For the second day in a row, Sen. John McCain wanted his morning cup of Joe.
So he gathered his staff, his drivers and his Secret Service agents. He alerted the media to stand by. The bomb sniffing dog was woken up. He put on his sunglasses and baseball cap and headed out.
The six-car caravan (two silver minivans, two tan SUVs and two white 15-passenger vans for the press) left his cabin retreat at just before eight in the morning. Eleven minutes later, the caravan pulled into the parking lot of a Safeway, where a sign proclaimed the presence of a Starbucks.
Cindy McCain, clad in a light pink shirt, khaki shorts and flip flops, paced in front of the Safeway, talking on her phone for a few minutes, her hair pulled into a pony tail. A bit later, she went inside the Safeway and emerged with a coffee cup in hand. A staffer was seen coming out of the Safeway with two cups of coffee and some drycleaning.
Clearly, somebody with a full presidential campaign staff — to say nothing of $273,000 in servant expenditures — could have sent one person in one vehicle to pick up coffee (and dry cleaning) for whoever wanted some rather than deploying a six-vehicle caravan. And the switch from the wasteful means of coffee acquisition to the efficient one would, in practice, have entailed very little welfare loss from McCain. But decades of public policy in the United States aimed at encouraging lavish energy consumption leave people not thinking about these kind of issues. Given sensible carbon pricing and smarter policy that aims at encouraging efficiency — or at least stops encouraging waste — and people (at least those who haven’t married heiresses) would pay a bit more attention to the energy use implications of these kind of choices.
It might seem politically incorrect to say this, but the Berlin Olympics were the best ever staged, the last time white American and European men and women competed on an equal level with blacks, despite the great feat of Jesse Owens in winning four gold medals.
This is, incidentally, a great example of the rhetorical ploys existing around the term “politically incorrect.” By conceding in advance that what you’re about to say is wrong, but then relabeling wrongness as “political incorrectness,” you’re somehow supposed to be exculpated.
I’ll admit that I’ve really slacked off in terms of reading New Republic editor-in-chief Martin Peretz’s blog. And now that I have a chance to glance at it, I think he’s deliberately being dumb to keep me on my toes. For example, yesterday he wrote “Imagine for a moment that the United States has mounted an attack on Mexico or Cuba, truly an unimaginable act.”
Unimaginable indeed. Except the United States has invaded both Mexico and Cuba in the past, multiple times each. Indeed, at this very day the United States maintains a large military installation on Cuban soil despite the objections of the Cuban government. And that installation is the legacy of decades of colonial domination of Cuba by the United States. And when America’s preferred proxy ruler of Cuba was overthrown by a new dictator, we tried several times to overthrow his government — once sponsoring an invasion — and have subjected the country to a devastating embargo for decades in an effort to keep him out of power.
Now nothing in America’s fairly long history of shabby acts toward our “near abroad” comes close to justifying Russia’s bad actions in its near abroad. But they do provide the necessary context of fairly banal great power politics rather than terrifying and unprecedented expansionism.
On August 19, Keith Olbermann reported that Americans for Prosperity was forced to cancel events in Florida due to Tropical Storm Fay, and noted the irony of “global warming deniers’ meetings postponed by tropical storms.” Obermann described AFP as “one of the many corporate-funded lobbying groups working hand-in-hand with Big Oil, and the administration, and other people who make more money the more there is doubt that there is global warming.”
In an article on the Business and Media Institute’s website written by Jeff Poor, AFP president Tim Phillips took umbrage at the segment, claiming the description of AFP as a “corporate-funded lobbying group” was “outrageous.” Phillips told Poor that “guys like him” who descibe the connection between global warming and extreme weather are “global warming extremists”:
It’s ironic that guys like him and global warming extremists will use any weather event – whether it’s a hot spell, whether it’s a hurricane or a tropical storm or a hailstorm or a snowstorm – anything, any weather event – they’ll try to tie it to their pet cause which is ideological extremism at its worst. . . It shows just how silly and ideologically driven they are. They don’t look at the science. They don’t look at any factors. It’s just an ideological extremism. It would be funny if it were not so serious for our nation.
