In his debut as a CNN commentator, former White House press secretary Tony Snow says it’s unfair for John McCain to criticize Bush’s handling of Katrina, and suggests that Dick Cheney could be a big political asset. This seems like right-wing hackery so egregious as to be counterproductive to the cause.
“The new U.S. Embassy complex does not have enough fortified living quarters for hundreds of diplomats and other workers, who must remain temporarily in trailers without special rooftop protection against mortars and rockets,” government officials told the AP today. The lack of housing may “further delay moving all personnel” into the embassy, already mired in construction delays, until next year. The issue has become increasingly relevant since Shi’ite militias “resumed steady attacks on the enclave in late March as part of backlash to an Iraqi-led crackdown.”
Responding to The New York Times’s explosive report exposing the Bush administration’s secret campaign to use analysts in order to “generate favorable news coverage,” the Pentagon has “temporarily stopped feeding information to retired military officers pending a review of the issue.” A department official said that a timeline for the investigation had not been set, but that they would “take the time to do it right.”
Today marked the 80th day that Karl Rove appeared on Fox News as a political analyst without disclosure of his ties to Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) campaign. During his appearance, Rove said that Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s comments will “continue to dog” Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL). Rove also mischaracterized Obama’s statements on Wright, claiming, “On the 13th of March, he came out and said there is nothing particularly controversial in Reverend Wright’s statements.” Actually, Obama said, “I don’t think my church is actually particularly controversial.”
Earlier this week, ThinkProgress reported that controversial Pastor John Hagee had reiterated his long-held contention that Hurricane Katrina was God’s punishment to New Orleans for hosting a gay pride parade. Yesterday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) — who had recently said he was “glad” to have Hagee’s endorsement — distanced himself from Hagee’s comments, calling them “nonsense” nine times.
Now, Hagee has put out a statement saying that he “should not have suggested” that he knew “the mind of God concerning Hurricane Katrina”:
“As a believing Christian, I see the hand of God in everything that happens here on earth, both the blessings and the curses,” Hagee said in a statement issued through his public relations firm. “But ultimately neither I nor any other person can know the mind of God concerning Hurricane Katrina. I should not have suggested otherwise. No matter what the cause of the storm, my heart goes out to all who suffered in this terrible tragedy. There but for the grace of God go any one of us.
On his Wednesday night show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann discussed the delegate math with Newsweek’s Howard Fineman. “Some adults somewhere in the Democratic party [need] to step in and stop this thing,” Fineman said, referring to super superdelegates. Olbermann responded, “Right. Somebody who can take [Hillary Clinton] into a room and only he comes out.” (Watch it here.) Eat The Press’ Rachel Sklar said that comment “can only mean one thing: Beating the crap out of Hillary Clinton, to the point where she is physically incapable of getting up and walking out.” Olbermann has since issued an apology and explanation to Sklar:
It is a metaphor. I apologize: the generic “he” gender could imply something untoward. It should’ve been “only the other comes out – from a political point of view.” You could’ve called for reaction first if your main motive had merely been criticism.
Greg Sargent writes, “Not to quibble with the great KO, but does he really call people for reaction before pillorying them as ‘The Worst Person In The World’?”
UPDATE: Olbermann issued a clarification tonight on Countdown, explaining that he was using a “pretty common metaphor.” He said he mixed up his pronoun usage, thereby inadvertently turning the metaphor into something “inappropriate.” And for that, “I apologize,” Olbermann said. Watch it:
The AP reports today that as a result of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki’s recent offensive against Iraqi Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s militia, Sadr may “set aside his political ambitions” and restart “a full-scale fight against U.S.-led forces.” The violence would likely show “potentially disastrous security implications” across the country.
But Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is happy with the outcome. In a blogger conference call today, he said the results in Basra and southern Iraq were a “pleasant turn of events” in his view. Sadr, McCain says, is now marginalized. The bloggers reported on McCain’s responses:
Hot Air: It’s a “pleasant turn of events.” We’ve been pressing Maliki for action, and he persevered through some setbacks to success. Basra now is under Maliki’s control, and it has united the central government. Sadr is marginalized. “Overall, I’m rather pleased.”
Commentary: He described the outcome as a “pleasant turn of events” and said that Prime Minister Maliki “surprised us all.” McCain conceded that there were setbacks at first, but said that with limited American support the Iraqi army has wrested control of Basra from the Sadrites.
