Friday, January 8, 2010

NBC sends me a couple of daily reports, one in the AM and one in the PM
This is a typical AM report for today.


*** The Economic Shift: After spending much of the last two weeks focused exclusively on national security in wake of the failed Christmas Day terrorist plot, President Obama begins turning to the economy today and next week. At 2:40 pm ET, he makes a statement on the economy, announcing new stimulus funding for clean-technology manufacturing jobs. And he'll also discuss the new jobs report, which shows that the unemployment rate remains unchanged at 10.0% but also shows that 85,000 jobs were lost in December, which was more than some economists had been predicting. That said, you can probably expect Obama to touch on this news: "Revisions to the previous two months' data showed the economy actually generated 4,000 jobs in November, the first gain in nearly two years, while it lost 16,000 more than previously estimated in October," the AP writes.

About this time you might start thinking that you over spent on Christmas... I actually like the way the President trys to focus on ONE THING each week and RETURNS TO THAT ONE THING in its rotation though out the last year. That way the cabinet members have more time to GET THE WORK DONE before it is their time TO STAND AND DELIVER. I had a boss like that some years ago....


*** Review Fallout: The speed at which the Obama administration released its report on the failed attack is unprecedented -- and something that's probably not being appreciated right now (considering how short-term the public's and press' memory is these days). Of course, the government should be able to conduct a major review of a botched terrorist attack in 13 days, right? Then again, the other reason John Brennan was able to put together this report so quickly is that the government had a LOT of intelligence on this issue, which of course is the great failing of this entire incident. Two huge conclusions that this report drew. One, the government underestimated al Qaeda in Arabian Peninsula in just about every facet of the group's capabilities. Two, the government didn't have the resources to focus as closely on these al Qaeda affiliates. While the president announced quite a few reforms that all of the agencies involved in this incident need to undertake, it all stems from those two fundamental facts. The scary thing for the average American about this incident is that the very issue many criticized the intelligence community for in 2001 -- a failure of imagination -- seems to have returned.

Enough said, let's move on down.

*** The U.S. And The Muslim World: While the president has made remarks about this Christmas terror incident a half dozen times now, yesterday was the first time he spoke about his view of what this war is about -- and what it means for America's relationship with the Muslim world. "We've sought new beginnings with Muslim communities around the world, one in which we engage on the basis of mutual interest and mutual respect, and work together to fulfill the aspirations that all people share -- to get an education, to work with dignity, to live in peace and security. That's what America believes in. That's the vision that is far more powerful than the hatred of these violent extremists." But a potential problem is the fact that both the Christmas Day bomber and Fort Hood shooter were, well, first-timers, meaning they're preying on a certain kind of new recruit: loners, weak-minded, however you want to describe them. But it's almost cult-like in their ability to identify new recruits now. It presents a whole new challenge on the "hearts and minds" front in this war.

This week I was listening to a NPR news broadcast about Muslim - USa relations after these two terrorist events... what jumped out at me from all the TALK was that the Muslim perception of USa Military Forces in countries in what we used to call the Middle East is that WE (you and me and our troops on the ground) are regarded as FOREIGN (not one of us) INVIDEL (don't believe in our God and our Religion) OCCUPATION (we were conquered and they are here to subpress us and exploit us) FORCES ( you are going to make us do it your way) - Foreign Invidel Occupation Forces. WE won't put up with that either...

*** Will Someone Be Held Accountable? One of the more under-reported parts of the president's remarks was his specific shout-out to Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair. Since the terror incident and the criticism by the president and others of a failure to connect the doubts maybe this should be "dots"), there have been whispers that if anyone's head rolls, it might be Blair's. A number of reasons have led to the speculation, including his perceived lack of a support constituency on Capitol Hill or with many in the Obama administration. But as we've learned in previous Obama statements on this incident, a shout-out by name is a subtle signal to the chattering class that this person's job is safe -- for now. Obama took pains to say there was no ONE error or ONE person to pin the blame on; it was system-wide. That said, keep an eye on a couple of things for the next few weeks: 1) the release of the Ft. Hood report and the various intel breakdowns cited in there, and 2) the congressional hearings scheduled for later this month. A poor review/performance by Blair or any of the key folks involved in both incidents -- including the FBI, CIA, NCTC and Homeland Security -- could spell trouble.

