Last year, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) joked about bombing Iran to the theme of the Beach Boy’s “Barbara Ann.” McCain was widely criticized for the remark, but simply told critics to “lighten up and get a life.” The Washington Post notes that McCain tried joking about “killing” Iranians again today:
Responding to a question about a survey that shows increased exports to Iran, mainly from cigarettes, McCain said, “Maybe thats a way of killing them.” He quickly caught himself, saying “I meant that as a joke” as his wife, Cindy, poked him in the back.
According to a report released today, U.S. exports to Iran “grew more than tenfold during President Bush’s years in office even as he accused Iran of nuclear ambitions and helping terrorists. America sent more cigarettes to Iran, at least $158 million worth under Bush, than any other products.”
Last night on Bloomberg TV, McCain economic adviser Carly Fiorina repeated the laughable claim first offered by McCain economic adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin that Sen. Barack Obama — not John McCain — would be a third Bush term. Fiorina said:
I think if you look at the record, it may be Barack Obama who is running for Bush III. But it certainly is not John McCain.
Americans have got to understand that we are paying present-day retirees with the taxes paid by young workers in America today. And that’s a disgrace.
Of course in their day, present-day retirees were working and their tax dollars were paying folks who were retired back then. And in exchange for that service when they were workers, today’s retirees get to enjoy a secure retirement. Yes, on my dime. And in exchange I expect that when I retire, ensuing generations will be there for me. I call it generations looking after each other, so that those who built the present with labors in the past get to enjoy some of the fruits of their labor. The federal government calls it Social Security. John McCain calls it a disgrace.
Mother Jones’ David Corn points out today that Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) campaign appears to be screening journalists’ questions. Unlike calls conducted by the Obama and Clinton campaigns, the McCain camp seems to choose its questioners, rather than rely on a first-come, first-serve basis. During a recent call, for example, only two questions were taken: from conservative bloggers Ed Morrissey and Matt Lewis. “Had it been merely a coincidence that the only questioners had been rightwing bloggers who had served up soft balls?” Corn asks.
John McCain once again “jokes” about his desire to kill Iranians. This time, the joke is a little bit more of a real joke, but the targets of his lust for killing foreigners are clearly ordinary Iranian civilians. If a major Iranian political leader were to repeatedly joke about bombing the United States and killing Americans, you can just imagine the shit-storm about how Iran isn’t a normal country with normal interests, that it’s run by irrational fanatics, appeasement won’t work, etc.
Yesterday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) suggested that requiring employers to share the costs of expanding access to health insurance would add “$12,000 to the cost of employing anyone with a family” and lead to greater unemployment and lower wages:
Small businesses are the job engine of America, and I will make it easier for them to grow and create more jobs. My opponent wants to make it harder by imposing a ‘pay or play’ health mandate on small business.
But the rising costs of health insurance are already making it harder for small businesses to “grow and create more jobs.” According to a recent study from the Institute of Medicine, “the lost human capital related to lack of health insurance – including lost earning potential and the value of extra years of life – is as much as $170 billion.”
As the Small Business Majority points out, the current system is broken. Small businesses either “pay the overblown and disproportionate costs in purchasing and administering a health care plan or, worse, offer no health care plan at all and suffer the competitive disadvantage in attracting and retaining talented labor.”
To ensure that small businesses aren’t overwhelmed by the growing costs of health care, “all interest groups — business owners, employees, the health care community and government” must step-up and contribute through the concept of shared responsibility. Such an approach would save small businesses from the inadequacies of the current system.
When part of a larger solution that includes pooling, cost controls and government subsidies, [employer] mandates offer useful tools in building comprehensive reform…Small businesses are prepared to pay their fair share: nothing less, nothing more.”
But unfortunately, McCain’s rhetoric suggests that he doesn’t understand the cost of doing nothing. McCain’s proposals don’t address the out-of-control costs of providing health care coverage and do nothing to ameliorate the current crisis. Progressives would control costs and provide new opportunities for small businesses to purchase affordable coverage.
But in a podcast interview with ABC News’s Jake Tapper yesterday, McClellan disavowed his previous defenses of the Bush administration’s interrogation policies. “I would have never made those comments from the podium had I known exactly what was happening,” said McClellan.
He then told Tapper that because of “waterboarding and some other harsh interrogation methods” used by the administration, he “could not say honestly today that this administration does not believe in torture”:
Now, looking back on that, I hold a very different view when I know today that were engaged in waterboarding and some other harsh interrogation methods and I would have never made those comments from the podium had I known exactly what was happening in some of those settings. Whether or not it was illegal is a matter for other people to address, but I could not say honestly today that this administration does not believe in torture, does not engage in torture.
Earlier this month, after he had himself waterboarded, journalist Christopher Hitchens wrote, “believe me, it’s torture.” “If waterboarding does not constitute torture, then there is no such thing as torture,” said Hitchens.
