Friday, August 22, 2008

McCain Contradicts Himself on Offshore Drilling

McCain was against offshore drilling before he was for it. From the Concord Monitor [emphasis added]:
Politicians need a host of skills, but there was one that the old John McCain was proud not to possess: the ability to talk out of both sides of his mouth.

On Tuesday, while perched on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, McCain proved that he's mastered that trick.

"It is time for America to get serious about energy independence, and that means we need to start drilling offshore at advanced oil rigs like this,'' McCain said, from the giant, 10,000-barrel-per-day structure owned by Chevron and Exxon Mobil. Barack Obama has said that offshore drilling "won't solve our problem. . . . He's wrong, and the American people know it," McCain said.

Unfortunately, although many Americans believe that offshore drilling will provide real relief from high energy prices, it's the new McCain who's wrong. Before he switched positions, McCain opposed lifting the ban on offshore drilling and had this to say: "Those resources, which would take years to develop, would only postpone or temporarily relieve our dependency on fossil fuels." That's still true.
Oops! That statement from McCain's straight-talking days contradicts what Representatives McCotter (R-MI), Walberg (R-MI), Hoekstra (R-MI), etc., have been saying.

So how green is McCain? Not very according to the Concord Monitor who judged his Senate career.
Last year McCain received a zero rating from the League of Conservation Voters - an organization whose members aren't given to chaining themselves to trees. His lifetime score from the group is just 24 percent. That's less than one-third the ratings given to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Earlier this summer, McCain backed a gas tax holiday. That's another bad idea. It would have helped to keep demand high and deprived the nation of money needed to repair collapsing roads and bridges. He has opposed moves to eliminate subsidies for oil companies and, until recently, opposed tax incentives to stimulate production of alternative energy sources.

In an issue that will hit home hard in New Hampshire this winter, McCain has also opposed additional funding for the national low-income fuel assistance program because he didn't like how its cost would be borne. Now, however, he says he will support "whatever is necessary to help people meet literally incredible challenges this winter." But what about next year?
Big oil is spending more than $2 million dollars a day to influence public policy and opinion - including $12.2 million dollars spent in the past six months by Newt Gingrich’s American Solutions for Winning the Future “Drill Here, Drill Now” campaign - and McCain received nearly $1 million dollars since he announced his support for offshore drilling. It appears McCain had an incentive that helped him change his mind. It's amazing what one million dollars can buy.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

McCain's Foreign Policy Rhetoric is Reckless

McCain's promise to follow bin Laden to the "gates of hell" didn't sit too well with Jim Harper at the Cato Institute. He asked if John McCain is Recruiting for Al Qaeda?
McCain’s “gates of hell” talk is leadership malpractice, and he should stop using it immediately. Calling the threat of terrorism “transcendent” is equal parts incoherent and false. Terrorism stands no chance of defeating the United States or the West unless we ourselves collapse the society. Speaking this way about terrorism thrills our terrorist enemies and draws recruits and support to them. Silence would be much better, presidential campaign or no. [...]

Exalting terrorism - as John McCain does with his “gates of hell” talk - is precisely the wrong thing for a national leader to do. The country will be made more secure by deflating the world image of Osama bin Laden and making his movement less attractive. Our leaders must withdraw rhetorical power from terrorists by controlling their tongues.
Leadership malpractice. The wrong thing for a leader to do. It looks like McCain won't be picking up the libertarian vote.

Harper makes a good point though when he says our leaders must control their tongues, and in that area McCain fails miserably according to Max Bergmann at Democracy Arsenal.
Thus on almost every crisis or incident over the last decade, McCain has sounded the alarm, ratcheted up the rhetoric and often called for military action - with almost no regards to the practical implications of such an approach. [...]

