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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Saturday, November 07, 2009

The middle finger of the Great Orange Satan

Worth a chuckling watch as Markos Moulitsas makes a comment to Tom Tancredo about chickenhawking Vietnam that led to Tancredo storming off the set.

(For a bigot, Tancredo has pretty thin skin.)

Inconsistently dangerous

Does anyone else notice that in the aftermath of the Fort Hood tragedy, FoxNews/rightists/whatever are casually saying we need to "debrief" all American Muslims in the military (see below,) or that we need to investigate all the Muslim interns on the Hill, and yet at the same time, at the exact same time, they're screaming that the Obama administration is trying to take away their "liberties?"


Underwater "kites" could be a cost effective alternative energy source.

Another tragedy in Afghanistan

Two American soldiers disappeared in western Afghanistan after a routine resupply mission, and more than 25 NATO and Afghan security forces members have been wounded during the search mission for them, the alliance said.

Pet peeve

It annoys me to no end that it is taken as such a given that Congress members' first priority should be to shape their votes to keep their jobs.

I mean, it's not like these folks would go hungry if they voted their conscience and lost their seats, but there's not a single voice anywhere that questions the assumption that they should be worrying about their own jobs first.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Quote - The happy white people of Fox

"Do you think it's time for the military to have special debriefings of Muslim Army officers -- anybody enlisted?" Fox's Brian Kilmeade asked Geraldo Rivera on Friday morning. "Because if I'm going to be deployed in a foxhole, if I'm going to be sticking in an outpost, I got to know the guy next to me is not going to want to kill me."

Or maybe you prefer (news not editorial) Shep Smith,
In an interview with US Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Fox host Shepard Smith asked: "The names tells us a lot, does it not, senator?"

Linked everywhere

John Stewart did a Glenn Beck impersonation(?) last night that was so uncomfortably on the edge. The mannerisms are brilliant. (Click the little box on the bottom right to watch full screen.)

Iran tested advanced nuclear warhead design

With all of the smoke, we don't really know what's true about Iran's nuclear program, but this, coming from the IAEA, sounds pretty legit.

The Iranians reportedly tested the non-nuclear part of a two point implosion weapons design which matters because multi-point implosion is key to shrinking weapons so they require less fissile material and can fit on warheads. (I'm guessing they assembled and timed the rapid explosives. No word on whether the electronics and other elements were made into a warhead sized package.)

This comes from El Baradei who seems convinced, so I'd guess it's pretty real. Assuming the test worked, this would change the timeline/threat from Iranian enrichment, and could potentially shift the worldwide proliferation game if the Iranians chose to share their findings.

(It's interesting that we're learning all these new facts (like the Qum enrichment faclity) since the Obama folks came into office. All of this appears to have been at least substantially suspected under the Bush folks, and yet, despite their warlike stance in Iran, they seem to have held lots of information back.)

There's also the question of whether Iran wants actual weapons or the ability to have a "latent" nuclear program like Japan or South Korea who don't have nuclear wepons, but have the technology and ability to assemble them in months.

Saudis jets bomb Yemeni Shiites

I'm putting this up mainly because I haven't seen it anywhere else. Saudi jets bombed across the Yemeni border, targeting a Shiite group that has been conducting actions against the Yemeni Sunni authorities for years. Troops are supposedly headed for the border.

This is likely a response to the suicide bombing that was possibly targeting "Muhammad bin Nayef, a member of the Saudi royal family and the country's top counter-terrorism official," although the official explanation is likely to focus on yesterday's incursion and attack which killed a Saudi security officer on the Saudi side of the border.

The Yemeni government, who are currently in a campaign against these Shiites at all, has denied that any bombing took place. There are allegations the Iranians are supporting the Shiite separatists.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

See ya.

Out for awhile. Maybe later.


John Voight at the "tea party" rally in Washington today,
"His only success in his one-year term as president is taking America apart, piece by piece. Could it be he has had 20 years of subconscious programming by Rev. Wright to damn America?"

