McCain Britney Paris Celebrity Ad

This ad works on a number of levels:

Why compare Obama to Britney and Paris in particular, you might ask? McCain's Roved-up campaign manager justified using Britney and Paris because they are the "#2 and #3 celebrities in the world." But is that right? I mean, not to be mean to Britney or anything, but they aren't really current, are they? Paris and Britney is the best they could come up with? Really? Talk about an admission of utter cluelessness. Has McCain ever heard of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt? They wont leave them alone anywhere. Brangelina can't get privacy in the depths of freaking Africa! No one would give a damn about over-the-hill Britney on an average Swedish street.

Also, Brad Pitt is the Girlfriend-Chameleon!

Of course, the problem with using Brad and Angela is that they're unavailable, aren't they? They're (currently) happily married. By contrast, Paris and Britney have both had their genitalia on the evening news. It's just like Harold Ford and the Playboy Mansion "Call me/Blond Slut" ad. To me, it sounds like shades of "Where All the White Women At?"

Combined with the presumptuous narrative they've been pushing since the "Didn't Visit the Troops" bullsession was called a lie by everybody (Republicans included), you get the components of the uppity-negro racist template. As Rove said, Obama is the too-cool guy at the country club with the beautiful (white) date on arm, lazily smoking a cigarette and snidely commenting on the other, more decent guests. The message, to those who can hear it, is "People like Obama should know their place."

It is possible all of this slipped by the advertising mavens, despite their curved editing talons and eagle-eyed examination of every frame of product they put on TV. John McCain may be so colorblind and pure of heart that he doesn't see the racist caricature in which he's engaging. The nail in the coffin - the thing that proves the racist tones this campaign has adopted - is that John McCain has done these things himself, and is not being viewed as presumptuous. John McCain has met with foreign leaders. John McCain has given speeches to foreign audiences, despite the fact that he is not yet president. John McCain has called himself "President McCain," and given an entire speech predicated on his successful first term. John McCain has said that he didn't always love this country. And yet, despite these congruences, no one has called John McCain uppity.

If you must find a difference between what Obama and McCain have already done, then one does present itself. Obama has done the same things McCain has, except better. Way, WAY better (see Fudge Haus vs Berlin). I suppose that's the real problem. How dare Obama, that outsider, have the audacity to make McCain look like such an ineffective relic, barely a part of the campaign that he has sold his soul to get the nomination for.


Damned Librul Media!

The Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University, where researchers have tracked network news content for two decades, found that ABC, NBC and CBS were tougher on Obama than on Republican John McCain during the first six weeks of the general-election campaign.

You read it right: tougher on the Democrat.

During the evening news, the majority of statements from reporters and anchors on all three networks are neutral, the center found. And when network news people ventured opinions in recent weeks, 28% of the statements were positive for Obama and 72% negative.

Network reporting also tilted against McCain, but far less dramatically, with 43% of the statements positive and 57% negative, according to the Washington-based media center.
The poor media has been beaten and battered by conservatives for so long that even the "Obamessiah," for whom they are all supposedly in the tank, cannot get their support. John McCain, on the other hand, who has called the media his "base" again and again, complains that the media loves Obama. What a whiner. This looks like Pro-Obama bias to me:

That's the Associated Press giving McCain his favorite donuts and coffee, by the way, just to make sure he's comfortable for the interview, which I'm sure was an absolute grilling. I'm sure they're just buttering him up before-hand to make him an easier target. Right.

You might wonder why the AP, the wire service that provides content for most of America's small newspapers, is bending over backwards to make McCain happy. Perhaps it is because the head of the AP's all important Washington Bureau went through a multi-month job negotiation with the McCain campaign before he clinched the nomination. Or perhaps it was the adoring e-mails from the same new bureau-head to Karl Rove, whose proteges now run McCain's campaign.

In any case, regardless of studies about who people in the news industry contribute money to, you cannot make the case that the media is liberal any longer. The gopher in the basement and the copywriter in the newsroom do not set agendas - the corporation does. When the ultimate source in straight news - the AP - is literally in bed with the McCain campaign, the conservative persecution complex on this issue must come to an end.

Then again, playing the persecuted victim is one of the Republican's great strengths, so I expect them to keep it up. Why stop doing something that works so well? Especially when the media plays along?

McCain the Liar

This is another nicely compiled list of McCain's recent foibles. I had been calling them instances of forgetfulness, or perhaps confusion, and thinking that was harsh enough. But with the recent profusion of them, it's becoming clear that his age is no longer the likely explanation. He is now far down the path of being a likely prevaricator rather than a well-meaning straight talker that's just past his prime.

And that is just off the top of my head and a quick search.

So let’s start calling him what he is. A full on liar. Not only "forgetful", not only "misinterpreted", not only "misquoted", not only mean-spirited and stretching the truth.

That's what it's looking like more and more. Poor McCain. His legacy was a good one, and the Rovians have dragged him into the intellectual and moral mud.


Petraeus Reminds us how McCain Shifted on Timetables

Do you remember the kernel of the original argument used against setting a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq? In patronizing tones filled with contempt over our lack of military sophistication, we were told that you couldn't set a date because then you would be telling the enemy how long they have to lay low before they can rise up and take over the country. What has now changed in that strategic formulation? Nothing. (except maybe McCain's magical keep-Iraq-safe-forever-Juice that he's going to sprinkle on the country).

Thankfully, General Petraeus reminds us of this in a recent interview, just to contrast with John McCain's new position that "anything is a pretty good timetable as long as it's based on conditions on the ground." McCain's new position is merely his only remaining refuge after Maliki cut his legs out on his Iraq-Forever policy.

McCain has More Stuff Cut Off his Face


McCain Campaign Concedes Obama wont Raise Taxes

An excellent admission from the McCain Campaign, today. I'm sure we'll see this reflected in their later messaging, since they have been so consistent on their positions. Hell, most of McCain's new pronouncements survive a whole 5 hours before being "amended" or "clarified" by an aide from the campaign!
Here is Douglas Holtz-Eakin, McCain's chief economic policy adviser. "I used to say that Barack Obama raises taxes and John McCain cuts them, and I was convinced," he told me in a phone interview this week. "I stand corrected."
At this point, I'm afraid I'm too tired for a citation. Saw it somewhere. Points deducted for poor blogging form.

Advisor to Condi and Petraeus: "Invading Iraq was F*cking Stupid"

Amazing levelheadedness from a bad-ass Australian.
Former Australian Army officer David Kilcullen, who helped Gen. David Petraeus “design his 2007 counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq,” is currently an adviser to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. In a recent interview with Spencer Ackerman, Kilcullen, the main author of an upcoming handbook on counterinsurgency for senior policy-makers, said he tells them they should “think very, very carefully before intervening” in other countries. As an example, Kilcullen called the invasion of Iraq “f*cking stupid“:

More bluntly, Kilcullen, who helped Petraeus design his 2007 counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq, called the decision to invade Iraq “stupid” — in fact, he said “f*cking stupid” — and suggested that if policy-makers apply the manual’s lessons, similar wars can be avoided in the future.

“The biggest stupid idea,” Kilcullen said, “was to invade Iraq in the first place.”
Word. And McCain was right there predicting a cheap war against a dangerous foe, easily won, with no resistance after the fact. And yet he attacks Obama's judgment? That's a transparent dual Rovian attack. First, you attack your opponents strengths. Second, you attack your opponent for your own weakness. In so doing, you inoculate yourself and establish the narrative. Our "liberal" press eat it up.


Alternative Uses for War Money

Wouldn't it be interesting if we could magically reassign the money we've wasted giving Iraq to Iran? What would you use it for? I've got my clear favorite: renewable energy generation.

American tax payers will end up with a bill for the Iraq War that is nearing $2 trillion dollars. This does not count the costs that come as direct consequences of the war, and those estimates come in at $3-5 trillion dollars. So let us be generous and base our calculations off a $1.5 trillion dollar cost.

