnel being chased by past statements on women and now gays.

As I said before, I don't really care who is the governor in other states. I just find myself wondering if all this effective oppo research is perhaps an element of the new leadership at the DNC.

Political suicide

According to the Baucus plan, people who are currently unable to afford health insurance will soon be fined for being too poor to afford health insurance.

That makes sense.

Freaky-weird Franken - Damn!

At the Minnesota state fair, Al Franken draws a freakishly good US map freehand. (Run time 1 minute 22 seconds.)


And, just to prove it's not a fluke, here are two other occurrences: One from the 2007 campaign trail, and a really old one from a Letterman appearance.

The Obama "Road Map"

Can't say if this is true or not at this point, but there's a Palestinian MP claiming that there's a written 10 point Obama Middle East peace plan out there which includes settlements, Jerusalem, and partial right of return.

We'll have to wait and see, but the level of detail makes me think it's at least a working document generated somewhere in the US government.

A long, long way from anything concrete, but it's interesting.


Fla GOP chair Jim Greer last Tuesday in a press release,
Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer today released the following statement condemning President Obama’s use of taxpayer dollars to indoctrinate America’s children to his socialist agenda.

Fla GOP chair Jim Greer yesterday,
"It's a good speech," Greer told ABC News. "It encourages kids to stay in school and the importance of education, and I think that's what a president should do when they're going to talk to students across the country."

Monday, September 07, 2009

The "outrage" tactic.

Look. The GOP outcry is not about a speech at schools. It's only nominally about the public option. It's not really about climate change, or birth certificates, or whatever else.

It's about the strategic use of political tone.

Here's how it works. The Republican machine generates outrage about anything (it doesn't really matter what,) and then as the press picks it up, that "discord" becomes a background noise of anger and tension that permeates the news coverage.

A sustained feeling of anger and tension in the country, for whatever cause or dubious manufacture, is attached to the party in power, especially the President. That feeling is an unpolled "wrong track" kinda question.

They're trying to sour the national mood, and thus, damage Obama.

The thing is, by the time all the yelling filters down into the public consciousness, the Republicans, as the minority, don't really bear the cost of this.

You can't beat this by arguing with them, because it's not at all about what they're yelling. It's just that they are yelling. That's the meta. That's the tactic. ...and it's hugely effective.

Labor Day

It's funny how this is the only holiday without celebrations or parades.

Of course, you wouldn't really expect Macy's to sponsor a parade to unionize their workers. (or GE, or Disney, or Newscorp...)

In this world, without sponsorship or coverage, things don't exist.

(Just a as a game, try to find one major media story about the "labor" part of Labor Day. Try to find any mention of the accomplishments, the 40 hour work week, health and safety, the end of child labor... ...anyone? ...anyone? ...Bueller? ...Bueller?)

Sunday, September 06, 2009


The woman in red starting at 10 seconds.

(Oh, and I guess we should ask the question of why this woman got airtime. I mean, yes, she feels deeply, but there are people who feel deeply that the chupacabra is gonna get them or the alien autopsy tape is real, and CNN doesn't put them on the air although the level of fantasy is about the same.)

Straight from the press release

If you read this Politico article, GOP's new diversity push, you get a real sense of the way one section of political reporting works. You can just hear the GOP "operative" on the phone excitedly citing "facts" to the Politico reporter to fill out the story.

But, if you really read it, a good part of that "diversity" is a large number of "candidates" who don't really have any any chance of winning.

PS. 37 potential candidates (who haven't even made it through their primaries yet) across a field of 34 Senate races, 435 Congressional races, and however many governorships, hardly represents "diversity." ...especially as that number includes women.