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Freedom's Watch Attacks Nancy Pelosi -- for High Gas Prices?

| Tue Apr. 29, 2008 11:31 AM EDT

Granted, what is politically effective may be intellectually insulting, as a conservative think tank hand put it to me. But this new ad by conservative advocacy group Freedom's Watch charging that House speaker Nancy Pelosi has done nothing to reduce high gas prices prompted a few blinking beats of cognitive dissonance. (President Bush also blamed Congressional Democrats for high gas prices and the faltering economy at a press conference today).

This is the hawkish group whose associates seek it to serve as the political infrastructure not only for getting Republicans elected, but also to rally public support for the sacrifice required for the "long war" that Republican presidential candidate John McCain and Freedom's Watch's board members advocate? Long war and cheap gas just don't seem to go together. The former says: this is hard but necessary. The latter says: it's easy and don't think too hard about it.

This is politics and one is hardly surprised by disingenuousness from any quarter. But of all the ways disingenuous or sincere Freedom's Watch could try to motivate the conservative base, one is struck that it picked this one. Because presumably, if Freedom's Watch gets its way and McCain is elected, there will be another US president inclined to apply military solutions to the Middle East -- a goal reportedly sought by chief Freedom's Watch backer Sheldon Adelson in the case of Iran. And gas prices are only going to go up.

The ad seems another sign that Freedom's Watch under its new executive vice president Carl Forti, a former top National Republican Congressional Committee operative, is increasingly focusing on the calculus of trying to get GOP candidates elected in local House races - no surprise given his NRCC experience. But it raises the question of whether the group intends to focus less on rallying support for the national security arguments fundamental to the presidential race. Likely only for now, until a single Democratic presidential candidate emerges on whom to focus its future attacks.

Update: Here's one Republican Congressional candidate presumably unlikely to get Freedom's Watch's support.

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McCain's 100 Years Comment: Not a One-Time Gaffe

| Tue Apr. 29, 2008 11:01 AM EDT

Part of the Republican pushback on McCain's 100 years comment are claims that McCain simply misspoke or is being taken out of context. That's ludicrous. Here's video of the moment — he takes the time to elaborate on why he thinks a 100-year long occupation is acceptable. He was given an opportunity to walk his comment back by our David Corn immediately after this event; instead, he said he is okay with troops in Iraq for "a thousand years" or "a million years."

And he has said some version of this over and over; the instance above is just the most famous example. Here are some others:

McCain Was Against 100-Year Occupation Before He Was For It

| Tue Apr. 29, 2008 10:41 AM EDT

mccain_closeup_250x200.jpg I don't know what to make of this exactly, but John McCain had a sane position on the Iraq War before he got all Alexander the Great on us and came out in favor of a 100 year occupation of the Middle East.

Here's McCain on MSNBC in January 2005:

"I would hope that we could bring them all home," he said on MSNBC. "I would hope that we would probably leave some military advisers, as we have in other countries, to help them with their training and equipment and that kind of stuff."
Host Chris Matthews pressed McCain on the issue. "You've heard the ideological argument to keep U.S. forces in the Middle East. I've heard it from the hawks. They say, keep United States military presence in the Middle East, like we have with the 7th Fleet in Asia. We have the German...the South Korean component. Do you think we could get along without it?"
McCain held fast, rejecting the very policy he urges today. "I not only think we could get along without it, but I think one of our big problems has been the fact that many Iraqis resent American military presence," he responded. "And I don't pretend to know exactly Iraqi public opinion. But as soon as we can reduce our visibility as much as possible, the better I think it is going to be."

And here he is repeating his opposition to a long-term occupation in November 2007 (video):

White House Emails and The Case of the Missing BlackBerrys

| Mon Apr. 28, 2008 9:46 PM EDT

During a summit in New Orleans last week, a press aide for the Mexican government took two unattended BlackBerrys belonging to U.S. officials. The aide, Quintero Curiel, has since been fired, but questions remain. Curiel told Mexican newspapers that he thought the PDAs had been abandoned and insists he planned to return them. So his intentions may have been noble. The devices have been recovered, and disaster may have been averted.

Of course, he could be lying. Fox News reported that while Curiel "initially denied taking the devices, but after agents showed him [security camera footage of him taking them], [he] said it was purely accidental, gave them back, claimed diplomatic immunity and left New Orleans with the Mexican delegation." The two BlackBerrys that were taken can each hold around 28,000 printed pages worth of information, and all that data can be easily copied to other devices. And Curiel—an employee of the Mexican government—likely had the PDAs in his possession for more than enough time to copy and either hide or transmit all of the data they contained. No one is saying whether there was sensitive information on the devices. And no one is saying whether Curiel was working for Mexico's intelligence agency, CISEN, or spying for any other country. But if he was, it is very likely that nearly 60,000 pages worth of potentially sensitive material is now in foreign hands.

Torture Subpoenas?

| Mon Apr. 28, 2008 5:38 PM EDT

John Yoo, former Attorney General John Ashcroft, and the Vice President's Chief of Staff David Addington have now all declined to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on the White House's interrogation policies. Committee Chairman John Conyers first responded to their objections, and now has threatened to issue subpoenas.

"I will have no choice," Conyers says, "but to consider the use of compulsory process." Stay tuned.

Rev. Wright: A Neverending Cross for Obama To Bear

| Mon Apr. 28, 2008 5:16 PM EDT

UPDATE: On Tuesday afternoon, Barack Obama denounced Wright's recent remarks and criticized him harshly. Read about it here.

One has to wonder about the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. No doubt, he is angry, with some justification, about his treatment in the media, as decades of work and devotion have been compressed to seconds-long clips that emphasize a few extreme-sounding remarks. But he seems dedicated to firing back--or, speaking out--in a manner that it is politically harmful to the most famous member of his church: Barack Obama.

On Friday night, Wright appeared on Bill Moyers Journal and came across as thoughtful and provocative. Moyers played long excerpts of his controversial sermons, and Wright was able to explain some of his more inflammatory quotes ("God damn America" and 9/11 was the chickens "coming home to roost.") His explanations won't do much for voters who don't like angry black men. But when the context of the remarks are provided, they lose some of their edge. Wright's appearance on this PBS show was a net gain for Wright, and it did not seem to generate any political fallout for Obama. Then came Sunday night.

Speaking at an NAACP dinner in Detroit, Wright gave a fiery speech, noting that being different is not the same as being deficient, meaning that because blacks are different from whites they are not inferior. (As an example, Wright claimed that when it comes to music, blacks clap on different beats than whites.) In the speech, Wright mocked white attitudes toward blacks. He made fun of John Kennedy's Boston accent--particularly how Kennedy pronounced his most famous and inspiring line: "Ask not what your country...." He did so to make the point that black children who do not speak Middle-America English are no different from a president. Often breaking into a pretend "white" voice, he displayed a fair amount of disdain for white folks who fail to understand black folks.

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New FEC Charge Against McCain, Will Also Go Univestigated by Broken FEC

| Mon Apr. 28, 2008 4:07 PM EDT

fec-closed250x200.jpg Right-leaning legal group Judicial Watch has filed a new FEC complaint against John McCain alleging that a London fundraiser may have involved illegal in-kind contributions from foreign nationals.

This of course will join the growing list of complaints that will go uninvestigated by the broken FEC. How many of these have to filed until the pressure on Senate Majority Leader Reid and Senate Minority Leader McConnell is so great they are forced to break their gridlock and staff the FEC? Due to a near-complete lack of public concern on the subject, I'm guessing... infinity.

"What Are We Going to Change To?"

| Mon Apr. 28, 2008 1:38 PM EDT

In a NYT article about how Indiana's old fashioned voters may be resistant to Obama's charms — "Frankly, we want it to be like it used to be," says some dude — there is a question that you've heard many times before, in some form or another:

"What are we going to change to?" asked Ron O'Bryan, 58, a retired auto worker who said he was still trying to decide which Democrat to vote for in the May 6 primary.

I've mulled this over a lot, particularly because I've heard it frequently from voters at Hillary Clinton rallies. They're usually on board for change, but they don't know what Obama is promising. With H. Clinton, they usually operate under the assumption that it'll be back to the future — a return to the familiar philosophies and policies of B. Clinton.

Rove to Obama: Attack! Don't Attack!

| Mon Apr. 28, 2008 1:03 PM EDT

Bush's Brain is either a bad political consultant or he is — shocker! — screwing with Democrats.

Karl Rove, The Financial Times, December 2, 2007: "Memo to Obama":

First, stop acting like a vitamin-deficient Adlai Stevenson. Striking a pose of being high-minded and too pure will not work. Americans want to see you scrapping and fighting for the job, not in a mean or ugly way but in a forceful and straightforward way.
Hillary may come over as calculating and shifty but she looks in control. You, on the other hand, often come over as weak and ineffectual. In some debates, you do not even look at her when disagreeing with her, making it look as if you are afraid of her. She offers you openings time and again but you do not take advantage of them. Sharpen your attacks and make them more precise.

Karl Rove again, in the latest issue of Newsweek, May 5, 2008: "Dear Senator Obama...":

Stop the attacks. They undermine your claim to a post-partisan new politics. You soared when you seemed above politics, lost altitude when you did what you criticize. Attacks are momentarily satisfying but ultimately corrode your appeal.

I love that major news outlets keep paying Karl Rove for advice that no one is seeking. Oh, and not disclosing that he's an adviser to John McCain, for cripes sake.

Hat tip The Joshua Blog.

Time for Cindy McCain to Release Her Tax Returns

| Mon Apr. 28, 2008 12:53 PM EDT

McCain's money...

Aside from a Wachovia checking account, in which he keeps between $15,000 and $50,000 (wouldn't some of that money earn more interest in a certificate of deposit?), all of the couple's assets are in Cindy's name. John McCain's tax return is so anemic, so marginal to the couple's actual financial situation, that he doesn't even take a deduction for interest on his home mortgage. Presumably Cindy does, since disclosure forms indicate that she has several mortgages.
We don't know for certain whether she does, because the campaign has declined to release Cindy McCain's tax returns. This data gap sets McCain apart from his Democratic opponents, who have released jointly filed tax records going back a minimum of seven years. Thanks to McCain's lack of genuine opposition in recent months, there has been very little clamor to release Cindy McCain's returns, even from those Republicans who loudly insisted that Hillary and Bill Clinton were hiding something in theirs.

From Slate, via The Plank.