After taking the reigns of Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) presidential campaign earlier this summer, new campaign manager Rick Davis made a decision to get the senator’s spending in line. “Every $10,000 counts now,” Davis told New York magazine. This new commitment to frugal campaigning includes a downgrade of the “souped-up Straight Talk bus” he’s been riding. “The next time we roll it out, it’ll be much more like the original version,” said Davis. “A piece of sh*t.”
Brendan Nyhan has a nice political science-y followup on the bipartisanship issue, complete with charts of partisan polarization in congress. The charts illustrate both that the bipartisanship era was a historical aberration and that it was very specifically driven by the presence of a large number of conservative southerners in congress who were members of a mostly non-conservative Democratic Party because they were also hard-core white supremacists and being Democrats was part of maintaining Jim Crow. The departure of these times and the rise of ideologically coherent parties isn’t really something to be sad about.
On Sunday, the Washington Post reported on Karl Rove’s politicization of the federal government. The article highlighted that Rove had organized “asset deployment teams” that allowed the White House “to coordinate the travel of Cabinet secretaries and senior agency officials” to secure GOP victories:
In practical terms, that meant Cabinet officials concentrated their official government travel on the media markets Rove’s team chose, rolling out grant decisions made by agencies with red-carpet fanfare in GOP congressional districts, and carefully crafted announcements highlighting the release of federal money in battleground states.
This morning, House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) wrote to the heads of 18 federal agencies who attended the briefings, confirming the existence of the teams:
As part of our investigation, the Committee has received documents that confirm the existence of this “asset deployment team.” According to the documents, the White House invited 18 federal agencies, including yours, to asset deployment meetings in 2003.
Those efforts extended up to the 2006 midterm elections. In his letter, Waxman reveals an e-mail from the White House Surrogate Scheduler “asking 18 federal agencies to provide press clippings from events that the agency heads did at the suggestion of the White House Office of Political Affairs.” The text of the e-mail reads:
WH Liaisons -
If you could, please have your press shops send me any good clips from the media on surrogate events your principals have done (Secretary and Sub-Cabinet), especially if they were as a result of an OPA request.
Folks over here get very excited when they see the results of all the hard work you and your agencies do on these events.
The White House has already admitted that roughly 20 agencies received PowerPoint briefings created by Rove’s office “that included slides listing Democratic and Republican seats the White House viewed as vulnerable.”
Waxman requested that information from the agencies concerning the details of meetings and coordination with the White House be turned over by Sept. 7.
American Psychological Association says psychologists should stop participating in abusive interrogations. Good for them. On some level, it’s sad that it took them this long. On another level, it’s just so weird that they even need to address this in the first place that you can see how it might have taken a while to snap into action. Four years ago, I never would have guessed that the US government’s officially sanctioned systematic use of torture was going to be a recurring topic in my political commentary. I guess I was naive, but I think it was naive in a good way.
Salon’s Tim Grieve discusses recent media distortions of the statements made by members of Congress on the status of Iraq, seen in the reporting of recent comments of Sens. Carl Levin (D-MI) and Hillary Clinton (D-NY). “We’ll admit it’s a fine distinction, but it shouldn’t be so hard to understand. Is the ‘surge’ having some success, in some areas, in reducing the levels of violence in Iraq? Yes. Is the overall ‘strategy’ working — that is, is the Iraqi government using the ‘breathing space’ it’s getting to do the things it needs to do? No,” Grieve writes.
I would be writing more blog posts, but I’m too busy using this easy method (really! I tried earlier hacks and couldn’t get any to work, but this is simple) to install third-party aps on my iPhone.
In his New York Times op-ed, co-authored with Ken Pollack, Michael O’Hanlon wrote in support of the escalation:
Viewed from Iraq, where we just spent eight days meeting with American and Iraqi military and civilian personnel, the political debate in Washington is surreal. The Bush administration has over four years lost essentially all credibility. Yet now the administration’s critics, in part as a result, seem unaware of the significant changes taking place.
This weekend, seven soldiers of the 82nd Airborne responded in kind:
Viewed from Iraq at the tail end of a 15-month deployment, the political debate in Washington is indeed surreal. … As responsible infantrymen and noncommissioned officers with the 82nd Airborne Division soon heading back home, we are skeptical of recent press coverage portraying the conflict as increasingly manageable and feel it has neglected the mounting civil, political and social unrest we see every day.
This morning, O’Hanlon appeared on The Diane Rehm Show to discuss the situation in Iraq. Asked to comment on the op-ed written by the soldiers, O’Hanlon said, “They may have even been taking a slight poke at us as we used a similar term in an op-ed three weeks earlier.” Indeed.
O’Hanlon went on to argue that, while he “read that op-ed very carefully” and has “great respect” for the soldiers, he had to “get a few simple facts on the table” that suggested the soldiers didn’t understand the full picture. O’Hanlon claimed “civilian fatalities are down by a third,” and “we’re on the tactical offensive.”
Listen to a portion of the interview here:
Here’s a “simple fact” O’Hanlon neglected. Statistics compiled by O’Hanlon’s Brookings Institution Iraq index (see p. 18) demonstrate this summer is the bloodiest summer of the entire Iraq war:
June-July-August 2003: 113 Americans killed
June-July-August 2004: 162 Americans killed
June-July-August 2005: 217 Americans killed
June-July-August 2006: 169 Americans killed
June-July-August 2007: 229 Americans killed so far
Center for American Progress military analyst Lawrence Korb — who also appeared on the Rehm show — cautioned O’Hanlon against dismissing the soldiers’ arguments. “Let me tell you something,” he said. “From my own days in the military, pay attention to the enlisted people. The officers — and I was an officer and I went through Vietnam — would always try to put out a rosy scenario to please the political masses. What these young people are saying is look, you can’t win no matter what you do.”
Here’s an intriguing result lurking in American Environics’ report on attitudes toward energy and global warming (PDF) — basically, people have the right views on environmental issues, but they don’t really care:
69 percent of the public, in short, is prepared to overlook disagreement about the environment and there are six issues that rate ahead of the environment in terms of the number of people who consider them redlines. Interestingly, even people who say they care about the environment don’t seem to care about it all that much:
Even people who rate themselves 8s, 9s, or 10s on a scale of “are you an environmentalist” have these other issues that rate higher as redlines. The upshot of this and other data, according to the report, is that while there’s public eagerness to do something about global warming, it’s very tenuous, and people are rabidly opposed to anything that would increase energy costs. Since this is public opinion research, they go on to discuss a lot of ways to try to navigate that terrain, but it’s hard for me to imagine any way to seriously curb carbon emissions that doesn’t involve some increase in energy costs. It’d be nice, of course, if renewables just suddenly became cheaper than coal and gasoline, but then there’s hardly be need for any policy.
I think it’s interesting that when I wrote a long post criticizing Gideon Rose that mentioned as an aside that I think “Glenn Greenwald’s views are a bit too far to the left” mostly seemed to prompt comments calling into question my motives for making this observation. Well, I made it because I think Glenn’s views are a bit too far to the left! It’s a little hard to say, because he overwhelmingly does critique, but what I had in mind in particular was this:
But the notion that the U.S. should not attack another country unless that country has attacked or directly threatens our national security is not really extraordinary. Quite the contrary, that is how virtually every country in the world conducts itself, and it is a founding principle of our country. Starting wars against countries that have not attacked you, and especially against those who cannot attack you, is abnormal.
Re-reading, Glenn doesn’t explicitly endorse the view that all wars fought for reasons other than strict self-defense are illegitimate, but that’s what I took him to be saying, it’s something he very well may believe, and it’s not something I believe. To me, in addition to fighting wars in self-defense it’s also quite appropriate for us to engage in acts of collective self-defense in order to help other countries repel acts of aggression. The Korean War and the first Gulf War would be the key examples here. I also think there are circumstances in which it’s a good idea to deploy military forces with UN authorization as peacekeepers or possibly for other humanitarian purposes.
I took Glenn to be making a claim about the desirability of scaling America’s global role even further back than I would favor. Perhaps he doesn’t think that. Certainly, there are people I know and respect who do think that. My point was that whether or not one agrees with the strict self-defense doctrine, there’s ample reason to wonder why, exactly, the foreign policy consensus is so lopsided in terms of the vicious attacks it launches on dissenters from the left while tolerating and sometimes collaborating with the most egregious knee-jerk militarists imaginable.
After being arrested, but not charged, on July 4, 2004 for wearing anti-Bush t-shirts at a rally for President Bush, Nicole and Jeffrey Rank of Corpus Christie, TX sued the federal government. Last week, they settled with the government for $80,000. The Ranks appeared on MSNBC’s Hardball last night, arguing that “civil liberties continue to be in jeopardy” and that they “didn’t realize it until it happened to us.” Crooks and Liars has the video here.