The big concern with a McCain presidency – a concern which I am surprised has not been vocalized more fully – is that the U.S. will lurch from crisis to crisis, confrontation to confrontation, whether it be with Iran, North Korea, Russia, Syria, Saudi Arabia, etc. The danger is that McCain’s pundit-like rhetoric will entrap the U.S. in descending spiral of foreign policy brinksmanship. Just think about the very likely scenario of McCain giving Iran/Russia a rhetorical ultimatum and Iran/Russia ignoring it. Now we are stuck - either we lose face by not following through on our threats or we follow through and go to war. We can’t afford such a reckless approach after the last eight years. For the next eight we need a president not a pundit.
Reckless. That's John McCain's approach to foreign policy, one that puts even more of our troops in danger.

(Cross-posted at Blogging for Michigan.)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

McCain only sees evil in extremism

I wanted to touch on something the candidates discussed at the Saddleback Church forum last Saturday - besides the claims that McCain apparently cheated and was not in "the cone of silence" or the suspicion that McCain plagiarized his "cross in the dirt" story from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. I wanted to talk about their answers to Rev. Rick Warren's question on evil.

Here's the transcript from that section of the forum with the candidates answer. Obama first, then McCain.
WARREN: OK, we’ve got one last time — I’ve got a bunch more, but let me ask you one about evil. Does evil exist? And if it does, do we ignore it? Do we negotiate with it? Do we contain it? Do we defeat it?

OBAMA: Evil does exist. I mean, I think we see evil all the time. We see evil in Darfur. We see evil, sadly, on the streets of our cities. We see evil in parents who viciously abuse their children. I think it has to be confronted. It has to be confronted squarely, and one of the things that I strongly believe is that, now, we are not going to, as individuals, be able to erase evil from the world. That is God’s task, but we can be soldiers in that process, and we can confront it when we see it.

Now, the one thing that I think is very important is for to us have some humility in how we approach the issue of confronting evil, because a lot of evil’s been perpetrated based on the claim that we were trying to confront evil.


OBAMA: In the name of good, and I think, you know, one thing that’s very important is having some humility in recognizing that just because we think that our intentions are good, doesn’t always mean that we’re going to be doing good.
WARREN: How about the issue of evil. I asked this of your rival, in the previous debate. Does evil exist and, if so, should ignore it, negotiate it with it, contain it or defeat it?

MCCAIN: Defeat it. A couple of points. One, if I’m president of the United States, my friends, if I have to follow him to the gates of hell, I will get bin Laden and bring him to justice. I will do that. And I know how to do that. I will get that done. (APPLAUSE). No one, no one should be allowed to take thousands of American — innocent American lives.

Of course, evil must be defeated. My friends, we are facing the transcended challenge of the 21st century — radical Islamic extremism. [...]

And we have — and we face this threat throughout the world. It’s not just in Iraq. It’s not just in Afghanistan. Our intelligence people tell us al Qaeda continues to try to establish cells here in the United States of America. My friends, we must face this challenge. We can face this challenge. And we must totally defeat it, and we’re in a long struggle. But when I’m around, the young men and women who are serving this nation in uniform, I have no doubt, none.
I think those answers highlight a major difference between McCain and Obama. In McCain's black and white world, evil revolves around what he calls the "challenge of the 21st century — radical Islamic extremism." In Obama's more nuanced world, he sees evil all around us - in Darfur, our cities, in our abused children.

I believe Obama gave the more mature answer. Sure, al Qaeda's form of terrorism is evil and makes a big splash in the news, but that doesn't make it worse than other forms of evil like poverty, abuse, and the destruction of our environment. McCain never mentioned those. What does he suggest we do about the evil of poverty? Should we ignore it, contain it or defeat it? How about children without health care because their parents make too much money? How do we defeat the greed that puts money over the health of innocent children?

McCain may have scored points with the Saddleback audience, but he left me convinced he's the wrong person to lead our country and the millions of people affected by evil in small and large ways everyday.

Proverbs 14:29 He who is slow to anger has great understanding, But he who is quick-tempered exalts folly.

