Danger Room reports that the Air Force is “tightening restrictions on which blogs its troops can read, cutting off access to just about any independent site with the word ‘blog’ in its web address.” One official called the move so “utterly stupid, it makes me want to scream.” Sites like The New York Times, however, will be allowed because they are “established, reputable media outlet[s].”
I have to say, I think it’s pretty pathetic for Fred Wertheimer, erstwhile campaign finance reform advocate, to be punting like this on the issue of John McCain’s public financing shenanigans. Pleading lack of legal expertise in this front would make sense if we’d taken the issue to a lawyer who was begging off and saying it’s outside his area of competence. But Wertheimer is a reform advocate. Surely he ought to come up with an opinion as to whether or not the precedent McCain is trying to set is one we should welcome or one we should regret.
As a refresher, here’s what McCain thinks should be allowable. Candidate enters the race. Candidate experiences fundraising difficulties. Candidate signs up to receive primary campaign public funds, knowing full well that this will commit him to abide by spending limits during the pre-convention period. Candidate uses promise of public funding to help secure a loan for his campaign. Candidate uses loaned funds to help wrap up the nomination well before the convention. Having become his party’s nominee, the candidate’s fundraising woes are gone. Candidate notes that he hasn’t yet spent any public funds (merely used the promise that they would be forthcoming to secure a loan and spent the loaned funds) so asserts that he can decline to accept them, decline to abide by spending limits, and repay the loan and finance the rest of the campaign with the now-forthcoming special interest cash.
Now whether or not that procedure conforms to the law as written is clearly an issue for legal experts. But whether or not, as a policy matter, the reform community favors the creation of the kind of loophole McCain wants to create is not. I have a hard time imagining how any reform advocate could favor the McCain loophole. But maybe some reformers do favor it. If so, they should say so and give their reasons. If not, they should say so and give their reasons. But this mum’s the word game, this effort to cover McCain’s ass while keeping their own asses covered, is just pathetic. What do they think, that if they carry McCain’s water for him and prove to all the world that he can thumb his nose at them and pay no price for it, and then McCain becomes president, then they’re going to have the leverage and access they want? That’s preposterous.
In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee today, Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell said that “the Afghan government under President Hamid Karzai controls just 30 percent of the country,” while “the resurgent Taliban controls 10 percent to 11 percent of the country.” The majority of the Afghan population, according to McConnell, “remains under local tribal control.” More on the current state of Afghanistan here.
In the run-up to war in Iraq in early 2003, General Eric Shinseki testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee that it would take “several hundred thousand soldiers” to secure Iraq:
I would say that what’s been mobilized to this point, something on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers, are probably, you know, a figure that would be required. We’re talking about post-hostilities control over a piece of geography that’s fairly significant with the kinds of ethnic tensions that could lead to other problems.
Just two days later — and exactly five years ago today — then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, swiftly and infamously dismissed Shinseki’s assessment:
Rumsfeld: What is, I think reasonably certain, is the idea that it would take several hundred thousand U.S. forces, I think, is far from the mark. [2/27/03]
Wolfowitz: But some of the higher-end predictions that we have been hearing recently, such as the notion that it will take several hundred thousand U.S. troops to provide stability in post-Saddam Iraq, are wildly off the mark. First, it’s hard to conceive that it would take more forces to provide stability in post-Saddam Iraq than it would take to conduct the war itself and to secure the surrender of Saddam’s security forces and his army. Hard to imagine. [2/27/03]
Watch Shinseki’s testimony, followed by reactions from Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz (via The Invasion of Iraq by PBS’s Frontline):
In a disastrous miscalculation, the Bush administration embraced Wolfowitz’s logic. Last year, however, Gen. John Abizaid admitted, “General Shinseki was right.” Five years after the invasion of Iraq, 157,000 troops remain deployed in Iraq. In August, the number of U.S. troops in Iraq peaked to its highest level — 162,000. Because of this strain, the Army is now stretched to a breaking point.
Despite these lessons, the right wing refuses to take off its rose-colored glasses. Yesterday on the Senate floor, Sen. Lindsay Graham said that the United States is “well on our way” to victory in Iraq. Earlier this week, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) claimed that the “war will be over soon.”
Nobel laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz told London’s Chatham House today that the Iraq war has so far cost the United States $3.3 trillion, and that those costs are the “hidden cause of the current credit crunch” and housing crisis. Stiglitz added that “[t]he money being spent on the war each week would be enough to wipe out illiteracy around the world” and “[j]ust a few days’ funding would be enough to provide health insurance for US children who were not covered.”
