You expect a certain amount of dishonesty in politics. But you would think that amidst a bona fide emergency situation whose consequences threaten everyone’s well-being that conservatives would try to pay some attention to what’s actually going on. Instead, conservatives have decided to make up a story in which Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac somehow single-handedly brought down the world financial system. David Goldstein and Kevin G. Hall have a great corrective article for McClatchy headlined “Private sector loans, not Fannie or Freddie, triggered crisis.”
Palin had hoped her daughter would shield her from the boos. Fox reports, “The GOP Vice-Presidential nominee said at an earlier fundraiser that she would stop some of the booing from the rowdy Philadelphia fans by putting her seven year old daughter, Piper in a Flyers jersey. She said, ‘How dare they boo Piper!‘”
We’ve posted the audio of Rev. Conrad’s invocation at McCain’s rally in Davenport earlier today.
Marc Ambinder reports this response from the McCain camp: “While we understand the important role that faith plays in informing the votes of Iowans, questions about the religious background of the candidates only serve to distract from the real questions in this race about Barack Obama’s judgment, policies and readiness to lead as commander in chief.”
In recent weeks, Vice President Cheney has virtually disappeared from the public spotlight since last month’s economic collapse. He has given seven public speeches since Sept. 1, none of which were devoted to the economy. Cheney’s absence is puzzling considering his major role in crafting economic policy during the first term.
Yesterday, ThinkProgress asked the Washington Post’s Barton Gellman, author of the new book, Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency, about Cheney’s disappearance. Gellman suggested Cheney has become a less influential figure in the White House and Congress, handicapped by abysmal approval ratings:
GELLMAN: Several explanations for Cheney’s disappearance. Number one: if you have approval ratings lower than those of the least popular president in modern history, you’re not going to be tapped to go out and make the public case. He had one sort of foray into Congress to try to talk House Republicans out of their opposition, so he’s lost his sway with them. … But in the second term, Josh Bolten and Paulson have formed kind of an alliance to take back economic policies from the Office of Vice President which was where it resided in the first term.
Gellman cautioned, however, that Cheney “is probably is involved behind the scenes in shaping the policy because there hasn’t been many massive policies that he hasn’t helped shape.”
The administration’s initial plan doled out extreme powers immune of oversight to executive branch — the Section 8 provision of the original Paulson plan. Gellman said Cheney may have used the bailout as an “opportunity” to expand executive power:
GELLMAN: He would approve the idea that this an executive responsibility. He would argue both that in order to solve this problem the markets have to be convinced that decisions will be made swiftly according to a unified idea of how to solve the problem and that they would be final and that markets would not be worried about Congress undoing what the Treasury Secretary has just done. Uncertainty isn’t good, he would say, for economic planning. He would certainly also see this as an opportunity to demonstrate and reinforce that the executive needs to be supreme on big consequential national policy.
On whether Cheney supports bailouts, Gellman said he may have granted an exception for this one: “He doesn’t like them in general. He thinks people who take risks in a capitalist society ought to bear the consequences of those just as they ought to reap the gains.”
I would also add, Lord, that your reputation is involved in all that happens between now and November, because there are millions of people around this world praying to their god — whether it’s Hindu, Buddha, Allah — that his opponent wins, for a variety of reasons. And Lord, I pray that you will guard your own reputation, because they’re going to think that their god is bigger than you, if that happens. So I pray that you will step forward and honor your own name with all that happens between now and election day.
UPDATE: Listen to Conrad’s remarks here:
Fox News’ Caroline Shively reported on the pastor’s comments:
Pentagon officials have prepared a new estimate for defense spending that is $450 billion more over the next five years than previously announced figures.
The new estimate, which the Pentagon plans to release shortly before President Bush leaves office, would serve as a marker for the new president and is meant to place pressure on him to either drastically increase the size of the defense budget or defend any reluctance to do so, according to several former senior budget officials who are close to the discussions. [...]
“This is a political document,” said one former senior budget official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “It sets up the new administration immediately to have to make a decision of how to deal with the perception that they are either cutting defense or adding to it.”
As best I can tell it’s been years since anyone with influence in progressive politics tried to make a serious push to reign military spending in, but at the end of the day it’s going to be difficult to implement much of a progressive agenda without facing up to the “guns or butter” dilemma to at least some extent.
Perhaps a cleaner way of making the point I made in yesterday’s United States of arugula post is to think about the growth in Starbucks. Even within my memory, espresso drinks were, once upon a time, not only considered somewhat hoity toity but genuinely difficult to acquire. Now I grew up in Manhattan, so it was hardly impossible. But you had to go to special places. You could get a cup of joe on any old corner, but not a cappuccino. Thanks to Starbucks and its competitors, this stuff is now all over the place. We haven’t become France or Italy where this is all anyone drinks, but espresso products are hardly a rare delicacy. Anywhere that people go, you’ve got a Starbucks and places like Dunkin’ Donuts have upgraded their offerings.
In electoral terms, the Starbucks/arugula set still isn’t a majority. But it’s a much larger slice of the electorate than it was in 25 years ago. And at the same time, the proportion of African-Americans in the electorate has grown and the proportion of Hispanics in the electorate has grown. The McGovern constituency from 1972 still isn’t a winning political coalition, but it’s a much larger minority than it was in McGovern’s day. A progressive politician needs more than zero non-college whites — and you certainly can’t afford to have McGovern’s terrible relationship with the labor movement — to win, but it’s not nearly as steep an uphill climb as it’s been in the past.
Just moments ago at a townhall rally in Davenport, IA, John McCain delivered this statement:
As a Senator, I’ve seen the corrupt ways of Washington and wasteful spending and other abuses of power, and its corruption. We now have former members of Congress residing in federal prison. That’s how bad it’s gotten. As President, I’m going to end these abuses whatever it takes.
McCain’s statement is ironic, considering his running mate was cited just last night by an official state investigation for unethically and unlawfully abusing her power. Noting that McCain was previously admonished by the Senate Ethics Committee for his involvement in the Keating scandal, Steve Benen reports:
The McCain/Palin ticket is the first in American history in which both candidates were found to have violated ethics standards before a national election.
The very first time I ever heard Sarah Palin’s name floated as a potential VP was on Morning Joe. Andrea Mitchell immediately responded that Palin was the subject of an active abuse of power investigation, so she was out. Everyone seemed to agree with that, and the conversation moved on. Sounded sensible enough to me. But within days she was John McCain’s choice.
This is pretty funny — the McCain campaign’s letter of 100 economists warning of the dire impact of Barack Obama’s policies on the economy is only signed by ninety people.
Note that the American Economics Association has over 17,000 members. And the McCain campaign wasn’t being very discriminating in looking for signatories — many of the people listed work at rightwing think tanks and as Jon Chait observes, two list their affiliation as “McCain-Palin 2008.” This means that out of thousands of economists in the United States, McCain wasn’t able to scratch up even 100 to sign his document. And then on top of that, the economists who are supporting McCain don’t support his new housing scheme.
Check out Sam Boyd’s American Prospectcover story on Rachel Maddow. It’s been out in print for a while, but for some reason the powers that be didn’t see fit to put it online to dovetail with the premiere.
One issue I’m interested in that I think hasn’t been aired yet is whether or not a new Obama administration will try to use the considerable leverage at its disposal to enhance the credibility and standing of some of the new more progressive media — with Maddow’s show certainly being a big part of that. People forget, but Fox News had quasi-pariah status at the beginning, but conservative politicians really insisted on getting it taken seriously and the Bush administration, when it came into office, did a lot to further entrench that.