(Cross-posted at Blogging for MI.)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Afghanistan now deadlier than Iraq ever was

h/t Brandon Friedman at VetVoice
When the Iraq War reached its deadliest peak during a 10-week period in April, May, and June of 2007, 308 coalition troops died. That was 1 out of every 575 troops on the ground at the time.* It was a terrible period in which even the most die-hard Bush supporters began to question the sense in continuing the occupation. By contrast, 105 coalition troops have died in Afghanistan during the past 10 weeks. But because there are only 52,700 troops in Afghanistan, this represents 1 out of every 502 troops on the ground.
Memo to Pentagon: What more evidence do you need that Afghanistan is looking like an emergency?

* = The surge reached its peak in early summer 2007 and there were at least 177,000 coalition troops present.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Thank you, President Roosevelt

I didn't want the 73rd anniversary of Social Security to pass without sharing this new DNC video. It features the grandson of Franklin Delano Roosevelt talking about his grandfather's belief that "lifting our seniors out of poverty is a reflection of our nation's core values."

We owe his grandfather our deep gratitude. Today, Social Security lifts nearly 13 million and 1.3 million children out of poverty.

John McCain? He called Social Security an "absolute disgrace" and he embraces the Bush privatization plan that would risk sending millions of people back into poverty. Obama proposes protecting Social Security by opposing privatization and a higher retirement age.

Watch the video. It's very good.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Lobbyists and corporations love McCain

This is McCain's idea of putting the middle-class first.
The non-partisan group Campaign Money Watch has come up with another startling figure for those who follow the presidential money chase.

According to an analysis performed by the group, McCain's top fundraisers and aides have collected nearly $1 billion in fees from U.S. companies in the past decade -- specifically, $930,949,819. Using numbers provided by the Center for Responsive Politics, the group also found that officials of those very same companies have given nearly $12 million to McCain's presidential campaign, so far.

"The McCain campaign relies on big money lobbyists, and they'll rely on him," said David Donnelly, director of Campaign Money Watch. "In the 'you-scratch-my-back, I'll-scratch-yours' world of Washington, $931 million gets the special interests the best government money can buy. But just think of the payday these lobbyists might expect in a McCain Administration."
That's good news for lobbyists, not so much for the rest of us. To add insult to injury, McCain wants to cut taxes on corporations, in spite of the fact most corporations, including a large majority of foreign companies doing business in the United States, pay no income taxes.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that two-thirds of both American and foreign companies doing business here end up avoiding all income tax obligations to the federal government, despite corporate sales totaling $2.5 trillion.

According to the GAO, each year from 1998 to 2005, an average of 68 percent of the foreign companies operating in the United States paid zero federal income taxes. During the same period, 66 percent of U.S. domestic corporations paid no federal income taxes to the government.
The only thing the middle-class can expect from McCain is crumbs.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Drill, drill, drill is a Big Oil handout

What do we know about the Republicans drill, drill, drill plan? We know that new offshore drilling won't have a significant impact on domestic crude oil production or prices for almost 20 years, and the amount we'd save at the pump would be less than 6 cents by 2025.

So, what's the point? Who's really going to benefit from opening up our coastal shores to oil drilling? Bill Scher says we should "follow the money."
While coastal drilling amounts to nothing in regards to lower energy costs for you and me, it does amount to a fat giveaway to Big Oil.
How so? More domestic oil=more exports for U.S. oil companies. A recent Reuters-UK article had some figures showing just where the oil goes. (Hint. It doesn't stay in our country.)
While the U.S. oil industry wants access to more federal lands to help reduce reliance on foreign suppliers, American-based companies are shipping record amounts of gasoline and diesel fuel to other countries.

A record 1.6 million barrels a day in U.S. refined petroleum products were exported during the first four months of this year, up 33 percent from 1.2 million barrels a day over the same period in 2007. Shipments this February topped 1.8 million barrels a day for the first time during any month, according to final numbers from the Energy Department.

The surge in exports appears to contradict the pleas from the U.S. oil industry and the Bush administration for Congress to open more offshore waters and Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling.
Mexico, Canada, Chile, Singapore and Brazil get the lion's share of exported U.S. oil products, yet Republicans continue to blame tight supplies for our record prices.
While the administration argues that more supplies would help to bring down prices, U.S exports of diesel fuel in April averaged 387,000 barrels per day, up almost seven-fold from 59,000 barrels a day in the same month a year earlier.
To recap, Republicans want to open more land to drilling so oil companies can export more oil out of the country, which will keep supplies tight here at home and keep prices high. Who wins? Big oil and the Republicans who benefit from their donations. Who loses? Everyone else.

