From the “things that don’t sound true to me” file, Ezra Klein reports some data that suggests that replacing beef consumption with pork consumption could have some dramatic environmental benefits.
Relatedly, I was in Baltimore yesterday at the Lexington Market where they had this odd kind of pan-ethnic deli, selling pastrami, “Jewish salami,” etc. like a kosher deli but also featuring tons of Italian pork-based cured meats. Kosher deli is a good thing, and so is salumi but the combination is weird. Point being — less pastrami and more ham = a healthier environment.
In her telling, a major incentive for Mr. Cheney’s descent into the dark side was to cover up for the Bush White House’s failure to heed the Qaeda threat in 2001. Jack Cloonan, a special agent for the F.B.I.’s Osama bin Laden unit until 2002, told Ms. Mayer that Sept. 11 was “all preventable.” By March 2000, according to the C.I.A.’s inspector general, “50 or 60 individuals” in the agency knew that two Al Qaeda suspects — soon to be hijackers — were in America. But there was no urgency at the top. Thomas Pickard, the acting F.B.I. director that summer, told Ms. Mayer that when he expressed his fears about the Qaeda threat to Mr. Ashcroft, the attorney general snapped, “I don’t want to hear about that anymore!”
After 9/11, our government emphasized “interrogation over due process,” Ms. Mayer writes, “to pre-empt future attacks before they materialized.” But in reality torture may well be enabling future attacks. This is not just because Abu Ghraib snapshots have been used as recruitment tools by jihadists. No less destructive are the false confessions inevitably elicited from tortured detainees. The avalanche of misinformation since 9/11 has compromised prosecutions, allowed other culprits to escape and sent the American military on wild-goose chases. The coerced “confession” to the murder of the Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, to take one horrific example, may have been invented to protect the real murderer.
The biggest torture-fueled wild-goose chase, of course, is the war in Iraq. Exhibit A, revisited in “The Dark Side,” is Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, an accused Qaeda commander whose torture was outsourced by the C.I.A. to Egypt. His fabricated tales of Saddam’s biological and chemical W.M.D. — and of nonexistent links between Iraq and Al Qaeda — were cited by President Bush in his fateful Oct. 7, 2002, Cincinnati speech ginning up the war and by Mr. Powell in his subsequent United Nations presentation on Iraqi weaponry. Two F.B.I. officials told Ms. Mayer that Mr. al-Libi later explained his lies by saying: “They were killing me. I had to tell them something.”
On Friday, the Bush administration “rejected its own experts’ conclusion that global warming poses a threat to the public welfare, launching a comment period that will delay action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at least until the next president takes office.” As the Wonk Room’s Brad Johnson notes, EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson “attack[ed] the clear and presentthreat of global warming” and dismissed it as a “‘complex’ issue that hinges on ‘interpretation of statutory terms.’”
The decision was quickly denounced by environmental experts, EPA staffers, and even a member of President Bush’s own party — California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. In an interview this morning with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, Schwarzenegger laments that the Bush administration “did not believe in global warming.” He adds that even if officials had done something on Friday, he would have thought it “bogus anyway…because you don’t change global warming and you don’t really have an effect by doing something six months before you leave office“:
[I]t just really means basically this administration did not believe in global warming, or they did not believe that they should do anything about it since China is not doing anything about it and since India is not willing to do the same thing, so why should we do the same thing.
But that’s not how we put a man on the moon. We did not say let everyone else do the same thing, then we will do it. We said we want to be the pioneers, we want to be out there in front. … I think we have a good opportunity to do the same thing, also, with fighting global warming.
As the Wonk Room’s Brad Johnson has explained, Schwarzenegger also confirmed that he believes the strong wildfires in California are partially a result of global warming. Watch it:
Schwarzenegger has repeatedly tried to call the Bush administration on its abysmal global warming record, exposing weak measures officials try to tout as groundbreaking. In April, Bush called for a “national goal” to halt the growth of U.S. carbon emissions by 2025. But as Schwarzenegger told PBS, “For him to say we should start really reducing greenhouse gases by the year 2025, by that time we’ll have no more glacier left.”