As the Wonk Room has well documented, the link between global warming and extreme weather is recognized by the Bush administration itself, which warned in June that global warming has likely or very likely worsened intense rainfall, heat waves, winter storms, hurricanes, wildfires, insect outbreaks, and coral bleaching. The world’s largest environmental organization, Friends of the Earth, and America’s largest environmental organization, the National Wildlife Federation, have joined national scientific organizations representing hundreds of universities and thousands of climate scientists in calling for immediate action.
In fact, it is Tim Phillips and Jeff Poor who are “ideologically driven” extremists who “don’t look at the science” but instead work for polluter-funded right-wing front groups:
Tim Phillips Is A Top Right-Wing Operative. Before replacing Koch Industries lobbyist Nancy Pfotenhauer as president of Americans for Prosperity, Timothy R. Phillips had a long career as a conservative operative. In 1992, Phillips managed Rep. Bob Goodlatte’s (R-VA) first Congressional campaign and served as his chief of staff for four years. In 1997, Phillips co-founded public relations firm Century Strategies with Ralph Reed. There, Phillips oversaw “direct mail, telemarketing, coalition building and strategic services” for the 2000 and 2004 Bush for President campaigns, and specialized in “grasstops” operations to establish fake grassroots organizations. [Century Strategies (Internet Archive)]
Jeff Poor Is A Self-Described ‘Very Conservative’ ‘Professional Jerk.’ Jeff Poor describes himself on his Facebook page as a “professional jerk” with “very conservative” political views. Poor has previously written hit pieces for the Business and Media Institute attacking Al Gore and climate scientist Stephen Schneider for discussing the links between climate change and extreme weather.
Business & Media Institute Is Part Of Right-Wing Message Machine. BMI is a right-wing “free-enterprise” front group that is part of Brent Bozell’s conservative media machine, the Media Research Center. In 2005, the MRC honored Ann Coulter, T. Boone Pickens, Zell Miller, and Swift Boat Veterans for Truth at their conservative media gala.
Americans For Prosperity Is A Front Group For Corporate Polluter Koch Industries. Americans for Prosperity is the successor to the free-market front group Citizens for a Sound Economy, founded by conglomerate Koch Industries. David Koch, Executive Vice-President of Koch Industries, is a founder of AFP and “a financial supporter through the family-controlled and company-financed Claude R. Lambe Foundation.” Koch Industries is the largest privately owned company in the United States, whose multiple holdings make it a veritable global warming pollution factory. [NRDC, 7/25/08] [Forbes, 2007]
As we noted earlier, Climate Progress’s Joe Romm wondered what the carbon footprint of Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) numerous houses might be. Asking the same question, the global warming deniers at the National Review — in an effort to attack McCain for having a climate change plan — dug up a 2007 interview revealing he knew neither how many houses he owned nor what car he drove:
In our News interview, he was asked what kind of car he drove. As with Politico’s question about home ownership, he didn’t know and had to ask a nearby aide. “A Cadillac CTS,” she told him. But then the senator was quick to point out that he had bought his daughter a Prius — the prefect (sic) halo symbol for his green pretensions. [...]
We also pressed McCain on the home issue, though at that time he was only willing to reveal two of his dwellings: one in Phoenix and a second home in Sedona. And he was quite proud of the fact that he had installed solar panels on the Sedona pad.
As we’ve known for quite some time, John McCain’s budget numbers justdon’taddup.
A new analysis from the non-partisan New America Foundation’s U.S. Budget Watch should be read cautiously because it uncritically accepts many of John McCain campaign’s most egregious budget distortions.
Matthew Yglesias has already called out the $159 billion in “unspecified budget cuts” which the group allows McCain to claim. The Washington Post called these empty promises to slash spending McCain’s “voodoo economics, based more on wishful thinking than on hard data or carefully considered policy proposals.”
But that’s not the end of it.
U.S. Budget Watch also accepts that, in 2013:
–McCain’s tax cuts are as his adviser’s describe them, not how McCain describes them: An earlier study from the Tax Policy Center found a $2.8 trillion gap between McCain’s proposals as he describes them on the stump, and what his advisers tell analysts in private. In 2013, his plan as his stump speech would suggest costs $260 billion more than the plan as detailed by his advisers.
