White House spokeswoman Emily Lawrimore told the Los Angeles Times today that President Bush has “no plans” to see Oliver Stone’s upcoming biopic “W.” Lawrimore took the opportunity to pre-emptively attack Stone’s credibility, saying that “Oliver Stone is an accurate historian like Gilligan was an accurate navigator.” Watch the trailer:
Denver police have “have dropped plans to top the holding cells in place for use during next week’s Democratic convention with razor wire after some groups started comparing the site to the detention facility for suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.” Instead, the cells will be topped with chain-link fencing. The ACLU has expressed concern about mass arrests of protestors, citing the 2004 GOP convention in New York City, “where some people were held for days at a converted bus depot.”
Gen. David Petraeus, the top commander in Iraq who will soon take control of Central Command, has found himself embroiled in the “ongoing conflict over religious proselytizing in the U.S. military.” Petraeus’ published endorsement of an Army Chaplain’s Spiritual Handbook for Military Personnel, in which he says “it should be in every rucksack for those times when soldiers need spiritual energy,” has led a watchdog group to call for Petraeus’ dismissal and court martial. The book’s author now claims that the endorsement wasn’t meant to be published:
But the endorsement – which has spurred a demand by a watchdog group for Petraeus’ dismissal and court martial on the grounds of establishing a religious requirement on troops – was a personal view never intended for publication, the book’s author now says.
“In the process of securing … comments for recommending the book I believe there was a basic misunderstanding on my part that the comments were publishable,” McCoy said in an Aug. 19 email to Military.com. “This was my mistake.”
Mikey Weinstein, the head of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, says that it “strains credulity” that Petraeus didn’t know his private written endorsement of the book had been public since last year. But Petraeus’ spokesman Col. Steven Boylan says Petraeus was unaware because he has been in Iraq since February 2007.
Secrecy News notes that the House Armed Services Committee released a report this week criticizing the Bush administration’s extensive use of signing statements, saying that the practice has generated confusion, undermined oversight of defense policy, and is often “broad and unsubstantiated.” From the report:
– “While presidents have issued signing statements for quite some time, this President has issued a significantly larger percentage of signing statements challenging or objecting to various provisions of the law.”
– “78 percent of President Bush’s more than 150 signing statements have raised constitutional or legal objections, compared with only 18% of all of President Clinton’s.”
– In the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act, signing statements from President Bush “appear simply to be hortatory assertions of executive power,” according to the Congressional Research Service.
On her radio show today, conservative talker Laura Ingraham asked Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) what he believed should be done to address the struggling U.S. economy. Ingraham listed several economic indicators that have declined in recent years to make her point. McCain dismissed the premise of Ingraham’s question, saying, “I still believe the fundamentals of our economy are strong”:
INGRAHAM: And now look: the dollar’s weak, we have serious competition from abroad, government is running a deficit. … What are the Republicans going to do if China ultimately overtakes us economically and does that matter?
MCCAIN: I still believe the fundamentals of our economy are strong. We’ve got terribly big challenges now, whether it be housing or employment or so many of the other — health care. It’s very, very tough times. It’s very tough. But we’re still the most innovative, the most productive, the greatest exporter, the greatest importer.
It’s not clear which fundamentals McCain is referring to. Eight years of conservative management have left the economy with something other than “strong” fundamentals:
- Inflation is rising. The U.S. economy is currently experiencing “the worst 12 months of inflation in almost three decades.”
- Real wages are declining. Americans are experiencing a “de facto pay cut.” “Almost everything costs more, even as [Americans] have less money to pay for it.”
- Unemployment is increasing. Americans have experienced “seven consecutive monthly declines in employment.”
- Foreclosures are still increasing. Home foreclosures were up 55 percent over last year in July and “17 [percent] of all homes for sale in the U.S. are repossessed properties.”
McCain’s economic policies are promising more of the same. As Paul Krugman writes, McCain offers a “combination of irresponsibility and double-talk” that promises to be nothing short of “Bush made permanent.”
Transcript: Read more
Yesterday on his radio show, right-wing talker Rush Limbaugh said it’s “striking how unqualified Obama is and how this whole thing came about within the Democrat Party. I think it really goes back to the fact that nobody had the guts to stand up and say no to a black guy.” Limbaugh continued:
I think this is a classic illustration here where affirmative action has reared its ugly head against them. It’s the reverse of it. They’ve, they’ve ended up nominating and placing at the top of their ticket somebody who’s not qualified, who has not earned it. [...]
It’s perfect affirmative action. And because of all this guilt and the historic nature of things, nobody had the guts to say, well, wait a minute, do we really want to do this?
Media Matters has the audio.
U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan today ruled that Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) will stand trial on seven felony counts in the nation’s capital, rejecting his request to move the affair to Alaska. Jury selection for the four-week trial is set to begin on Sept. 22. Federal prosecutors argued that “holding the trial in a place where Stevens is already campaigning for reelection could taint the home state jury pool.” Indeed, Stevens’s lawyers said that the senator wanted to “campaign in the evenings and on weekends during the trial.”
This David Leonhardt article is long, important, and a bit difficult to digest so I’ll hold off commenting on the substance of the thing. This offhand choice of example on page four, however, raised a pet concern of mine:
As Lawrence Summers, the former Treasury secretary and Rubin ally from the Clinton administration, says: “We’ve probably done a better job of the last 20 years on the problems the market can solve than the problems the market can’t solve. We’re doing pretty well on the size of people’s houses and televisions and the like. We’re not looking so good on infrastructure and education.”