With or without the threat of human-caused climate disruption, it’s clear the world lacks the menu of energy options it will require to avoid trouble as the human population heads toward 9 billion people (more or less), all seeking a decent life.
It’s a little bit mysterious why exactly this is the case, but which party controls the White House sure does seem to have a large effect on a variety of macroeconomic variables. Might I suggest that figuring out what explains this is a pretty important area for research? Smarter people than I are going to have to get on the case.
Last week, Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) economic adviser Phil Gramm sparked controversy by stating that the U.S. is in a “mental recession” created by a “nation of whiners.” In response, McCain quickly tried to distance himself from his long-time friend’s remarks.
Today on ABC’s This Week, conservative columnist George Will acknowledged that the economy had slowed tremendously but nevertheless staunchly defended Gramm’s comments. “Phil Gramm was right of course,” Will declared. “Absolutely”:
WILL: On two points. … We’re not in a recession as commonly defined. That is two consecutive quarters of negative growth.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We may be running there though. Even Bernanke says so.
WILL: We’re not however. Unemployment is just about the post-war average at 5.5 percent. His second point that we’re a nation of whiners: we are the crybabies of the western world. In fact, we have an extraordinarily low pain threshold.
With his full-throated defense of Gramm’s callous remarks, Will is echoing the likes of several Fox News pundits who have also taken to defending Gramm. Last week, Sean Hannity declared, “Maybe we do whine too much.” Fred Barnes added that Americans are “whining all the way through” the bad economy.
On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) refused to close the door on the possibility that he and other Democratic leaders would kick Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) out of the party’s caucus next year. When asked about the future of Lieberman’s chairmanship, Reid told reporters, “Next year will be next year when we get there.” Today, Robert Novak reports that Democratic insiders are “certain” that Lieberman will be out:
Despite assurances to the contrary from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Democratic insiders are certain that Sen. Joseph Lieberman will be kicked out of the party’s caucus next year and lose his Senate chairmanship if he addresses the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn., as planned.
Lieberman’s Democratic colleagues willing to accept his support of Sen. John McCain for president consider his speaking to the GOP convention as the last straw. Lieberman was re-elected from Connecticut as an independent in 2006 after losing the Democratic nomination because of his support for the Iraq War.
“They go on for me,” he said. “I am learning to get online myself, and I will have that down fairly soon, getting on myself. I don’t expect to be a great communicator, I don’t expect to set up my own blog, but I am becoming computer literate to the point where I can get the information that I need.”
Asked which blogs he read, he said: “Brooke and Mark show me Drudge, obviously. Everybody watches, for better or for worse, Drudge. Sometimes I look at Politico. Sometimes RealPolitics.”
At that point, Mrs. McCain, who had been intensely engaged with her BlackBerry, looked up and chastised her husband. “Meghan’s blog!” she said, reminding him of their daughter’s blog on his campaign Web site. “Meghan’s blog,” he said sheepishly.
Not to get too pedantic here, but neither Drudge nor Politico are blogs and “RealPolitics” doesn’t even exist. The thing I assume he’s talking about isn’t a blog either. Not that I necessarily expect a presidential candidate to spend a ton of time reading blogs, but maybe he should know what one is and if he doesn’t read any and is asked about it could say that. Then on religion:
Asked if he considered himself an evangelical Christian, Mr. McCain responded, “I consider myself a Christian.”
“I attend church,” he said. “My faith has sustained me in very difficult times.” Asked how often he attended, he responded: “Not as often as I should.” He has recently been photographed going to church as his campaign has begun to make public the times he attends services.
Does he attend church when he’s not campaigning for president? It sort of doesn’t sound like it. Did you know McCain hasn’t been baptized into the church he nominally belongs to? Again, I’m obviously not opposed to the idea of a non-observant president anymore than I’m opposed to a president who doesn’t read blogs, but surely the straight-talk brand should require some honest answers to these questions.