An appeals court today ruled that the Bush administration “must release 20 photographs of U.S. soldiers and detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan” that were demanded by the ACLU, which is seeking information on prisoner abuse. The court “rejected the government’s claim that releasing the photos would endanger the lives or physical safety of U.S. troops and civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan. A lower court judge had already ordered that identifying facial features be removed from the pictures before they are released.”
On Saturday, in response to the ongoing financial crisis, the Bush administration proposed a $700 billion bailout for troubled financial institutions. This comes after the federal government has already spent $900 billion on the rescues of Bear Stearns, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and AIG.
Today, MSNBC’s Contessa Brewer asked Tucker Bounds, a spokesman for Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), how McCain plans to pay for the bailouts – and continue the war in Iraq – without raising taxes. Having no answer, Bounds tried to change the subject by asking himself “a better question.” Watch it:
Brewer didn’t let Bounds off the hook, saying “I thought my question was pretty good.” She was quite right to inquire about McCain’s economic proposals, because – before accounting for the bailouts – they result in a budget deficit of $505 billion, which would be the largest deficit in 25 years.
Tacking on the cost of the bailouts, these proposals look even worse, yet McCain continues to insist that he will balance the budget by the end of his first term, without raising taxes.
Facing this untenable position, it’s no wonder Bounds wanted to focus on a “better question.”
The Wire, by far the best show in the history of television, got another snub at the Emmys with a lousy one nomination and zero victories. For the show’s relatively weak fifth season that maybe seems okay until you realize that across five seasons the show garnered just two nominations and zero victories. Absurd:
“It’s like them never giving a Nobel Prize to Tolstoy,” said Jacob Weisberg, editor-in-chief of the Slate Group and a correspondent for Slate.com. “It doesn’t make Tolstoy look bad, it makes the Nobel Prize look bad.”
Weisberg, who has been an ardent supporter of “The Wire,” added, “It’s sort of proof if you needed any that the Emmys are not something that should be taken seriously.”
It’s all pretty shameful. On the other hand, The Wire certainly can’t complain that it lacked in critical acclaim. It just seems that all the critics in the world can’t actually force people to watch your show.
Today, Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) spoke to the National Guard Association Conference. Noting that more than half of the veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have been National Guard members or reservists, Biden declared, “Your voice needs to be heard.” He said that Lt. Gen. Craig McKinley, slated to be the first four-star general to head the Guard, should have a seat at the table with the Joint Chiefs:
It’s time for a change. Change begins with giving the Guard a seat at the table. That table in the Pentagon where the Joint Chiefs sit. General McKinley, I not only want to see your fourth star — I want to see you sitting there with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mullen. Your men and women are serving and dying. Your voice needs to be heard.
A similar proposal was made in 2006, but it was rejected by Donald Rumsfeld and Peter Pace, then-Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, respectively.
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) at the Americans for Prosperity “Do Nothing” Rally
Americans for Prosperity (AFP), the Koch Industries front group formerly run by Koch lobbyist Nancy Pfotenhauer, spent all of August attacking “Speaker Pelosi’s decision to adjourn for a five-week recess without allowing a vote on whether to expand production of American oil, natural gas or shale.” Their conservative allies in Congress staged protests on the House floor attacking Pelosi as a “dictator” who wouldn’t allow a vote.
When Congress returned to session, Pelosi called the conservative bluff. She held votes on a Democratic package that expanded production of oil, natural gas, and oil shale and a Republican package that expanded production of oil, natural gas, and oil shale. The Democratic package passed.
If AFP were honest in the slightest about their call to action, they would now be calling on the U.S. Senate to pass the House bill with all speed. But of course they are not. The House package is a genuine “all of the above” bill that would lower energy costs and create jobs. It rolls back subsidies for oil companies to support renewable energy, establishes a framework for new oil leasing, and establishes a national renewable energy standard. All of these elements are anathema to the oil and gas industry that funds front groups like AFP and their conservative allies. So what is a polluter propagandist to do? Attack the do-something Congress:
Other liberal leaders are trying to raise taxes on oil companies (which will mean higher prices at the pump!)
Expanding domestic energy production by getting at untapped U.S. resources is the key to lowering prices at the pump — so use the box below to contact your lawmaker today and tell them to DO NOTHING. That’s right. Tell your lawmaker that doing nothing is the right thing to do for American energy consumers.
AFP, in flipping from attacking liberals for doing nothing to demanding that they do nothing, doesn’t seem to have a very strong irony radar. Last month, they had to cancel a global warming denial meeting in Florida because of Tropical Storm Fay.
Today, the New York Times published an article in which it examined the lobbying record of Rick Davis, Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) campaign manager. Based on interviews with current and former officials at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and public records, the Times found that over a period of five years, Davis made nearly $2 million lobbying for the two mortgage giants:
Senator John McCain’s campaign manager was paid more than $30,000 a month for five years as president of an advocacy group set up by the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to defend them against stricter regulations, current and former officials say.
The McCain campaign’s response to the article was surprisingly vicious. On a conference call with reporters, McCain campaign strategist Steve Schmidt called the New York Times a “pro-Obama organization” and said, “it is not today — by any standard — a journalistic organization.” Davis claimed, “I never lobbied a single day.” Listen to a TPM Election Center recording here:
But just yesterday, in an interview with McCain, CNBC’s John Harwood said he’d be “glad to have [Davis's] record examined.” In a portion of the interview that does not appear to have been broadcast by CNBC, Harwood asked McCain about his campaign manager’s former lobbying activities:
HARWOOD: You mentioned cronyism and corruption on Wall Street and in Washington. … How do you square that with the fact that your campaign manager, Rick Davis, was involved in some lobbying activities on behalf of Fannie Mae? [...]
MCCAIN: My campaign manager has stopped that, has had nothing to do with it since, and I’ll be glad to have his record examined by anybody who wants to look at it.
Examined by anybody…except journalists at the New York Times.
John McCain, co-sponsor of an amnesty bill he says he’d vote against, came out swinging this morning on behalf of amnesty for the “50,000 Irish men and women who are in this country illegally at this time.”
I guess I’m still wondering why, if a path to citizenship is so important, McCain said he would vote against it.
Oil prices up: “Oil prices posted their biggest one-day gain on Monday, jumping more than $25 a barrel as investors dashed into commodities on concerns about the government’s plan to bail out the financial system.”
But of course if crude oil prices had gone down, we’d be “explaining” this as “concerns about the government’s plan to bail out the financial system” driving pessimism about growth. The truth is, none of the people writing this stuff have any real idea of why things are happening.
Eli Lake reports that “America’s counterterrorism community is warning that Al Qaeda may launch more overseas operations to influence the presidential elections in November,” noting that “bin Laden has sought to influence democratic elections in the past”:
In the week before the 2004 American presidential election, Mr. bin Laden recorded a video message to the American people promising repercussions if President Bush were re-elected. In later messages, Al Qaeda’s leader claimed credit for helping elect Mr. Bush in 2004.
Interestingly, Lake doesn’t mention why bin Laden would claim credit for having helped elect Bush, or why the CIA concluded that electing Bush was, in fact, bin Laden’s aim: Because Bush’s war on terror has been a propaganda, recruiting, and training bonanza for Al Qaeda.
Given that the only difference between McCain’s and Bush’s approach to the war on terror is that McCain promises more of it and harder, it’s not really difficult to guess which of the candidates a new Al Qaeda intervention would be intended to help.