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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Landmark campaign finance ruling

It looks like the Republican dominated Supreme Court may be about to remove many of the limits on outside groups' campaign spending meaning the Republicans may soon be able to openly buy elections.

I think one key point may be that in this new environment, "activists" may be able to target some of the larger corporations and their individual employees, but, overall, it may soon be a financial open season.

This is so bad.

Grandstanding on terror

20 Republican Senators are preparing a letter saying Obama should move the Christmas plane bomber to Guantanamo rather than a civilian court.

If this were anything more than political, they wouldn't be doing a public letter.

More Steele doings

The WaPo rounds up the last two days of kerfuffle over Micheal Steele's book release and media tour and the intraparty criticism that is only growing louder.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Strange doings with Steele

Steele cancels an online interview right before air because of an "emergency meeting" at the RNC.

This comes after an odd interview with Dennis Miller (yeah, he's still on the air somewhere,) where Steele tries to paint his chairmanship as a burden thrust upon him.

This could just be normal Steele erraticism, but something feels weird about it.

Later: TPM has a little more context.

Picture of the Day

Happy 75th birthday to the icon.

Gates to stay

Transitionary "holdover" Sec Def Robert Gates says he intends to stay "at least another year."

I don't really have a problem with it. He seems like he's doing a good job and fitting in. I'm just a little surprised he's staying. If you'll remember, he initially took the job as a short term favor to Bush to clean up Rumsfeld's mess, and now he's looking to hold the post at least 4 years.

Thought for the Day

The Bush administration was held blameless for the 9/11 attack.


Halperin and Heilemann come in with a very late, and not very revelational 2008 campaign book.
When President-elect Obama called her again to convince her to be his secretary of state, Clinton told him there was a problem, says Heilemann, a New York Magazine reporter. "At that point she says 'There's one last thing that's a problem, which is my husband. You've seen what this is like; it will be a circus if I take this job,'" Heilemann reports.

Thursday, January 07, 2010


A report that Palin will be paid $100,000 to speak at the inaugural Tea Party convention.

Wait for confirmation from somewhere more credible, but if it's true, wow.

Michael Steele breaks the RNC

It's still too early to declare this a permanent problem, but, in this year of supposed Republican outrage, Michael Steele brings the RNC into the 2010 election year with an extremely low cash on hand... and broad Republican opinion of Steele and a poor economic climate means that he's not likely to be the fundraising behemoth of past RNC chairmen.

This may not reflect overall Republican fundraising, gotta wait and see, but a poor RNC would severely impact the flexibility of their overall campaign strategy, cutting down the ability to move last minute monies to close races.

Update: Steele still fighting with GOP critics who think he's more about promoting (and funding) Michael Steele than the GOP.

Global Warming feedback loop

A Russian professor working at the University of Alaska says that the methane releases from both arctic tundra and arctic methane hydrate are larger than previously thought. He's not particularly alarmist, but calls for more study to verify his data.

(A runaway methane release feedback is the horror case of global warming as warmer temperatures free up more of the frozen methane. warming temperatures, releasing still more methane, etc. In theory, it could precipitate a rapid (generation or two) and massive temperature rise.)

Fried chicken for black people

An ad produced by KFC Australia. The Australian branch says that within Australian context, fried chicken for black people isn't racist, that that's an American association.... However, it seems to me with Australia's well known racism, the image of the white guy suffering among blacks is probably pretty racist.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Facts are problematic

It must be heck for the news people when facts run counternarrative.
In the House, 14 GOP incumbents have decided not to seek re-election, while 10 Democratic incumbents have made the same announcement. Does this mean Republicans are "dropping like flies"?

In the Senate, six Republican incumbents have decided not to seek re-election, while two Democratic incumbents have made the same announcement. Is this evidence of a mass Democratic exodus?

Of course, when you take your narrative direct from the GOP dominating "insiders," is thhere really any question why that narrative might be wrong?

Update: As an extreme, Politico is running the banner "Democratic majorities safe, for now." (You gotta like the misleading "for now" as no credible analyst anywhere thinks the majorities will disappear in 2010. I think they ought to just byline RNC.)