Just because the slogan “Don’t hope for a better life; vote for one” was used by the UK Tories in the late 1970s doesn’t, to me, mean that the McCain campaign “plagiarized” anyone by using it. The idea of plagiarism is that you have one writer taking credit for the work of another writer which we think is wrong under a variety of circumstances. But we don’t think it’s wrong in the context of political campaigning.
Barack Obama didn’t single-handedly write “Obama’s convention speech” or “Obama’s race speech” or “Obama’s competitiveness speech.” One gets the sense that Obama, who really did write a legitimately good book without recourse to a ghostwriter may play a larger role in his own speechmaking than is typical for a presidential candidate, but even if he doesn’t he’s not “plagiarizing” his speechwriters, he’s giving speeches. Given that context, I think the general principle is that when it comes to political sloganeering you’re free to borrow, modify, etc. as you like.
During a washingtonpost.com chat today, CBS News foreign correspondent Kimberly Dozier — who was severely injured from a car bombing in Iraq in 2006 — said that she “understand[s] from folks in Baghdad that Gen. Petraeus won’t let folks use words like ‘triumph’ or ‘victory’ or say ‘we’re winning.’” Will Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) — who frequently claims that “we are winning in Iraq” — and his allies Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) take Petraeus’s advice? Probably not:
Graham: “We’re winning because John McCain understood Iraq better than anybody else.” [CBS, 7/06/08]
Lieberman: “Now, his policy is working. Iraq is succeeding.” [ABC, 7/06/08]
McCain: “Senator Obama refuses to acknowledge we are winning in Iraq. He refuses. He called it spin. Is General Petraeus spinning the American people? I don’t think so. I don’t think so.” [MSNBC, 6/13/08]
CNN’s senior business correspondent, Ali Velshi, is a one-man public relations team for the polluters that advertise on his network. In response to rising energy prices, Velshi has spent months promoting the Nazi-era technology of liquid coal. On CNN’s American Morning, Ali Velshi previewed his weeklong tribute to another disastrous and dirty boondoggle, the Alberta tar sands — or “oil sands” among its backers.
After showing off his “equipment” — a Calgary Stampede belt buckle — Velshi described the sands as “the largest reserves of oil in the entire world,” where “oil workers make $100,000, $120,000 to start.” Velshi conceded that “it’s doing something to the land.”
The Athabasca Oil Sands development, now producing 1.3 million barrels of oil a day, is an ecological disaster. The bitumen-drenched sands — essentially the same composition as asphalt pavement — lie a few hundred feet below the surface in a region of northeastern Alberta the size of Wisconsin. Like “oil shale,” tar sands are millions of years away from being true oil deposits — there are no gushing oil wells here. To produce usable crude oil from the sands, man has to shortcut the geological processes at huge expense of energy, water, and land. The result leaves an industrial moonscape in Alberta and a tremendous global warming footprint. Here’s how:
Four Tons Of Material Are Required Per Barrel Of Oil. Tar sands oil production chews up the earth at a prodigious rate. After the hundreds of feet of “overfill” (read: the living habitat of Alberta’s boreal forest) are bulldozed, enormous trucks haul out tons of tar sands to the natural-gas fueled production plants. After extracting one barrel of bitumen for every two tons of tar sands and two more tons of mined rock, the remaining toxic sludge and sand is dumped as “tailings.” [The Pembina Institute, 11/05]
Tar Sands Plants Use Two To Four Barrels of Water Per Barrel Of Oil. “Currently, the water consumption is enough to sustain a city of two million people every year. And after it’s been through the process, the water is toxic with contaminants, so it cannot be released into the environment. Some of it is reused, but vast amounts of it are pumped into enormous settlement ponds to be retained as toxic waste.” [Energy & Capital, 9/07]
Tar Sands Generates Two To Four Times The Greenhouse Pollution Per Barrel Of Conventional Oil. A 2005 Pembina Institute report found that a barrel of tar sands oil had 2.98 times the greenhouse gas intensity of a barrel of conventional oil. Production of oil from bituminous sands also generates twice the nitrous oxide and sulfur dioxide pollution as conventional oil. [The Pembina Institute, 11/05]
Tar Sands Are A Double Climate Disaster For Canada. Global warming has already decreased the flow of the Athabasca River by 20 percent in fifty years, even as its water is increasingly used for oil sands production. Greenhouse gas emissions from bituminous sands production are “projected to reach 45-50 MT by 2010,” half of Canada’s increase above 1990 levels, further hastening the climate change threatening the region. [WWF, 11/05]
At current production rates, the Alberta tar sands exploitation chews up four million metric tons of earth, a billion cubic feet of natural gas, and 400 million gallons of water and produces 100 thousand metric tons of greenhouse gases a day. A three-mile-per-gallon increase in fuel economy for the United States fleet would eliminate the entire need for the 1.3 million barrels of oil synthesized each day from the tar sands.
Velshi’s “Energy Hunt” is one of desperation, where oil companies profit only because they don’t have to pay the costs of their pollution. Instead, they keep the money and the rest of the planet pays the price.