This Clinton campaign idea of somehow busting up the OPEC cartel not only seems impractical (how, exactly would this get done?) but it also bespeaks a real ignorance of what’s happening with the price of gas. It’s just not the case that the current price escalation is driven by OPEC-induced supply restrictions — all indications are that everyone’s producing as much oil as they possibly can. After all, with prices this high how could you afford not to pump as much oil as you could? It’s just that demand for oil is high and rising, so the price goes up.
In yesterday’s New York Times/CBS News poll, respondents were asked to address how the news media have treated each of the three remaining presidential candidates in comparison to each other. Considering that reporters like the Washington Post’s Shailagh Murray say Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) will have to “wait” until after the Democratic primary to “get his fair share of scrutiny,” it’s not surprising that more people feel he has gotten the easier coverage than both Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL):
In addition to having previously referred to Catholicism as “The Great Whore,” controversial pastor John Hagee said on NPR in September 2006 that Hurricane Katrina was the result of God condemning New Orleans because “there was to be a homosexual parade there” the day the hurricane hit — a belief he recently reaffirmed.
Despite Hagee’s radical and bigoted beliefs, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) sought and received Hagee’s endorsement for president — one McCain said he was “very honored” to have. Since then, Hagee’s views have garnered more attention, sparking wider questions as to why McCain would accept such an endorsement.
In a recent article on the McCain/Hagee saga, Newsweek reports that McCain aides attribute the courting of Hagee’s support to “poor vetting.” But some from McCain’s own party wonder how his views could have “slipped through the cracks”:
McCain’s aides attribute the Hagee controversy to poor vetting. But even some Republicans (not affiliated with the campaign) privately wonder how the pastor’s extreme views slipped through without notice. McCain personally wooed Hagee for more than a year.
Indeed, “some Republicans” weren’t the only ones greeting this explanation with confusion. The New York Times’s Frank Rich noted yesterday that “[a]ny 12-year-old with a laptop could have vetted this preacher in 30 seconds, tops”:
Are we really to believe that neither Mr. McCain nor his camp knew anything then about Mr. Hagee’s views? This particular YouTube video — far from the only one — was posted on Jan. 1, nearly two months before the Hagee-McCain press conference. Mr. Hagee appears on multiple religious networks, including twice daily on the largest, Trinity Broadcasting, which reaches 75 million homes. Any 12-year-old with a laptop could have vetted this preacher in 30 seconds, tops.
Newsweek noted that McCain “likes to think of himself as a straight-shooter” but when asked about Hagee’s endorsement, McCain starts “bobbing and weaving” — which is exactly what happened last month during an interview on ABC’s This Week. McCain agreed that the endorsement was “a mistake,” but 30 seconds later said he is “glad to have it.”
In seeking Hagee’s support, perhaps McCain and his staff did not “properly” vet the controversial pastor because they were taking advice from McCain’s buddy Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), who just last year compared Hagee to Moses.
Washington University in St. Louis has announced that it will award right-wing activist Phyllis Schlafly an honorary degree at its upcoming graduation ceremony. Schlafly is well-known for her outspoken belief that women should be homemakers and her opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment for women. The university, however, lauded her as a “leader“:
Schlafly, a native St. Louisan and two-time Washington University graduate, has been a national leader of the conservative movement since the 1964 publication of her book, “A Choice Not An Echo.” … In 1972, she started a national pro-family volunteer organization and led a successful 10-year battle against the Equal Rights Amendment. She continues as president of the group, now known as the Eagle Forum.
Named one of the 100 most important women of the 20th century by Ladies Home Journal and one of the 10 most admired women in the world by Good Housekeeping, she is a well-known advocate for the role of a full-time homemaker.
Women “are too emotional to handle intellectual or scientific debate,” Schlafly once said. She has also described sex education as “in-home sales parties for abortions.” So far, 960 people have joined the Facebook group opposing the award.
(HT: Kathy’s G-Spot)
More on the District’s unrelenting war on my house. Don’t these guys know we were featured in the NYT Style section? We could have important taste-makers crush them like bugs.
Council on Foreign Relations Senior Fellow Max Boot is one of the most vocal supporters of a neocon foreign policy. He says those who favor withdrawal from Iraq engage in “wishful thinking” and claims “there is copious evidence” that Iran is training al Qaeda. He said former CENTCOM commander Adm. William Fallon’s hesitation to bomb Iran “embolden[ed] the mullahs,” and claimed that the recently-revealed Pentagon propaganda program is simply “part and parcel of the daily grind of Washington journalism.”
He has also been a vociferous defender of the Iraq troop surge. Today, in an online debate on the surge, Boot points to the overall decrease in troop deaths as evidence of its success:
I could cite statistics to show how the “surge”—not only an increase in the number of U.S. troops in Iraq but also a change in their strategy to emphasis classic counterinsurgency—has been paying off: Civilian deaths were down more than 80 percent and U.S. deaths down more than 60 percent between December 2006 and March 2008.
Just two days ago, however, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Boot argued that the recent increase in U.S. troop casualties showed the surge was working. Acknowledging that April was the deadliest month for U.S. troops in Iraq since August (Boot says 52 soldiers died; in fact 54 did), Boot says the U.S. is approaching “the enemy’s defeat“:
More important, casualties cannot be looked at in a vacuum. A spike in casualties could be a sign that the enemy is gaining strength. Or it could be a sign that tough combat is under way that will lead to the enemy’s defeat and the creation of a more peaceful environment in the future. The latter was certainly the case with the casualty spike during the summer of 2007. … Unfortunate as the latest deaths are, they are in all likelihood a sign of things getting worse before they get better.
