Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Dogs, Not Barking

An occasional item about items not in the news, which itself makes them newsworthy. 

1.  I haven't seen any coverage of this yet, but pending any late news it appears that fewer American troops died in Iraq in October* -- two -- then in any previous month since the war began.  There was a lot of skeptical commentary about the end of combat operations a couple months ago, and casualties spiked up a bit in September, but the trend line is clearly down (sixteen American deaths over the last four months, also a new low, compared with 29 the previous four months or 34 for July - October 2009).  It's a big deal, and I think underreported, that Barack Obama has stayed on course with withdrawal regardless of what's happening at any particular moment.

2.  Next up, Afghanistan. American troop levels are up, and coalition activity appears to be up, but coalition casualties have, at least for now, stopped rising.  I have no idea whether this will wind up meaning anything or not, but coalition deaths in Afghanistan were slightly off year-to-year marks  in September and October, and in fact were flat year-to-year for July through October.  That's after large year-to-year increases in the first half of 2010, and large year-to-year increases throughout 2009.  Again, this could be a blip, and it also doesn't say much if anything about larger success or failure in that war, and the casualty level is still much higher than it was two years ago...but nevertheless, after four months I'm willing to say it's something to take note of.

3.  Oh, I'll put something here about the election: as far as I know, no GOP candidates actually talked about impeachment during the campaign, and the main focus of Republican rhetoric was on policy, not scandal.  Indeed, while we should expect plenty of investigations from the House, including some goofy ones, I think (given the GOP House majority, which of course was only speculative until yesterday) impeachment is quite a bit less likely over 2011-2012 than it was six or twelve months ago. 

4.  As usual, Fairness Doctrine revival.  Also, gun control.

*Corrected; somehow, I managed to substitute "February" for "October."   Thanks to Sullivan for the catch, and the link.   


  1. Slight thread hijack, justified by props to the host: not long ago, Colby and I argued with Jonathan, our position was that Sarah Palin was probably unstoppable, while Jonathan argued that the elites could still reign her in.

    Seems to me that Palin is the biggest loser of the last week, with Jonathan probably right, in hindsight, that in spite of her popularity the elites can, and likely will, reign her in.

    Rove took his first shot, ostensibly based on the Discovery Channel show, though Rove said she lacked gravitas, which, considering Rove's protege, is an odd criticism to level. I think that Rove's point has nothing to do with gravitas; I think Rove thinks about Palin getting "Roved" and realizes the outcome would be gruesome.

    On CNN last night, Kathleen Parker laughed nervously and said that maybe the Tea Partiers were a bit naive. Not in their budget balancing goals, she quickly added, but rather in how things get done in DC. Either way, the Tea Party is going to achieve in fits and starts, if at all, which means that there will surely be winners and losers - how will Palin do when the flak starts coming her way?

    Palin goes beserk when a random, unattributed criticism shows up on a website like Politico. Her outsize reaction is justified by elevating the criticism to be (supposedly) from everyone. This creates the illusion that she has been widely attacked; in reality the Obama Administration's powder is almost entirely dry where Palin is concerned.

    When they begin firing, against the backdrop of the fracturing Tea Party, lord will it be ugly. Her own personal history of record taxes on Big Oil and record deficits to build luxurious stadiums will make the fracturing Tea Partiers willing to throw her out of the tent. The Obama Administration will, if she gets the nomination, only be too glad to help.

    Murkowski's apparent win hurts her credibility some, but it seems to me that Rove's criticism comes from the fact that, if he were a Democrat, he would be licking his chops for a shot at taking her down - from the Atwater/Rove school, Palin is a DREAM opponent.

    For all we know, Rove may even be considering changing his loyalties, as the spectre of Palin's vulnerabilities may be too much to resist?

  2. This is the first I heard about impeachment... source?

  3. Since you brought it up, CSH...

    I actually think I was a little more in the middle- you seemed to think the "elites" couldn't touch Palin, JB thought they could deep six her, I was merely convinced that they could wound her (though a wound is far from a denial of the nomination, eh, Hillary?).

    I'm still not completely sold that the elites can stop her (if for no other reason than who are the elites? At this point, any list of Republican big-wigs MUST contain some Tea Partiers or Tea Sympathizers, if not Palin herself), but it's clear they'll really be able to hurt her. Simply put, last night proved that crossing her isn't fatal, and gaining her favor isn't curative. That's going to let a lot of these "elites" who don't like her shake loose- and if they can pinch her a little, it'll have a snowball effect in people who are on the fence.

    I think she's still formidable- every attack on her just seems to make her supporters love her more, and the Tea Party's inevitable falling-out with Washington leadership would actually HURT those elites (and help Palin), but the party regulars- the donors, staffers, and endorsers she'll need- can now envision crossing her without losing a job.


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