Saturday, September 27, 2008

Does John McCain support the overthrow of "failed" democracies?

OBAMA: And the problem, John, with the strategy that's been pursued was that, for 10 years, we coddled Musharraf, we alienated the Pakistani population, because we were anti-democratic. We had a 20th-century mindset that basically said, "Well, you know, he may be a dictator, but he's our dictator."

And as a consequence, we lost legitimacy in Pakistan. We spent $10 billion. And in the meantime, they weren't going after Al Qaida, and they are more powerful now than at any time since we began the war in Afghanistan.

That's going to change when I'm president of the United States.

MCCAIN: I -- I don't think that Senator Obama understands that there was a failed state in Pakistan when Musharraf came to power. Everybody who was around then, and had been there, and knew about it knew that it was a failed state.

Musharraf didn't "come to power". He overthrew the Prime Minister in a coup, suspended the constitution, imprisoned Supreme Court justices when they ruled against his wishes and spent as much effort jailing the opposition as targeting al Qaeda (while receiving the open support of the U.S. government).

And while Pakistan is often dysfunctional, it's biggest problem is that the military isn't subject to the civilian government and constantly threatens the elected leadership when it doesn't get it's way.

Friday, September 26, 2008

20 civilians a day are dying in Iraq

Documented civilian deaths due to violence in Iraq over the last 2 months. (Data from Iraq Body Count)

MCCAIN: This strategy has succeeded. And we are winning in Iraq. And we will come home with victory and with honor. And that withdrawal is the result of every counterinsurgency that succeeds.

And I want to tell you that now that we will succeed and our troops will come home, and not in defeat, that we will see a stable ally in the region and a fledgling democracy.

The consequences of defeat would have been increased Iranian influence. It would have been increase in sectarian violence. It would have been a wider war, which the United States of America might have had to come back.

So there was a lot at stake there. And thanks to this great general, David Petraeus, and the troops who serve under him, they have succeeded. And we are winning in Iraq, and we will come home. And we will come home as we have when we have won other wars and not in defeat.
Just to clarify; when John McCain insists that we are winning in Iraq, his definition of victory includes the fact that the capital city has been ethnically cleansed, neighborhoods are literally walled off from one another, one-fifth of the population of the country have fled their homes, corruption is rampant, Iran has extended it's influence into the highest levels of the government and, on average, only 20 people are being murdered every day.

Monday, September 22, 2008

"We're going to take over these bad loans"

Now if that that isn't a winning campaign slogan, I don't know what is.

"We're going to take over these bad loans," McCain said. "And we're going to have the taxpayer help you out. But when the time comes and the economy recovers, then anything that's gained back is going to go to the taxpayers first.

It'd be great if, as a U.S. Senator, he made sure that was actually written in the legislation. I hear he has until Friday.

Of course there is a way to be confident that taxpayers will get paid back if the government bailout works. Instead of buying toxic debt, buy a stake in the corporations themselves.

[T]he financial system needs more capital. And if the government is going to provide capital to financial firms, it should get what people who provide capital are entitled to — a share in ownership, so that all the gains if the rescue plan works don’t go to the people who made the mess in the first place.

I don't suppose anyone on Capitol Hill reads the New York Times.

Friday, September 19, 2008

"Banking lobbyists cheered"

Flashback to April, when Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) attempted to add an amendment to the housing bill which would have protected homeowners facing foreclosure.
The 58-36 vote to table the amendment allowed senators to move on to less contentious amendments to the housing measure forged Wednesday by Sens. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) and Richard Shelby (R-Ala.).

Durbin’s amendment would allow judges to revise the terms of mortgages on primary residences. It is opposed by the banking lobby and most Republicans. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), for example, said earlier Thursday that he would have insisted on a 60-vote threshold for the amendment’s adoption. That all but doomed the bill’s chances in a Senate split 51-49.


But banking lobbyists cheered the tabling vote.

"This has been at the very top of our members' priority list,” [Francis] Creighton [of the Mortgage Bankers Association] said, adding that the change would have been a "terrible thing for the housing market, our customers and, yes, our members."

Francis Creighton, quoted above, has recently been promoted to Chief Lobbyist for the Mortgage Bankers Association, so I guess the industry's collapse hasn't been bad for everyone.

Joe Biden voted with Dick Durbin to keep the amendment.

Barack Obama, John McCain and Hillary Clinton were all absent on the campaign trail.

And P.S. to Democrats in the Senate. You don't get to complain about Mitch McConnell filibustering your bills until you can get at least 51 votes to back the legislation

Image originally uploaded by bbcworldservice's photostream under a Creative Commons license.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

McCain - Palin 2008

My guess is that this is the sort of thing that will bite McCain in the end:
As for the introductory speeches, I listened for what was not said as much as what was. The big missing element: John McCain. Almost nobody talked about him. Rep. Dean Heller, who represents basically every part of Nevada that isn’t Vegas, did not mention McCain once in his speech. “They want to take your taxes!” he said, of the Democrats. And, of course, “she’s one of us.”

- Sean Quinn of fivethirtyeight at a Sarah Palin campaign stop in Nevada.

If Palin keeps drawing the large, enthusiastic crowds while McCain struggles to fill his venues, that will eventually become the story of the day. And I doubt anyone can survive as the unwanted guest in his own campaign.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

"I'm John McCain and I approve this message"

CARVILLE: And John McCain, deep down inside my heart, you know, as you know, I've said before I admire McCain. I don't believe he knew about it. I hope somebody asked him. But I refuse to believe that John McCain agreed to airing this spot. I know he says I'm John McCain, I paid for it but they have that in the can and they do it. It I don't think he knew about it. I really don't.
Of course he knows about it. The whole point of forcing candidates to say "I approve this message" is so they'll take responsibility for what gets done in their name. Carville is actually arguing that McCain is an honorable idiot.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The party of Big Brother?

From Mitt Romney's RNC speech:
It's time for the party of big ideas, not the party of Big Brother!
No he wasn't talking about the president spying on all our phone calls, he was talking about Medicaid and unions. Apparently, when Mitt worries about Big Brother, he's thinking about the charity organization, not the dictator in Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four.