Epic Flail

A less commented upon portion of the Politicos article in which McCain fails to count his houses. Said article also quotes McCain’s revised definition of wealth:

“I define rich in other ways besides income,” he said. “Some people are wealthy and rich in their lives and their children and their ability to educate them. Others are poor if they’re billionaires.”

The implications for fiscal policy are stunning. I’m sure that the troops would be happy to be paid in cookies and warm milk after a notional McCain administration succeeds in rewriting the tax code to redistribute family happiness to those most in need.

What If They Threw A Convention and No One Came?

I woke up this morning to the thought — it may have been in a dream — that no one will watch the GOP convention.

We know this election is a referendum on Obama. Voters are deciding if they like him. If they don’t, the safe pick is the crusty old white dude. So obviously people will watch the Dem convention, which will benefit from an exciting candidate, a dynamic history-making acceptance speech, potential Clinton drama, and general excitement about turning the page on the Bush years.

But non one really wants to watch the McCain speech, because it doesn’t really matter what McCain says. He’s just the alternative if Obama proves unpalatable. Plus, dozens of Republican candidates — including Liddy Dole and others — are staying away from the convention on the advice of the GOP, so as not to hurt their re-election prospects by getting accidentally photographed next to Cheney.

Finally, Bush and Cheney are giving their speeches on Monday, which is Labor Day, when everyone will be out of town. And now I see that McCain’s closing night speech will be given on the night of the NFL season opener.

Do they publish the ratings for the conventions? Because I have a feeling that almost everyone watching the proceedings in Minneapolis will be on the GOP payroll in one way or another.

Here Comes the F-22!

When we last left our favorite bloated, overbudget next-generation jet fighter, the F-22 raptor, it was being sold as a vital weapon in the “War on Terror.” Desperate to keep their funding, Air Force Generals were trying to convince us that billion-dollar fighter jets could be used to, I don’t know… sniff out suicide bombers at Ramadi check points?

What a difference a year makes.

With neocon nutcases angling for WW3 with Russia over the disputed provinces in Georgia, the Military-Industrial Complex has shaken off the GWOT like a bad cold and found a new raison d’etre:

When Russia’s invading forces choked roads into Georgia with columns of armored vehicles and struck targets from the air, it instantly bolstered the case being made by some that the Defense Department isn’t taking the threat from Russia and China seriously enough. If the conflict in Georgia continues and intensifies, it could make it easier for defense companies to ensure the long-term funding of their big-ticket items.

Ho baby! Where’s Tom Clancy when we need him?! Listen to the whining of the former fighter jocks at the “Air Force Association”:

Mr. Dunn, a retired Air Force lieutenant general, said that if U.S. F-16 and F-18 fighters were carrying out combat missions over Georgia, they would be in grave danger from highly advanced Russian surface-to-air missiles on the border that a newer plane like the F-22 can evade. “The debate has got to shift as a result of this war,” said Mr. Dunn.

Look, if F-16 and F-18 fighters were carrying out combat missions over Georgia, it would mean that World War III was underway, and that New York, DC, and Moscow were days away from being obliterated in a nuclear holocaust. You’ll excuse me if, under those circumstances, my utmost concern is not the air superiority of our F-16s.

Nukes

Interesting piece in the NY Times about how France is doubling down on nuclear power:

Nuclear power provides 77 percent of France’s electricity, according to the government, and relatively few public doubts are expressed in a country with little coal, oil or natural gas.

With the wildly fluctuating cost of oil, anxiety over global warming from burning fossil fuels and new concerns about the impact of biofuels on the price of food for the poor, nuclear energy is getting a second look in countries like the United States and Britain. Even Germany, committed to phasing out nuclear power by 2021, is debating whether to change its mind.

One of the nice things about having so much cheap, carbon-free electricity is that you can use it to power industry, transit networks, and more without fossil fuels. It also helps you meet your Kyoto targets for reducing greenhouse gases. Right now, it’s hard to see any other electricy source that can ramp up to match coal in the short timeline we need to halt the damage caused by global climate change.

But here’s the real kicker:

France has 58 operating nuclear reactors, the highest number of any nation besides the United States. In America, where nuclear construction has been moribund, there is also new interest. At the moment, 19.4 percent of the electricity generated in the United States is from 104 nuclear plants, according to the Department of Energy. [emphasis added]

First, this is a reminder of how energy-inefficient the US is. If we were as energy-efficient as the French, those 104 plants would be providing 30 or 40 percent of our electricity (factoring for the increase in population, but assuming that all plants are equally powerful).

But that’s a small point. The larger point is that the US has 104 nuclear plants. We’re way more committed to nuclear power than we might like to admit. So, why not double down ousrelves? We’ve already got one foot in the water, so we ought to either decide that nuclear power is too horrific and shut down the 104 plants in operation, or dive in and solve our climate crisis.

I Believe the Word is “Flip-Flop”

McCain was for it before he was against it:

John McCain… on a Wednesday morning campaign flight, told The Weekly Standard he’d consider a pro-choice running mate to share his ticket this fall. Which is odd, because just four months ago, he told Chris Matthews that it would be “difficult” to choose someone who is pro-choice. Which itself is odd because the last time he ran, McCain made clear that if nominated, he would indeed consider a pro-choice candidate. Which in turn is odd because for twenty years before that, McCain held a nearly perfect anti-choice voting record and firmly held anti-choice views.

McCain’s pretty good at telling a given audience what they want to hear (noble exception: ethanol subsidies). So he ends up fliping back and forth on certain things, especially domestic and cultural issues that he doesn’t seem to care about. When he gets caught in a contradiction, he makes a joke! That’s worked pretty well so far, I wonder if it will ever come back to bite him.

Talk about a swift kick in the dupa

As we predicted on our show this week, Russia’s escalation of “peacekeeping” operations in the Caucasus into a full-blown invasion of Georgia caused the Polish government to rethink its resistance to putting US missile bases on its territory.

Poland and the United States reached an agreement Thursday that will see a battery of American missiles established inside Poland, the prime minister said, announcing a plan that has infuriated Russia and raised the specter of an escalation of tension with the region’s communist-era master.

Okay, maybe this was an obvious outcome, but … “you heard it here first”, as they say.

There Go My People…

… I must find out where they are going so I can lead them!

Matt and I talked about leadership on this week’s podcast, as in, we want to see more of it from our politicians. Pols, however, tend to follow polls. They want to do what’s popular.

But what if the polls aren’t telling them what they think they’re telling them, as in the clip above? That’s what former Gallup pollster David Moore argues in this blog post. In 2003, when “support” for the Iraq War was almost 2-to-1 in favor, he asked a follow up question, “would you be upset if your opinions were ignored?” The result:

What this experiment revealed was that instead of a war-hungry public, Americans were evenly divided over whether to go to war — three in ten in favor, three in ten opposed, with a plurality willing to do whatever the political leaders thought best.

Of course, that’s not the poll result that got all the attention. And so, we went to war.