Paris Hilton Responds to John McCain

Paris Hilton has responded to John McCain for including her in one of his recent campaign ads. To prevent any confusion, please note that, although she does make more sense than John McCain, this is all a joke. There is very little point in analyzing John McCain’s policies as a McCain policy loses all substance once you get beyond his attacks on Obama. Paris Hilton did attempt to provide some substance to her plan, but unfortunately it is flawed as a result of taking components from McCain as well as Obama. The New Republic debunks Paris Hilton’s energy policy here.

Republicans: Taking Pride in Being Ignorant

Obama has hit back at the Republicans who have been distorting Obama’s energy policy by dwelling on his comment on the energy savings from keeping tires properly inflated. This attack on Obama fails because, not only are they misrepresenting Obama’s views by claiming this is his sole policy, but because there actually are benefits from proper tire inflation. Obama has responded:

“Let me make a point about efficiency, because my Republican opponents – they don’t like to talk about efficiency,” Obama said.

“You know the other day I was in a town hall meeting and I laid out my plans for investing $15 billion a year in energy efficient cars and a new electricity grid and somebody said, ‘well, what can I do? what can individuals do?’ Obama recalled.

“So I told them something simple,” Obama said. “I said, ‘You know what? You can inflate your tires to the proper levels and that if everybody in America inflated their tires to the proper level, we would actually probably save more oil than all the oil we’d get from John McCain drilling right below his feet there, or wherever he was going to drill.'”

“So now the Republicans are going around – this is the kind of thing they do. I don’t understand it! They’re going around, they’re sending like little tire gauges, making fun of this idea as if this is ‘Barack Obama’s energy plan.’

“Now two points, one, they know they’re lying about what my energy plan is, but the other thing is they’re making fun of a step that every expert says would absolutely reduce our oil consumption by 3 to 4 percent. It’s like these guys take pride in being ignorant.

“You know, they think it is funny that they are making fun of something that is actually true. They need to do their homework. Because this is serious business. Instead of running ads about Paris Hilton and Britney Spears they should go talk to some energy experts and actually make a difference.”

Maybe the Republicans really do take pride in being ignorant. Just consider the types of things many of them think. Some still believe there was WMD in Iraq or that Saddam was involved in the 9/11 attack. Some are ignorant of science and believe that intelligent design or creationism is a valid alternative to evolution. Some also demonstrate their ignorance of science by believing that the scientific consensus on climate change can be ignored because they don’t like the findings. Some are so ignorant of our own history that they are unaware of the intent of the founding fathers to create a secular government with separation of church and state. Some are so ignorant of economics that they really think that all tax cuts will pay for themselves and do not realize that this is just a con used by those who want to pay lower taxes at the time without regard for the fiscal consequences. The really ignorant ones believe all the conservative smears against Obama, just as they believed the Swift  Boat Liars and other smears against John Kerry in 2004.

Obama really is on to something in this response. Without ignorance we couldn’t even have the current Republican Party.

Quote of the Day

“I don’t know if you know this. John McCain is looking for someone for vice president who has more economic expertise than he does. So congratulations to all of you, you’re on the short list.”
John Kerry

Ron Suskind’s New Book Could Provide Smoking Gun on Bush and Iraq

Based upon this report in The Politico, Ron Suskind’s new book, The Way of the World, should revive suspicions that George Bush lied the country into a war, and perhaps even make people wonder why Nancy Pelosi took impeachment off the table. If the accusations can be proved, this would be as nearly as damaging a smoking gun as the tapes were to Richard Nixon. The Politico reports:

A new book by the author Ron Suskind claims that the White House ordered the CIA to forge a back-dated, handwritten letter from the head of Iraqi intelligence to Saddam Hussein.

Suskind writes in “The Way of the World,” to be published Tuesday, that the alleged forgery – adamantly denied by the White House – was designed to portray a false link between Hussein’s regime and al Qaeda as a justification for the Iraq war.

The author also claims that the Bush administration had information from a top Iraqi intelligence official “that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq – intelligence they received in plenty of time to stop an invasion.”

Besides discussing this in more detail, the article shows how Suskind provides additional information on the Bush administration. This came as no surprise:

John Maguire, one of two men who oversaw the CIA’s Iraq Operations Group, was frustrated by what Suskind describes as the “tendency of the White House to ignore advice it didn’t want to hear – advice that contradicted its willed certainty, political judgments, or rigid message strategies.”

And Suskind writes that the administration “did not want to hear the word insurgency.”

After 9/11 I got the impression that George Bush was hiding out in panic for the first couple of days. Suskind has a similar impression:

Suskind is acidly derisive of Bush, saying that he initially lost his “nerve” on 9/11, regaining it when he grabbed the Ground Zero bullhorn.

Beyond the allegations that the Bush administration lied the country into war, this section might reveal the most about their mind set:

Suskind contends Cheney established “deniability” for Bush as part of the vice president’s “complex strategies, developed over decades, for how to protect a president.”

“After the searing experience of being in the Nixon White House, Cheney developed a view that the failure of Watergate was not the break-in, or even the cover-up, but the way the president had, in essence, been over-briefed. There were certain things a president shouldn’t know – things that could be illegal, disruptive to key foreign relationships, or humiliating to the executive.

