Former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge told the AP in an interview, “There’s just no doubt in my mind — under any set of rules — waterboarding is torture.” He added, “I believe, unlike others in the administration, that waterboarding was, is — and will always be — torture. That’s a simple statement.” In a separate interview with The Associated Press on Thursday, the current Homeland Security secretary, Michael Chertoff, refused to say what he thinks of the interrogation technique.
This week, Admiral Timothy Keating, the top US comamander in the Pacific paid a visit to his Chinese counterparts. Before the meeting, General Chen Bingde — the Chief of the General Staff Department of the People’s Liberation Army — said, “It is impossible for the U.S. to be afraid of our military development.”
On the contrary, it is quite possible. China-as-the-next-military-menace meme is quite overblown in policy and pundit circles:
Lou Dobbs: “The global war on terror and radical Islamists has overshadowed China’s rapidly escalating military threat to the United States.” [6/28/05]
Frank Gaffney: “[Bush must adapt] appropriate strategies for contending with China’s increasingly fascistic trade and military policies.” [11/5/04]
Bill Kristol and Bob Kagan: “Appeasement of [the Chinese] dictatorship simply invites further attempts at intimidation.” [12/9/03]
And while a recent Zogby poll revealed that a majority of Americans have a positive view of China, only 35% of congressional staffers do. And 86% of those staffers think, wrongly, that Americans have a negative view of China.
Of course, we cannot rule out the possibility that China will, decades from now, have both the capability and intent to confront us directly, and we must stay well prepared for that possibility. But we need China’s help today to confront forces of destruction. We rely on China to stomp out outbreaks of avian flu and other nasty diseases before they spread here. U.S. inspectors are in three Chinese ports to help screen shipping containers for smuggled radioactive devices headed for our shores. Without Beijing’s deep engagement, North Korea will not give up its nuclear weapons. And we are never going to avoid a catastrophic climate crisis without China on board.
Rather than preparing for a military confrontation with a big state — something we know how to do — America has to do something unfamiliar and even more difficult — leverage China and the other “pivotal powers” of the world, India, Russia, the EU and Japan, into working hard to solve common threats we all face: terrorism, pandemic disease, failed states, nuclear proliferation and climate change. Terrorists want to kill us today and could. The Chinese do not want to and can’t.
But for America to thrive in a world with more big powers, we also have to reinvest in American strength at home. If we don’t want US companies to outsource to China and India, we need to develop a healthcare system that delivers excellent care but also controls costs. And if we want our workers to cope with transition instead of rooting for protectionism, we need to provide them not just with retraining, but with a cushion to help them bounce back, in initiatives like wage insurance and universal 401(k)s. And if we want to keep innovation happening here even as more discovery happens overseas, we need to do a better job of growing scientists. Finally, if we want China and India to respond to the specter of the climate crisis, we need to move ourselves to a low carbon economy.
Admiral Keating seemed pleased with his meetings in China. He was forceful about American interests but came away saying he was developing an “honest and true friendship” with Chinese military leaders. Neoconservatives will probably take him to task for that. But we should remember that, as Jon Stewart has said, “The only thing that can destroy us is us.”
If a tree falls in the woods and John McCain lies about it, will the press report it? Jon Chait finds that the answer is no/
In a column titled “Callous Conservative” in today’s Washington Post, former Bush White House aide Michael Gerson criticizes Fred Thompson’s stance on international AIDS funding.
At a campaign stop last week, Thompson was asked if he, “as a Christian, as a conservative,” supported President Bush’s global AIDS initiative. Thompson said there are larger “problems” at home and that it was not his “priority” to fund HIV/AIDS efforts in Africa:
“Christ didn’t tell us to go to the government and pass a bill to get some of these social problems dealt with. He told us to do it,” Thompson responded. “The government has its role, but we need to keep firmly in mind the role of the government, and the role of us as individuals and as Christians on the other.”
“I’m not going to go around the state and the country with regards to a serious problem and say that I’m going to prioritize that. With people dying of cancer, and heart disease, and children dying of leukemia still, I got to tell you — we’ve got a lot of problems here…”
But the right wing is outraged at Gerson, rather than Thompson. The American Scene sarcastically refers to Gerson’s “moral clarity.” Over at the National Review, prominent conservative bloggers even went as far as to vigorously defend Thompson’s remarks, suggesting that Africans should be left alone to deal with the problem. Some lowlights:
National Review’s David Freddoso:
“Imagine if Africans were twice as wealthy and more African countries had the resources to diagnose and treat their own HIV patients? The resources to care for AIDS orphans?”
