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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Saturday Thought - Legislative weakness begets fundraising failure

A perceived weakness in the Congressional Dems, or at least the perception that their legislation can be easily derailed, will affect campaign fundraising on both sides.

Despite their dominating majority, without the threat of being able to ram measures through, the Dems will not be able to blackmail corporate fundraising the way a majority normally would.

Meanwhile, with a a growing record of derailing "anti-business" legislation, the Republicans will likely be able to extort more than their minority should warrant from corporate donors.

No real way to value this, but you gotta figure it will have some impact on the 2010's where corporate and big money donors play a larger percentage role than in Presidential years.

Playing China

I have this feeling that the first media reaction at China's retaliations for the Taiwan arms sales will be some kind of breathless, "shock"y-doomseeing (especially among the supposedly super tough Republicans who oppose Obama,) but I'm seeing this in a little larger context.

Let's go back a about a month to the global climate meeting where the Chinese very intentionally engineered a personal and globally visible failure for Barack Obama. As I wrote then, the modern Chinese historically test new American presidents. (Remember the US electronic spy plane the Chinese forced down and reverse engineered in Bush's first year?)

So, see the Obama provocations, like the Google/internet freedom stuff and the Taiwan arms sale, as part of a calculated US response. This US China "tension" is kinda necessary to find a good footing for the next seven or so years.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Setting up Dem campaign ads

A couple months ago, a group of hardcore GOPers put forth the idea of a conservative "purity test" for all party candidates. The idea was that the RNC would pass a resolution requiring candidates to swear fealty to 8 of 10 "conservative" points in order to receive party endorsement and party funds.

This created some horror in the party structure among those who recognized this might hamstring candidates in the NorthEast and other less conservative areas, so they came up with a compromise that today was passed by the RNC, candidates who want access to party funds would merely have to endorse the party platform.

Now this may deter some of the internal "tea party" purity infighting that was likely, but at the same time, the "endorse the platform" (in its entirety) will also set up these moderates to be skewered by Dems for every crazy thing in the platform, guns, abortion, whatever.

Obama and the House Republicans

Barack Obama went to the House GOP retreat and took questions. All reports are well worth a read. (TPM, Politico, NYTimes, etc.)

The exchanges sound a little feisty, but the early reports are that Obama pretty well took the day. (Of course, the producers and editors of the other networks are yet to absorb what FoxNews has to say....)


We'll have to wait and see how this bears out, but I'm sure we're going to hear alot about this good economic blip, (AP) "Economy grows at 5.7 pct pace, fastest since 2003."

One thing to remember is that government spending counts as part of GDP.

Picture of the Day

(Joe Biden takes Barack Obama's coat during a visit to the University of Tampa, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2010. (AP/Chris O'Meara))


"We have stood ready and willing to work with this president since day one."

Bin Laden: Eco-Warrior?

Throughout his "great campaign," Bin Laden has tried to coop many issues under his list of grievances to try to find further support for his cause. Most famously, he suddenly started caring about the Palestinians for the first time at some point in 2005 when he felt he needed more world support outside his usual base.

Now, I see this most recent tape similarly, although "eco-warrior" does seem a stretch for the giant Arab.
Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden has called for the world to boycott American goods and the U.S. dollar, blaming the United States and other industrialized countries for global warming, according to a new audiotape released Friday.

Tony Blair: Still lying

Giving evidence at Britain's Iraq war inquiry, Tony Blair cites 9/11...
"It was that our perception that the risk had shifted," Blair said. "If those people inspired by this religious fanaticism could have killed 30,000, they would have. From that moment Iran, Libya, North Korea, Iraq ... all of this had to be brought to an end..."

So, Tony, how did strongman and anti-Al Qaeda Saddam Hussein fit into 9/11 again...?

And, of course, there were the fictional WMD
"The absolutely key issue was the WMD issue," not regime change, he said, but added that "if necessary — and there was no other way of dealing with this threat — we were going to remove him."

The BBC has an article focusing on the morning's testimony as well. (and the NYTimes.)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Bailing out of the Tea Party

I've been watching many, many various speakers and sponsors bail out of the first "tea party" convention. The primary reason given is that the convention is (or perhaps with all the pull outs was) a for profit venture.

But, interestingly, as their convention speaker's podia, sponsor boxes, and floor seats look increasingly vacant, one name still hasn't canceled, the keynote speaker, Sarah Palin who reportedly signed a contract to speak for over $100,000.

Will she end up speaking at the discredited forum? Can she back out? It starts in a week.

Later: Palin told her official publicity arm (FoxNews) that she's not backing out. (and she claims she'll be "donating" the speaker's fee although it sounds lie it's going into the lifestyle enhancing SarahPAC.
The speaker's fee will go right back into the cause. I'll be able to donate it to people and to events, those things that I believe in that will help perpetuate the message...

Post SOTU thought

The Obama administration, and the Democrats more broadly, have lost control of the narrative, and thus lost their power.