Today, the Children’s Defense Fund Action Council released its 2007 Nonpartisan Congressional Scorecard. CDF reports some positive news, particularly that average scores for members of Congress “improved from the previous three years with more Members scoring 100 percent than in 2004, 2005 or 2006.”
Many, however, did not fare so well. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) received a 10 percent rating — the worst in the U.S. Senate.
1. Increase minimum wage (H.R. 2)
2. Increase funding for children with disabilities (S. Con. Res. 21)
3. Protect children from unsafe medications (S. 1082)
4. 2008 Budget resolution (S. Con. Res. 21)
5. SCHIP Reauthorization (H.R. 976)
6. College Cost Reduction and Access Act (H.R. 2669)
7. SCHIP (H.R. 976 – motion to concur)
8. DREAM Act (S. 2205)
9. Funding child health and education (H.R. 3043)
10. Improving Head Start programs (H.R. 1429)
McCain has missed 57 percent of Senate votes this session, being absent or voting “present” for 8 out of 10 children-related votes. McCain voted “yes” to increase the minimum wage; his only other vote was voting “no” on SCHIP reauthorization on Aug. 2, 2007:
Furthermore, the rankings weren’t divided by party. Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), and Gordon Smith (R-OR) received strong 70 percent rankings.
Read the full report here.
Everybody and their mother has already blogged on the anti-science declaration by GM Vice Chair Bob Lutz, who dismissed global warming as a “total crock of shit.”
I didn’t think I had much to add to the well-deserved trashing he received — until I looked up the word “crock.” Wikipedia explains:
Hmm. What car company makes crocks? Could it be a car company that has been losing market share for decades?
This meaning of crock may well derive from “Norwegian krake, sickly animal, and Middle Dutch kraecke, broken-down horse” — yet another perfect metaphor for General Motors.
How can a global manufacturing and technology company run by someone who doesn’t believe in science — and if you think global warming is a “crock of shit” then you definitely do not believe in science — succeed in the advanced car market of the 21st century? The question answer itself.
A wave of pretty odd demographic hysteria seems to me to be sweeping across certain precincts of the country lately, a wave whose prophesies of economic doom in particular strike me as curiously unsupported by any kind of vaguely rigorous models or anything. So I appreciate all efforts to calm people down. That said, Ron Bailey’s article on how being childless doesn’t make people unhappy seemed to me to be a bit wide of the mark insofar as it didn’t take into account the perspective of old people at all.
Whatever else raising children may be, it’s also an expensive and time consuming pain in the ass that sharply limits your flexibility to do a variety of things for a large number of years. One can easily imagine the joys of parenthood being roughly offset by the burdens. But later in life, having a solid relationship with grownup kids and their children seems low-cost and hard-to-replace. Loneliness is very hard on people. To acknowledge that reality isn’t to say we need to get all freaked out if the norm moves from 2-3 kids per family to 1-2 kids per family.
In a 236-182 vote, the House approved an extension and expansion of tax breaks and incentives for wind, solar, and other alternative energy sources, as well as the closing of $18 billion in tax loopholes and subsidies for Big Oil.
Memos Show Pressure on EPA Chief – Associated Press; Internal memos apparently show inner-agency pressure on EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson to either grant the California tailpipe waiver or resign. Still, EPA spokespeople stand in defense of Johnson, so the past memos may not have much weight. The memos are resurfacing as part of an investigation by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) into the EPA’s decision. See also the LA Times and Reuters.
Gas Prices Soar, Posing a Threat to Family Budget – New York Times. “The effect of high oil prices today could be the difference between having a recession and not having a recession,” said Kenneth S. Rogoff, a Harvard economist. [JR: Thank you very much, President George "no energy strategy and no Iraq reconstronstruction strategy" Bush.]
Noah’s Ark For Crop Seeds Opens In Arctic Norway – Reuters. Norwegians have started a vault of seeds for food crops – “100 million seeds from more than 100 countries have been sent for safekeeping at the $10 million facility which holds 268,000 seed samples, each from a different farm or field.” The vaults can survive even the worst-case global warming scenario. [JR: If only the same were true for most species on this planet....]
China’s Olympic Water Province Faces Severe Drought – PlanetArk. Will the athletes go thirsty?! Probably not, but the flux of people to Beijing this summer will put loads of stress on the already short water resources…