(Cross-posted at Blogging for MI.)

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Bush=McCain=Norquist=No Jobs

The Bush administration claimed their tax cuts would create jobs. We're still waiting.
The number of newly laid off people signing up for jobless benefits last week climbed to its highest point in more than six years as companies cut back given the faltering economy.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that new applications filed for unemployment insurance rose by a seasonally adjusted 7,000 to 455,000 for the week ending Aug. 2. The increase left claims at their highest level since late March 2002.
The job picture hasn't been peachy keen since Bush took office. According to the EPI, the employment situation in 2000s business cycle was considerably weaker than that of the 1990s.

  • It took longer to regain pre-recession employment levels: Nearly four years passed before the number of jobs in the economy returned to the level reached prior to the recession of 2001. By comparison, after the recession of the early 1990s, it took just over two-and-a-half years to regain peak level employment.

  • Employment growth remained sluggish: Over the entire business cycle of the 2000s, job growth averaged only 0.6% per year—well below what was needed to keep up with labor force growth. By comparison, over the business cycle of the 1990s, annual job growth averaged 1.8%.

  • The employment-to-population ratio deteriorated: For the first business cycle on record, the employment-to-population ratio declined over the 2000s, dropping by 1.5 percentage points.2 Over the 1990s the employment-to-population ratio increased by 1.7 percentage points.
  • Those are pretty dismal figures, yet McCain is promising more of the same according to the Center for American Progress, who quote an old friend of his.
    [John McCain] campaigned on being very good on taxes in this election cycle... that he will continue to make [the Bush tax cuts] permanent, that he will veto any tax increase, period, that he wants to cut the corporate rate from 35 percent to 25 percent, that he wants to have full expensing, that he wants to abolish the AMT .... In addition to being the Americans for Tax Reform’s entire agenda, that is a very pro-growth set of policies he has put forward, and he articulates why they are important. — Grover Norquist, President, Americans for Tax Reform, February 27, 2008
    Pro-growth for the rich and famous, yes, but it leaves the rest of us behind.

    (Cross-posted at Blogging for MI.)

    Tuesday, August 05, 2008

    Summertime or Election Time Blues?

    Thank you Andrew Heller (Flint Journal columnist) for diagnosing what ails me. It turns out I'm suffering from "Election Fatigue Syndrome."
    "Election Fatigue Syndrome?"

    "It's going around. We start to see a few cases as much as two years before a presidential election but by the time the election rolls around it's nearly epidemic. The symptoms include, as you described, general fatigue and stress, which is brought on by too much election coverage and analysis."

    "But the upchucking?"

    "Well, you also have a touch of both John McCain pneumonia and the Barack Obama flu. The symptoms are nausea and the inability to stomach any more malarkey, juvenile name-calling or empty promises."

    "Is it bad, doc?"

    "Oh, it's bad, all right. But it's not fatal to humans, although it has been known to be fatal to TV sets. We're seeing a lot of shoes and remote controls embedded in TV screens right now."

    "So what do I do?"

    "There's not much you can do, I'm afraid. Short of an official election season, there's no known cure for Election Fatigue Syndrome. The best I can tell you is to turn off your TV set until Nov. 5."
    Cold turkey? Now? No way, doc, but I promise to avoid Fox News and ABC between now and the election, and limit my time watching television, especially those commercials aimed at people who vote based on sound bites.

    If you're also suffering from Election Fatigue Syndrome, take a break and read a few of my posts over at Blogging for Michigan. I can't promise they won't make you sick, but they just might enlighten you!

    Here's a few to get you started:

    Can GM be saved?

    Republicans and facts don't mix

    McCain's jealousy isn't attractive in a senator, let alone a president

    The American Dream is trickling away

    McCain is a dandy dress in his $520 shoes

    McCain's message to NAACP was a fakeout