Joe Biden gives me the Amtrak shout-out the country desperately needs. I kept thinking Beau Biden was going to mention it, but he disappointed me.
Before 9/11, the Bush administration’s national security focus was on missile defense, not terrorism. In fact, on 9/11, then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice was set to deliver a speech that focused “largely on missile defense.” Writing at the Huffington Post, Joe Cirincione — president of the Ploughshares Fund — recalls this quote from Sen. Joseph Biden (D-DE) on Sept. 10, 2001, warning against the Bush administration’s approach:
We will have diverted all that money to address the least likely threat while the real threats come into this country in the hold of a ship, or the belly of a plane, or are smuggled into a city in the middle of the night in a vial in a backpack.
Cirincione writes, “If George Bush had listened to Joe Biden instead of Donald Rumsfeld, the history of the past seven years would have been very different. We might have prevented 9/11.”
At the Big Tent in Denver, Center for American Progress President and CEO John Podesta, Sierra Club executive director Carl Pope, and oil billionaire T. Boone Pickens engaged in a discussion about our energy future. Pickens, who believes that our global oil production is at its peak and will soon inexorably decline, discussed his “Pickens Plan” for a massive increase in wind and solar electricity production and a shift for trucking fleets from diesel to natural gas. Podesta noted that the climate crisis is evident today, in the flooding in Florida and the increasing threat of powerful hurricanes. “The cost of doing nothing,” Podesta said, “is extremely substantial.”
This panel of three highly powerful individuals from the environmental, progressive, and conservative energy industry communities represented a remarkable confluence of priorities, in recognizing the energy crisis and the need to get off oil. As Carl Pope described:
If our politics was even vaguely functional, anything that all three of us agree on would have happened long ago. We have some very deep profound political problems. Our politics are broken.
Pickens himself, a highly influential fundraiser for right-wing politicians, described how his money has gotten him access in Washington but that he had learned that his contributions don’t translate to policy. He expressed his enthusiasm for the ability of the Pickens Plan campaign to reach millions on the Internet and mobilize hundreds of thousands of people. He argued, “I’m not doing this to make money. My entire estate will go to charity when I go. We are now importing almost 70 percent of our oil. It’s too much. We’re not talking about my generation — we can make it to the finish line.”
They also aired for the audience a fifteen-second spot that was rejected by NBC censors, because, according to Pickens, the network wanted him to prove that “we’re not doing a thing here” on energy policy. Watch the rejected ad: Read more
May I just observe that while Barack Obama relies on having well-written speeches to make his oratorical performances impressive, Bill Clinton is just relying on pure skills of awesomeness to make texts that are pretty disjointed on the page seem incredibly compelling.
Today at the Democratic National Convention, Women’s eNews hosted a panel on pushing a “pro-women agenda” in Congress, as part of the SeaChange Ideas Forum. One of the speakers at the event was Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Democratic Vice Chair of the bipartisan Women’s Caucus.
Schakowsky blasted the Bush administration’s record on women’s issues, calling his tenure “anti-women” from day one. In particular, she criticized a recent Bush administration memo that “defines several widely used contraception methods as abortion and protects the right of medical providers to refuse to offer them.” From her remarks:
This administration is not just anti-abortion. When it comes down to it, they’re really anti-sex, anti-women, in every possible way. Imagine not being able tell someone about contraception. That is a rule that in the United States of America that the president has proposed. We need a change, my sisters, we really do. They are after us, they are after our bodies, they are after controlling our lives.
ThinkProgress spoke with Schakowsky afterward about the record of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) on women’s rights, especially in light of his comments in July that he is committed to “equal opportunity in every aspect of our society.” Schakowsky told ThinkProgress that McCain would “absolutely” continue the “anti-women” policies of President Bush:
He’s always been against reproductive rights for women. He’s not for equal pay, he did not support Lilly Ledbetter and the work that we’re trying to do to get equal pay. He never supported the Family and Medical Leave Act in Congress. So there’s no evidence. … He’s not with us.