America currently has around 1,075,174 MW of electric production capacity. How close could we get to that magic number with the money we've used to fight this war of choice to secure oil reserves? The answer makes me bitter.

The Pickens Plan is predicated on the type of project he is currently investing in, a wind farm capable of generating 4000MW that will cost $6 billion dollars. With a little math, we see that if you can get 4000MW for $6billion, then you can get 1,000,000MW for $1.5 trillion. That is enough generation capacity from wind alone to completely power the United State's current needs.

Now, of course you couldn't scale Pickens' wind farm that efficiently. It would have to be a combination of projects tailored to their environment. But just like that, BAM, you've cut out all carbon-creating technologies for electricity generation. No coal. No natural gas. No consumption of any resource that isn't constantly renewed by the sun. The guillotine hanging over the neck of civilization itself would be removed. The human race would be free to fritter away the millenia.

We should also compare the values given from an existing project for Solar power, the Nevada Solar One generator. For Solar One, 64MW cost $266 million dollars. Therefore, $1.5 trillion dollars is 360,902MW. That's not a full replacement, but it's more than 42% down the road, since 217,756MW of existing capacity is already produced through clean sources.

If this war truly was one to secure oil reserves as part of America's long term grand strategy, then I say it was a poor investment, even given the fever-dreams of success advanced by some of the neoconservatives that are now so clearly out of reach.

WSJ Worried about Income Inequality?

Those dastardly redistributionist liberals at the Wall Street Journal:
In a new sign of increasing inequality in the U.S., the richest 1% of Americans in 2006 garnered the highest share of the nation's adjusted gross income for two decades, and possibly the highest since 1929, according to Internal Revenue Service data.

Meanwhile, the average tax rate of the wealthiest 1% fell to its lowest level in at least 18 years. The group's share of the tax burden has risen, though not as quickly as its share of income.
This reminds me of one of my favorite references when dealing with strict voodoo-economics Republicans:

A reader makes the best case I know of for progressive taxation at this present time:

We have seen during the Bush and Reagan eras the negative effects of a more regressive tax policy. The gap between rich and poor widens. The middle class stagnates, while incomes for the top 10% explodes. Crime rates rise, families crack under the strain, whole communities undergo upheaval, the wealthy separate themselves in gated communities, and on and on. If Burkian conservatism is based on a respect for societal traditions and community institutions, one of its greatest adversaries must be unencumbered market forces and the "creative destruction" it unleashes. Have you read your "Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism" lately? I'd say if you want to avoid a future of wholesale class conflict and radical socialism, the smart thing to do would be to keep the gap between the rich and the poor from becoming a chasm.

This is also why Ross and Reihan may be ideologically difficult for me to agree with but are making an important contribution. Conservatism is defined, to my mind, by a respect for practical wisdom, the knowledge of when to abandon certain principles in the face of emergent realities. It is a perfectly conservative worry to follow Aristotle in hoping for a strong middle class as a bulwark for a stable mixed regime. If global economic forces shred that class or drastically exacerbate social and economic inequality so as to threaten the stability of the polity, conservatives should be open to some measure of redistributionism as a palliative. Not as a general principle - but as a temporary pragmatic response to a social danger.

I have never felt like a liberal. I have always felt that the positions that made me support the Democrats were just the minimum necessary to address our problems. They felt conservative at their heart - not risky hail mary policies predicated on achieving Utopian bliss for the masses. The old school conservatives that are still Republicans are finally coming around. Conservatives for Obama!

McCain Iraq Timeline

McCain has had a complicated relationship with the Iraq War. Here is the definitive, open-source timeline on McCain's Iraq positions. It starts universally positive, and ends mostly negative, as one might expect, but with significant bet-hedging throughout. If the surge had turned out badly, for instance, he could have said, "I always said the surge didn't have enough troops and was not permanent enough to succeed. If we had done it my way, we would be winning."

McCain's Maliki Endorsement Response

Man, this is bad. McCain says he knows Maliki wont ask us to leave, despite the fact that he just did exactly that. Apparently the distinction is that they can ask us to leave, but not by setting a date influenced by conditions on the ground. Just leaving based on conditions on the ground is apparently OK. It's an awfully thin parsing to base your entire campaign around:

McCain's final point is a guarantee that if we follow his strategy we wont have to go back into Iraq at any point in the future. Under McCain's plan if we completely remove Al Qaeda and then leave, somehow our magical "America Left in Victory Juice" will remain around and stop Al Qaeda from coming back secretly. Wow. America IS exceptional.

The Saucening!

Applesauce reacts violently to John McCain's presence.

I can't support any candidate that's not in line with the interests of Big-Motts.


McCain Catchup

While Obama's been on his foreign extravaganza, McCain has been getting into a lot of trouble. I don't have time for everything, but a couple of them stood out:
The first plays to McCain's forgetfulness, and the second helps rebut the lies that the Republicans are spilling about how safe coastal oil drilling has become.

Interestingly, the thing the McCain campaign has been pushing these last few days has been the purported media love affair with Obama. He says they've been paying attention preferentially to Obama, but Obama's the one that's been out there making news. Not standing in front of a Sausage Haus, Fudge Haus, or Dairy Delight Cheese Aisle, but real news. In this crisis of irrelevance, an opportunity presented itself to McCain. McCain should have shouted "damn the torpedoes" and went to the oil rig anyway to ride out the storm. That would have been news, and it would have supported into his "oil drilling is so safe" deception nicely. Oh well. Opportunity missed.

The Time Travelling Surge pt II

McCain is now saying that the Surge began/allowed the Sunni Awakening to continue...
"Colonel MacFarland was contacted by one of the major Sunni sheiks," said the Senator. "Because of the surge we were able to go out and protect that sheik and others. And it began the Anbar awakening."
Unfortunately, the Sheik McCain is referencing was assassinated during the surge. In fact, you may remember me highlighting this picture under the headline "How to Get Yourself Killed (in Iraq):"

Poor McCain. That guy just cannot catch a break on his messaging. Every thing he says is instantly rebutted by history - often using his own words. What a drag.


Compressing 6 Years of McCain on Iraq

If you had been paying attention for the last six years like a crazy person, you too would know that McCain may have been an occasional critic of the war in Iraq, but that it amounted to more of a hedged bet than actual opposition. It seemed that every time it might have made a difference, John McCain was completely on-board with Bush's message on Iraq.

John McCain hates YouTube.

Final Word on Maliki's Endorsement

Let's go through the objections the White House and McCain have advanced to try to neutralize the damage Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki caused to the Republican effort in the upcoming elections. First, they said that Maliki's endorsement had been mistranslated. Then they said it had been misconstrued. Then they said that they knew better, and that Maliki would never back a timetable regardless of what he said in an individual interview.

Well it turns out that Maliki brought up Obama all by himself, and that it was Maliki's own translator that translated the passages. Furthermore, Maliki's office was provided with an advance copy of the piece soliciting edits, and Maliki's office had none. Finally, Maliki sent spokesmen out in the following days reaffirming that all U.S. combat troops should be out of Iraq by 2010, with some small flexibility for conditions on the ground. This is known as the Obama timetable.

So, now that every one of their pathetic explanations of the Maliki endorsement of Obama's has fallen on its face, it's important to remember the words that started it all.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki supports US presidential candidate Barack Obama's plan to withdraw US troops from Iraq within 16 months. When asked in and interview with SPIEGEL when he thinks US troops should leave Iraq, Maliki responded "as soon as possible, as far as we are concerned." He then continued: "US presidential candidate Barack Obama talks about 16 months. That, we think, would be the right timeframe for a withdrawal, with the possibility of slight changes."
So there. Maliki casts the first vote of the U.S. general election.


Fox News on Eductaion!