*** Steele The One? Political reporters who've closely followed the last couple of election cycles know how important a role the Republican National Committee has played. Despite the poor national environment for the GOP in '06 and '08, the RNC raised and spent TONS of money to help the party. In fact, without the RNC money and independent TV expenditures to supplement a McCain campaign that accepted general-election matching funds, the presidential contest probably would have ended in early October. That's precisely why some Republicans are very worried about what's going on at the RNC under Michael Steele's leadership. As we mentioned yesterday, the RNC has just $8.7 million in the bank as of Nov. 30 (versus the nearly $23 million it had at the start of his tenure, and the $13.2 million the DNC has now). And as the Washington Times reported, some heavy-hitter donors are refusing to give the RNC money due to their unhappiness with Steele, and are instead giving it to the NRSC, NRCC, and RGA.

"You are leaving races on the table for what should be a historic cycle," complains one Republican about the RNC's diminished cash on hand. "He is going to cost us seats."

*** The Dems' 2-to-1 Money Advantage: Indeed, this year's money race -- as the GOP looks to make major Senate and House gains in the fall -- is one of the most underreported stories as we head into the midterms. As of Nov. 30, the DNC, DSCC, and DCCC had a combined $40 million in the bank. By comparison, the RNC, NRSC, and NRCC have a combined $20 million cash on hand.

Folks, that's a 2-to-1 Democratic advantage. To be fair, Republicans are adjusting to a fundraising world in which Bush and Cheney are no longer in the White House. Also, Haley Barbour's Republican Governors Association is having no problems raising and (saving) money, with $25 million in bank as of the end of 2009; the Democratic Governors Association has a healthy $17.5 million. But, despite all their enthusiasm about the upcoming midterms, Republicans have to be somewhat concerned that enthusiasm isn't flowing into their coffers -- yet.

I will take a pass on this point and come back to it when the election heats up,
all politics is LOCAL. I frankly don't care who has the most money at the national level... it never comes down here because Texas is still percieved as a safe, RED state. The President Bush lives within minutes of my house here in Dallas, Texas.

*** Steele And The RNC Fire Back: Steele yesterday responded to his critics this way, which probably gave them more ammunition: "If you don't want me in the job, fire me. But until then, shut up, get with the program, or get out of the way." Last night, RNC Chief of Staff Ken McKay fired off a memo defending its fundraising and spending. "Last year, the RNC not only exceeded fundraising goals; we broke records. After setting a revised 2009 goal of $68,785,724, we raised $81,255,000 million. Even more impressive, we set off-year fundraising records in August, September, October and November." McKay added that the party made significant investments in the NJ and VA gubernatorial contests. "All told, these were nearly $20 million in critical investments in 2009. And yet, we ended the year with $8.5 million cash-on-hand, almost three times as much as we originally anticipated. By comparison, at the end of 2005, the DNC . had just over $5 million cash-on-hand. They went on to take control of both the House and Senate in 2006, and eventually the White House in 2008." What McKay doesn't mention: Chuck Schumer's DSCC and Rahm Emanuel's DCCC made up for any DNC shortcoming in 2006. As of now, though, the same can't be said of the NRSC and NRCC.
*** Gates To Stay Another Year: Defense Secretary Robert Gates has agreed to remain on the job at the Pentagon for another year, NBC's Jim Miklaszewski reports. Gates had expressed his desire to retire at end of the Bush administration, but agreed then to remain on the job as Defense Secretary at the request of then-President-elect Obama. "Secretary Gates met with the President just before Christmas and gave him a commitment to stay on the job for AT LEAST another year," Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said. "They agreed to revisit this issue again later this year, but for all intents and purposes their original agreement still stands: he serves at the pleasure of the President indefinitely and he is honored to do so, though he certainly looks forward to one day retiring to his family home in the Pacific Northwest."

*** 2012 Watch: Another round of Palin-palooza? The big GOP presidential cattle call of 2010 -- the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, which will take place in New Orleans in April -- has announced that Sarah Palin will be attending the confab, raising the speculation (true or not) that she's eyeing a White House bid. "I'm looking forward to addressing conservative activists from across the south at the 2010 Southern Republican Leadership Conference," Palin said in a release. "This is a great opportunity to listen and speak to those who are helping to set the direction of our party."

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