“They key was a signaling system, where the president made his wishes broadly known to a sufficiently powerful deputy who could take it from there. If an investigation ensued, or a foreign leader cried foul, the president could shrug. This was never something he’d authorized. The whole point of Cheney’s model is to make a president less accountable for his action. Cheney’s view is that accountability – a bedrock feature of representative democracy – is not, in every case, a virtue.”

Dick Cheney’s goal was not to prevent abuses of power such as those which occurred during Watergate, but to figure out how to get away with abusing power. The failure to prosecute Richard Nixon after he left office due to his pardon from Gerald Ford helped allow subsequent presidents such as Bush to feel they could repeat such misconduct. The failure to hold Bush and Cheney accountable for their actions will in turn increase the risk that this will be repeated in the future.

Update: The Annonymous Liberal also ties this into the controversial uranium from Niger which Bush hyped. Ron Suskind has a post at Huffington Post where he writes:

In the fall of 2003, after the world learned there were no WMD — as Habbush had foretold — the White House ordered the CIA to carry out a deception. The mission: create a handwritten letter, dated July, 2001, from Habbush to Saddam saying that Atta trained in Iraq before the attacks and the Saddam was buying yellow cake for Niger with help from a “small team from the al Qaeda organization.”

The mission was carried out, the letter was created, popped up in Baghdad, and roiled the global newcycles in December, 2003 (conning even venerable journalists with Tom Brokaw). The mission is a statutory violation of the charter of CIA, and amendments added in 1991, prohibiting CIA from conduction disinformation campaigns on U.S. soil.

The Case For Covering The John Edwards/Rielle Hunter Scandal

Mickey Klaus disputes many of the arguments coverage of the John Edwards/Rielle Hunter scandal. His strongest argument is the first argument that he was not truly a private citizen:

Edwards was certainly a contender for VP, or a big cabinet post like Attorney General, or even the Supreme Court, before the scandal first erupted in the “undernews” in late 2007. Some reporters say he was still on Obama’s VP list until quite recently. If he’s now finished as far as those big jobs are concerned, it’s in large part because of this scandal, which Obama might never have learned about if everyone had followed the MSM’s lead. Even now, Edwards may not be out of the running for an array of lesser public posts–including cabinet-grade positions–that provide non-trivial power and a platform for future advancement. Important unions back him. Until last week, he’d been traveling the country keeping himself in the public eye in a way well-designed to let him play a big national role in either the Obama administration or the opposition to the McCain administration. It’s silly to say “he’s just a private citizen”–he’s much less of a “private citizen” than, say, William Bennett was in 2003 when Jonathan Alter and Joshua Green torpedoed Bennett’s career by revealing his gambling habits.

What makes the scandal awful and unpleasant–as opposed to the Bennett scandal, which was delicious–is that Edwards has a very ill wife. But, as Susan Estrich has noted, that’s also what makes Edwards’ alleged behavior awful and unpleasant–more objectionable than anything Bennett was accused of doing.

His second argument is based upon hypocrisy:

Ah, but Bennett was a hypocrite– a man whose chief claim to national attention was as a sophisticated moral scold who turned out to have a major gambling jones. Edwards is a hypocrite too, in much the same way. Why, after all, was Edwards ever considered presidential material. Is he a great executive? No. A brilliant policy expert? No. An accomplished diplomat? No. He’s an ex-Senator with one undistinguished term in office who rose in life on the basis of his singular ability to use tearjerking stories to move juries and win large verdicts . His presidential campaign has featured similarly moving anecdotes, such as the famous 10-year old girl “somewhere in America” who goes to bed “praying that tomorrow will not be as cold as today, because she doesn’t have the coat to keep her warm.”

He proceeds to also argue that there is hypocrisy as Edwards explicitly linked his behavior in Elizabeth’s health problems and his fitness for public office. To some degree the hypocrisy argument could be used against any politician as none run while admitting they would cheat on their wife (although in Bill Clinton’s case there was so much evidence of such conduct before he was elected that the Lewinsky scandal should really not have been a surprise). There is some validity to this but the hypocrisy argument is weaker against Edwards than Bill Bennett who portrayed himself as some sort of moral authority.

Edwards’ legal career could be used to claim hypocrisy, but only if one is so naive as to see that career as being based upon seeking justice as opposed to wealth for John Edwards. (Looking back at Edwards’ legal career also raises the question as to whether he might have wound up in Rielle’s hotel due to following an ambulance headed in that direction as opposed to having an affair. Has the Enquirer even checked the local ambulance company records for the night in question?)

The third point of relevance overlaps with the other arguments. The fourth is more significant when Klaus points out the irresponsibility in running for the nomination when this scandal could have broken at a later date, either harming Edwards’ chances for election if it came out during the campaign or once again tainting the presidency if it was exposed after being elected. The coverup is also an issue, but is less meaningful than coverups which include violation of the law as opposed to lying to reporters and paying Hunter to keep quiet. Klaus concludes with an argument that protecting Elizabeth is not a good reason to avoid publication of this story.

The story is being ignored in the liberal blogosphere as well as in the mainstream media. While I believe the media is ignoring story more for reasons I previously noted here as opposed to any desire to protect a Democrat, the motivations of many bloggers are more clearly partisan. Gawker reports that Lee Stranahan was banned from Daily Kos after cross posting his post on the scandal which originally appeared at Huffington Post along with adding additional posts on the scandal. To ignore the story is one thing, but to ban someone for posting about it is far less defensible.