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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Saturday, December 12, 2009


If you can, go vote for Annise Parker today.

Low runoff turnout means your vote really matters!

Holy Schnert! Tony Blair slips to the Bush defense on Iraq

For however many years, Tony Blair has held to the position that his reason for enthusiastically following Bush into Iraq was that he relied on the WMD intel.

Now, amidst a new round of revelations about the quality of the British intel, Tony Blair begins to walk back his position to a different version of the Bush admin rhetorical, "Do you want Saddam Hussein still in charge?"
"If you had known then that there were no WMDs, would you still have gone on?" Blair was asked. He replied: "I would still have thought it right to remove him [Saddam Hussein]".

Significantly, Blair added: "I mean obviously you would have had to use and deploy different arguments about the nature of the threat." He continued: "I can't really think we'd be better with him and his two sons in charge, but it's incredibly difficult. That's why I sympathise with the people who were against it [the war] for perfectly good reasons and are against it now, but for me, in the end I had to take the decision."

This walk back, after so many years of doggedly holding the "intel was bad" position, really makes me wonder if we have more revelations coming.

(And don't miss the pandering to his critics, "I sympathise with the people who were against it [the war] for perfectly good reasons...")

I gotta wonder what made this part move.

Blackwater and the CIA

I don't know the truth, or the level of shared involvement between Blackwater and the CIA, but the two relevant context points I see are 1) Blackwater has a vested interest in appearing linked to the CIA because it offers some justification and cover in the growing number of civil lawsuits they're facing.

And, 2) Since Leon Panetta took over, he's been making a big effort to try and step back from Blackwater and other contractors.

(If nothing else, the "contract award" process is probably a scandal.)

Quote - Much conversation in the household?

" If I want him to get my position on something, I Scotch Tape it to the bathroom mirror,'' Jill Biden, the second lady, says in an interview airing on CBS News' Sunday Morning.

"Not a joke,'' the vice president says in the interview. " You go into my bathroom at home... or in the vice president's residence...and it'll be up -- literally she'll Scotch Tape an article. She'll Scotch Tape something. ''

Friday, December 11, 2009

Didn't John McCain lose?

In their continuing efforts to present the Republican point of view as mainstream, Politico writes a piece lavishing praise on John McCain.

But the real reason I'm writing this post is to recognize that the "special" relationship with Lindsey Graham is still as creepy as ever.
“The same ferocity he had about beating on Republicans ... is now being focused on people on the other side whose agenda is really overreaching,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), one of McCain’s closest friends in the Senate. “He has every reason to be upset. There’s no change there. What would have been a change was if he wasn’t pissed off.”

“He is now the de facto leader of the Republican Party.”


Sarah Palin on President Barack Obama's Nobel speech,
"Wow, that really sounded familiar," said Palin, a frequent Obama critic. "I talked, too, in my book about the fallen nature of man and why war is necessary at times."

Thoughts on Majority and healthcare

By reaching out to moderate candidates in 2006 and 2008, the Congressional Democrats won a majority that they cannot wield. (12-7 committee advantages are important, though.)

Because he faces reelection risks in 2010, Harry Reid doesn't have as much leverage over folks not seeking reelection until 2012 or 2014.

Everyone talks about the Blue Dogs, but it's really Joe Lieberman who has been the real cad here. The "blue dogs" have been fairly consistent in their positions. It's Lieberman who moved himself suddenly far to the right to leverage himself as the 60th vote.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Dick Armey's mailing list

I've long maintained that Dick Armey's/FreedomWorks' goal wasn't so much about policy as positioning themselves to be the inside the GOP representative for the "tea party" segment of the party. If they can claim that spot, the power and money will roll in as every Republican candidate on the bubble is blackmailed into paying for their consulting and consent.

Here's a little taste of where Armey sits right now, 500,000 committed souls.
And in Washington, FreedomWorks, an advocacy group that helped organize many major tea party protests, is set to announce plans this month to raise millions of dollars through a reorganized PAC targeting its 500,000 registered members,

And, don't buy the "small donor" line. FreedomWorks is an industry front group. No matter what they raise from "small donors," their real play will be leveraging that mailing list.

The FreedomWorks' role in the "tea party" movement has been an almost textbook example of crating and hijacking an active political segment.

It should be about who is qualified

The Houston Mayor's race has come down to a runoff between Gene Locke and Annise Parker.

Annise Parker, the former city comptroller is extremely qualified, following in the technocratic footsteps of our current mayor, but she's also a self "outed" lesbian.

It's never been a heavy issue for her before, but the Locke people, in desperation, have been trying to gin up the "Christian" machine in Houston to rally against her.

Correction. It's a direct campaign effort. Two of Gene Locke's "finance officials" gave $40,000 to send out a pretty gross anti-gay mailer.

I'm supporting Parker because she is, by far, the best candidate for the job, but, for the rest of the country, it would be significant if Houston, the most "red" major metropolitan area in the country, elected an open lesbian.

The election is Saturday. If you live in Houston, please vote. You know the bigots are organizing.