–McCain’s ‘high risk pools’ will only cost $8 billion: McCain’s campaign insist they will put money towards “high risk pools” to cover people with chronic conditions left out of McCain’s health care plan. Douglas Holtz-Eakin says the campaign might even spend $20 billion to fill the hole, but the Tax Policy Center says it would take at least $100 billion to adequately cover everyone who would need coverage.
–McCain’s alternative tax system will be revenue neutral: U.S. Budget Watch does acknowledges that it’s possible that “because most taxpayers will choose the system in which they pay lower taxes, significant revenue would be lost.” What they don’t mention is that the Tax Policy Center has estimated the annual cost of such a system: $115 billion in 2013. (Note: This $115 billion is included in McCain’s “rhetoric gap” described above.)
These low-ball cost estimates for McCain’s tax-cuts and spending proposals suggest that even the $159 billion in “unspecified budget cuts” that McCain needs to balance the budget is far, far too optimistic. The real cuts needed would be much more devastating.
Greenwire (subs. req’d) has also published a detailed list of who is advising McCain on energy and environment policies, which I am reprinting below the fold.
By contrast, McCain’s campaign relies on a small group of longtime friends and advisers. Campaign staff would not comment on why their advisory team isn’t as large as Obama’s, but sources say the staff’s size reflects how frequently the Arizona senator departs from the Republican Party line on environment and energy issues.
I know Woolsey, and he is certainly very solid on energy security issues. But he is the exception. Doug Holtz-Eakin is much more typical of the conservatives McCain is likely to find available to fill his administration. Like his boss, he doesn’t believe in clean technologies and he doesn’t believe in government efforts to promote them (see Campaign stunner: McCain “might take [new CAFE standards] off the books”).
“I’m not sure a McCain EPA would look any different than an Obama EPA,” quipped Brian Kennedy, a former House Republican leadership aide. “He might even bring Carol Browner back.”
Wolf brandished “a report from the Congressional Research Service,” which he claimed as evidence that “China has now been working with Cuba.” Wolf then proceeded to link together several utterly misleading statements meant to raise the specter of China drilling for oil off the coast of Florida:
WOLF: I have a report from the Congressional Research Service, which I can show you, showing that China has now been working with Cuba. And Cuba is getting ready to grant leases to foreign countries to drill off the coast of the United States. So here Cuba may very well give a lease to China!
It is unclear what CRS report Wolf is referring to. Though Wolf said he could “show” the report to the press, when ThinkProgress contacted his office, a staffer said they didn’t know when the report was released because they didn’t “have the report here.”
In June, when Sen. Mel Martinez first disputed the “urban legend,” he cited a February 2008 CRS report, which found that the only Cuban territory that China had leased for energy exploration was on land. Here’s what the February 2008 CRS report said:
“While there has been some concern about China’s potential involvement in offshore deepwater oil projects, to date its involvement in Cuba’s oil sector has been focused on onshore oil extraction in Pinar del Rio province through its state-run China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation.’’
Western diplomats have told McClatchy that “Cuba’s state oil company, Cupet, has issued exploration contracts to companies from India, Canada, Spain, Malaysia and Norway.” But there is no indication China is seeking any leases offshore.
By switching the Cuba/China myth to the future tense, Wolf is following in Rudy Giuliani’s footsteps. But that doesn’t make his misleading claims any more truthful. In some ways, it almost seems as if conservatives actually want China to drill off the coast of Florida so that they can use it to demagogue for offshore drilling.
Today, the right-wing American Family Association (AFA) announced a protest of Hallmark for its decision to start selling gay marriage greeting cards. AFA wants Hallmark to “stop promoting a lifestyle that is not only unhealthy, but is also illegal in 48 states.” From the protest site:
We’ve all given or received Hallmark Cards – remember their slogan – “when you care enough to send the very best.” But promoting same-sex marriage for profit is not the very best for families or our nation.
Hallmark is a private company obviously driven by greed. Let them know you do not appreciate Hallmark promoting a lifestyle which is illegal in 48 states. American Greeting Cards, Hallmark’s competitor, does not offer same-sex marriage cards.
AFA also criticized Hallmark for having the secret purpose of “pushing[ing] same-sex marriage.” More on AFA’s previous boycotts here.