Today in an interview with Fox News, former Republican senator from Pennsylvania Rick Santorum sharply criticized Rep. John Murtha’s (D-PA) comments that western Pennsylvania is a “racist area.” Santorum claimed that the real reason people in that area won’t support Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) is because he is “condescending to them.” As evidence, he said that Obama “won’t wear the American flag pin”:
SANTORUM: Well, I’m from western Pennsylvania. I grew up in western Pennsylvania. I grew up in a steel town — Butler, PA — and those people are not racist. What they are are people that look at someone who is as liberal as Barack Obama, who has been condescending to them — in calling them clinging their guns and their religion — won’t wear the American flag pin, and he is not in concert with their values. It has nothing to do with the color of his skin.
It’s not clear how not wearing a flag pin makes someone condescending. Regardless, Obama does wear a flag pin. He has, in fact, worn one at each of the three presidential debates. The person who refuses to wear one is Sen. John McCain (R-AZ):
Note that Santorum was not wearing a flag pin during this interview.
Today in a Washington Post chat, Dana Milbank revealed that — in “a serious violation of their duty” — the Secret Service is now preventing the press from interviewing attendees at McCain-Palin rallies:
I have to say the Secret Service is in dangerous territory here. In cooperation with the Palin campaign, they’ve started preventing reporters from leaving the press section to interview people in the crowd. This is a serious violation of their duty — protecting the protectee — and gets into assisting with the political aspirations of the candidate. It also often makes it impossible for reporters to get into the crowd to question the people who say vulgar things. So they prevent reporters from getting near the people doing the shouting, then claim it’s unfounded because the reporters can’t get close enough to identify the person.
New TAP Online column:
Josh Rogan of CQ reported on October 9 that “Pentagon officials have prepared a new estimate for defense spending that is $450 billion more over the next five years than previously announced figures.” To be clear, that’s not $450 billion over five years that they’re asking for. Nor is it an additional $450 billion over the next five years on top of what they’re currently getting. Rather, it’s $450 billion over five years on top of currently scheduled increases. Currently, U.S. defense spending is scheduled to increase from $515 billion (not counting “emergency” spending on Iraq and Afghanistan) in 2009 to $527 billion in 2010. The new proposal would up that increase to $584 billion.
What’s going on?
Check it out.
Eastern Europeans and others seeking to use the current financial meltdown as an excuse to roll back climate commitment have failed (for now). The BBC reports:
European Union leaders agreed to stick to their plan to cut greenhouse gases – despite a surprise demand by Poland and six other member states to drop them to ease the impact on industry struggling with the global credit crunch.
Speaking at the end of a two-day summit, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said: “The deadline on climate change is so important that we cannot use the financial and economic crisis as a pretext for dropping it.”
Barack Obama seems to feel the same even as U.S. conservatives glom onto any justification for delay. I am beginning to think that a better term for them than “deniers” or “delayers” is simply “inactivists.”
The British government meanwhile has unveiled a tougher climate target:
A new Wonk Room analysis finds that that a retiree with a private Social Security account invested in stocks — along the lines of the plan envisioned by President Bush and supported by John McCain in 2005 — would have lost approximately $26,000 if he or she had retired on Oct. 1, 2008, after 35 years of contributions to such an account:
More details here.
The Washington Post reports that General David Petraeus — warning that Afghanistan “is going to be the longest campaign of the long war” — has undertaken “a major reassessment of U.S. strategy for Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq and the surrounding region.”
The 100-day assessment will result in a new campaign plan for the Middle East and Central Asia, a region in which Petraeus will oversee the operations of more than 200,000 American troops as the new head of U.S. Central Command, beginning Oct. 31.
The review will formally begin next month, but experts and military officials involved said Petraeus is already focused on at least two major themes: government-led reconciliation of Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the leveraging of diplomatic and economic initiatives with nearby countries that are influential in the war.[...]
“When you look at a lot of these problems, you see considerable regional connections,” Petraeus said yesterday. The effort would embrace all of Afghanistan’s neighbors and possibly extend to India, which has had a long-standing rivalry with Pakistan. “There may be opportunities with respect to India,” he said.
In a speech to the U.S. Institute of Peace today, Defense Secretary Gates also stressed the need for “a better integrated approach” to stabilizing Afghanistan:
“To be successful, the entirety of the NATO alliance, the European Union, NGOs, and other groups — the full panoply of military and civilian elements — must better integrate and coordinate with one another and also with the Afghan government,” [Gates] said.
“Afghanistan is the test, on the grandest scale, of what we are trying to achieve when it comes to integrating the military and civilian, the public and private, the national and international.”[...]
Gates’ speech was the latest in a series advocating a more intelligent use of non-military instruments of power to deal with instability in poor and failing states.
The Center for American Progress has advocated this kind of integrated conception of security, outlined in a series of reports on “Sustainable Security.”
Leading in this new world will require a fundamental shift from our outdated notion of national security to a more modern concept of sustainable security—that is, our security as defined by the contours of a world gone global and shaped by our common humanity. Sustainable security combines three approaches:
- National security, or the safety of the United States
- Human security, or the well-being and safety of people
- Collective security, or the shared interests of the entire world
CAP Senior Fellow Gayle Smith explains:
Sustainable security is a modern theory about how to keep American safe. Basically, what it is is the combination of national security as we’ve always understood it, defending and protecting the United States from an external threat; Of collective security, or the security of all the countries in the world against and in the face of those kinds of threats like climate change, like money laundering, like the international drug trade, pandemics. And the third is human security, or the security of people, regardless of states, the half of the world population that lives under two dollars a day, the security of people would be human security.
So it’s those three things: national security, collective security, and human security.
Via Chris Hayes, the America’s Next Top Model crowd offers John McCain some advice:
As the election nears, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) seems to be making a final push to distance himself from President Bush. In yesterday’s debate, he firmly declared, “I am not President Bush. … I’m going to give a new direction to this economy in this country.” In a new ad out today named “Fight,” McCain directly tells viewers that the economy during the Bush years hasn’t “worked very well”:
The last eight years haven’t worked very well, have they? I’ll make the next four better.
Not long ago, McCain was more optimistic about the Bush economy. In April, McCain said that “you could make an argument that there’s been great progress economically over that period of time.” During a January GOP primary debate, he stated, “I think that you could argue that Americans overall are better off because we have had a pretty good prosperous time. … A lot of good things have happened.” Watch it:
McCain released a similar ad in August that stated, “We’re worse off than we were four years ago.” The public, however, isn’t buying the spin that McCain has different policies than Bush. An LA Times poll released Tuesday found that a majority of Americans believe McCain would continue Bush’s policies, a finding consistent with numerous other surveys.
If you’ve ever taken a philosophy class, you know that a lot of reference gets made to our moral intuitions. This, of course, raises some empirical issues about what “our” intuitions are. The Moral Sense Test” is part of a project to address those issues. Check it out.