FYI, if you’re in Southern California and want to hear me talk, I’ll be at the Claremont-McKenna Athenaeum tonight at 6:45 PM and then at the Burkle Center tomorrow at UCLA at noon.
The call for changes in the proposed accord came as the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki criticized an attack by Iraq-based U.S. forces on alleged al-Qaeda operatives inside Syria last weekend. The cabinet now wants the agreement to include language to “confirm that Iraqi land would not be the center for aggression” against its neighbors, said Planning Minister Ali Baban, who attended Tuesday’s meeting.
Ministers also want the pact to grant Iraq more legal authority over U.S. soldiers accused of crimes, to harden a tentative 2011 departure date for U.S. troops and to allow Iraqi inspection of U.S. military shipments. The inspection demand, along with an explicit ban on attacks on neighboring countries, reflects concerns that the United States might launch an attack on Iran from Iraqi territory.
Bush administration officials have said repeatedly that the current text of the document, concluded just weeks ago after nearly eight months of difficult negotiations, reflects the limit of U.S. concessions.
Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh “said the Iraqis want the right to declare the agreement null and void if the U.S. unilaterally attacks one of Iraq’s neighbors.”
Iraq’s Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani that he has also indicated fresh concerns with the agreement:
A statement issued by al-Sistani’s office said the Iranian-born cleric wants to ensure that “Iraq’s sovereignty not be breached” by the accord and that he was monitoring the situation “until the final content of the security agreement becomes clear.”
It’s unclear whether Sistani’s displeasure with a pact that he had previously signed off on is the result of the U.S. action in Syria, but it doesn’t seem unlikely.
In the course of shilling for coal and oil industry types against those who believe that the negative externalities associated with carbon dioxide emissions should be curtailed via pricing, Heritage’s Nick Loris explains:
Second, the only thing a green ‘New Deal’ will do is lead us down a Green Road to Serfdom. (Nobel Laureate Friedrich Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom is a telling portrayal of what collectivism in the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany can lead to: impoverishment and oppression of freedom.)
You’d think conservatives would at least have a better grasp of what their own books are about. But The Road to Serfdom is not primarily a portrayal of oppression in the totalitarian states. It is, rather, an argument that Western Europe’s postwar mixed-economy democracies were on a slippery slope (i.e., “road”) to Soviet-style totalitarianism (i.e., “to serfdom”). And I suppose it’s true that by the same logic that says the creation of the National Health Service in the UK would lead inevitably to the Gulag, you might as well say the same about a cap and trade program. But that logic is wrong.
In recent days, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and his surrogates have attempted to paint Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) as holding anti-Israel views because of his relationship with Palestinian-American Professor Rashid Kahlidi. Last night on Fox News Channel, Rudy Giuliani continued the anti-Khalidi campaign by claiming that he holds a “very hostile view of Israel” and has “a connection to the PLO.” Giuliani disapprovingly noted that the Woods Foundation funded “Khalidi’s organizations” while Obama was a board member:
Senator Obama and Ayers, sitting on the Woods board, gave something like $70,000 or $80,000 to Khalidi’s organizations that participated in giving — doing these exhibits which would, I think, tell just one side of the story in terms of the Middle East. … But — and all that is available from public record.
In fact, the “public record” shows that Khalidi is a well-respected, mainstream scholar of Middle Eastern studies. As the Washington Post explained in a 2004 profile of Khalidi and his book Resurrecting Empire:
Among other scholars who specialize in the region, [Khalidi's book] isn’t a radical take on the present state of affairs. Michael C. Hudson, director of the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown, describes Khalidi as preeminent in his field, a courageous scholar and public figure. [...]
Khalidi’s book is equally critical of corrupt Arab nationalist regimes and Israeli policies in the occupied territories. It is measured, perhaps even a bit safe in its main argument.
Further demonstrating the inaccuracy of the McCain campaign’s characterization of Khalidi is the fact that while McCain served as chairman of its board, the International Republican Institute distributed several grants to the Palestinian research center co-founded by Khalidi.” Seth Colter Walls reports:
A 1998 tax filing for the McCain-led group shows a $448,873 grant to Khalidi’s Center for Palestine Research and Studies for work in the West Bank. … The relationship extends back as far as 1993, when John McCain joined IRI as chairman in January. Foreign Affairs noted in September of that year that IRI had helped fund several extensive studies in Palestine run by Khalidi’s group, including over 30 public opinion polls and a study of “sociopolitical attitudes.”