I'm sure the gays made her do it.

So, Carrie Prejean, little Miss "I hate gays" California, had to abandon her lawsuit against the Miss California people after they obtained an "extremely graphic" solo sex tape she'd made.....

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

CIA agents guilty in Italian rendition case.

Not getting press here, but the Italian court has convicted 22 American CIA agents in the rendition and torture of Abu Omar.

Futile blood

The spring primaries are still a long way off in political terms, but from where we sit now, it looks like Republicans will waste tens of millions of dollars fighting amongst themselves.

Palin's book press

Palin has lined up a pretty funny (and illuminating) list of interviews to promote her book. Could you schedule a softer tour?
On Wednesday, ABC News announced that Barbara Walters would interview Palin...

Palin also has a TV interview scheduled with Oprah Nov. 16.

And Palin says she's hoping to schedule interviews with others, including Rush Limbaugh and four Fox News Channel personalities: Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and Greta Van Susteren.

(I'm guessing that Katie Couric won't be on that list.)

Thought for the Day

There's some talk that Dems weren't fired up and turning out yesterday. I've read the extrapolation a number of places that this means doom (doom, I say) for 2010.

Well, let me speculate that perhaps ginning up a national Dem fervor for two mid size state gubernatorial races wasn't a top priority for the White House right now. 2010 may look very different when the Obama folks try to use their bully pulpit for political purposes (and to raise money.)

Weird fact

Yesterday became the NINTH-consecutive time (since 1977) that the party that won the White House lost Virginia’s gubernatorial contest the following year. And yesterday became the SIXTH-consecutive time (since 1989) that the party controlling the White House lost New Jersey’s gov race.

If you didn't see this last night.....

The really funny bit is when they go "to the panel" and "the pundits" speak in honest terms about their roles and motivations. (Skip ahead to 5:15.)

If you've got the three minutes, it skewers the pundit panel.
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Indecision 2009 - Reindecision 2008 And Beyond
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

And, stupid, but it made me laugh

Victim In Fatal Car Accident Tragically Not Glenn Beck

It was all about the candidates last night.

I'm not really buying this broad interpretation of the few election results last night. Creigh Deeds lost and McDonnell won because Deeds came across as a weak dead fish, and McDonnell came across as strong and comfortable in the media.

Corzine lost because he's an an popular, corrupt pig, and Hoffman lost in NY-23 because he knew nothing about his district and was unable to respond in simple interviews.

Change the people in any of these elections, replace Corzne with someone neutral or Hoffman with any normal person, and the results likely change.

Sorry, guys. These were kinda freak races. There's no great message here. I know that's a less thrilling storyline, but you know it's true.

Clinton says halt Israeli settlement building forever

A pretty big statement by Sec State Hillary Clinton.

(Of course, there's no real pressure or mechanism to make that statement into reality.)

Related: The Israelis very publicly seize what they claim is "an arms ship."

Protests in Iran

The first major anti-government street demonstration took place in Iran on the 30th anniversary of the seizing of the US embassy.

A friend's wife (expat) is very connected and says that the passion and emotion against the current Iranian regime hasn't slipped one bit.

Thought for the Day

...because Governor of New Jersey is a key oppositional position in our form of democracy....

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

A coming slaughter

As part of a lecture series, George Bush has agreed to debate Bill Clinton in February.

(I'm guessing those big money offers just aren't coming in for Bush.)

Picture of the Day (Well, ad, really)

Fla Senate hopeful Marco Rubio's campaign pulls out its big punch to try and capitalize on the current NY-23 "teabagger" coverage to create a lasting narrative of that primary race.

You can just hear the talking heads tonight, "Charlie Crist is the next suspected moderate to face...."

Pretty shrewd, really.

Pawlenty tries to claim the mantle?

Don't miss Tim Pawlenty trying to act as conservative sheriff, warning Olympia Snowe about her "deviations."

Media CW for the Day

Republicans attacking other Republicans over their orthodoxy (rather than attacking Democrats) is the Republican route back to power.....

