Saturday, September 20, 2008

Health care should be run like banking

The Huffington Post is leading with a story by Paul Krugman on his blog, in which he reports on a recent article written by McCain on his feelings about how health care should be run. In the Sept./Oct. issue of Contingencies, the magazine of the American Academy of Actuaries, McCain wrote his solution to the health care woes,

Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation.

Given the past week, McCain has some splaining to do.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Drilling is good for the environment

At a rally yesterday, McCain spoke about the benefits of drilling off the US shore. He made the standard case that we need to do this to get away from our dependence on foreign oil. He then talked about going to the rigs and seeing how safe and sturdy the rigs are. All of this we've heard before. What I had never heard before, though, is that the rigs are also environmentally friendly. Seriously. He said, "And by the way, on that oil rig — and I’m sure you’ve probably heard this story — you look down, and there’s fish everywhere! There’s fish everywhere! Yeah, the fish love to be around those rigs. So not only can it be helpful for energy, it can be helpful for some pretty good meals as well." Here's the video.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

More on Spain

McCain's comments to a Miami radio station have caused quite a stir this afternoon. After hours of trying to figure out what McCain meant by his, at best, seeming unwillingness to meet with Spain Prime Minister Zapatero and, at worst, his seeming inability to remember who Zapatero is, things are becoming more clear. In a statement to the Washington Post, McCain foreign policy advisor Randy Scheunemann said McCain heard the interviewer, understood the question and meant that he would not meet with Zapatero.

Scheunemann said, "The questioner asked several times about Senator McCain's willingness to meet Zapatero (and id's him in the question so there would be no doubt Senator McCain knew exactly to whom the question referred). Senator McCain refused to commit to a White House meeting with President Zapatero in this interview."

Aside from the obvious mistake of having a foreign policy advisor call Zapatero the president when, in fact, he is the prime minister, Scheunemann's claim is quite stunning. He is saying McCain would not meet with a NATO ally. He is saying that McCain has reversed the position he had in April when he said, "I would like for [Zapatero] to visit the United States. I am very interested not only in normalizing relations with Spain but in obtaining good and productive relations with the goal of addressing many issues and challenges that we have to confront together."

Walk softly and carry a big stick

Did the axis of evil just gain a member?

This one is pretty amazing. During an interview with Spanish reporters yesterday, Mr. Foreign Policy appeared to not know the prime minister of Spain. Sam Stein at the Huffington Post notes that after a discussion of policies toward Latin American countries, McCain was asked, "Would you be willing to meet with the head of our government, Mr. Zapatero?" McCain responded, "I will meet with those leaders who are our friends and who want to work with us cooperatively." 

The reporter, unsatisfied with the generic nonanswer, asked, "OK, but I'm talking about Europe - the president of Spain, would you meet with him?" Stein seems to think McCain was suggesting he would not meet with the Spanish leader -- that Zapatero, a member of the Socialist Party -- would not meet the threshold of foreign leaders worth talking to.

I think that gives McCain too much credit. I haven't heard the interview, but from the account Stein gives, McCain seems to simply not know who the reporter meant when he said, "Would you be willing to meet with the head of our government, Mr. Zapatero?" If true, that is remarkable. 

UPDATE: Here's the audio. The exchange in question is toward the end. It's worth noting that the original question, which is described in the post above based on the translation of the interview, was actually, "Senator finally, let's talk about Spain. If you're elected President, would you be willing to invite President Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero to the White House -- to meet with you."