As Ezra Klein notes, “This, of course, just goes to show how absurd it is to suggest that Khalidi is some sort of radical polemicist. The guy is such a credentialed and respected scholar that even right-leaning organizations have funded his work, simply because it’s good work.”
During a rally in Bowling Green, OH today, Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) characterized Khalidi as a “radical professor” and “a political ally” of Obama’s.
Last week, David Brooks introduced the following conceit into his column:
There are two major political parties in America, but there are at least three major political tendencies. The first is orthodox liberalism, a belief in using government to maximize equality. The second is free-market conservatism, the belief in limiting government to maximize freedom.
But there is a third tendency, which floats between. It is for using limited but energetic government to enhance social mobility. This tendency began with Alexander Hamilton, who created a vibrant national economy so more people could rise and succeed. It matured with Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War Republicans, who created the Land Grant College Act and the Homestead Act to give people the tools to pursue their ambitions. It continued with Theodore Roosevelt, who busted the trusts to give more Americans a square deal.
Now I think we understand that no conceit of this sort is going to be literally accurate. But I really doubt you could find any kind if substantial American political movement that’s ever been dedicated to the idea that we need to maximize equality as opposed to mobility. This is something that conservatives say about liberals who they don’t like (Brooks likes Obama and says “Democrats now control the middle” citing the Hamilton Project — an initiative of Bob Rubin, Jason Furman, and others) but I don’t think you find a lot of people there.
But either way, this is truly a false choice. Look what I found reading the UK section The Economist on the plane the other day:
Inequality is strongly associated with immobility. And of course it is. In a society with a lot of equality (Denmark) you naturally get a lot of mobility. But in a country like the United States where you have such giant gaps between the first and second decile, the second and third decile, and the ninth and tenth decile, it would require genuinely heroic public policy interventions to create anything resembling real social mobility. Meanwhile, most of the mobility-enhancing things you could think of (taxing rich people and spending the money on high-quality universal children’s health and early childhood education) are also egalitarian measures.
Facing a close re-election race in North Carolina, Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R) recently released an ad attacking her opponent Kay Hagan, falsely accusing her of being “Godless.” The end of the ad shows a photo of Hagan while a woman yells, “There is no God!” Watch it:
The only problem is that Hagan is an elder at the First Presbyterian Church in Greensboro, NC, has taught Sunday School and accompanied youth mission trips. In a similar move, the North Carolina Republican State Executive Committee recently sent out homophobic mailers targeting Hagan claiming she seeks to advance a “radical homosexual agenda” and wants to remove “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance. The Hagan campaign is seeking a cease-and-desist order against Dole for her latest ad.
Wow. The Economist has posted its recent US Presidential endorsements and they sure are . . . idiosyncratic. They went for Bill Clinton in 1992, Bob Dole (!) in 1996, George W. Bush in 2000, and John Kerry in 2004. If you can identify any actual human beings who exhibited this voting pattern, I’d be fascinated to talk to them.
Meanwhile, it’d be interesting to read retrospective endorsements. You have to figure that a magazine that wound up endorsing Kerry in 2004 has some significant regrets about the fact that Bush won in 2000. So what were they thinking? Did any great tragedy befall the nation on account of Bob Dole’s failure? Would four more years of George H.W. Bush really have been so horrible? My read on this list is that gauche as it seems, blind partisan voting seems to produce perfectly reasonable results compared to efforts at judicious balance.
Last week, Sen. Joe Biden (D-IL) sat down for an interview with Barbara West of WFTV in Orlando, FL. The result was one of the most “embarrassing,” “hostile,” and “blatantly biased” interviews of the campaign season, according to media experts. One example of West’s questions to Biden was whether Obama wanted to “turn America into a Socialist country like Sweden.” Following that decision, the campaign canceled West’s upcoming interview with Biden’s wife.