The right wing won’t let anything — even dozens of troop deaths — stop them from cheerleading for the Iraq war. The New York Daily News’ Michael Yon picks up Boot’s talking points, answering the question whether the increase in deaths shows that the surge’s progress has been lost:
[H]ere’s my short answer: no. We are taking more casualties now, just as we did in the first part of 2007, because we have taken up the next crucial challenge of this war: confronting the Shia militias. … That means, for the next few months, expect more blood, casualties and grim images of war. This may lead to a shift in the political debate inside the United States and more calls for rapid withdrawal. But on the ground in Iraq, it’s a sign of progress.
In other words: Heads I win, tails you lose.
Thomas Insel — director of the National Institute of Mental Health and the U.S. government’s top psychiatric researcher — said today that “the number of suicides among veterans of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan may exceed the combat death toll because of inadequate mental health care.” Bloomberg reports:
Insel echoed a Rand Corporation study published last month that found about 20 percent of returning U.S. soldiers have post-traumatic stress disorder or depression, and only half of them receive treatment. About 1.6 million U.S. troops have fought in the two wars since October 2001, the report said. About 4,560 soldiers had died in the conflicts as of today, the Defense Department reported on its Web site.
Based on those figures and established suicide rates for similar patients who commonly develop substance abuse and other complications of post-traumatic stress disorder, “it’s quite possible that the suicides and psychiatric mortality of this war could trump the combat deaths,” Insel said.
It’s me and Ross Douthat, talking about Heads in the Sand:
There will be a sequel about Grand New Party as that book’s release date grows near.
In a washingtonpost.com online chat today, the Post’s media critic Howard Kurtz was asked why the television news media have largely failed to report on the Pentagon propaganda operation revealed recently by the New York Times. Kurtz said the media is too embarrassed to report the story:
Toronto: Hi Howard — kudos for last Sunday’s focus on the New York Times’s Pentagon propaganda story. Why do you think the networks still are silent on this? The comments on Brian Williams’s blog are at a boiling point — I’m surprised NBC hasn’t shut it down yet!
Howard Kurtz: I can only conclude that the networks are staying away from what would otherwise be a legitimate news story because they are embarrassed about what some of their military analysts did or don’t want to give the controversy more prominence.
Later in the same online chat, Kurtz said, “The networks are ducking this one, big time.”
National Review’s Lisa Schiffren thinks the question of whether Barack Obama studied the Qur’an as a child is relevant to the American presidential campaign:
Barack Obama has emphatically denied that he was ever a Muslim, practicing or otherwise. Other people, including family members and teachers, remember things differently. Daniel Pipes collects the varying information here. Several elementary-school teachers in Indonesia have told reporters that he was enrolled as a Muslim — and thus studied Koran instead of the Catechism — at the Catholic school he attended. One of his various half sisters says it too, and several passages in his autobiography seem to indicated the same thing. Make of it what you will. Certainly that he may have been educated or raised Muslim is no disqualifier, but if he is lying about his upbringing for political acceptance, it speaks to character. We don’t know if he is, but we know Daniel Pipes is no crank.
I suppose it’s stating the obvious to note how transparently disingenuous it is for Schiffren to insist that Barack Obama come clean (and prove a negative) about not “having been raised Muslim,” while assuring us, of course, that this would be “no disqualifier,” after she and the gang at National Review have worked so assiduously to make it a disqualifier.
I have to agree with Schiffren about Daniel Pipes, though. I tend to regard cranks as mostly harmless eccentrics, like people who believe that our planet was seeded by aliens who will soon return to harvest us, or people who design and construct hugely complicated machines to perform odd combinations of simple household tasks, or Dr. Phil. There’s nothing harmless about Daniel Pipes, a right wing scholar-activist who, since 9/11, has made a career of trafficking in hoary old Orientalist stereotypes in order to stoke Americans’ prejudice against, and fear of, Islam.
Pipes runs the Middle East Forum, an organization which answers the question “What if the John Birch Society had its own think tank?” Pipes also oversees Campus Watch, a project that keeps tabs on scholars it deems to be insufficiently pro-Israel.
Last summer Pipes spearheaded a campaign against the Khalil Gibran International Academy in New York, a public school focused on Arab culture and language. The campaign eventually caused the resignation of the school’s principal, Debbie Almontaser. Pipes based his hostility to the school on what he called “the basic problems implicit in an Arabic-language school: the tendency to Islamist and Arabist content and proselytizing.” Needless to say, Pipes offered no evidence for that claim.
In keeping with his stated belief that Arab- and Muslim-Americans deserve to be subjected to “special scrutiny,” Pipes apparently thinks the question of whether Barack Obama ever practiced Islam as a child is so important to the future of the American republic that, since December, he has penned three different articles on that subject, always making sure to apply a thin veneer of “scholarly rigor” over what is in fact nothing more than an attempt to smear by insinuation and innuendo. Despicable.
But no, Daniel Pipes is no crank. That would be an insult to cranks.