“Following on the heels of Senator Ted Stevens’ failed ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ project is an $84 million ferry to allow 40 people to save a 2-hour plus drive.” The USA Today writes that Stevens is pushing for a high-speed ferry that will connect Anchorage to Port MacKenzie, following “the same route as one of the two ‘bridges to nowhere.’”
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) ripped into the President Bush’s national security record, “delivering a bold and potentially risky speech that could establish the former Arkansas governor as the maverick among top Republican candidates and test his party’s loyalty to President Bush.” Huckabee specifically rejected Bush’s approach to dealing with Iran:
“When we first invaded Afghanistan, Iran helped, especially in dealings with their ally, the Northern Alliance,” he said. “They wanted to join us in fighting al Qaida. …The CIA and State Department supported a partnership. Some in the White House and beyond did not. And when President Bush included Iran in the axis of evil, everything went downhill pretty fast.” [...]
“The administration has quite properly said it will not take the military option off the table. But if we don’t put some other options on the table, eventually the military option becomes the only viable one. Right now we’re proceeding down only one track,” he said.
Sameer Lalwani looks at some of the stories behind the stories out of Burma. I think he’s particularly smart on the role of new technologies.
In a sign that U.N. Security Council-based diplomacy is losing steam, a number of sources are reporting that a military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities may be imminent. France and America also are pushing for tighter economic sanctions against Tehran, without U.N. approval.
Yesterday’s edition of Le Canard Encha®n©, a French weekly known for its investigative journalism, reported details of an alleged Israeli-American plan to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities. The frontpage headline read: “A report sent to the Elys©e — Putin tells Tehran: They’re going to bomb you!”
Ironically, the right-wing clamor for war is becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. Here’s why:
– The success of the right-wing’s push for military action hinges on establishing that the U.N. Security Council can’t stop Iran’s nuclear program. As the Sun notes, the U.S. and French are already considering an effort to proceed “without U.N. approval,” in essence forming a “coalition of the willing” that ignores the U.N. (It wouldn’t be the first time.)
– Russia and China, both members of the permanent five, have rebuffed efforts to increase sanctions on Iran, fearing that they “will be exploited to support a U.S. policy of regime change or military action.”
– That fear, precipitated by right-wing rhetoric, then inhibits the U.N.’s ability to agree on sanctions that could be used “to increase the pressure on Tehran to comply with the Security Council’s demand to suspend uranium enrichment.” The failure to instill a new sanctions regime then allows the administration to push for confrontation.
Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said this week: “Definitely what we are seeing is a confrontation in the making.”
And if the Bush administration can’t establish the need to go to war based on the threat of a nuclear Iran, it appears appears ready to claim that Iran’s cross-border activity in Iraq may justify military action. On that front, Congress — not wanting to appear weak — is facilitating the administration’s case.
Glenn Greenwald writes the “virtual refusal of senior military officials to permit a war with Iran” may be all that stands in the Bush administration’s way.
UPDATE: The AP writes today, “In a setback for the United States, Iran won a two-month reprieve from new U.N. sanctions over its nuclear program on Friday. The Bush administration and its European allies ceded to Russian and Chinese demands to give Tehran more time to address international concerns. … The decision marks another blow for Washington in its diplomatic struggle to toughen existing U.N. sanctions on Iran.”
On Monday, Rep. Mark Udall (D-CO) will introduce a resolution condemning Rush Limbaugh’s comments that troops who support withdrawal from Iraq are “phony soldiers.” In a dear colleague letter, Udall says the resolution will honor “all Americans serving in the Armed Forces” while “condemning” Limbaugh’s “unwarranted attack.”
During a speech to the National Rifle Association last week, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani interrupted his prepared remarks to take an impromptu phone call from his wife, Judith. In an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network recently, Giuliani invoked 9/11 to explain and excuse his rude moment during the speech:
“And quite honestly, since Sept. 11, most of the time when we get on a plane, we talk to each other and just reaffirm the fact that we love each other,” he said.
“Sometimes if I’m in the middle of a very, very sensitive meeting, I don’t take the call right then; I wait. But I thought it would be kind of nice if I took it at that point, and I’d done that before in engagements, and I didn’t realize it would create any kind of controversy,” he said.
Peter Baker at the Post may have totally dropped the ball in his coverage of the fake Bush fake climate change fake conference (it’s fake, you see), but The New York Times‘s John Broder knows how to add value for his readers:
The president’s calls for each country to decide for itself how to rein in pollution, and his refusal to embrace mandatory measures, have set the United States apart from other countries, and this morning’s appearance at the State Department conference probably did not do much to change that situation.
“Smart technology does not just materialize by itself,” John Ashton, a special adviser on climate change to the British foreign secretary, said afterward. Mr. Ashton, who has said that voluntary measures are ineffective, said “smart technology” requires government commitment and investment, and he noted that Mr. Bush did not state a specific goal for reducing carbon emissions.
He also quotes Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice: “Every country will make its own decisions reflecting its own needs and interests.” The trouble, of course, is that we’re facing a common problem here. It’d be nice for each country to be able to make an individualized determination of its view of the growth-warming tradeoff and then we all see how it plays out, but that’s not the nature of the atmosphere or the climate. Any sensible approach needs to be sensitive to the different needs and circumstances of different countries, but unless it’s driven by a common purpose and a common commitment it won’t accomplish anything. Which, of course, is the point. As Kate Sheppard says the point of the summit isn’t to bolster Bush’s legacy, instead, it’s all about “fanciful promises, denial of what needs to be done to tackle climate change, and subversion of the efforts of everyone who actually gets it.”
I don’t want my skepticism about Barack Obama’s messaging strategy to totally obscure the point, driven home by Garance Franke-Ruta’s photo shown above and her post here, that these Obama mega-rallies are a hugely impressive phenomenon. They signify both the candidate’s considerable personal appeal, the strong appeal of his message has to a certain demographic (one that includes me), and also the broader re-engagement with politics and public life that’s been one of the few good consequences of the disaster of 21st century American governance.
One of the things that worries me about the prospect of Mark Penn once again becoming king of the political hill is that his approach to politics seems antithetical to this concept of mass engagement. Instead, it’s a model where you break the population down into the smallest possible groups, and assemble a winning coalition of stitched-together wedges of people each engaged through their own micro-initiative. That’s not all there is to Hillary Clinton or to the broader case of Clinton-style centrism. Indeed, it’s quite different from (in some ways the reverse of) the initial critique of interest-group liberalism with which the DLC launched itself. And in the best moments of her campaign — the health care plan, the day care plan — Clinton has completely gone beyond the inane politics of “are archery moms the new soccer moms?” but all that’s been in no small part responsive to the new new politics of John Edwards, Andy Stern, and Barack Obama.
Which comes back to the point, I guess, that a whole ton of people stood around a pretty long time yesterday evening in order to get a not necessarily very good view (some people had good views, but it looked like a lot of rally-goers had bad sightlines) of a man talking about politics. There’s got to be some significance to that.
I like me a good unrealistic proposal, and this Ryan Avent scheme for better regional planning is a doozy:
In inner suburbs, the population of squished out people grows until infrastructure needs grow and tax rates rise, squishing people farther out still. The end result is a terrible distribution of infrastructure investment, since inner infrastructure is, on the whole, underused while outer infrastructure is overused (example: Prince William County can’t build schools fast enough, while the District has school buildings sitting empty). What ought to happen, what I’d expect to happen in an enlightened area with a strong regional authority, is that tax rates would decline as you moved inward, not outward. In that case, taxpayers would pay more for moves that necessitate outward expansions of infrastructure and reductions in agglomeration externalities.
As he himself notes “That outcome is also practically impossible to imagine.” Of course, many of our metro areas have more than enough people to be viable states were one allowed to redraw the map, and were state boundaries to conform better to the contours of the metropolitan areas into which our lives are actually organized, it might be possible to have better planning.
On the Senate floor and in the press, Sen. John Cornyn, who introduced the bill, was vitriolic in his rhetoric towards the ad, calling it a “a despicable political attack” that “crossed a historic line of decency.” He was joined in raucous condemnation by his Senate colleagues:
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY): “This amendment gives our colleagues a chance to distance themselves from these despicable tactics, distance themselves from the notion that some group has them on a leash.”
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT): “It is MoveOn that is the disgrace. And I think it is important that the entire Congress publicly repudiate these absurd charges.”
During the September 26 edition of his radio show, right-wing standard bearer Rush Limbaugh claimed that service members who support U.S. withdrawal from Iraq are actually “phony soldiers.” On the House floor last night, Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) asked if those “who showed so much outrage towards MoveOn.org…will hold Rush Limbaugh to the same standard?”
There is a particular onus for Cornyn, McConnell and Hatch to put themselves on the record regarding Limbaugh, considering the fond relationship they’ve had with him in the past:
- “It dawned on me that Daschle’s probably never listened to Rush Limbaugh. I mean, there’s nothing particularly inflammatory about anything Rush Limbaugh says,” said McConnell in 2002. [Fox News Sunday 11/24/02]
- In 2002, Limbaugh headlined a fundraiser for Cornyn “where he predictably lambasted Democrats and liberals and helped raise almost $200,000″ for the soon-to-be Senator. “We need a Republican senate,” Limbaugh said at the event. [San Antonio Express-News 9/22/02]
- “I thank my father in heaven every day for people like you, Rush Limbaugh and others,” Hatch told Hannity in 2002 [Newhouse News Service 11/21/02]
Will Cornyn, McConnell and Hatch step up and hold their friend Rush to the same standard they laid out in their “Sense of the Senate” resolution?
UPDATE: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is calling on Limbaugh to apologize, telling Time.com’s Ana Marie Cox that “it reflects very poorly on him” and “he would be well advised to retract it and apologize.”
UPDATE II: Mitt Romney’s camp has now weighed in on Limbaugh’s comment, saying that “Romney would disagree with the negative characterization of those men and women who serve with honor and distinction in the United States Military.”