Good old Fox News, always good for a laugh.

We Won the Iraq War in 17 Days

Once again, lets examine John McCain's diverging statements and give them the most charitable interpretation.
On July 4th, the supposed success of the troop escalation meant, according to the McCain campaign, that we have to stay in Iraq:
John McCain's position that we cannot risk the progress we have made in Iraq by beginning to withdraw our troops immediately without concern for conditions on the ground."

By July 21st, the supposed success of the troop escalation meant, according to the McCain campaign, that troops will come home:

McCain said U.S. military success had made it possible for troops to return. "When you win wars, troops come home. And we are winning," he said.

McCain promised that Obama's position on Iraq would change after he visited the country. Instead, it appears that McCain's position has changed. Maybe this is like one of those Republicans who mercilessly attack homosexuals, and then are discovered to visit gay prostitutes, or prey on underage pages, on a regular basis.

The charitable conclusion, assuming that everything John McCain says is the truth, is that during the critical two weeks between the 4th and 21st we won the war in Iraq, and that our "fragile progress" was been transformed into solid victory, allowing withdrawal. Thank god those "conditions on the ground" allow you to say whatever you had already decided before the fact.

Novak Blasts McCain Campaign.

Good old Novak, calling the McCain campaign "reprehensible" liars perpetuating a "scam" on the media by telling him that they were going to announce their VP pick this week to dampen the Obama Foreign Bonanza.

He should burn his sources if McCain doesn't announce the VP pick this week. Just maybe that would teach the Republicans to fear the press again.

UNLIKELY UPDATE: Novak runs down one of his editorial enemies! Is he coming for the Democrats next? He'll run us all over!

The Surge is a Timetraveller

Drum finds a nice example of Republicans lying.
Over at the Corner, Andy McCarthy berates Barack Obama's explanation for the reduction in violence in Iraq ("What you had is a combination of political factors inside of Iraq that then came right at the same time as terrific work by our troops"):

Does Obama think the Sunni Awakening and the Shia militia stand-down are somehow separate developments from the surge and the brilliant performance of American forces? If he really thinks that, it's dumb.

Hmmm. Let's roll the tape:

  • February 2006: Muqtada al-Sadr orders an end to execution-style killings by Mahdi Army death squads.

  • August 2006: Sadr announces a broad ceasefire, which he has maintained ever since.

  • September 2006: The Sunni Awakening begins. Tribal leaders, first in Anbar and later in other provinces, start fighting back against al-Qaeda insurgents.

  • March 2007: The surge begins.

Obviously, the Surge was not responsible for things that occurred before it was implemented, or even before Gen. Petraeus was placed in charge of Iraq. And yet we hear this talking point all the time.

Reminds me of the Republicans saying there were no oil spills caused by Katrina.

Obama the National Security Candidate

I've been thinking a lot about the game-changer of Maliki's endorsement the Obama withdrawal plan. Before this week, Obama had a double disadvantage on national security issues. First, he's a Democrat. That fact alone invokes a rich media narrative, decades old, concerning the candidate's intrinsic weakness. Secondly, Obama has only been on the national scene for four years or so, and is therefore seen as inexperienced.

Of course, there are excellent rebuttals to both of these points. First, I would say that Democrats have become the party of National Security because they have the judgment to have opposed this incomparably stupid war. Second, the experience of the "grownups" George W. Bush brought with him did not do us much good, did it? Once again, this emphasizes the importance of judgment over experience.

Of course, rational counter arguments, although convincing for those that pay attention, are much more difficult to disseminate than an easily understood narrative. In one climactic week, real-world events have swung that narrative stunningly in Obama's favor. McCain has followed Obama in finally calling for more troops in Afghanistan. President Bush has opened up a diplomatic office in Tehran for talks with the Iranians (appeasement be damned). Karzai says Obama will be an equally strong partner as McCain. And for the coup de grace, he unexpectedly received Maliki's endorsement! McCain has nothing left in his foreign policy deck. Obama is now the default candidate on national security issues.

Iraq NotFlop II

Thanks to TPM, we have the following from the Obama Jordan press conference. Obama was asked a question born of the old confusion between tactics and strategy, and he answered it perfectly. The question was something to the effect that by committing to a 16 months-ish timetable, wasn't he effectively ignoring the advice of the commanders on the ground that he said he would consult? He rejected the premise like a pro:
"The notion is that either I do exactly what my military commanders [say] or I'm ignoring their advice. No, I'm factoring in their advice, but placing it in the broader strategic framework that's required."
Obama will not allow the Republicans to continue to own the issue of national security through language manipulation. What a refreshing change. Obama shows in another statement his understanding of strategy vs tactics:

"In his role as commander on the ground, he wants to attain as much flexibility as possible," Obama said of his talk with Petraeus. "What I emphasized to him was, if I were in his shoes, I would probably feel the same way."

"But my job extends beyond Iraq," Obama said.

Exactly. You can't let the Commander in charge of a single battlefield control the strategy for the entire war. Of course he will focus on his task at hand! It is the theatre's commander who decides what to do in that theatre. It is the CinC's job to decide what is in America's strategic interest. The two are very different jobs, but the Bush Administration has purposefully erased the line separating them because of the incredible unpopularity of President Bush. They cynically cashed in on the moral authority our military has in America in order to perpetuate Bush's own flawed policies of staying in Iraq as a goal unto itself.

Obama's Humility

Despite the fact that Sean Hannity has no better line of attack, and so will repeat it endlessly, Obama is not an arrogant man. His Christian faith informs him heavily, and requires a profound humility. He doesn't believe his election will suddenly solve all of our racial issues in America. He's said again and again that he doesn't think he'll be able to wave his magical hands and pass legislation, or that solving our big problems will be easy with an Obama presidency. In fact, he's said repeatedly that it is only through the power of the people speaking in unison that big change can occur. He explicitly vests his transformative power in the people of America, saying that he himself is only a flawed man who is good at bringing people together.

With Obama's foreign trip in particular, his humility has been highlighted. At the beginning of this trip he emphasized that he would not be conducting foreign policy on the trip, since:
“I’m more interested in listening than doing a lot of talking,” Mr. Obama told reporters before leaving Washington for a trip cloaked in secrecy because of security concerns (ed note: McCain does not share these security concerns). “And I think it is very important to recognize that I’m going over there as a U.S. senator. We have one president at a time.”
Finally, he hasn't even been engaging in domestic politics while he's been overseas. This morning in Jordan he had a chance to hit McCain on finally adopting his Afghanistan policy, but instead uses the most conciliatory phrasing, not even obliquely naming McCain. Instead, he said that, "I'm glad that there's a growing consensus at home that we need more resources in Afghanistan." Classy.

The McCain campaign may have made a mistake convincing the media that this election was "about Obama." He sure is looking presidential there in Jordan, isn't he?

Nothing but Net in Kuwait

Could this Obama trip be going any better?

Two for two, from the field! BAM!


McCain Confuses Iraq and Afghanistan

I'm not saying these are the biggest things in the world, but they certainly have been adding up, haven't they?

And it was McCain who owns the first big gaffe of the trip -- appearing to confuse Iraq and Afghanistan.

Asked by ABC's Diane Sawyer Monday morning whether the "the situation in Afghanistan in precarious and urgent," McCain responded:

"I think it's serious. . . . It's a serious situation, but there's a lot of things we need to do. We have a lot of work to do and I'm afraid it's a very hard struggle, particularly given the situation on the Iraq/Pakistan border," said McCain, R-Ariz., said on "Good Morning America."

Imagine if Obama made even one of these mistakes. He can't even get away with a "gaffe" like this if it's an obvious joke, like the 57 states fiasco.

Maliki's Endorsement

We all knew that, after a little waterboarding, Maliki would be softening or retracting his endorsement of Obama's withdrawal plan. I heard about the walk-back from Yglesias, and he says it all:
Thus, the only thing really surprising about this development is how little effort was made to make it convincing:
Dr. Ali al-Dabbagh, a spokesman for the Iraqi government, issued a statement saying Mr. Maliki’s statement had been “as not conveyed accurately regarding the vision of Senator Barack Obama, U.S. presidential candidate, on the timeframe for U.S. forces withdrawal from Iraq,” but it did not address a specific error. It did soften his support for Mr. Obama’s plan and implied a more tentative approach to withdrawing troops. More of the statement, which came from the U.S. military’s Central Command press office: [...]

You can read the full statement at the link, but this summary really tells you what you need to know, namely that the walkback (a) doesn't involve Maliki on the record, (b) says the reports are inaccurate but doesn't name inaccuracies, and (c) was issued through CENTCOM. Basically, this morning we saw Maliki speaking in person and endorsing Obama's plan to end the occupation in no uncertain terms. By the late afternoon, an Iraqi government spokesman was pretending this never happened in a statement released by the occupying army. That's hardly even a serious effort at bamboozlement.

No kidding. That's weak sauce.

Furthermore, Der Spiegel recorded the interview and gave the tapes to various news outlets for verification. Here's the competing translations:

Spiegel: "U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama talks about 16 months. That, we think, would be the right timeframe for a withdrawal, with the possibility of slight changes....Those who operate on the premise of short time periods in Iraq today are being more realistic."

Times: "Obama's remarks that — if he takes office — in 16 months he would withdraw the forces, we think that this period could increase or decrease a little, but that it could be suitable to end the presence of the forces in Iraq....Who wants to exit in a quicker way has a better assessment of the situation in Iraq."

There's a world of difference there, I tell you. Post-waterboarding, he may have "regretted" saying it, but he said it all the same.

McCain Continues to Abandon Global Warming/Energy Crisis

McCain, that lovable scamp:
WARREN -- U.S. Sen. John McCain backtracked Friday on a pledge to set national auto emissions standards that would supersede those California and other states want to set.

"I guess at the end of the day, I support the states being able to do that," he said at a town hall meeting at the GM Technical Center.

The statement appears to contradict a statement McCain made to The Detroit News last month, when he said he hoped to set a national standard that would make state standards unnecessary.
So, no more cap-and-trade system (even without the cap!), and now no more national mileage standard. What a maverick that guy is... he's even bucking the McCain-Party-Line!

Condi Rice for Obama!

Go figure:
Rice also said she has decided which candidate she will vote for in November, but she wont say in public who it will be.
I guess even she doesn't approve of the way her party has handled things. Good for her.

Update: Here's the video. Seems pretty clear to me.


Obama's Trip: Afghanistan

The headline says it all: Obama Would Be a `Strong' Partner, Karzai Says

That's two days of potential gaffes avoided. Given Maliki's statements yesterday, if Obama finishes this trip without sustaining any damage this election might be in the bag.


McCain Outlines Troop Movements for Enemy

Have you ever heard of our government announcing that one of its top officials was going to Iraq? Of course not. You hear that they have arrived in Iraq on a surprise visit, sometimes to enjoy plastic turkey with the troops. I think we all understand the security reasons for this caution. Well, either McCain doesn't understand that Iraq is a dangerous place (very possible), or he has another objective in mind:

(Reuters) - Republican presidential candidate John McCain said on Friday that his Democratic opponent, Barack Obama, is likely to be in Iraq over the weekend.

The Obama campaign has tried to cloak the Illinois senator's trip in some measure of secrecy for security reasons. The White House, State Department and Pentagon do not announce senior officials' visits to Iraq in advance.

"I believe that either today or tomorrow -- and I'm not privy to his schedule -- Sen. Obama will be landing in Iraq with some other senators" who make up a congressional delegation, McCain told a campaign fund-raising luncheon.

Stay classy, McCain.

Bush Administration Shoots McCain in Foot for the Last Time!

Wow, this is hilarious. It looks like the Bush Administration's stunning general incompetence has spread to the last bastion of Republican skill: getting themselves elected.
The White House this afternoon accidentally sent to its extensive distribution list a Reuters story headlined "Iraqi PM backs Obama troop exit plan - magazine."

The misfire comes at an odd time for Bush foreign policy, at a time when Obama's campaign alleges the president is moving closer toward Obama's recommendations about international relations -- sending more U.S. troops to Afghanistan, discussing a "general time horizon" for U.S. troop withdrawal and launching talks with Iran.
This, I'm sure we'll be told, is just one more example of that damned liberal bias in the news media... and the White House press office. Ha!

But seriously, how many times have the Bush Administration done things that have made McCain look like an idiot? I count at least three. It's almost like they aren't a big fan of this McCain guy.

Iraqi Prime Minister Supports Obama's Iraq Plan

It looks like Prime Minister Al-Maliki is on board the Obama train:
"U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama talks about 16 months. That, we think, would be the right timeframe for a withdrawal, with the possibility of slight changes."

Asked if he supported Obama's ideas more than those of John McCain, Republican presidential hopeful, Maliki said he did not want to recommend who people should vote for.

"Whoever is thinking about the shorter term is closer to reality. Artificially extending the stay of U.S. troops would cause problems."

Of course he wont come right out and tell anyone in America how to vote, but I think he's making himself abundantly clear.

Not that Obama needs the help, but this should be a complete game-ender for the McCain campaign.


McCain Forgets Opposition to Gay Adoption

The New York Times asks McCain about adoption of orphans by gay couples on July 13, 2008.

Q: President Bush believes that gay couples should not be permitted to adopt children. Do you agree with that?

McCain: I think that we’ve proven that both parents are important in the success of a family so, no I don’t believe in gay adoption.

Then, two days later, the McCain campaign clarifies his statements, which again means taking the opposite position:
McCain could have been clearer in the interview in stating that his position on gay adoption is that it is a state issue, just as he made it clear in the interview that marriage is a state issue. He was not endorsing any federal legislation.

McCain’s expressed his personal preference for children to be raised by a mother and a father wherever possible. However, as an adoptive father himself, McCain believes children deserve loving and caring home environments, and he recognizes that there are many abandoned children who have yet to find homes. McCain believes that in those situations that caring parental figures are better for the child than the alternative.
So there. This is exactly like his gay marriage flip flop, which occurred in the length of a commercial break - perhaps the fastest flip flop on record:

McCain Adopts Obama's Afghanistan Policy

McCain now wants more US Troops in Afghanistan, something Obama has been advocating and McCain had been resisting for years!

Here's ample documentation of McCain's previous position, thanks to Hilzoy.

And here's Marshall doing the media analysis on why we are not going to hear similar news stories to the ones we got about Obama's Iraq NotFlop:


Learn about McCain: College GPA

Here's something I didn't know about McCain. He graduated 894 out of 899 in his class - 5 from the bottom.

Coupled with his lack of curiosity, it's starting to sound a little familiar, don't you think?

No Katrina Oil Spills?

Isn't it interesting how the Republicans can't seem to debate an issue without resorting to out and out lies on the topic?

Republicans have wanted to open up the rest of America's protected lands to business exploitation since the idea of protected lands was first proposed. Currently they're trying to get the States to agree to allow off-shore oil drilling, on the premise that it will affect oil prices. It wont.

One of their primary talking points in this argument is that technology has progressed to the point where drilling offshore is no longer a spill waiting to happen. In fact, they say that not even Katrina was able to make any of these off-shore drilling platforms spring a leak! They repeat this every time they are on the TV talking about energy.

It wont surprise you to find that this is not true:
The oil pollution in the wake of Hurricane Katrina could be among the worst recorded in North America, officials trying to coordinate the clean-up say. The US coastguard, which is responsible for the marine environment, said yesterday more than 6.5 million gallons of crude oil had been spilt in at least seven major incidents. The previous worst spill in US waters was the 11m gallons in Alaskan waters from the Exxon Valdez in 1989.

"This is a major event," said Lieutenant Colonel Glynn Smith of the coastguard in New Orleans. "Things are going well, but three-quarters of the oil from the spills has not yet been recovered."

The figure does not include petrol and oil spilt from up to 250,000 cars which have been submerged, or that spilt from hundreds of petrol stations. The coastguard says it has received almost 400 reports of spills, the vast majority of which have not been assessed.

So, once again we see that the Republicans understand that the perceived reasonableness of a statement is directly correlated to the number of people saying it on TV. The Truth be damned, they know how to win elections.

Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

This is pure brilliance. It's like he's in my head.

Here are The Five Goals of his foreign policy:
  1. Ending the war in Iraq responsibly
  2. Finishing the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban
  3. Securing all nuclear weapons and materials from terrorists and rogue states
  4. Achieving true energy security
  5. Rebuilding our alliances to meet the challenges of the 21st century
Here's the meat:

The attacks of September 11 brought this new reality into a terrible and ominous focus. On that bright and beautiful day, the world of peace and prosperity that was the legacy of our Cold War victory seemed to suddenly vanish under rubble, and twisted steel, and clouds of smoke.

But the depth of this tragedy also drew out the decency and determination of our nation. At blood banks and vigils; in schools and in the United States Congress, Americans were united - more united, even, than we were at the dawn of the Cold War. The world, too, was united against the perpetrators of this evil act, as old allies, new friends, and even long-time adversaries stood by our side. It was time - once again - for America's might and moral suasion to be harnessed; it was time to once again shape a new security strategy for an ever-changing world.

Imagine, for a moment, what we could have done in those days, and months, and years after 9/11.

We could have deployed the full force of American power to hunt down and destroy Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda, the Taliban, and all of the terrorists responsible for 9/11, while supporting real security in Afghanistan.

We could have secured loose nuclear materials around the world, and updated a 20th century non-proliferation framework to meet the challenges of the 21st.

We could have invested hundreds of billions of dollars in alternative sources of energy to grow our economy, save our planet, and end the tyranny of oil.

We could have strengthened old alliances, formed new partnerships, and renewed international institutions to advance peace and prosperity.

We could have called on a new generation to step into the strong currents of history, and to serve their country as troops and teachers, Peace Corps volunteers and police officers.

We could have secured our homeland--investing in sophisticated new protection for our ports, our trains and our power plants.

We could have rebuilt our roads and bridges, laid down new rail and broadband and electricity systems, and made college affordable for every American to strengthen our ability to compete.

We could have done that.

Instead, we have lost thousands of American lives, spent nearly a trillion dollars, alienated allies and neglected emerging threats - all in the cause of fighting a war for well over five years in a country that had absolutely nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks.

Our men and women in uniform have accomplished every mission we have given them. What's missing in our debate about Iraq - what has been missing since before the war began - is a discussion of the strategic consequences of Iraq and its dominance of our foreign policy. This war distracts us from every threat that we face and so many opportunities we could seize. This war diminishes our security, our standing in the world, our military, our economy, and the resources that we need to confront the challenges of the 21st century. By any measure, our single-minded and open-ended focus on Iraq is not a sound strategy for keeping America safe.


From McCain's Past

Republican Senator says McCain roughed up Sandinista:
One of John McCain's Republican colleagues says he saw the presumed GOP presidential nominee roughly grab an associate of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and lift him out of his chair during a diplomatic mission to the Central American nation in 1987.

Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., said he saw McCain, who has a reputation for being hot-tempered, rough up an Ortega associate during a trip to Nicaragua led by former Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan.

"McCain was down at the end of the table and we were talking to the head of the guerrilla group here at this end of the table and I don't know what attracted my attention," Cochran said in an interview with the Sun Herald in Biloxi, Miss. "But I saw some kind of quick movement at the bottom of the table and I looked down there and John had reached over and grabbed this guy by the shirt collar and had snatched him up like he was throwing him up out of the chair to tell him what he thought about him or whatever ...

"I don't know what he was telling him but I thought, 'Good grief, everybody around here has got guns and we were there on a diplomatic mission.' I don't know what had happened to provoke John, but he obviously got mad at the guy ... and he just reached over there and snatched ... him."
Also, he apparently thinks rape is funny:

The blog Rum, Romanism and Rebellion pulls out a 1986 Tucson Citizen article recounting a joke about rape told by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). Speaking to the National League of Cities and Towns in Washington, DC, McCain allegedly said:

Did you hear the one about the woman who is attacked on the street by a gorilla, beaten senseless, raped repeatedly and left to die? When she finally regains consciousness and tries to speak, her doctor leans over to hear her sigh contently and to feebly ask, “Where is that marvelous ape?”

McCain was swiftly criticized by women’s groups. A spokeswoman for NOW in Arizona said the organization’s members were “incensed by his cruel and sexist remark.” McCain said he did not “recall” telling the joke. More recently, the McCain campaign scheduled a fundraiser with a Texas oilman who compared rape to the weather while running for governor. “As long as it’s inevitable, you might as well lie back and enjoy it,” said Clayton Williams in 1990. After public outcry, the event was “postponed.”

Update: Huffington Post's Sam Stein spoke to reporter Norma Coile, who wrote the original article. Coile told Stein, "I'm not sure exactly what the wording was of the joke, but something was said. Some joke involving a rape and ape was said."
Good stuff, McCain. If only it was still the 20th Century, his century, and you could just deny you ever said such things.

Talking with our Enemies?

The latest on the appeasement front:

President Bush has authorized the most significant American diplomatic contact with Iran since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, sending the State Department's third-ranking official to Geneva for a meeting this weekend on Iran's nuclear program, administration officials said Tuesday.

....William J. Burns, the under secretary of state for political affairs, will attend a meeting on Saturday with the European Union's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, and Iran's nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, a senior administration official said, speaking on condition of anonymity ahead of an official announcement on Wednesday.

It has to be admitted that Obama is right on this issue. Our foreign policy successes (if you can call them that after the failures that precede them) have all come as a result of talking with out enemies. Our foreign policy failures have all come as a result of stubbornly refusing to talk to our enemies. For instance, during the period when we weren't talking to North Korea, they manufactured their first dozen nuclear bombs and developed enrichment technologies that they then spread around the world. Now that we are talking to them, they have suspended their program and destroyed their reprocessing facility.

Once again, the Bush Administration is doing things that McCain has called Obama "naive" for advocating.


McCain for Cutting Social Security Benefits

Excellent work from the Reality-Based Community:

Carly Fiorina says that McCain might raise taxes on rich folks as part of a Social Security deal.

Grover Norquist, speaking as the Anti-Tax Grand Inquisitor, more or less replies: "Bullsh*t! I wear McCain's balls on my keyring!"

Then comes the punchline:

A McCain campaign spokesman told ABC News Monday that McCain continues to oppose any tax increase as part of Social Security reform, notwithstanding Fiorina's comments.

"The lesson of history is that too many specifics at this point polarize the debate, that is the argument Carly was trying to make," Taylor Griffin said. "However, John McCain does believe that we can fix Social Security without raising taxes. As president, John McCain will call on Congress to develop a bi-partisan solution to Social Security — and if they won't, he will."

Three points here:

1. "Too many specifics at this point polarize the debate" translates into English as "If we told the retirees how completely we plan to shaft them, they might not vote for us."

2. The McCain camp seems to have invented a new idea: unilateral bipartisanship. If Congress doesn't come up with a bi-partisan plan, McCain will single-handedly come up with his own bi-partisan plan.

3. Since McCain has now committed to "fixing" the Social Security "problem" without raising taxes, and since the only two ways of getting projected revenues to match projected benefits is to increase revenues or reduce benefits, it follows that McCain is committed to cutting Social Security benefits. And that's before he has to reduce them again to accommodate the diversion of new money into private accounts.

So not only does McCain think that Social Security is "an absolute disgrace," he knows what he wants to do about it: he'll reduce pensions but not increase taxes on the wealthy.

This seems to me like Christmas in July.

Yup. This is an 80-20 issue, and especially so amongst the most dedicated voters - the older generations.

The 9/11 Timeline

If it had been a Democrat that was President on 9/11, this would be all we'd hear about until impeachment:
  • Jan 20, 2001: Bush Inaugurated
  • Jan 25, 2001: Richard Clarke sends Condi Rice memo, warning about al Qaeda. Rice does nothing.
  • August 6, 2001: Bush gets memo titled "Bin Laden Determined to strike in US." Bush responds by telling the briefer, "All right. You've covered your ass, now." Then does nothing.
  • September 11, 2001: Bin Laden strikes in US.
(h/t Atrios)

McCain calls War Opponents Traitors

This is more like the Republican rhetoric I'm used to! I'm sure McCain is doing this just to make us Democrats feel at home! Being called a traitor just makes me nostalgic for the days when I was being right about the upcoming Iraq War, and when all the chest-thumping patriots were being so very, so stupidly wrong.

The new accusation was unveiled on a McCain campaign conference call [this morning], with top McCain surrogates making this charge in tandem.

Sen. Lindsey Graham said that a “turning point” was when Harry Reid declared the war “lost” over a year ago, and brought up an old quote from Chuck Schumer predicting that discontent with the war would lead to further Democratic gains. “The Democratic Party built a political strategy around us losing the war in Iraq,” Graham said.

McCain adviser Randy Scheunemann joined in: “Senator Obama seems to think losing a war will help him win an election.”

It might not be the actual word "treason," but the intent is clear. So much for the civil and respectful campaign.

Of course, it's doubly ironic that the Republicans are saying the Democrats want to see US Troops killed and lose on the battlefield. It was the Republicans, after all, that demanded we go to war with a country that posed no threat to us, delivering that country into the waiting arms of the Iranians, and getting hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians killed in the process. Then there is the little matter of the 4000+ US dead. These military men and women deserved better than to be used so cynically.

And let us remember that it is the Republicans who have said that terrorist attacks on US soil would help them electorally! After an OBL tape released during the 2004 election, McCain said, “Bin Laden may have just given us a little boost. Amazing, huh?”

One might say that "Senator McCain seems to think having US citizens killed by terrorists in America will help him win an election." Fair, huh?


Oped: Obama on Iraq

Obama wrote an Op-Ed for the NYTimes today:

In the 18 months since President Bush announced the surge, our troops have performed heroically in bringing down the level of violence. New tactics have protected the Iraqi population, and the Sunni tribes have rejected Al Qaeda — greatly weakening its effectiveness.

But the same factors that led me to oppose the surge still hold true. The strain on our military has grown, the situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated and we’ve spent nearly $200 billion more in Iraq than we had budgeted. Iraq’s leaders have failed to invest tens of billions of dollars in oil revenues in rebuilding their own country, and they have not reached the political accommodation that was the stated purpose of the surge.

The good news is that Iraq’s leaders want to take responsibility for their country by negotiating a timetable for the removal of American troops. Meanwhile, Lt. Gen. James Dubik, the American officer in charge of training Iraq’s security forces, estimates that the Iraqi Army and police will be ready to assume responsibility for security in 2009.

Only by redeploying our troops can we press the Iraqis to reach comprehensive political accommodation and achieve a successful transition to Iraqis’ taking responsibility for the security and stability of their country. Instead of seizing the moment and encouraging Iraqis to step up, the Bush administration and Senator McCain are refusing to embrace this transition — despite their previous commitments to respect the will of Iraq’s sovereign government. They call any timetable for the removal of American troops “surrender,” even though we would be turning Iraq over to a sovereign Iraqi government.

But this is not a strategy for success — it is a strategy for staying that runs contrary to the will of the Iraqi people, the American people and the security interests of the United States. That is why, on my first day in office, I would give the military a new mission: ending this war.

Sounds like me. :)


Looks like the Iraqis are holding firm to their demands for a withdrawal timetable before any agreement is reached concerning the United States' legal right to occupy the country.

There will be no Status of Forces Agreement with the Bush White House. Sovereignty is a bitch, huh?


Torture Verified

This is very illuminating. Greenwald always does an excellent job of making legal issues understandable and compelling:
According to the New York Times and Washington Post, both of which received an advanced copy, Mayer's book reports the following:
  • "Red Cross investigators concluded last year in a secret report that the Central Intelligence Agency's interrogation methods for high-level Qaeda prisoners constituted torture and could make the Bush administration officials who approved them guilty of war crimes."
  • "A CIA analyst warned the Bush administration in 2002 that up to a third of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay may have been imprisoned by mistake, but White House officials ignored the finding and insisted that all were 'enemy combatants' subject to indefinite incarceration."
  • "[A] top aide to Vice President Cheney shrugged off the report and squashed proposals for a quick review of the detainees' cases . . .

    'There will be no review,' the book quotes Cheney staff director David Addington as saying. 'The president has determined that they are ALL enemy combatants. We are not going to revisit it.'"

  • "[T]he [CIA] analyst estimated that a full third of the camp's detainees were there by mistake. When told of those findings, the top military commander at Guantanamo at the time, Major Gen. Michael Dunlavey, not only agreed with the assessment but suggested that an even higher percentage of detentions -- up to half -- were in error. Later, an academic study by Seton Hall University Law School concluded that 55 percent of detainees had never engaged in hostile acts against the United States, and only 8 percent had any association with al-Qaeda."
  • [T]he International Committee of the Red Cross declared in the report, given to the C.I.A. last year, that the methods used on Abu Zubaydah, the first major Qaeda figure the United States captured, were 'categorically' torture, which is illegal under both American and international law".
  • "[T]he Red Cross document 'warned that the abuse constituted war crimes, placing the highest officials in the U.S. government in jeopardy of being prosecuted.'"
This is what a country becomes when it decides that it will not live under the rule of law, when it communicates to its political leaders that they are free to do whatever they want -- including breaking our laws -- and there will be no consequences. There are two choices and only two choices for every country -- live under the rule of law or live under the rule of men. We've collectively decided that our most powerful political leaders are not bound by our laws -- that when they break the law, there will be no consequences. We've thus become a country which lives under the proverbial "rule of men" -- that is literally true, with no hyperbole needed -- and Mayer's revelations are nothing more than the inevitable by-product of that choice.

That's why this ongoing, well-intentioned debate that Andrew Sullivan is having with himself and his readers over whether "torture is worse than illegal, warrantless eavesdropping" is so misplaced, and it's also why those who are dismissing as "an overblown distraction" the anger generated by last week's Congressional protection of surveillance lawbreakers are so deeply misguided. Things like "torture" and "illegal eavesdropping" can't be compared as though they're separate, competing policies. They are rooted in the same framework of lawlessness. The same rationale that justifies one is what justifies the other. Endorsing one is to endorse all of it.

In fact, none of the scandals of radicalism and criminality which we've learned about over the last seven years -- including the creation of this illegal torture regime -- can be viewed in isolation. They're all by-products of the country that we've become in the post-9/11 era, primarily as a result of our collective decision to exempt our Government leaders from the rule of law; to acquiesce to the manipulative claim that we can only be Safe if we allow our Leaders to be free from consequences when they commit crimes; and to demonize advocates of the rule of law as -- to use Larry Lessig's mindless, reactionary clich├ęs -- shrill, Leftist "hysterics" who need to "get off [their] high horse(s)".

That is the mentality that has allowed the Bush administration to engage in this profound assault on our national character, to violate our laws at will. Our political and media elite have acquiesced to all of this when they weren't cheering it all on. Those who object to it, who argue that these abuses of political power are dangerous in the extreme and that we cannot tolerate deliberate government lawbreaking, are dismissed as shrill Leftist hysterics.

Read the whole thing. It's not too much longer.


Iraq and Leaving

I have long feared that something even stronger than the Lieberman Electoral Strategy will be used against Barack Obama. Joe Lieberman based his "independent" campaign around his heartfelt and very sincere desire to see the troops come home from Iraq. "No one wants to bring the troops home more than I do," was his oft-repeated formulation. Of course, it was never true, but by repeating it enough times it sure ended up sounding true. The people of Connecticut, overwhelmingly against the Iraq War and for bringing home our troops starting immediately, voted into office one of the most dedicated war supporters in the Senate.

In the presidential election it might be even more powerful, since the current President has significant power to bolster the rhetoric. We've always known that the Surge would be temporary, and that as the brigades withdrew we would be treated to victory rhetoric from the President. That's come to pass nicely. The wild card is whether the Bush Administration starts further draw downs before the election. It's my fear that they'll say, "Well, McCain's Surge worked so well that we're going to start drawing down to 100,000 troops" in the month before the election. Once again, there will be a clear choice between "continue the war" and "end the war," but the waters will be muddied by the Administration and by McCain's constant insistence that he "wants to bring the troops home too."

The real strategic goal of the war supporters appears to be nothing more than staying in Iraq. Lieberman perhaps wanted American troops between Israel and Iran to help protect Jewish lands. President Bush might want to stay in Iraq because his advisers told him it would remake the Middle East and bring freedom for millions. Many people, however, want to stay in Iraq so that we can have 150,000 US troops over the second largest deposit of oil in the world. Serious (Republican) people like Alan Greenspan and James Baker have said securing access to oil is the real strategic objective of the war. Of course, anyone suggesting such a thing before the war was regarded as a left-wing nut, smearing our President and our troops. It was called treason.

We were told by the President (who knew it was untrue) that Iraq was an imminent threat to our security, and we had to invade to deal with it. When we learned that it was untrue we were told that leaving would be a threat to our security because violence was high. With violence being low, we were told that leaving would be a threat to our security. Now we're told that even Obama's plan, which has us leaving by 2011, is a threat to our security! Eight years is not enough.

It really begins to look like the plan for Iraq all along was just not to leave.


Obama's Abortion Problem?

Really? This is your latest attack, Hannity? You're now claiming that Obama's flip-flopping on reproductive rights? This is weak sauce, man.

Obama said what Democrats have been saying for over a decade - that we oppose late term abortion, and that we would support laws against it if there was a strict exemption for taking into account the life of the mother. This health exemption is seen as gray by the right, though, and they worry that a mother will cry: "but I don't want to have this baby! It's causing me mental anguish and that affects my health! I am exempt from the prohibition!" Obama just explains that that doesn't cut it. There is a strong record of Obama using personal responsibility rhetoric, and that's all this represents. After all, you can hardly claim that a 3rd trimester pregnancy snuck up on you! You have a responsibility, as a woman, to make your choice before that viability threshold is crossed. It is only your own fault if you choose to wait until the last minute.
Strang: Based on emails we received, another issue of deep importance to our readers is a candidate’s stance on abortion. We largely know your platform, but there seems to be some real confusion about your position on third-trimester and partial-birth abortions. Can you clarify your stance for us?

Obama: I absolutely can, so please don’t believe the emails. I have repeatedly said that I think it’s entirely appropriate for states to restrict or even prohibit late-term abortions as long as there is a strict, well-defined exception for the health of the mother. Now, I don’t think that “mental distress” qualifies as the health of the mother. I think it has to be a serious physical issue that arises in pregnancy, where there are real, significant problems to the mother carrying that child to term. Otherwise, as long as there is such a medical exception in place, I think we can prohibit late-term abortions.

The other email rumor that’s been floating around is that somehow I’m unwilling to see doctors offer life-saving care to children who were born as a result of an induced abortion. That’s just false. There was a bill that came up in Illinois that was called the “Born Alive” bill that purported to require life-saving treatment to such infants. And I did vote against that bill. The reason was that there was already a law in place in Illinois that said that you always have to supply life-saving treatment to any infant under any circumstances, and this bill actually was designed to overturn Roe v. Wade, so I didn’t think it was going to pass constitutional muster.

Ever since that time, emails have been sent out suggesting that, somehow, I would be in favor of letting an infant die in a hospital because of this particular vote. That’s not a fair characterization, and that’s not an honest characterization. It defies common sense to think that a hospital wouldn't provide life-saving treatment to an infant that was alive and had a chance of survival.
Imminently reasonable, don't you think?

What a ridiculous charge of flip-floppery. And yet, once again, we're subjected to a deluge of stories uncritically repeating the McCain line.

McCain Abandons Global Warming

Larry Kudlow has noticed something in McCain's Economic Plan:

I went back last evening and carefully read [John McCain's] 15-page policy pamphlet called "Jobs for America." Here's what I found: There is no mention of cap-and-trade. None. Nada.

....So I picked up the phone and dialed a senior McCain official to make sure these old eyes hadn't missed it. Sure enough, on deep background, this senior McCain advisor told me I was correct: no cap-and-trade. In other words, this central-planning, regulatory, tax-and-spend disaster, which did not appear in Mac's two recent speeches, has been eradicated entirely — even from the detailed policy document that hardly anybody will ever read.

First McCain forgot about the Cap in his Cap-and-Trade program, and now the program is just gone entirely. As of now has no plan to address Global Warming, becoming like Bush in one more way.

Some Maverick. Poor McCain 2000. He's so far gone.


Obama's NotFlops

The Corner, putting together a list of Obama's Notflops:
How about taking a position on terrorist wiretapping that is the opposite of a position he articulated (and voted on) earlier? Or saying he agreed with the Supreme Court striking down a gun law he had earlier said he thought was constitutional? Or saying one thing about trade now and another during the primaries? Or “refining” (the term his own campaign chose to use) his view on Iraq to bring it closer into line with McCain’s?
"Thin gruel," as Andrew Sullivan - former republican blogger - says. Let's take them one by one.
  • FISA: the conference bill was significantly different than the original Senate version. Importantly, it restored Constitutional Rule to our nation's eavesdropping practices - protecting the rights of Americans against warrantless search. He didn't want the good to be the enemy of the perfect over civil Telecom Immunity.
  • Gun Rights: He has always said that he supported an individual right to bear arms - the most important question answered by the court. He supported the DC ban, but that is not necessarily inconsistent with the individual right since it wasn't a universal ban. The court decided it was unconstitutional, so he agreed, because the central question was one of rights.
  • Trade: Saying that he'll unilaterally opt-out of NAFTA, then later saying that he would use the threat of an opt-out as negotiating leverage is not a change.
  • Iraq: Not even remotely a flip-flop. It's a notflop.
Why not have an election based on reality for once, instead of manufactured distractions from the Republican Party?

Unified Theory of Forgetfulness?

Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo has been looking for a Grand Unified Theory of McCain's Crumbiness.

McCain doesn't understand his own policies. Hilzoy said it perfectly:

There's a pattern to this. McCain seems to have a few ideas about economics. Spending is out of control, and if we just restrain it, things will be OK. (Moreover, none of the spending he proposes -- e.g., the spending required to add 200,000 troops to the armed forces -- actually counts.) People should have the right to put their own tax money into their own Social Security accounts. Cutting taxes raises revenue. And that seems to be about it.

Since he doesn't actually understand what he's talking about, he periodically says something ill-advised -- that he supports privatizing Social Security, that he'll balance the budget in four years, and so forth. Then his advisors walk him back -- as they have already done with his promise to balance the budget by the end of his first term, and as I expect they'll do shortly on Social Security.

But it's not just on economics that this happens. Recall his advisors taking back his promise to kick Russia out of the G-8, the way he has needed to be corrected about whether Iran is training al Qaeda, or whether al Qaeda is Shi'a, or how many troops we have in Iraq, and so forth. And remember that he doesn't seem to know what a cap and trade system is, despite having co-sponsored cap and trade legislation in Congress, and having a cap and trade system as a central part of his energy policy.

He has a few ideas lodged in his head, without anything like the background he'd need in order to question or assess them, and without any discernible interest in learning more. He doesn't keep basic, basic facts straight, or know really elementary aspects of his own policies.

I never thought I'd end up covering John McCain like this. I expected, after eight years of Bush, to be able to argue about genuine philosophical and policy differences, rather than going on about the most basic matters of competence. But McCain's performance so far is just frightening. We've had eight years of a clueless President who governs on the basis of his gut plus a few stray ideas that wafted in on the breeze and somehow stuck. We do not need four more.

That's a scary thought.

McCain Forgetful about Balanced Budget?

Early in the morning McCain says he'll balance budget in four years, largely with the magic of "winning" in Iraq.

Then, six hours later, his senior economic advisor says it's eight years, not four:
"The senator has always pledged to balance the budget by the end of his second term."
Thereby making it appear that he hadn't fliped and flopped back and forth on the timeline. Which is it? Who knows! That's Strategic Ambiguity at its best! No one can get angry at you for breaking your word, because you never gave a clear word on the subject. Brilliant.

Either that, or McCain knew that it was supposed to be eight years, and forgot on the way to the podium.


White House Lies about Censoring EPA

The White House had said it had no part in the content of a "controversial" EPA report regarding Global Warming.

It turns out that Cheney's office was heavily involved in censoring the conclusions of the report.

What a surprise.

Coverage of Obama on Iraqa

I am so ticked off about the coverage of this Iraq Not-Flop. Seriously. I'm as angry as I was while I watched the Swift Boat Vets get fawning press coverage by the "liberal media" as they lied about John Kerry's combat commendations.

If the McCain campaign says it, it must be true, and it dominates the discourse for the week. It is infuriating.


Michelle Obama Loves America JUST like McCain

McCain hates Youtube.

From his own mouth: McCain didn't love America until he was a POW. So don't talk to me about Mrs. Obama not being "really proud" of her country until now.

"We're Winning in Iraq"

We've been hearing a lot lately that we are now "winning in Iraq," because the McCain campaign has declared it to be true. When asked for specifics, McCain supporters primarily say that "Violence is down." This is true. Instead of 4 deadly car bombings in Baghdad a week, there's closer to 2.

They also say that political reconciliation is going gangbusters. But what about that? Specifically, what reconciliation has there been? Answer: there's been some progress on provincial elections, but there are still issues to be resolved that have stalled the election. Significantly, there's been no agreement on Oil Revenue Sharing. There still isn't satisfactory electricity of water - even to the capital! Reconstruction projects remain as stalled as they ever have been. And most grievously, there still hasn't been that run-through of the constitution that the Sunnis were promised so that they would vote for the damned thing! Don't those things seem important?

As for the successes we've had, those are largely credited to our policy of paying our enemies not to fight us. That is known as arming your short-term friends, something that has come back to bite us before (see Iraq, Afghanistan). And you don't have to believe me on this, my favorite non-partisan research group, the GAO, said so.

This "We are Winning" garbage is the old Bush-party line! They've been telling us the same thing for years now! In fact, I could have said the same exact thing last summer. "We're making progress, and getting closer to being able to pull out, but it's not there yet." Well I say 4000+ dead and 2 trillion dollars and 7 years is enough of a commitment for America. Our combat troops have done their jobs with honor, and it's time to bring them home. It's time to start spending our treasure in our own country to get off Oil. Either that, or we can spend another 4 years being told that we're just 6-9 months from "turning the corner."

Also, by the way, violence is always down in the summer. It's hot as hell. You can't go jihading in the oven, gringo.

Craps vs Poker for President?

Interestingly, both of our Presidential candidates are gamblers. One plays small-stakes poker, while the other plays craps for thousands of dollars at a time. One is a game where skill matters, the other is a game where you are always at a disadvantage, at the whims of dumb random luck. Which would you rather have as President?

The casino craps player is a social animal, a thrill seeker who wants not just to win but to win with a crowd. Unlike cards or a roulette wheel, well-thrown dice reward most everyone on the rail, yielding a collective yawp that drowns out the slots. It is a game for showmen, Hollywood stars and basketball legends with girls on their arms. It is also a favorite pastime of the presumptive Republican nominee for President, John McCain.

The backroom poker player, on the other hand, is more cautious and self-absorbed. Card games may be social, but they are played in solitude. No need for drama. The quiet card counter is king, and only a novice banks on luck. In this game, a good bluff trumps blind faith, and the studied observer beats the showman. So it is fitting that the presumptive Democratic nominee, Barack Obama, raked in so many pots in his late-night games with political friends. […]


In the past decade, he has played on Mississippi riverboats, on Indian land, in Caribbean craps pits and along the length of the Las Vegas Strip. Back in 2005 he joined a group of journalists at a magazine-industry conference in Puerto Rico, offering betting strategy on request. “Enjoying craps opens up a window on a central thread constant in John’s life,” says John Weaver, McCain’s former chief strategist, who followed him to many a casino. “Taking a chance, playing against the odds.” Aides say McCain tends to play for a few thousand dollars at a time and avoids taking markers, or loans, from the casinos, which he has helped regulate in Congress. “He never, ever plays on the house,” says Mark Salter, a McCain adviser. The goal, say several people familiar with his habit, is never financial. He loves the thrill of winning and the camaraderie at the table.

Only recently have McCain’s aides urged him to pull back from the pastime. In the heat of the G.O.P. primary fight last spring, he announced on a visit to the Vegas Strip that he was going to the casino floor. When his aides stopped him, fearing a public relations disaster, McCain suggested that they ask the casino to take a craps table to a private room, a high-roller privilege McCain had indulged in before. His aides, with alarm bells ringing, refused again, according to two accounts of the discussion.

“He clearly knows that this is on the borderline of what is acceptable for him to be doing,” says a Republican who has watched McCain play. “And he just sort of revels in it.”

So, even though he knew it was a border-line unacceptable behavior, he needed to play anyway. When he was blocked by staff once, he suggested playing in private and was blocked again. What is that they say about drinking in private, again?

From the New Yorker, we learn that McCain sometimes plays craps for 14 hours straight!

The moment the car stopped at McCain’s hotel in downtown New Orleans, he set out at his usual fast clip for Harrah’s, across the street. McCain is an avid gambler. Wes Gullett, a close friend who worked for McCain for years, told me that they used to play craps in Las Vegas in fourteen-hour stints, standing at the tables from 10 a.m. to midnight. "Craps is addictive," McCain remarked, and he headed for the fifteen-dollar-minimum-bet tables. At the most obvious level, the game is incredibly simple -- players rotate turns throwing the dice, and you either win or lose depending on what number comes up. But McCain’s betting formula makes it much more complicated. "Uh-oh!" he cried, as a player accidentally threw the dice off the table. "This is a very, very superstitious game," he said. When his turn came to throw the dice, he picked them up and blew on them first. He had placed chips on the number 5, so (envisioning a combination of 2 and 3) he called, "Michael Jordan! Michael Jordan!"

If you're playing for 14 hours, it is not just for fun.

Finally, The Telegraph chimes in with some analysis:

"You're always at a disadvantage at craps," said Mr Bloch. "It's a problem, if you have a leader who believes they can beat the odds. You don't want him shooting dice with the economy." Mr Holden added: "We poker players don't call poker gambling. It is a game of skill. Craps is an absurd game of luck. You may have thrilling short term wins but only madmen play craps."
I know which one I would rather have acting as my President.