National Review’s Kathryn Jean Lopez:
“I believe [Thompson] was pushing back against the general “what can government do for…?” attitude we have in America. That’s a good conservative reflex, and not a callous one.”
National Review’s Yuval Levin:
As Gerson noted, Thompson’s lack of enthusiasm for helping fight the African AIDS epidemics lacks a “moral seriousness.” HIV/AIDS in Africa kills some 6,000 people a day. Even President Bush has noted the importance of sending “hard-earned dollars overseas to save the lives of people [Americans] have never met.”
By defending Thompson, conservative bloggers proved today that they also “lack a moral seriousness.”
UPDATE: Matthew Yglesias has more.
This is Magic Johnson. On the court and in life, successful leadership comes from hard work and experience. That’s why I’m endorsing Hillary Clinton for President. We have great candidates this year, but I believe only Hillary is a proven leader, with 35 years’ experience dealing with challenges facing America. Are you looking for better jobs, universal health care, better treatment for veterans, opportunities for your children? Then you want Hillary Clinton for President. My rookie year, we won our first game on a last second shot. I was so hyped. But the captain of my team said, “take it easy rookie, it’s a long season, it’s a long road to the championship.” He was right. Winning comes from years of hard work and preparation. Whether it’s winning championships or a President who can lead us back to greatness, I’ll always want the most prepared and experienced person leading my team. That’s why I’m asking you to join me in voting for Hillary Clinton for President.
Okay, fair enough, but the Lakers won the championship in Magic’s rookie season. I suppose that squad was really led by seasoned veteran Kareem Abdul-Jabar, but it still seems like a mixed message. Now the Michael Jordan story maybe shows you need to gain experience before you can win championships.
Photo by Flickr user ChuckyPurdue used under a Creative Commons license
“Because I’m like, an ordinary person, I thought that they meant what’s your biggest weakness?” Mr. Obama said. “So I said, ‘Well, I don’t handle paper that well. You know, my desk is a mess. I need somebody to help me file and stuff all the time.’ So the other two they say uh, they say well my biggest weakness is ‘I’m just too passionate about helping poor people. I am just too impatient to bring about change in America.”
As the room erupts in laughter, he continues: “If I had gone last I would have known what the game was. I could have said, ‘Well you know, I like to help old ladies across the street. Sometimes they don’t want to be helped. It’s terrible.’”
My biggest weakness is that I’m bad at chess. Otherwise, I’m a stellar human being.
Photo by Flickr user Elliottcable used under a Creative Commons license
Eve Fairbanks, on the campaign trail in South Carolina, discovers that John McCain’s not quite the straight-talker he’s made out to be. In fact, he’s pandering in search of votes!
Recently, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly attacked former senator John Edwards for noting the 200,000 homeless veterans who “go to sleep under bridges and on grates” every night. “The only thing sleeping under a bridge is that guy’s brain,” quipped O’Reilly. O’Reilly continued his attack earlier this week, claiming “They may be out there, but there’s not many of them out there.”
Last night, however, O’Reilly pulled an about-face, acknowledging to National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse President Joseph Califano that there are upwards of 200,000 homeless vets in America:
CALIFANO: We have 200,000 veterans who are homeless.
O’Reilly admitted Edwards’ claim was right, but still refused to admit his own inaccuracies. He also continued to attack the former senator, calling him “a liar” and “a charlatan.” O’Reilly insisted that homelessness “has nothing to do with the economy” and is “mostly because of addiction and mental illness.”
“So if the poor are not destitute in America, and they obviously are not,” declared O’Reilly. “John Edwards owes us an apology.”
UPDATE: Robert Greenwald at Fox Attacks has more on O’Reilly’s war against “non-existent” homeless veterans.
UPDATE II: Crooks and Liars has more.
UPDATE III: Brandon Friedman writes “Bill O’Reilly just needs to go.”
Transcript: Read more
In 1995, current Fox News judicial commentator Andrew Napolitano left his seat on New Jersey’s Superior Court to begin a career as a news commentator. Napolitano told the Washington Times recently that the reason he left the judiciary is because “I really was tired of being poor.” His salary as a judge? $100,000 a year.
I’ve said it before, but Chris Bowers is saying it now and saying it convincingly.