Yesterday in an interview with Fox News’s Sean Hannity, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was incredulous that the Obama campaign would “boycott” WFTV: “And of course, if anybody in the media, much less Joe the Plumber asks a tough question, then they’re boycotted. They pull their ads, etc.” Watch it:
McCain should know all about boycotting the media. Some examples:
– McCain canceled an appearance on CNN’s Larry King Live after CNN’s Campbell Brown conducted a tough interview with McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds about Palin’s foreign policy experience.
– Last month, the McCain campaign barred New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd from flying on both the McCain and Palin press planes after she wrote a negative column.
– McCain campaign officials barred Time’s Joe Klein from traveling with them, after he asked McCain an uncomfortable question about foreign policy.
– Campaign officials have repeatedly gone on air to bash journalists after tough interviews, saying that Katie Couric asked Palin “a series of trapdoor questions,” the New York Times “cast aside it’s journalistic integrity to advocate for the defeat of John McCain,” and demanded that the media treat Palin with “deference.”
Yesterday, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani leveled similar charges against the Obama campaign, saying that the West debacle “gives an indication of what an Obama administration would be like. I mean, as long as you drink their Kool-Aid, you’re fine.” Earlier in the week, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney condoned West’s interview, saying, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.”
Transcript: Read more
During an appearance on Fox News’ Hannity & Colmes last night, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), as he is fond of doing, invoked Herbert Hoover to warn against Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-IL) economic plan. “There was a president named Herbert Hoover,” said McCain. “They raised taxes, they practiced protectionism and they went from a serious recession into a deep depression. Now, that’s a matter of history.” Watch it:
However, there is another matter of history that McCain should look at regarding Hoover’s actions. Responding to the recession, and “convinced that a balanced federal budget was essential to restoring business confidence, Hoover sought to cut government spending and raise taxes.”
In fact, before the 1932 election, Hoover was touting his successful push to reduce government spending:
The extension of governmental expenditures beyond the minimum limit necessary to conduct the proper functions of the Government enslaves men to work for the Government….[T]he ordinary expenses of the Government have been reduced upwards of $200 million during the present administration. They will be decidedly further reduced.
Hoover’s approach was clearly unsuccessful, and late in his administration, he tried to recover:
As conditions worsened, Hoover’s administration eventually provided emergency loans to banks and industry, expanded public works, and helped states offer relief. But it was too little, too late.
There is a growing consensus among economists, budget analysts, and lawmakers that the next administration should not subscribe to what Matthew Yglesias has called “Neo-Hooverism” — mass spending reductions as a response to the financial crisis. McCain, however, consistently promises to balance the budget and has advocated a complete spending freeze on everything besides several “vital issues.”
If McCain really wants to use Hoover as an example of what should not be done in response to a recession, he needs to include the entire story, and not cherry-pick the most convenient of Hoover’s actions.
Conservative think tanks remain oblivious and impervious to the facts. They cling to global warming denial and delay even in the face of the remarkable advances both in scientific understanding about global warming and in clean technology solutions.
We have seen that the Cato Institute remains intellectually bankrupt on both the urgency of the climate problem and the availability of cost-effective solutions. The Competitive Enterprise Institute actually runs ad campaigns aimed at destroying the climate for centuries.
Now Kenneth Green, resident scholar of the American Enterprise Institute, has weighed in with a speech Monday to the International Oxygen Manufacturers Association (!) betraying a willful ignorance of science and technology.
On the technology front, he simply asserts with no evidence whatsoever that:
No matter what you’ve been told, the technology to significantly reduce emissions is decades away and extremely costly.
ClimateProgress readers know that statement is utterly false (see “An introduction to the core climate solutions“). As do all those who believe in science. The latest multi-year synthesis of the peer-reviewed literature by the world’s top scientists and technologists — signed off by every major government including the Bush Administration — says that we have the needed technology today or are in the process of commercializing it and that the economic cost of strong action will be at most 0.1% of GDP per year, far less than the cost of inaction (see “Absolute MUST Read IPCC Report: Debate over, further delay fatal, action not costly“).
But Green asserts “My science is value-neutral–I just try to figure out what the science really says, and look past the hype.” Actually, it is very easy to figure out what the science really says — just read the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. But that, of course, would shatter his carefully crafted ideologically-driven worldview.
Instead, Green — how’s that for an ironic name? — distorts climate science with these amazing anti-scientific assertions about “the state of the science”: