Corn has broken stories on presidents, politicians, and other Washington players. He's written for numerous publications and is a talk show regular. His best-selling books include Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War.
How much do the spies of the US government spend on their spying? Over $47 billion a year, according to budget numbers released on Tuesday by the Director of National Intelligence. And if you count the military intelligence program, the total amount is closer to $60 billion. This is only the fourth time in U.S. history that the government has publicly disclosed the intelligence budget. Secrecy Newsexplains:
The aggregate intelligence budget figure (including national, joint military and tactical intelligence spending) was first released in 1997 ($26.6 billion) in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the Federation of American Scientists. It was voluntarily released in 1998 ($26.7 billion). The National Intelligence Program budget was next disclosed in 2007 ($43.5 billion), in response to a Congressional mandate, based on a recommendation of the 9/11 Commission. And then there was today's release for 2008.
In recent years, the most passionate opponent of intelligence budget disclosure has been none other than Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK), whose own financial non-disclosure practices have recently earned him multiple felony convictions.
In an October 4, 2004 Senate floor debate, Senator Stevens usefully marshaled all of the traditional arguments against disclosure. Most of them were false at the time. Others have since been disproven.
"No other nation, friend, or ally, reveals the amount that it spends on intelligence," Sen. Stevens said then.
In fact, the United Kingdom, Canada, the Netherlands and other countries have published their intelligence budgets for many years without adverse effect.
John McCain doesn't seem to care about how he finishes the race—with integrity or without. In recent days, he keeps claiming that Barack Obama is an untrustworthy pol who will say anything to get elected. But let's look at the newest McCain ad, Here's the narration:
Iran. Radical Islamic government. Known sponsors of terrorism. Developing nuclear capabilities to generate power, but threatening to eliminate Israel. Obama says Iran is a "tiny" country, "doesn't pose a serious threat." Terrorism, destroying Israel, those aren't "serious threats?" Obama—dangerously unprepared to be President.
This is about as dishonest an ad as the McCain campaign has produced. In fact, it's a repeat of an ad the campaign tried in August. When that earlier ad was released, Factcheck.org explained why it was fraudulent. Obama, it noted, had in May said this:
Strong countries and strong presidents talk to their adversaries. That's what Kennedy did with Khrushchev. That's what Reagan did with Gorbachev. That's what Nixon did with Mao. I mean think about it. Iran, Cuba, Venezuela—these countries are tiny compared to the Soviet Union. They don't pose a serious threat to us the way the Soviet Union posed a threat to us.
At least, that's what the Obama campaign strategists seem to believe. This morning, the campaign sent out a schedule of Obama's remaining campaign stops. After Obama finishes visiting with his ill grandmother in Hawaii on Friday, he will return to the trail. First up, there are stops in Nevada. Next he will head to New Mexico. Then his final campaign stops will occur in Colorado.
Notice, there's nothing on schedule (as of yet) for Ohio, Pennsylvania or Florida, the traditional deciders. Instead, Obama is working hard the new swing states, especially Colorado.
Meanwhile, the McCain campaign's attitude toward Colorado is, eh, erratic. The campaign pulled its money out of the state. But after doing that, it decided to send McCain to campaign rallies there. And Sarah Palin has recently campaigned in the state. So what does that mean? Do the McCain strategists believe he can win that state by turning out the base with personal appearances rather than by courting swing voters with expensive teleivsion ads? It's a theory.
In a historic moment, former Fed chair Alan Greenspan acknowledged he had been wrong for years to assume that government regulation was bad for markets. Whoops—there goes decades of Ayn Rand down the drain.
In a congressional hearing room on Thursday, former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, one of the most influential civil servants of the past century, saw his stock plummet—and his entire career lose its moorings. More important, the ideological battle over economic theory and the role of government in markets—a fight that has played out in the current presidential campaign—took a historic turn.
With members of the House oversight and government reform committee blasting Greenspan for his past decisions that helped pave the way for the current financial crisis, he acknowledged that his libertarian view of markets and the financial world had not worked out so well. "You know," he told the legislators, "that's precisely the reason I was shocked, because I have been going for 40 years or more with very considerable evidence that it was working exceptionally well." While Greenspan did defend his various decisions, he admitted that his faith in the ability of free and loosely-regulated markets to produce the best outcomes had been shaken: "I made a mistake in presuming that the self-interests of organizations, specifically banks and others, were such as that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders and their equity in the firms."
Historians and political writers will for years wonder and write about what moved John McCain to select Sarah Palin as his running mate. But perhaps a newspaper clipping from 1988 offers a bit of insight into how McCain thinks about a veep pick.
Two decades ago, another GOP vice presidential nominee was also something of a puzzling choice: Senator Dan Quayle. Many questioned George H.W. Bush's decision to tap a little-known senator as his running-mate. But some observers thought that Quayle's looks (he was compared to Robert Redford) would help the ticket with the ladies--female voters, that is. Was that a sexist? Whether or not it was, McCain accepted this perspective. According to a Newsday article from that time, McCain said, "A guy that good-looking just has to be attractive to women," said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
Twenty years later, did McCain take a similar view when searching for his ticket partner?