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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Saturday, November 14, 2009


If you haven't seen this in the NYTimes, read it. It's shameful. 42 Congress people (22 Repub, 20 Dem) in the House healthcare debate submitted parts or all of pre-written "statements" penned and supplied by lobbyists for Genentech.

Now, I don't know how many Congresspeople spoke, but 42 is right at 10% of the total House membership that submitted lobbyist supplied text as their own comments. (...and that's just from one lobbyist. How common has it become that they don't even take steps to hide it?)

Weekend discussion - Is the Republican "civil war" over?

I have a bit of a busy weekend, so I thought it would be interesting to posit this debate point: One year from its inception, is the Republican "civil war" over (and has the crazy right won)?

On a first blush, my answer would be yes.

The crazy right seems to be pushing their debate right now, saying almost anything they want without any pushback from "moderates." What few "moderates" that are left on the stage are largely in retreat, concerned about their own jeopardy if they cross the hardcore, and when one of the "moderates" is attacked, Olympia Snowe, Charlie Crist, Lindsey Graham, etc, none of the other "moderates" dares to step up to speak for them. More or less, the "moderates" have fled the field and are now worried only about their own survival, trying to convince the crazy right victors that they have been on their side all along.

There's also a second question over whether the "civil war" is actually over, or whether this is just early battles. There's also a question over whether a potential influx of disapproving of Obama independents, might shift the field (or whether the crazy wing keeps them away,) but at this point, one year from the "civil war's" beginning, I'm inclined to call it over by the mercy rule.

So, opinions? Are the moderates really out? Will the crazy right over extend, leaving an opening for a moderate resurgence? Has the GOP changed for good? What would be the implications?

I think we now have enough data and distance to have a real discussion.

(And, I think Gingrich over NY-23 was a watershed. If he got pilloried and had to back down, that past amalgam of GOP is certainly gone.)

Political bits - Paranoid right on the rise

(TPM) Right wing tea party favorite and Charlie Crist challenger Marco Rubio has been given the keynote speaker's spot at next year's CPAC, just a couple months before the primary. (Connections, money, powerbase, and Rubio's the belle of the ball.)

(TheNation) Sarah Palin is actually attempting to ban all cell phones and recording devices from her book tour. (Paranoid.)

(Politico) A RedState blogger captures the outrage that the RNC health plan was covering abortion.

(CNN) Kay Bailey Hutchison has decided not to give up her Senate seat in her Texas Gov. primary against right wing crazy Rick Perry. (Her numbers must say she's losing.)

And, (Politico) Tea partiers in Virginia are planning to gather to burn the local Rep. and Nancy Pelosi in efficgy.

Depleted Uranium causing birth defects in Fallujah?

It's important to note that this is anecdotal, not an epidemiological study, but doctors in Fallujah are saying that birth and infant defects, miscarriages, and cancers are way, way up.

Don't treat this as fact at this point, but it could be very ugly.

Palin world

The AP "fact checks" Palin's new book, and it's a long, long list.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Administration to punish foreign policy leakers.

I'm glad they're looking to reestablish control for the reasons I outlined yesterday. Eikenberry must have been the last straw.

The RNC's abortion problem

The RNC issues a statement that sounds like they've immediately canceled the abortion coverage in their health plan, although if you read through, it's actually going to take a little time.

What hadn't occurred to me is that this represents a real donor problem for them as so many of their donaters would hold back if they thought part of their donations to the RNC went to a health plan covering abortion.

I would expect to see every Republican campaign and organization asked this question from here forward as it represents a way for Dems to take away a partial week or so of fundraising.

(And there's also the ugly image of these women losing this coverage.)

Later: Does no one in the RNC's insurance pool get abortion coverage? Because that money the RNC is paying to Cigna is paying for that procedure somewhere whether the RNC takes the benefit or not.


"John McCain offered her the opportunity of a lifetime, and during the campaign it seems that, for all of her mistakes, she is searching for people to blame," said one former senior official in the McCain campaign. "We don't need to go through this again."

Picture of the Day


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Palin on the Couric interview

She alleges that Couric and CBS left out her more "substantive" remarks and settled for "gotcha" moments. She writes that Couric had a "partisan agenda" and a condescending manner. Couric was "badgering," biased and far easier on [Palin]'s Democratic counterpart, Joe Biden.

Such "badgering" questions as "What do you read?" or "Name a Supreme Court decision..." or the complete dissembling on the simple question "Do you support the bailout....?"

Yes. The clothes weren't her fault. The interviews weren't her fault. The media was against her. The McCain campaign was against her. She was just a victim, a feather being blown by the winds.. (Always a trait you look for in someone wanting to be President.)


The insurance plan purchased by the RNC covers abortion.

They're going to take it away as fast as they can.


"Sarah Palin is my hero."

---Carrie Prejean, the Miss California winner, who went nuts over gay marriage.

(PS. If Larry King is too rough an interview so you try to walk off the set, perhaps you shouldn't be out in the media.)


I remember Lou Dobbs being taken off the air by the previous CNN management a couple of years ago, and nobody really gave a damn.

He goes tea party crazy in an Obama administration and now his removal makes front page news?


I'm a little troubled that so much of the Afghanistan deliberation has been draggied out into the press. Today's entry: US Ambassador to Afghanistan, Karl Eikenberry wrote two internal cables speaking against an Afghan troop increase, and it's been leaked to the press.

What is really catching my eye is how much "leaking" is going on from within the administration and Pentagon to try to shape this debate. This isn't happening on domestic policy, that ship is being run very tightly, but on foreign policy, there seems to be a lot less fear of trying to push Obama around, and this is not a good thing. It signals a lack of fear (possibly leading to a lack of respect) among the foreign policy advisers and the Pentagon which makes the implementation of policy much more problematic and casts Obama as less decisive on the world stage.

They may need to "make an example" out of one of these "leakers" to snap everyone back in line, because the appearance of allowed public dissent gives space to foreign governments, something like the Israelis and the attempts to institute a settlement freeze.

(The length of time on this Afghan decision is probably contributing.)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

My Governor

My Governor has gone full bat crazy for the tea partiers to try and win his primary.

Shorter Lou Dobbs

"I'll take my third place ratings in a three channel market and go elsewhere...."

Political bits

(CNN) Dede Scozzafava takes a shot at Sarah Palin, reminding us all of Palin's own apparent lack of qualifications, ""How can Sarah Palin come out and endorse someone who can't answer some basic questions?"

(TPM) The Christian Right Family Research Council seems to be egging someone to step into an Olympia Snowe primary. (She's "too moderate.")

(Post&Courier) The Charleston, South Carolina Republican county party votes to censure Lindsey Graham. (He's lucky he's not running next year.)

(WaPo) Dan Balz reports on the growing GOP conventional wisdom that Tim Pawlenty may not be ready for primetime. (Somebody's trying to chop Pawlenty down...)

(MinnPolitics) One of the largest GOP phone banks hires lots of convicted felons who handle GOP donor credit card information.

(Politico) David Plouffe reveals that it was Obama campaign oppo research that outed John Edwards' $400 haircut. (A safe disclosure since Edwards is in no position to strike back.)

And, (The Swamp) Sen. Jim DeMint calls for Congressional term limits. (Funny how they only seek term limits when they're out of power... Don't worry. It's dead in the water.)

I'm a softie

I love this genre. A collection of videos of dogs welcoming their soldiers back home.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Read in context

Politico says Republicans are going to try to "rekindle" the townhall anger from August, but, to me, it sounds alot more like they're trying to regain control and redirect it away from themselves.

We're still feeling reverberations from NY-23.

Interesting read

The WaPo has a very compelling article about the last two days of Dede Scozzafava's Congressional campaign and how she came to endorse the Dem Bill Owens.

I drew three insights from it. 1) It's interesting the level of White House involvement in gaining her endorsement. You can ask the question of their genuineness in the process, but it's also politically interesting that they saw heightening the "conservative" v. moderate Republican rift in this one tiny race as such an opportunity to impact the national narrative. (And it worked. This one little race has created a future political nightmare for those Republicans actually concerned with retaking the majority.)

2) Despite their loud mouthed power, there seems to have been no political machine on the tea-partier/"conservative" side. Despite all the noise, it was just a number of political opportunists juicing Scozzafava's demise for their own benefit. They don't have a machine or coordinator who can utilize Palin, Pawlenty, Club for Growth, etc, meaning that there will be lots of money and effort wasted on overlap and uncoordination.

3) The entire effort shows that right now the Republican internal mechanics are more calibrated towards pushing people out, while the pretty well coordinated Dem machine is still trying to lure people in.

Even though it's kind of an unimportant article, I'd recommend it as its subtexts feel expansive.

Pimping Jesus - The lessons of NY-23

Eyeing that 2012 run, Newt Gingrich tries to don the cloak of the religious right. If this doesn't tell us all about the state of the Republican party, that Newt Gingrich feels he has to prove his bona fides to the "base voters...."

It's interesting to me that Mike Huckabee appears to be the Republican model for 2012. Read Milbank's Gingrich piece and tell me you don't see that, too.

There's also the interesting positioning question of Romney. You can argue that he's not positioning "born again" like everyone else because he really can't, but, on the other hand, that also leaves him as the sole representative for the "business" side of the Republican party, and, thus far, no one seems to think they can challenge him there. That means he would come into the primary with "economics" as his sole purview and that he will likely have their huge money mostly to himself.

Peak oil

An IEA "whistleblower" says the current oil reserve estimates and future production estimates have been cooked due to pressure "from the Americans."

I don't know, but if you're a peak oil person, this is a must read. (It could just be market manipulation.)

Koreas "exchange fire"

North and South Korean naval ships exchanged fire as both sides claimed the other was in its territorial waters. This isn't all that unusual happening twice before over the last decade, and as in the past, the North apparently crossed the demarcation line. (Reports that their ship was badly damaged.)

The real problem is that now the North will have to stage some act to save face.

I'll link the Guardian first because it's the least sensationalistic. Also AP, NYTimes.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Pelosi's role

One of the reasons that the House vote on healthcare was so tight was that it was House Democrats' job to pass the furthest "left" thing they could get the votes for so that when it meets the watered down Senate bill in the reconciliation process, the House bill will allow the conference to pull left of what can get through a Senate filibuster.

Finding 50 votes for a "leftish" reconciled healthcare bill in the Senate is a whole lot easier than finding 60.

(And I accept that the bills being discussed aren't "leftish." I'm using that as a relative, not absolute, term.)


Paul Krugman's oped today wraps with a rather intriguing if....
And if Tea Party Republicans do win big next year, what has already happened in California could happen at the national level. In California, the G.O.P. has essentially shrunk down to a rump party with no interest in actually governing — but that rump remains big enough to prevent anyone else from dealing with the state’s fiscal crisis. If this happens to America as a whole, as it all too easily could, the country could become effectively ungovernable in the midst of an ongoing economic disaster.

It really started in the 1970's

(Much bigger if you click it.)

Wow. My group gets a shout out from the President

In the very serious matter of the Fort Hood tragedy and fears over a Muslim backlash. President Obama said this.
Obama lauded the armed services' diversity. "They are Americans of every race, faith and station. They are Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus and non-believers," he said.

Now, I know a mention in this context. that I shouldn'r be discriminated against, isn't really the best moment, but, still. to hear a President actually recognize that "non-believers" exist and are an equal class feels pretty good. (although I would like a rename.)

Next up, destroying Christmas. Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha......

Yahoo sucks

For almost ten years I've been using Yahoo as my home page, listing the same 10 news sources. For some reason,they've dropped Reuters, AP, and AFP and are now only giving me Yahoo's determined top ten AP stories which appears to be no deeper than the USA Today.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

34,000 more troops to Afghanistan

McClatchy's Landay, who is usually very good about cautious facts, reports that the likely Obama plan is to send another 34,000 soldiers to Afghanistan with the announcement coming sometime next month.

Picture of the Day

(Speaker Nancy Pelosi smiles during a press conference after the passage in the house of the health care reform bill at the U.S. Capitol, Saturday, Nov. 7. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon))