There’s no one I can think of in the United Kingdom who would not immediately conclude that the use of waterboarding, which is creating the misperception of suffocation, is torture in all circumstances.
During an interview yesterday, Fox News’s Carl Cameron asked Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) if it was a “mistake” for McCain to say he knows little about the economy. But McCain denied that he had made any such suggestion, arguing that his past comments were taken “out of context”:
CAMERON: Realistically, was it a mistake for you to suggest that overall your attentiveness to the economy is subordinated by national security?
MCCAIN: As briefly as possible, when you’re on the back of the bus for hours with the media if they want to take a phrase out of context thats fine, thats one of the penalties you pay.
Watch it (beginning at 1:52):
Taken “out of context?” How many times can McCain be taken out of context? Aside from the fact that when viewed at face value, his comments speak for themselves, McCain has said he knows little about the economy on numerous occasions, as recently as last December:
– Seeking to explain his shift to the left on economic issues, McCain claimed: “I didn’t pay nearly the attention to those issues in the past. I was probably a ‘supply-sider’ based on the fact that I really didn’t jump into the issue.” [Jan. 2000]
– “I’m going to be honest: I know a lot less about economics than I do about military and foreign policy issues. I still need to be educated.” [Nov. 2005]
– “The issue of economics is not something I’ve understood as well as I should,” but “I’ve got Greenspan’s book.” [Dec. 2007]
In fact, McCain’s interview with Cameron wasn’t the first time he has denied claiming his economic knowledge is sub-par. NBC’s Tim Russert asked him about his “I still need to be educated” on economics claim last January but McCain dodged, saying “I don’t know where you got that quote.” When Russert asked McCain about the same quote three days later, McCain acknowledged he said it, but never claimed he was taken out of context. McCain simply replied, “Am I, am I smart on economics? Yes.”
In reality, the old McCain is right. He doesn’t have a solid grasp on economic issues, a fact illustrated by his continued belief that eliminating earmarks would provide enough money to balance his proposed budget. But there’s one problem, they don’t. Not by a long shot.
On Fox News today, Carly Fiorina, one McCain’s top advisers, went off message and acknowledged that McCain has said he knows little about the ecomony, noting that “he did say it one time, no question, maybe twice.”
Our guest blogger is Adam Jentleson, the Communications and Outreach Director for the Hyde Park Project at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
Today on CNN, senior McCain advisor Carly Fiorina was asked to explain why McCain’s answer to these tough economic times is to double Bush’s tax cuts with another $300 billion in cuts that go mostly to the wealthiest Americans, and give ExxonMobil a $1.2 billion per-year tax cut.
I don’t know where he gets those numbers. It was $300 billion, it was $1.2 billion. … I can’t make Barack Obama’s numbers add up.
Mystery solved! Those numbers come from our analyses, which document McCain’s hugely expensive and highly regressive tax proposal, and show that his tax plan amounts to a nearly $4 billion-a-year windfall for the top 5 oil companies in the U.S. – including $1.2 billion for ExxonMobil.
If today’s interview is a sign that Carly Fiorina has been willfully ignoring the facts about the tax plan she’s shilling for, here are some other numbers with which she may want to acquaint herself:
– $175 billion: The amount of money that would go directly to corporations each year under McCain’s tax plan.
– $12.7 trillion: The size the deficit will be after two terms of McCain’s fiscal policies.
– $267 billion: The number of dollars in savings McCain still has to account for in order to pay for his massive, $300 billion tax cut.
– Top 1%: The taxpayers who will get more than half of the benefits under McCain’s tax plan – more than they got under Bush’s.
So Ms. Fiorina, next time you need a citation in a pinch, remember that our Resource Library is just a click away.
A new reelection ad released by Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) proclaims:
Ethiopia, Zambia, Iraq. 29 intense trips in 12 years to the front — to the saddest parts of Africa — to quietly get to know the leaders.
Spencer Ackerman at the Washington Independent reports the obvious (but not to all) kicker: “IRAQ IS NOT IN AFRICA.” Watch it:
The halting and stilted campaign ad ends bizarrely with a question: “Jim Inhofe did that?” An oddly-appropriate question.
HuffPost’s Jason Linkins notes that the Inhofe ad is called “Africa.”
Fred Hiatt’s preposterous editorial denouncing anyone who accuses Bush of having “lied” about Iraq has sparked renewed interest in this question. On some level, though, it’s completely absurd that this question has dominated our national debate with, in particular, the “serious” and “grownup” position being that you can never say Bush lied. After all, we’re right now in the middle of a major presidential campaign. The campaign, as campaigns tend to be, is waged by big league politicians. And I’ve heard Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, John McCain, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and all the rest all try to mislead the voters on a whole variety of subjects over the course of the months.
Nobody finds this particularly shocking. Indeed, anyone who doesn’t recognize that there’s a lot of BS and hocus pocus out there on the campaign trail would be dismissed as a naive child.
Meanwhile, the war sales pitch was deeply dishonest. No fair-minded person could possibly deny that the overall effect of the way the administration talked about Iraq was designed to get people to believe that there was a short-term threat that Saddam Hussein would transfer a nuclear weapon to al-Qaeda for use against the United States of America. It’s equally clear that this was not supported by the evidence. But more to the point, it’s perfectly clear that the whole pitch was made in bad faith. The administration had a different, more nuanced and more medium-term set of concerns about Iraq. It believed that preventive war was the best way to deal with those concerns. And it also believed, correctly I think, that the public would not support an action of pure “anticipatory self-defense.” Thus they took bits and pieces of real intelligence plus some very flimsy stuff plus some made up stuff plus some rhetorical excess and they weaved their dishonest tapestry.
The reason a lot of people seem reluctant to admit that this is what happened is that they were in on the scam. No doubt Fred Hiatt understood perfectly well that the administration was presenting an alarmist account of the Iraq issue, calculated to induce panic and misunderstanding rather than accurate assessments of the situation. It’s just that Hiatt believed, as did most elites on the right and the hawkish segment of the left, that the sheeplike American were insufficiently attuned to the genius of aggressive warfare and that a good scare story was needed to roust them from their isolationist slumbers.
But then it turned out that the war was a disaster, and the much-feared “isolationist” impulse which said that war is a tool to be used to counter bona fide aggression rather than on speculative ventures was vindicated. So now everyone wants to pretend that it was an honest mistake, some kind of whacky mix-up like the time I took a huge gulp of vodka thinking it was water then spit it out all over the table, rather than a serious ideas-driven blunder that deserves to discredit the ideas that motivated it.
Testifying at today’s Senate Judiciary hearing on coercive interrogation techniques, former FBI special agent Jack Cloonan deplored coercive interrogations for being “not effective” and said the perception that the U.S. tortures detainees has “helped to recruit a new generation of jihadist martyrs”:
Based on my experience in talking to Al Qaida members, I am persuaded that revenge in the form of a catastrophic attack on the homeland is coming; that a new generation of jihadist martyrs, motivated in part by the images from Abu Ghraib, is, as we speak, planning to kill Americans; and that nothing gleaned from the use of coercive interrogation techniques will be of any significant use in forestalling this calamitous eventuality. [...]
If I were the director of marketing of Al Qaida and intent on replenishing the ranks of jihadists, I know where my first piece of marketing collateral would be. It would be a blast e-mail with an attachment. The attachment would contain a picture of Private England pointing at the stacked naked bodies of the detainees at Abu Ghraib. This picture screams out for revenge and a day of reckoning will come.
Cloonan also repeatedly emphasized that the “rapport-building” method of interrogation is “more effective, efficient, and reliable” than coercive techniques — regardless of some conservatives’ determination to mock this method.
Progress Illinois is reporting that Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) misled his “audience about the makeup of the uninsured population in America” during a May 10th address to the Republicans of Wheeling Township. Kirk incorrectly suggested that 15 million of the 47 million uninsured are “illegals” and that the remaining 30 million “are overwhelmingly 20 and 30 year olds working for small businesses.”
CLAIM: Fifteen million illegal aliens are uninsured.
