From the annals of silly sports punditry, I just heard Doug Collins explain that the Rockets are doing better because the team added “high-energy players” who’ve “revitalized Tracy McGrady.” T-Mac’s clearly an excellent player, but if you look at the numbers there’s just no denying that he’s performing below the peak he established during his first three seasons in Orlando. Houston didn’t add players who revitalized McGrady; they’ve got a bunch of role players who are playing well so the team’s winning more games than it did at the beginning of the season. McGrady, however, is playing just the same.
Republican congressional candidate Jim Oberweis recently lost Dennis Hastert’s seat for conservatives in part because he espoused staunch anti-immigrant views. John McCain is now acknowledging that the anti-immigrant wing of his party is turning off voters:
We just had a loss of Denny Hastert’s seat out in Illinois. The Republican candidate out there, I am told, had very strong anti-immigrant rhetoric also, so I would hope that many of our Republican candidates would understand the political practicalities of this issue.
McCain is now claiming ignorance about who Oberweis is and what he stands for. But Politico notes, “McCain campaigned for Oberweis last month, helping the campaign raise about $257,000.”
Moreover, McCain left the clear impression that he was endorsing Oberweis’ immigration approach during the campaign:
– The Daily Herald reported that McCain and Oberweis expressed “shared views on issues including immigration reform.”
– The Beacon News reported, “Oberweis took the opportunity to point out the issues on which they agree. Both candidates want to see the borders secured.”
– Chicago Public Radio reported, “In a joint appearance, Oberweis compared himself to McCain, saying they both favor smaller government and want to crack down on illegal immigration.”
While attending a campaign event on Oberweis’ behalf, McCain said last month, “I’m proud to be here with Jim Oberweis to begin the Republican march back to a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.”
The AP reports that “Vice President Dick Cheney played the part of backroom power broker” during his visit to Iraq and “came away” with “pledges from Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds to firm up a new blueprint for U.S.-Iraq relations that will stretch beyond the Bush presidency” and keep U.S. troops in Iraq beyond the U.N. mandate:
Topics ranged from security in Iraq to Iran’s rising influence in Mideast, but a key item was about crafting a long-term agreement between the U.S. and Iraq, plus a narrower deal to define the legal basis for continued U.S. troop presence.
The deal would take the place of a U.N. Security Council resolution that expires in December, the same time Bush will be packing up to leave office.
…. and you’ll see a picture of Japan Steel Works Ltd — “the only plant in the world … capable of producing the central part of a nuclear reactor’s containment vessel in a single piece, reducing the risk of a radiation leak.”
The bottleneck: In a single year, they can currently only make “four of the steel forgings that contain the radioactivity in a nuclear reactor.” They may double capacity over the next two years, but that won’t allow the huge ramp up in nuclear power that some are projecting for the industry.
Given Japan Steel’s limited capacity, the math just doesn’t work, said Mycle Schneider, an independent nuclear industry consultant near Paris. Japan Steel caters to all nuclear reactor makers except in Russia, which makes its own heavy forgings.
“I find it just amazing that so many people jumped on the bandwagon of this renaissance without ever looking at the industrial side of it,” Schneider said.
At the same time, that capacity increase represents a gamble that the nuclear renaissance is here to stay, even in the face of a US recession, safety concerns, and a historically volatile industry.
Bloomberg has a very thorough article on the company, its potential competition, and “the precision and patience required to fashion a 600-ton steel ingot into a tube with walls 30 centimeters (12 inches) thick”:
In an article for National Review Online today, Kathryn Jean Lopez writes yet another hagiographic ode to a conservative figure whom she would like to see run for office, this time suggesting that former Australian Prime Minister John Howard would be an ideal American president. “He’s a leader. He’s honest. And he’s available,” writes K-Lo. She has previously written similar pieces suggesting Bill Bennett for vice president, Lynne Cheney for the Senate, and President Bush for Secretary General of the UN.
The John Howard link has been fixed.
Today, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said that Iranian operatives are “taking al-Qaeda into Iran, training them and sending them back” — despite the fact that Iran is a Shiite nation and al Qaeda are Sunni fighters. Responding to reports of McCain’s factually inaccurate claim, the McCain campaign released a statement attempting to paint the senator’s fundamental error as an isolated slip of the tongue:
In a press conference today, John McCain misspoke and immediately corrected himself by stating that Iran is in fact supporting radical Islamic extremists in Iraq, not Al Qaeda — as the transcript shows. Democrats have launched political attacks today because they know the American people have deep concerns about their candidates’ judgment and readiness to lead as commander in chief.