McCain actually skipped the vote on the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in April, which would have made it easier for “women and other workers to pursue pay discrimination claims.” He said that if he had been there, he would have voted against it because he believes women simply need more “education and training.” In the past, he has also made a joke about how much women love to be raped.
The AP reports that Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) has officially become the presidential nominee of the Democratic party. “I have been asked to inform you that Senator Obama accepts the nomination and will deliver his acceptance speech tomorrow night at the fourth night of the convention to be held at Invesco field,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced today. Obama is the first African-American nominee of a major political party and will accept the nomination on the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech.
The conventional wisdom about this campaign is that in some sense it “should” naturally fall into Barack Obama’s lap. It might not, though, because people have “doubts” about Obama. Thus his task is to “introduce himself” to the American people and cross some threshold of basic acceptability. But as this chart from Charles Franklin shows, that may not be right:
This makes a lot of sense. Before this campaign started, John McCain was the most popular politician in America and Barack Obama was a widely admired rising political star. The result, as this graph shows, is that the key contested voting block seems to be voters who like both McCain and Obama. Despite the press’s obsession with a small number of die-hard Obama-hating Clinton fans, Obama has a sixty percent favorable rating. That means the bulk of the people who don’t have a favorable view of Obama are going to be people who are just a lot more conservative than the average voter — people who it would be both difficult and unnecessary for Obama to impress.
Under the circumstances, both candidates have essentially the same task — not to expand their own appeal, which is about as high as you can expect a candidate in a contested race to get — but to cause the center of public opinion to fall out of love with his opponent.
In 2001 and 2003, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) opposed President Bush’s tax cuts, arguing that he couldn’t “in good conscience support a tax cut in which so many of the benefits go to the most fortunate among us.” But since then, McCain has ditched his concern about policies tilted towards the wealthy and now wants to double Bush’s tax cuts.
Examining McCain’s shifts on taxes today, the Wall Street Journal’s Martin Vaughan writes that “an apt description” for McCain’s tax proposals would be to say “that the wealthy would benefit most.” In fact, as the Cato Institute’s Chris Edwards points out, McCain’s proposals are aimed at the wealthy “even more so than Bush’s”:
McCain’s apparent bent towards deeper tax cuts at the higher end of the income scale in his recent campaign proposals surprised many who recall his rejection of the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts.
“McCain’s proposals this year are consistently pretty supply-side, even more so than Bush’s were,” said Chris Edwards, director of tax policy studies at the Cato Institute.
Earlier this year, the non-partisan Tax Policy Center found that McCain’s economic plan “would primarily benefit those with very high incomes.” In fact, under McCain’s plan, John and Cindy McCain would get a $300,000 tax break while middle class Americans would save only $319. The McCains save $60,016 more under McCain’s tax plan than under Bush’s.
In their more candid moments, McCain’s supporters admit that he is doubling down on Bush’s tax policies. In May, House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO) said that McCain’s “tax policies” would “be in effect a third Bush term.” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told ABC News in June that McCain’s policies would “absolutely” be an “extension” and “enhancement” of Bush’s.
In a speech today at the American Legion, Vice President Cheney said:
I realize the Annual Convention of the American Legion is not a political event, and I will not speak this morning about the presidential campaign.
Moments later, he said:
President Bush stood firm, along with a number of notably courageous members of Congress, some of them from Arizona. They knew a surge of operations was our big chance to get things right.
In 2001, McCain said he would have picked Cheney as Vice President had he been elected. Cheney told McCain he would have agreed to the job.
Note: The reason for Cheney’s coyness is because, had he endorsed McCain by name, he may not have been able to fully-fund his trip with taxpayer dollars.
22 million Americans watched the first night of the Democratic convention. Nielsen reports, “A large percentage of African American households (24%) tuned in for the night’s speeches, which included a keynote address by Michelle Obama.” By comparison, 14.6% of white households and 7.3% of Hispanic households watched that night.
“Almost 26 million people watched the second night of the 2008 Democratic National Convention — a 16% increase from 22.3 million viewers on the opening night of the convention.”