I imagine most readers are bored by the transportation blogging, but the minority of people who bother to email me on the subject are all enthusiastic about it, so more transportation ye shall get. For example, a link to Washingtonian‘s transportation themed photo contest.
Though we disagree with the conclusions of the piece (and will be addressing these disagreements in a future post), we first want to point out two factual errors.
–First: Thirty seconds in, the chyron reads “FACT: Employer health benefits for 16 million Americans will be taxed.” This, we believe, is a typo. There are around 160 million Americans who currently receive their health benefits through work, and, under McCain, all of them will pay taxes on their health benefits.
–Second: The announcer, at around forty-five seconds in, says that “McCain does want to tax the health insurance benefits that 60 million Americans now buy through their employer.” Again, the correct number is 160 million.
Check back soon for a more thorough critique of CBS’s conclusion.
This afternoon on CNN, host Wolf Blitzer showed video from last night’s townhall with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK), in which Palin — whom McCain said “knows more about energy than…anyone else in the United States” — was asked how she would keep oil from new domestic drilling in the U.S. market. In a serious understatement, Blitzer called her answer “not exactly easy to understand.” Watch it:
As the law stands now, expanded domestic drilling would have no impact on U.S. gas prices precisely because “oil is a global commodity whose price is set by global supply and demand.” Is Palin calling for a total export ban?
CAP’s Michael Ettlinger and David Madland make the case for a second stimulus package. They highlight four easy short-term steps:
- Expand unemployment insurance.
- Increase LIHEAP.
- Expand Medicaid aid to state governments.
- Boost food stamps.
And of course for something meatier there’s always that green recovery idea.
On Saturday, Northern Virginia Republicans will be staging a “unity” rally to “improve their appeal among the region’s large ethnic population.” One of the planned speakers? Former Republican George Allen, who in 2006, called a young man of Indian descent “macaca” (a racial slur). TPM reports:
“George Allen has an excellent record on issues of diversity, reaching out to people,” Gerry Scimeca, communications director for the state party, told us. “His whole career, his whole life have been a testament to a guy who’s treated people equally across racial lines, across every kind of line.” [...]
Scimeca argued that Allen’s father was a football coach who held up his players, many of whom were African-Americans, as role models for his children. “This is not a racist man,” Scimeca said. “He never did anything — this was totally out of character.”
Though he’s now coy, John McCain has pretty consistently supported privatizing Social Security at least since his 2000 presidential campaign. So Ben Furnas got the smart idea of making a graph showing what’s happened to the Dow since McCain unveiled his plan “to shore up Social Security through the establishment of individual investment accounts.”
Long story short, you lose eight percent in nominal terms.
General Motors vice chairman Bob Lutz, on the 100th anniversary of GM’s founding, appeared on Stephen Colbert’s show last night, and embarrassed his company. Lutz, unfortunately for this aging industrial giant, is a Luddite, supporting the most extreme crackpot denials of the science of climate change and attacking the Volt — GM’s next-generation hybrid automobile that can run entirely on electricity for trips of 40 miles or less — as a weak, unattractive car. His extremism was barely matched by Colbert’s parodic statements:
Colbert: Why not just call this the Chevy Gore? You don’t believe global warming is real, you’ve said so.
Lutz: I accept that the planet is heated, but I, like many noted scientists, I don’t believe in the CO2 theory.
Colbert: Exactly! I just think that people are leaving their toaster ovens open. [Or] it’s just sun-spot activity.
Lutz: In the opinion of about 32,000 of the world’s leading scientists, yes.
Lutz’s “32,000 of the world’s leading scientists” nonsense is taken from press releases by the right-wing industry-funded Heartland Institute, amplified by right-wing blogs and radio shows. This is a zombie lie, which was begun in 1998 by the right-wing industry-funded Oregon Institute. The National Academy of Sciences, whose name was misleadingly used, issued this warning on April 20, 1998:
The petition project was a deliberate attempt to mislead scientists and to rally them in an attempt to undermine support for the Kyoto Protocol. The petition was not based on a review of the science of global climate change, nor were its signers experts in the field of climate science.
One might think Lutz was merely joking along, but this February, Lutz called global warming “a total crock of shit.” General Motors deserves better leadership, particularly when its economic future depends on escaping the suicidal oil-based economy that has driven the company to the brink. As Max Gladwell writes:
The irony is that Lutz and his ilk are buying this Big Oil propaganda. Meanwhile, his company’s cozy relationship with Big Oil has lead them to the verge of bankruptcy, unless American taxpayers come through with a bailout. The supreme irony is that the bailout is to help GM meet efficiency standards that it needs to achieve anyway to stay competitive with foreign automakers. When will they learn?
UPDATE: The Seminal‘s Josh Nelson notes, “On their website, GM claims to be concerned about the environment. They even specifically address their greenhouse gas emissions:”
There is no question that our products and manufacturing facilities have an impact on the environment. Not only do internal combustion engines produce emissions and greenhouse gases, but in the process of building millions of vehicles per year, our manufacturing facilities emit CO2 and greenhouse gases as well. The good news is that GM is hard at work trying to reduce our impact on the environment.
On MSNBC today, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) explained to host Norah O’Donnell that he refused former Sen. Phil Gramm’s entreaties for him to endorse Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) because he disagrees with him “on all the major issues,” especially foreign policy. “I mean I could never support somebody who thinks that it’s funny to say ‘bomb bomb bomb Iran,’” said Paul. “That, to me, is not somebody that I could endorse ever.” Watch it:
In April 2007, McCain sang “Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran” to the tune of the Beach Boy’s “Barbara Ann” when asked at a town hall “when America is going to ’send an air mail message to Tehran.’”
George Allen! No joke! He’s a featured speaking at a Virginia GOP rally “designed to reach out to minority voters in Fairfax County.”
Since McCain Proposed Social Security Privatization In 2000, Stock Market Has Swung Wildly, Dropped 8%
While running for the Republican party’s nomination in 2000, John McCain supported a partial privatization of Social Security that would have encouraged workers to shift their Social Security contributions into the stock market.
Since then, the stock market has plunged, bubbled, and plunged again, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing 8% lower yesterday than it was on January 11th, 2000 when John McCain unveiled “a program to shore up Social Security through the establishment of individual investment accounts.”
This means the stocks in a private account would have seen their value drop over almost a decade, with their investment further eroded by the rate of inflation (a dollar invested in 1999 is worth only 78 cents in 2008 dollars, even if the stock market had stayed exactly flat).
Despite these wild fluctuations, John McCain has consistently supported privatizing social security, supporting the Bush plan in 2005, and telling the Wall Street Journal as recently as March of this year that he “backs a system of private retirement accounts that President Bush pushed unsuccessfully.”
On September 6th, McCain finally clarified his campaign’s stance on private accounts, confirming to the AARP Life@50 conference that he was, in fact, in favor of them. Since September 6th, the Dow has plunged over 5%.