Simon Mann buys a pardon for $14 million

Notorious arms runner and mercenary kingpin Simon Mann has been granted a "pardon" by the government of Equitorial Guinea for his role in the mercenary coup plot there (after paying $14 million to Obiang the dictator and implicating all the countries and names Obiang wanted.)

A corrupt ending to one of the stranger foreign policy events of the naughts. (BBC, too.)


...because Republicans in governorships in Virginia and New Jersey will mean such a shift in the governance of our country.....

Thought for the Day - 2

Newt Gingrich, etc, didn't take control of Congress through their "conservative" values. What they did was construct the "Contract with America" platform which was almost entirely economic, that, although somewhat explicit, offered enough room that conservatives and moderates alike could run on it.

The idea that "conservatism won" is largely a later construction by those seeking power by respinning the past.

I would compare it somewhat with the Dems' 2008 election. It was a wave that included many new moderates, but now there are many on the left that have tried to spin it that it was a massive endorsement of their very liberal ideas.

Litmus "conservatism" is not the Republican's way back. What they need is a very open "big vision" that will allow moderates to hide under the mantle.

The Great White Hope

Have you ever actually seen Doug Hoffman?

Hoffman's "late wave" rise has greatly benefited him by not facing real time exposure in front of voters. He's winning as an idea.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Shrewd in Texas

Kay Bailey Hutchison recommends an openly gay man to the Obama administration for the San Antonio US attorneys spot. The article's read on this is "OMG, she's going to lose all the conservatives in the primary."

Way too simple an interpretation. The majority of the anti-gay bigots were going to vote for Perry anyway, so what she's really doing is creating an issue to bring non-traditional Republican primary voters to the polls to vote for her. Texas has an open primary system, meaning that Dems can crossover and vote against Perry, (I did that once already,) and since Perry is so hated in Texas by everyone but the right, and the primary is really the best place to unseat him, see this as an effort to drag a whole bunch of new/non-Republican people to vote in that primary.

Frankly, I think it's some pretty shrewd math.

Thought for the Day - Hoffman further elevates Dick Armey.

When NY-23 rep Doug Hoffman went to the local editorial board, he was accompanied by his "adviser" Dick Armey, the FreedomWorks leader and the man who is currently pulling the teapartiers' strings.

Dick Armey has turned the anti-healthcare August into his own personal powerbase. Right now, his control of the teapartiers makes him, perhaps, the most powerful (or at least most feared) Republican powerbroker.

Tell me Republicans across the country aren't seeking him out and answering every one of his calls.

Related: NY-23 Republican Scozzafava endorsing the Dem Bill Owens, she's actually making appearances with him. (More cynically, if Owens wins, local Republicans will probably take the seat back next year. If Hoffman wins, it's not as likely.)

The Russians wargamed a nuclear Polish war

Russia wargames a nuclear war against a Poland on the 70th anniversary of the Russian invasion of Poland. Wow.

Karzai by default - What a mess.

With Abdullah pulling out of the runoff, the US is trying to cancel the re-poll out of fears of security and violence in an election with one candidate.

Later: (CNN) Karzai declared elected president of Afghanistan. (He was declared "elected" by the electioral committee he appointed.)

Frankly, we would have probably been better off letting him win that first corrupt election. Hell, manipulating that election was probably the first/best exhibition of national power we've seen out of Karzai.

And, the NYTimes offers a little Washington side to all this.
In the early days of Mr. Obama’s presidency, he and his aides searched desperately for a plausible alternative to Mr. Karzai. They found none. Since the spring, there has been little doubt that Mr. Karzai would remain in the presidential palace after the election was over.....

Here in the United States, Mr. Obama began scaling back American ambitions. With the advice of his defense secretary, Robert M. Gates, he dropped the Bush-era talk of turning Afghanistan into a Western-style democracy. He carefully avoided the word “victory,” which Mr. Bush had used so often. He narrowed the United States’ military objectives to destroying Al Qaeda — which is thought to be based largely in Pakistan — while simply subverting the Taliban’s ability to once again take over the country.

