In the New York Times Magazine this weekend, controversial Pastor John Hagee tells Deborah Solomon that, “it’s true that [John] McCain’s campaign sought my endorsement.” In the interview, “Hagee refused to discuss his statement that Hurricane Katrina was God’s punishment for a gay rights parade in New Orleans, calling it ‘so far off-base.’” “Our church is not hard against the gay people,” claimed Hagee. (HT: TPM)
“Two State Department employees were fired recently and a third disciplined for improperly accessing electronic personal data on Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama.” Obama’s passport files were breached three times in the past three months. During a conference call tonight, a State Department official admitted they “failed.” The official also said that the State Department Inspector General was not informed of the breach until today.
A statement from the Obama campaign:
This is an outrageous breach of security and privacy, even from an Administration that has shown little regard for either over the last eight years. Our government’s duty is to protect the private information of the American people, not use it for political purposes. This is a serious matter that merits a complete investigation, and we demand to know who looked at Senator Obama’s passport file, for what purpose, and why it took so long for them to reveal this security breach.
Ilan Goldenberg flags Bush talking an unusually strong brand of nonsense:
Out of such chaos in Iraq, the terrorist movement could emerge emboldened — with new recruits, new resources, and an even greater determination to dominate the region and harm America. An emboldened al Qaeda with access to Iraq’s oil resources could pursue its ambitions to acquire weapons of mass destruction to attack America and other free nations.
Ilan focused on the implausibility of al-Qaeda gaining control over Iraq’s oil fields (they’re not in the Sunni Arab parts of Iraq, among other things). I would also note that were this bizarre scenario to unfold, it would be pretty trivial for the U.S. military to capture or control any AQI-held oil fields — a poorly equipped guerilla force can’t defend a fixed position in the open.
On top of that, though, this business about al-Qaeda securing a recruiting boon from us leaving Iraq is bizarre. According to MNF-Iraq, the occupation of Iraq is the main fact driving recruits to join AQI. Absent the occupation, there’s no recruiting pitch. Pearl Harbor was a boon to U.S. military recruiting, VJ Day wasn’t. And what’s this business about them acquiring “an even greater determination to dominate the region and harm America.” Does Bush really think they lack determination now?
It’s striking how much of conservative thinking about national security these days centers around subjective factors — determination, emboldening, “claiming victory” — rather than on objective assessments. Objectively speaking, withdrawing from Iraq would cut off a major line of recruiting for al-Qaeda while simultaneously freeing up vast quantities of American manpower and other resources. How “bold” that makes al-Qaeda leaders feel (and you’ve got to figure these fuckers were pretty “emboldened’ already when they blew up the twin towers, right?) has nothing to do with anything.
During a press availability with Afghan President Hamid Karzai today, Vice President Cheney refused to take more questions from the press. Karzai had to chastise Cheney to never “disappoint the press“:
KARZAI: Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen, very nice of you. Any more questions?
CHENEY: No, I’m fine.
KARZAI: You’re disappointed? One more question. Don’t disappoint the press ever.
CHENEY: Don’t disappoint the press ever. (Laughter.)
KARZAI: Please, ma’am.
CHENEY: I can tell I should have begun my career with your guidance, Mr. President. (Laughter.)
Asked on MSNBC’s Hardball today about Vice President Dick Cheney’s dismissive lack of concern with American public opinion about Iraq, former Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee responded, “that is Vice President Cheney. He’s one of the most arrogant people I’ve ever come across.” Chafee added that he’s known Cheney as “a very very arrogant man” ever since “the very first time I met him at a breakfast right after the Supreme Court endorsed him” in 2000. Watch it:
In an interview with Vice President Dick Cheney yesterday, ABC News’ Martha Raddatz noted that “two-thirds of Americans say” the Iraq war “is not worth fighting.” “So?” Cheney caustically replied. Referring to Cheney’s comment during today’s White House press briefing, a reporter asked Press Secretary Dana Perino: “So is the vice president saying it really doesn’t matter what the American public thinks about the war?”
“No, I don’t think that’s what he’s saying,” Perino responded. But later, she echoed Cheney, saying that the 2004 presidential election was the last time American public opinion on the war really mattered:
HELEN THOMAS: The American people are being asked to die and pay for this. And you’re saying they have no say in this war?
PERINO: No, I didn’t say that Helen. But Helen, this president was elected…
THOMAS: But it amounts to it. You’re saying we have no input at all.
PERINO: You had input. The American people have input every four years, and that’s the way our system is set up.
Like Cheney, Perino is clearly suggesting that current opposition to the Iraq war is inconsequential. But in claiming that American attitudes only matter every four years, Perino leaves out one inconvenient fact: the 2006 mid-term elections.
The 2006 elections — which the Democrats won control of both the House and Senate — were largely a referendum on the Iraq war with most Americans wanting a change in Bush’s Iraq policy. Indeed, exit polling in national House races and Senate contests in which a Democrat defeated an incumbent Republican shows that a large majority of voters cited the Iraq war as “extremely” or “very important” in their decision.
The Republican Party has become, in short, a party of empire. The conservative movement is now a movement dedicated to American hegemonic dominion. And, given the lack of debate, both will likely remain that way for some time. These statements are true not only of the major presidential candidates, but of the vast majority of Republicans in Congress, most conservative foreign-policy think-tankers, and most high-level GOP operatives involved in policy-making. If the travesty that was our invasion of Iraq has not had the power to change these facts, it is difficult to imagine what set of circumstances could.
The context is a review of Ain’t My America: The Long, Noble History of Anti-War Conservatism and Middle-American Anti-Imperialism, but the paragraph has a kind of freestanding validity.
UPDATE: It’s been pointed out that I should have seized the opportunity to plug my book, Heads in the Sand, which explains why we need to understand the Bush administration’s policies as imperialism in its newest guise, and why Democrats need to stop giving-in to Bush-style policies and return to espousing the sort of liberal internationalism that’s guided the party and the country at its best for decades. Woo book!
Michael Goldfarb responds to my previous post, in which I quoted Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno in order to rebut John McCain’s erroneous assertion that Iran was “taking al-Qaeda into Iran, training them and sending them back” into Iraq. Goldfarb ignores the parts of the quote that he doesn’t like, grabs onto Odierno’s statement that “al Qaeda uses Iran and they do in some cases traffic some of their individuals through Iran to Iraq,” and asks:
Am I missing something, or isn’t that exactly what McCain said? And since no one is disputing that Iran has control over its borders, we are now talking about degrees of support, which is to say, Iran is supporting al Qaeda, we just don’t know to what extent.
Yes, Mike. You are missing something. What McCain said was that Iran was “taking al-Qaeda into Iran, training them and sending them back” into Iraq. Second, while no one is disputing that Iran has control over its borders, I do dispute the idea that al Qaeda individuals moving through Iran translates into “Iran supporting al Qaeda.” And so does Lt. Gen. Odierno.
And, by the way, so does Gen. Petraeus. Asked if Iran is “supporting al Qaeda,” Petraeus told CNN’s Kyra Phillips that the “foreign fighters and suicide bombers that help al Qaeda” are flowing “through Syria”:
PETRAEUS: The flow of foreign fighters and suicide bombers that help al Qaeda typically is through Syria.
This is not to say that it is impossible for Iran to be supporting Al Qaeda, just that the two highest ranking commanders on the ground in Iraq, as well as all the available evidence, say Iran is not supporting Al Qaeda.
Discussing his opposition to the Uniting American Families Act — “which would allow gay Americans the same right straight Americans have to sponsor a foreign partner for citizenship” — Family Research Council Vice President Peter Sprigg recently offered rhetorical support for exporting gay men and women from America. “I would much prefer to export homosexuals from the United States than to import them into the United States because we believe homosexuality is destructive to society,” said Sprigg. (HT: Andrew Sullivan)
One of the more absurd parts of America’s broken telecom policies is that we’ve been achieving an internationally respectable level of broadband penetration in part by defining broadband down, such that 200Kbps — which is far too slow — qualifies. In a bit of good news, though, the FCC has decided to boost the figure to the not-nearly-as-inadequate 768Kbps. This still leaves us wondering why consumers in Japan and South Korea can get 10+ Mbps service for less than what we pay for much lower speeds.