I know what Summers is getting at here and I agree with him, but the housing market is about the furthest thing in the world from a free market imaginable. Specifically on the question of home size, we have various policies in the tax code that encourage people to take a large chunk of their savings in the form of housing, which encourages people to buy bigger homes than would otherwise be the case. And then on top of that, rules against “accessory dwellings” and/or “overcrowding” and minimum lot size requirements all discourage the construction of small homes. All things considered, in other words, we have a lot of public policy that pushes the size of our houses bigger than pure market considerations would dictate.
This is a pretty bad idea for a number of reasons, most notably energy efficiency but also because of positional arms race considerations. Nevertheless, I think a lot of folks would be resistant (for good and bad reasons) to the idea of market interventions aimed at encouraging small homes. Thus it’s important to get people to understand that the status quo isn’t a market-dictated one at all. This is just one of several aspects of American reality that people tend to think of as “natural” but that actually reflect deliberate and poorly understood policy choices.
Last week, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) walked into a bipartisan wave of condemnation in Colorado when he told the Pueblo Chieftain that the 1922 Colorado River compact, which governs the allocation of the river’s water among seven states, “needs to be renegotiated over time”:
“I don’t think there’s any doubt the major, major issue is water and can be as important as oil. So the compact that is in effect, obviously, needs to be renegotiated over time amongst the interested parties,” McCain said while on his way to the Aspen Institute. “I think that there’s a movement amongst the governors to try, if not, quote, renegotiate, certainly adjust to the new realities of high growth, of greater demands on a scarcer resource.”
Sen. Ken Salazar (D-CO) called the compact “sacrosanct,” adding that opening it up “would only happen over my dead body.” Senate candidate and former U.S. Rep. Bob Schaffer (R-CO) agreed, telling the Grand Junction Sentinel, “Over my cold, dead, political carcass.” The Denver Post editorialized that McCain “displayed a disturbing ignorance of the realities of the West’s scarce water resources.”
Now, one of McCain’s top surrogates, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney is claiming that McCain didn’t mean what he said. Romney told 9News that McCain “has no interest in reopening the compact“:
“Senator McCain has no interest in reopening the compact,” Romney said. “Senator McCain believes as I do that a compact that’s been worked out between the governors and between the states is the right way to go. States are the ones who build these kinds of understandings. The federal government shouldn’t meddle in that compact.
Salazar’s Press Secretary Matt Lee-Ashley responded to Romney’s comments: “Either Senator McCain is so out of touch with Western water issues that he needs the former Massachusetts governor to defend him, or he really has some interest in overhauling the law of the river that has been in place since 1922. Both scenarios are troubling.”
ProgressNowAction has a petition telling McCain to keep his hands off Colorado’s water.
At Climate Progress, Joe Romm explains how “McCain’s gaffe is both bad policy and bad politics.”
Our guest blogger is Alice Madden, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress Action Fund and Majority Leader of the Colorado General Assembly.
Last week, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) told The Pueblo Chieftain that the 1922 Colorado River compact, which determines water sharing for Colorado and other upper basin states with lower basin states like Arizona, California, and New Mexico, “obviously needs to be renegotiated,” citing “the new realities of high growth”:
I don’t think there’s any doubt the major, major issue is water and can be as important as oil. So the compact that is in effect, obviously, needs to be renegotiated over time amongst the interested parties.
As Jonathan Adler reminds us, “In the West, whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting.” Has John McCain forgotten where he comes from? His cavalier attitude about the distribution of western water should send a chill down the spine of anyone who hails from west of the Mississippi.
But even scarier — Sen. McCain seemed oblivious to the hard work on this very issue completed just last year. The seven states of the Colorado River basin worked together to craft a new agreement within the 1922 compact to deal with the increasing problem of drought and lower basin water demands. This agreement, signed by the states and the federal government on December 13, was praised by Secretary of Interior Dirk Kempthorne, the former Republican governor of Idaho: “You have steered around the cataracts and sharp boulders of litigation and acrimony. You have found the serene waters of partnership and cooperation.”
McCain’s reckless comments threaten all of that hard work. And that is why the condemnation of McCain’s remarks in Colorado has been swift and bipartisan:
“Senator McCain’s position on opening up the Colorado River Compact is absolutely wrong and would only happen over my dead body.” — Sen. Ken Salazar (D-CO)
“He will not get a more fierce fight from a United States senator than he will have from me.” — Bob Schaeffer (R-CO)
“On this issue he couldn’t be more wrong. Nothing is more crucial for Colorado than water, and I oppose any suggestion that the federal government should get involved in how we share it with Arizona, California or any other state.” — Rep. Mark Udall (D-CO)
“It would be sheer folly to re-open the compact at a time like this when all of the states are working cooperatively on this issue.” — Gov. Bill Ritter (D-CO)
I have an idea. Why doesn’t the Senator from Arizona turn his attention to how to help the region deal with the looming threat of global warming? “Scientists have predicted a 10 to 30 percent reduction of water flow in the Colorado River,” the Sierra Club’s Rob Smith explained to the Denver Post, “due to long-term drought and higher temperatures associated with climate change in the Southwest.” Instead of proposing an agenda with water conservation and stream restoration, McCain is promoting a unsustainable expansion of water-hungry non-renewable energy projects in the West.
McCain should spend less time inside the DC beltway and more time with real Coloradans, so he can discuss real solutions instead of trying to reopen old wounds.
UPDATE: Apparently Mitt Romney has been brought in to bat clean up: McCain didn’t say that. Never happened. But if it did, he didn’t mean it.