The fact that McCain made identical remarks on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show as well makes it clear McCain did not simply “misspeak.” What’s more, McCain corrected himself only after Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) “stepped forward and whispered in the presidential candidate’s ear.”
UPDATE: Fox News aired footage of Lieberman correcting McCain during today’s press conference. Watch it:
A video by CNN shows that McCain repeated the inaccurate claim twice during the same press conference, bringing his total number of “misspeaks” to three.
In a meeting with King Abdullah of Jordan today, John McCain reiterated his support for the surge, offered this reason for staying in Iraq:
“If we pull out of Iraq … then obviously the Iranian influence is dramatically increased, al Qaeda has greater influence and endangers the region dramatically, and the United States’s image and security challenges are dramatically increased.”
Of course, Iran’s current high level of influence in Iraq is almost entirely a result of the Iraq war itself. Iran has been the single biggest beneficiary of the American invasion and occupation of Iraq. Former diplomat Peter Galbraith wrote last September that Iraq was a “mission accomplished–for Iran“:
Of all the unintended consequences of the Iraq war, Iran’s strategic victory is the most far-reaching. In establishing the border between the Ottoman Empire and the Persian Empire in 1639, the Treaty of Qasr-i-Shirin demarcated the boundary between Sunni-ruled lands and Shiite-ruled lands. For eight years of brutal warfare in the 1980s, Iran tried to breach that line but could not. (At the time, the Reagan administration supported Saddam Hussein precisely because it feared the strategic consequences of an Iraq dominated by Iran’s allies.) The 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq accomplished what Khomeini’s army could not.
Journalist Robert Dreyfuss wrote on March 10 that “the United States has spent most of the past five years in a de facto alliance with Iran in support of the Shiite-led (and US-installed) regime in Baghdad.”
Taking advantage of the political vacuum created by the US destruction of Saddam Hussein’s government, Tehran has established a vast presence, both overt and covert, in Iraq, with enormous influence among nearly all of its western neighbor’s Shiite and Kurdish parties. “The American military occupation of Iraq has facilitated an Iranian political occupation of Iraq,” says Chas Freeman, a former US ambassador to Saudi Arabia. [...] Washington’s decision to topple Saddam’s government has put in place a ruling elite that is far closer to Iran than it is to the United States.
Far from weakening Iran’s hard-line government, as the Iraq war’s advocates insisted it would, the American invasion strengthened those forces, partly resulting in the 2005 election of the strident Iranian nationalist-Islamist Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. (One can’t overlook the stark disparities in the style of McCain’s and Ahmadinejad’s recent visits to Iraq. McCain arrived in secret, and wore a kevlar vest. Ahmadinejad announced his visit two weeks in advance, traveled by motorcade, and wore a double-breasted blazer.) For someone who likes to tout his own foreign policy expertise, McCain seems unaware that Iran continues to be the chief beneficiary of a war that he continues to support.
More web video:
Yesterday, the Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ) put out its annual report on the “State of the News Media.” While the 2008 presidential campaign and the debate over Iraq were overwhelmingly the top subjects of cable news, the networks still devoted a substantial amount of coverage to celebrity affairs. For example, the death of Anna Nicole Smith received more coverage than the Valerie Plame scandal, the U.S. attorney purge, and the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.
Fox News led the cable networks in the most amount of celebrity coverage and the least amount of Iraq war coverage. PEJ notes:
MSNBC, at least in terms of time spent, was indeed the place for politics in 2007 — by nearly double over its rivals in the percentage of time studied (28% vs. 12% on CNN and 15% on Fox News). Fox, in turn, spent less time on the war in Iraq than the others (10% vs. 18% on MSNBC and 16% on CNN). And it was more oriented to crime, celebrity and the media than its rivals (28% vs. 19% on MSNBC and 16% on CNN).
A look at the Iraq coverage of CNN, Fox, and MSNBC:
As ThinkProgress reported in March 2007, three weeks after Anna Nicole’s death, Fox News and MSNBC still devoted more time to the late celebrity than to the Walter Reed scandal. Fox gave Anna Nicole roughly 12 times more coverage.
Fox may not be ashamed of PEJ’s latest findings. Last year, Fox News’s John Gibson defended his celebrity coverage by accusing reporters — such as CNN’s Anderson Cooper — of “news-guy snobbery.” Gibson claimed that people were “a little weary” of war coverage” and wanted “a little something else.”
Framing Science has more on the networks’ science coverage.
Uh-oh, military robots:
This can’t possibly end well. The robots are just going to rebel and oppress us. Don’t these DARPA people watch any sci-fi?