Peace Prize winner justifies war

President Obama in his Nobel acceptance speech,
"I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people," he said in his acceptance speech. "For make no mistake: evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler's armies. Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda's leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force is sometimes necessary is not a call to cynicism -- it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason."

Thought for the Day

The White House is very cautious about the image of Barack Obama wearing the Nobel medal.

...maybe later when he and Michelle are alone....

(He's also dodging many of the traditional photo op events.)

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Bush league (Bush Sr. that is...)

Clarence Thomas takes a rather unusual (and political) swipe at Sonia Sotomayor's first Supreme Court decision.

Clarence Thomas may have been Bush Sr.'s worst act.

Quote from Copenhagen

Lumumba Di-Aping of Sudan, the head of the 135-nation bloc of developing countries, said the $10 billion a year that has been proposed to help poor nations fight climate change paled in comparison to the more than $1 trillion already spent to rescue financial institutions.

"If this is the greatest risk that humanity faces, then how do you explain $10 billion?" he said. "Ten billion will not buy developing countries' citizens enough coffins."

Healthcare relies on,,,,,

(Minority Leader and Majority Leader require different skill sets. I really wish we had Schumer running the Senate.)

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

I never know what's real anymore.....

I no longer know whether to take the NYTimes as literal. I mean, there have always been doubts and skepticism, but after watching so closely for so many years, I've come to the conclusion that I no longer know they're level of complicity in a "the government says" article.

Are they genuinely reporting? Is the story of their genesis or did they get a coordinated "leak" giving an entire unchallenged narrative? Who gave them the story and what was their motivation? Do they see their role as simply printing what "senior officials" say, and is that news or simply propaganda? They no longer supply adequate context for the "leak," and they seem happy to supply their front page for this dubious "news."

Today's convoluted example,
The Obama administration is turning up the pressure on Pakistan to fight the Taliban inside its borders, warning that if it does not act more aggressively the United States will use considerably more force on the Pakistani side of the border to shut down Taliban attacks on American forces in Afghanistan, American and Pakistani officials said.

On this one, I could see a case that the Pakistani's were talking to the NYTimes to spin their own people or pressure the Obama folks domestically over "escalation." I could see the Obama folks pointing out this "story" to the NYTimes to give the US public a sense that they're going hard or to publicly pressure or offer cover to the Pakistanis.

The bottom line is that the origin of this story invariably has a motive, and printing it free of that source's motive is pretty genuinely dishonest. In effect, they're repeatedly turning part of their front page over for someone else's propaganda without providing the context of who or what they're motive seems to be.

I'm sorry. I don't know why this got to me this morning on this story (which is far from the most egregious example.) This has become common NYTimes practice over the years. It happened during the Bush administration, most famously on aluminum tubes and Iran propaganda, but it's continued on into the Obama administration.

It just feels wrong for the NYTimes to grant their front page and prime organization "news" credibility to something so transparently purposeful without providing the context.

(As a counter "reporting example," here is the front page of the WaPo. Baghdad bombing (just facts,) Sec Def Gates says "We're in to win this thing" (fully sourced, context explained,) and some great in the field reporting from Afghanistan about how some locals and local officials prefer the Taleban.)

The great British Iraq lie

Regarding the always specious British claim that Saddam Hussein could have launched chemical weapons in 45 minutes...
"In the end it turned out that the information was not credible, it had originated from an emigre taxi driver on the Iraqi-Jordanian border, who had remembered an overheard conversation in the back of his cab a full two years earlier."

Monday, December 07, 2009


Unwritten story

You know that a large amount of the US money going to the Afghani government and Afghani development (as well as some of the money going to Pakistan) is being stolen. What percentage of that money is ending up supporting the Taleban cause?

We're talking billions stolen, so, how many millions of US tax dollars (debt) is funding our war opponents?

(...and this is separate from drug money which the US government suspects is leaving just Kabul airport at a rate of $10 million per day.)

How much crap are we leaving behind?

The WaPo tries to "breathless" this story, but it's really only practical for the US to leave tons of equipment behind as they pull back in Iraq, but I've long thought about how much we're going to leave there.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Guantanamo detainees headed to Illinois

It looks likely the US government will buy a "largely unused" correctional facility in rural Illinois to house the Guantanamo detainees. The purchase is likely soon, but detainees will not be brought in for a while as they intend to "prepare the prison to a level "beyond supermax.""


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: "What was the last time we had any good intelligence on where (Bin Laden) was?

DEFENSE SECRETARY ROBERT GATES: "I think it’s been years."



Palin aims for funny

Palin throws the jokes, some funny, some less so, at the journalists Gridiron dinner.
...when she announced she "came down from my hotel room and I could see the Russian embassy."...

(Speaking of her bus tour,) "The view is so much better from inside the bus than under it," she said, referring to the poisonous relations between her and some of the McCain campaign staff.

Who is sponsoring the climate espionage?

Attempts have been made to break into the offices of one of Canada's leading climate scientists, it was revealed yesterday. The victim was Andrew Weaver, a University of Victoria scientist and a key contributor to the work of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).....

In addition, individuals have attempted to impersonate technicians in a bid to access data from his office, said Weaver....

Who has the motive? Who is paying for the espionage?