It is the media which generates alot of the external pressure to get things done, and once they're allowed to slow down and pick at the individual threads of a fraying effort (threads like Landrieu, Nelson, etc.) the problems only get worse.

If you'll remember the way the Bush administration worked, even with a slim majority, they would roll out a new initiative each week, and the ones that didn't work, they just let go of. Thus, they got large portions of their agenda through while not particularly suffering for the things that failed. (even the major ones like social security reform.)

Now, I'm not saying that I would model the Bush policies, and alot of the blame does fall on Congressional Democrats (four months to reach an "in principle" Senate healthcare deal?,) but I think the key lesson of the first year is that the Obama folks allowed the narrative to flag, effectively ceding agenda setting and offense/defense to the tea party/Republican rabble, to the media, to the Congressional Democrats, and to anyone else who wanted to scream loudly enough to gain attention for their own purposes.

The 24 hour news networks seek to fill their vast programming spaces, and if you don't provide enough fodder, they will look elsewhere, and you will lose control of the agenda setting narrative.

So, something new every full week Monday. Pick the argument for the week, and you largely win the argument for the week. Build a sense of momentum where everyone looks to you for the topic of the week. Sure, you're not going to get everything you want, but you'll get alot, and then, when those results lead to more popularity, momentum, and power, then you can turn the screws.

PS. "Moral" appeals like "we were sent here to serve the people," or trying to guilt Republicans into "bipartisanship" will never work. It is power and leverage which get things done.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Thought for the Day

If Obama would just do exactly what Republicans want him to, then they'd certainly stop complaining. Right?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Important things

I know I'm failing in my duties as blog host, but tomorrow is looking to be quite busy doing something pretty important, so, probably a blogging day off.

I may jump in if there's something big (or something utterly ridiculous,) but overall, don't expect much from me.

Back Thursday.


A claim in Haiti, "More than 150,000 quake victims have been buried by the government, an official said Sunday."

Monday, January 25, 2010

Now we're approaching pathological

Gawker quotes former John Edwards' aide, Andrew Young, claiming that John Edwards participated in a "sex tape" with his mistress. There is clearly something very wrong with John Edwards.

Young will be on 20/20 on Friday to promote his tell all book.

Because John McCain's opinions matters so much....

Seriously, NYTimes? You're printing this article?

Populist in 2010

Referring to the move towards populism I outline in the next post, the early SOTU pre-releases are out, and are seemingly designed to assure me that the President "feels my pain."
President Obama will propose in his State of the Union address a package of modest initiatives intended to help middle-class families, including tax credits for child care, caps on some student loan payments and a requirement that companies let workers save automatically for retirement, senior administration officials said Sunday....

By focusing on what one White House official calls “the sandwich generation” — struggling families squeezed between sending their children to college and caring for elderly parents — Mr. Obama hopes to use his speech on Wednesday to demonstrate that he understands the economic pain of ordinary Americans.

Cann't get much more explicit than that!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Populist in 2010

On Friday, I put up a very commented on post arguing that, for the 2010 elections, the Dems and Obama folks should abandon the premise of running on their thin record of achievement (running "for" something,) and pivot their efforts into forcing Republicans to defend unpopular positions, Wall Street bonuses, healthcare status quo, etc, and then run "against" that.

Well, it appears that populist may be the way they are going. Taxes on Wall Street/bankers being announced Thursday, and yesterday, Obama used his Saturday address to lambaste the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision which allows unlimited corporate spending in political campaigns.

(I wonder how much of this change in stance is Plouffe coming back on board after Ma-Sen went into the crapper?)

Now, let me be clear, I'd rather see them accomplishing things and running on record, but politically and cynically, this "run against" strategy makes sense to me.

I think over the next few months we're going to hear alot more about how Republicans want to help Wall Street and the wealthy while Democrats are concerned about "people like me."

(PS. That whole giant "Republican resurgence" mantra was based on an assumption that the Obama folks wouldn't try anything different going into the 2010 year, that they would just sit still and let it all happen. These off year and special elections were just the preseason. 2010 is the game. I would expect them to show up, you know?)


South Carolina Lt. Gov Andre Bauer who is running for the governorship speaks at a townhall on free school lunch programs,
"My grandmother was not a highly educated woman, but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals. You know why? Because they breed. You're facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don't think too much further than that. And so what you've got to do is you've got to curtail that type of behavior. They don't know any better," Bauer said.

Yes, in the GOP front runner's assumption, the poor (and in the South Carolina GOP's subtext, black) children of South Carolina are no more than stray animals.

(Now there's something to run against.)

Yeah. That's what I think....

Riffing off the 2010 post above, I was thinking how funny the entire exercise of TV punditry is. From the cable network perspective, their function is primarily to reflect back what one segment of the audience wants to believe giving those viewers a sense of identity with the television program.

Reinforcing someone's belief, and making them feel smarter is probably a pretty good way to get the people who watch cable news (who want to be oh so informed) to keep tuned in.