FACT: The “National Institute for Health Care Management put the number of uninsured illegal immigrants at approximately 5.6 million,” not 15 million as Kirk suggests.
CLAIM: Americans below the poverty line have health care.
FACT: A 2007 report by the Kaiser Foundation found that in 2006, “37 percent” of Americans below the poverty level did not qualify for Medicaid and remained uninsured.
CLAIM: The uninsured are “overwhelmingly 20 and 30 year olds working for small businesses.”
FACT: Fifty-two percent of the uninsured are not in the 19-34 age range. According to the same Kaiser study, 20 percent (or 9.3 million) of the uninsured are under 18 years of age,” 39 percent of the uninsured are in the 19-34 range and 32 percent of the uninsured “are in the 35-54 age bracket.”
Moreover, today, the Commonwealth Found released a study which found that in the past four years, middle class families — not “20 and 30 year olds working for small businesses” — had the hardest time paying for health care:
The number of underinsured U.S. adults—that is, people who have health coverage that does not adequately protect them from high medical expenses—has risen dramatically…Much of this growth comes from the ranks of the middle class. While low-income people remain vulnerable, middle-income families have been hit hardest. For adults with incomes above 200 percent of the federal poverty level (about $40,000 per year for a family), the underinsured rates nearly tripled since 2003.
Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the use of coercive interrogation techniques. Among other witnesses, the committee heard from the FBI’s general counsel and a former FBI special agent, both of whom decried torture as ineffective and impermissible.
Halfway through the hearing, the testimony of international lawyer Philippe Sands — who chronicled the Bush administration’s approval of torture in his book Torture Team — was suddenly interrupted, when Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) used an objection to force the Senate into recess and disrupt the hearing. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), who were leading the hearing, were perplexed about the disruption:
FEINSTEIN: I must interrupt you. Apparently the Republican leader has just objected to committee’s proceeding. So for the moment, we will have to stop. And we will know as soon as it’s acceptable to go ahead. … Clearly, somebody doesn’t want this to go ahead.
WHITEHOUSE: So it would seem.
FEINSTEIN: It would.
WHITEHOUSE: I’m new here. I’ve only been here a year and a half. I’ve never seen this happen before. I’ve never seen a hearing interrupted by minority leadership.
FEINSTEIN: Very, very unusual.
Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) took to the Senate floor to denounce the conservatives’ obstructionist tactics. Watch it:
Reid blasted Senate conservatives for using the “very rare” objection, and called the tactics “part of a pattern of obstruction.” In fact, just today, they blocked a measure taxing Big Oil’s windfall profits and another that would have extended tax credits for renewable energy sources.
Announcing he would call the Senate into recess in order to continue the hearing, Reid said, “Republicans may not want these abuses to come to light, but I think the American people have the right to know.”
The National Academies of 13 countries told the leaders of the biggest polluting countries that “immediate large-scale mitigation action is required.”
While objections have been raised by a few people (well, one person anyway) to these leading scientific groups inserting themselves into the climate debate, the rest of us should be glad they are counseling the world — especially their own countries — toward sanity. The statement is clear on what actions will be needed:
Fox News anchors have repeatedly slammed NBC and its affiliated networks in recent months. “NBC News has gone sharply to the left,” said Bill O’Reilly in January. “They hate Bush across the board.” Nevertheless, MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann beat O’Reilly’s show in ratings last week, becoming the #1 show at 8 p.m.:
MSNBC NOTCHES DEMO WIN OVER FNC IN PRIMETIME
“Countdown” Out-Rates the “Factor” for First Time Ever
NEW YORK – June 10, 2008 – MSNBC continued its ratings surge last week, with viewers flocking out of the “No Spin Zone” and to “The Place for Politics.” For the first time ever, MSNBC’s “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” was the #1 show at 8 p.m., out-drawing Fox News’s “O’Reilly Factor” head-to-head among Adults 25-54. This is the first time since June 2001 that MSNBC has out-rated “The O’Reilly Factor” at 8 p.m.
Excluding Tuesday’s primary coverage, “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” averaged 477,000 A25-54 vs. 472,000 for the “Factor.”