Sadr is hardly marginalized; in fact, the opposite is likely true. As the AP notes, Sadr still commands at least 60,000 fighters — “5,000 thought to be highly trained commandos” — and he is “emboldened by its strong resistance to an Iraqi-led crackdown.”
It’s unclear what McCain is “rather pleased” about. Contrary to the “limited” role McCain saw, U.S. soldiers on the ground reported they bore the brunt of the responsibility when assisting Iraqi forces. Some estimates say roughly 400 civilians have been killed, including several Americans soldiers dying in the Green Zone.
Tony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies explained that Sadr’s bloc will remain a formidable force in Iraq:
[Sadr's militia] will be a major political force in any future elections regardless of whether Sadr survives, Sadrists are allowed to run, or the elections are fair or partly rigged. No one in Iraq goes quietly into that great night.
McCain has repeatedly misstated the outcome of the events in southern Iraq, for example, falsely claiming that Sadr “declared the ceasefire.” But, as he admitted last week when lauding the operation against Sadr, “Maybe I’m digging for the pony here.”
More on the Sadr surge in today’s Progress Report.
Gabriel Guerra-Mondragon, a former Ambassador to Chile, and a “Hillraiser” who’s brought in about $500,000 for the Clinton campaign is defecting to the Obama campaign. It seems “he was uneasy with the tone of the Clinton campaign and was beginning to worry about what this would mean for the general election.”
This is a reminder, I think, of the fact that Clinton has actually been incredibly effective at convincing the vast majority of her key supporters not to embrace this logic even though essentially all outside observers agree that at this point her campaign does more to help John McCain than to improve her own chances of winning the nomination. Of course, a handful of defections could easily snowball given time, were a handful to emerge.
The Bush administration has made quite a show of distributing the economic stimulus checks ahead of schedule. Going into the mail on Monday, these checks are designed, according to President Bush, to “help Americans offset the high prices we’re seeing at the gas pump, at the grocery store, and will also give our economy a boost to help us pull out of this economic slowdown.”
What Bush doesn’t seem to understand is that these checks may only stretch far enough to pay for the rising price of gasoline.
The US Energy Information Administration estimates that the price for an average gallon of gas will increase by $.40 per gallon this year. If gasoline consumption remains steady at 2007 levels, then it will cost an extra $231 to fuel a car in 2008. CNN explains:
For a middle-income single person, that represents more than a third of their rebate money [...] For the average American family with two cars, that’s $462 of additional spending on gas – over a quarter of their rebate.
Hard to argue that these checks are really an economic stimulus, aimed at promoting local retail spending and the purchase of local consumer goods, when the money is going straight into Americans’ gas tanks.
Bush might still have had a leg to stand on if gasoline were produced, refined or processed here in the USA, but that’s one more thing that he forgot: most of our gas comes from overseas. In fact, two thirds of the nation’s oil is imported, mostly from Canada, Mexico and Saudi Arabia.
“The rebate goes into the tank, and then finds its way into economies far from our own,” said Jared Bernstein, a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute. CNN breaks down cost of a gallon of gas:
In plain English, the bulk of what you pay for this gallon of gas goes to oil—and chances are, that oil had nothing to do with an American manufacturer. It looks like the only “stimulus” here in America is the 7% going to the guy who owns the gas station.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) believes he is a man to fear. Today in a blogger call, he declared, “I think that people should understand that I will be Hamas’s worst nightmare.” Some other groups who, according to McCain, consider him their “worst nightmare”:
– al Qaeda: “My presidency will be al Qaeda’s worst nightmare.” [Link]
– Democrats: “John McCain: The Democrats’ Worst Nightmare.” [Campaign ad, Link]
– Washington: “I’m prepared to cut hundreds of billions of dollars out of wasteful and unnecessary spending in America. … It’s the worst nightmare. I’m their worst nightmare, my friend.” [Link]
Of course, on the flip side, McCain said that the Democratic candidates are likely “favored by Hamas.” By that logic, there’s no doubt that al Qaeda, Democrats, and Washington are also dreaming of Clinton or Obama while having nightmares about McCain’s intimidating toughness.
Matthew Yglesias writes, “International politics shouldn’t be conceived of as some nutty zero-sum race to the bottom where our goal is to make Hamas cry — the question is who are we trying to help and do we have ways to do it.”