“All we need to do is degrade the Taliban enough for the Afghan Army to be able to deal with them,” one of Mr. Obama’s top national security aides said recently.

And, it sounds like the Obama folks are going to desperately try to make this reelection a Karzai "turning point,"although it's not really clear what that means or how it's to be accomplished.

Who the hell is watching commercials on their DVR?

A kind of interesting NYTimes article on how Nielson monitoring DVR viewing is actually helping TV ratings. Two points.

1) 48% of DVR viewers don't fast forward through commercials. (I mean, thanks folks for helping subsidize my TV, but what the hell is wrong with you?)

2) This new monitoring scheme is also a huge boost to the ratings of my male 18-49 targeted shows, meaning Heroes and Fringe see their numbers up over 20% which will likely keep them on the air. (Too late for Defying Gravity, though.)

So, keep watching the commercials on your DVR's, you idiots. It's working for me.

Iranian nuclear deal - "Throw me the idol then I'll throw you the whip."

As I speculated the other day, the Iranian "rejection" of the nuclear deal involving Russia as their fuel supplier appears to have been a negotiating tactic, not a true rejection.

Their fears in the deal appear to be that they will ship out their nuclear material and not get anything back.

Sunday, November 01, 2009


The big political news is in the NY-23 race where Republican establishment candidate Dede Scozzafava has "suspended her campaign" to let third party "conservative" Doug Hoffman have a chance at winning the seat. (NYTimes, Politico, everywhere...)

The conventional wisdom of the press seems to be that this demonstrates the strength of the "teaparty"/conservative side of the Republican party, and represents a press and a threat to all Republicans who face a rightist challenger, but I have a few other thoughts.

1) This really represents national attention coming in to impact a relatively small district race. Scozzafava was having trouble fundraising before the big national folks like Sarah Palin and FoxNews began to tell their followers to back/donate. "Teapartiers" from across the region had poured into the Hoffman camp giving thousands of volunteer hours of door knocking, phone banking, etc.

In effect, this was Scozzafava, a relatively weak local Republican candidate who received next to nothing from the national and state parties versus a "conservative" who received BIG money and support from the outside.

My point is that from a campaign resources standpoint, this wasn't a fair fight. To extrapolate this event to next year, when we have 460+ races is remarkably skewed punditry. There may be a few, or even a dozen races. where this machinery has an impact on Republican primaries, buy to think this represents a national powerhouse is to buy into the propaganda of the far right and miss the bigger picture.

The real effect won't be challenges across every district, but instead a soft pressure on Republicans not to be perceived as "moderate" enough to become one of the few national targets. So, it will have a pulling effect towards the right, but more from the "fear" of individual Republicans being targeted than a national movement of Doug Hoffman's.

2) Hoffman is Sarah Palin and "Joe the Plumber." Hr is a symbol to which this national rightist movement has attached. From some of the independent reporting I've seen, it sounds like Hoffman is actually a pretty crappy candidate with no local knowledge and a pretty jingoistic grasp of policy. His value to the right is more as a symbol than as an actual actor.

3) Given more time and money, I think it's a fair proposition that Scozzafava could have beaten this guy back. He caught a nationally backed wave that took him from 10% to 35% in just a couple of weeks. He "peaked" at just the right time.

So, my proposition is that NY-23 isn't some great conservative watershed, but instead a momentary spasm in the Republican party's civil war, a moment where the national crazies crashed down on a weak local candidate.

NY-23 is important only so much as the national Republicans think it is. It's impacts will be felt only to the degree that national Republicans fear their own right wing (which is pretty strong right now.)

To the establishment Republican candidates, NY-23 is a Halloween story told around a campfire. Now, it's up to them to see if they can sleep without having nightmares of "hook handed" teapartiers around every corner.

Later: Some mainstream Republicans in the district are pushing towards the Dem instead of Hoffman. (including Scozzafava who endorsed the Dem over Hoffman!!)