Skull and Bones skull up for sale.

Kind of a stupid story, but Christie's is auctioning a hinge topped skull once used for Skull and Bones elections.

Dodd is out!

According to the WaPo, Chris Dodd will announce today he's ging to stop seeking reelection. (Read the poll numbers and he can't win.)

It's a pretty big fall for someone who was running for President(/running for Vice President) just two years ago.

On the other hand, you have to give him some good Democrat points for stepping aside.

(And, don't worry. With his donors, Dodd will land on his feet.)

Later: Conn. AG Richard Blumenthal jumps in. According to those who know, he's a lock to win and keep the seat Dem.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Picture of the Day

(President Barack Obama looks over his sunglasses at the menu of shave ice at Island Snow, in Kailua, Hawaii Friday, Jan. 1, 2010. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon))

Also in the world of terror spin

Make note that both the WaPo and NYTimes are carrying stories this morning distancing Yemen's leadership from US cooperation.

Somebody wants it very widely reported that the Yemeni leader isn't in the US pocket. (I'm guessing so he can be in pocket.)

Just seems like the intelligence folks are really using the press right now.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Al Qaeda 'double agent' carried out Khost bombing?

Treat as strong rumor at this point, but....

NBCNews is running a report that the bomber in the Khost bombing that killed 8 CIA agents was a Jordanian captured asset who was, in fact, an Al Qaeda 'double agent.'

(The Jordanians had captured this guy, and, convinced he'd turned, passed him over to the US as an asset to be used in the hunt for Zawahiri. However, the guy hadn't turned, was still Al Qaeda, and and used his informer cover to gain access for the bombing.)

Also, on a second level, we have this. With NBC's inquiries about a 'double agent' percolating around the Washington intelligence circles yesterday, someone 'sourced' this story to the WaPo to get out in front which frames Jordan's assistance in the most favorable light. Just a bit of press manipulation before 'double agent' hits the mainstream.

So, judge for yourself, but know that someone on the inside is desperately spinning.

Later: The WaPo confirms 'double agent' using the less inflammatory 'informant,' and the NYTimes follows with 'an Agent With Many Loyalties.'

"Us vs Them"

It's funny how we're no longer hearing about "the terrorists" anymore.

This linguistic change represents a pretty fundamental shift in the presentation. "The terrorists" was always an oversimplified misrepresentation.

It was very politically useful for the Bushies as it catered to the ignorance of their base, couching the conflict in the very simplest "us vs. them" terms, but its simplicity also spread misunderstanding of the conflict. (...not that that was unintentional. We wouldn't have invaded Iraq if people had really understood the broader conflict.)

In the Bush war on language, people frequently cite "enhanced interrogation" and the like, but I think the oversimplifying invocation of "the terrorists" may have been their worst linguistic sin as it intentionally fostered ignorance and racism.

Infantillizing 'the base.'

Grazing across Drudge, it really hit me who the active Republican base is.

Paraphrased Drudge: "It's cold outside therefore 'global warming' is a lie.'

Drudge reader: "Yeah. It is cold outside...."

It's a group for whom the world does not exist beyond the right now and the end of their own nose, and people ar making mints by catering to these children.

(Other favorites. "I don't like paying my taxes, so taxes are all bad," :everthing is either all good or bad," and "Gays make me feel icky, so gay marriage must be wrong.")

Sunday, January 03, 2010


Americans are at far greater risk of being killed in accidents or by viruses than by acts of terrorism. In 2008, more than 37,300 Americans perished on the nation's highways, according to government data. Even before H1N1, a similar number of people died each year from the seasonal flu. Terrorism is a real and potentially consequential danger. But the greatest threat isn't posed by the direct harm terrorists could inflict; it comes from what we do to ourselves when we are spooked. It is how we react -- or more precisely, how we overreact -- to the threat of terrorism that makes it an appealing tool for our adversaries.

Thought for the Day

How amazing is it that Dick Cheney gets to attack Obama in the press for that fizzle of a Christmas Day terror attack while this supposed foreign policy guru of the last administration is held blameless for the 9/11 terror attack?