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Obama VP Pick Expected This Week

| Mon Aug. 18, 2008 12:39 PM EDT

Just FYI. Begin hyperventilating now.

Update: The Democratic convention starts next Monday. So, uh, duh.

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Norm Coleman: Aw Shucks, I Have to Attend?

| Mon Aug. 18, 2008 11:45 AM EDT

At least eight GOP senators have said they will not be attending the Republican convention in Minneapolis, and congressional challengers have officially been told by Republican leadership to stay away. But one man has to be there. Norm Coleman, the Republican senator from Minnesota locked in a reelection fight with Al Franken, can't ignore the party going on his backyard.

Oh, but how he wishes he could.

"So I think those who come here will have an extraordinary time. But the colleagues who don't come are staying at home only because they have tough races. If the convention wasn't in St. Paul, I wouldn't be at the convention," Coleman said.

H/T Ben Smith.

"War on Terror" Going Better, Despite Pakistan Instability, Survey Finds

| Mon Aug. 18, 2008 10:51 AM EDT

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Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, the main US ally in the war on terror, resigned today under threat of impeachment. The news has Washington's nerves on end for a number of reasons, not least of which is that Pakistan is a nuclear-armed country in a volatile neighborhood, plagued by Islamic militants, and which has in the wings no obvious successor to Musharraf to help keep everything from unraveling.

Pakistan has long been the center of US attention when it comes to fighting Al Qaeda. Now, with Musharraf gone, the strategic alliance between the two will become all the more delicate and uncertain. It's one that Washington must not allow to go sour. According to a survey released today by Foreign Policy and the Center for American Progress, 69 percent of foreign policy experts polled now believe that Pakistan is the nation most likely to transfer nuclear weapons technology to terrorists; just 35 percent thought so last year. (Thanks to A.Q. Khan, it's already the world's leading distributor of the stuff to states seeking nuclear weapons, like Iran and North Korea.)

McCain: As a Former Prisoner of War, I Like ABBA

| Mon Aug. 18, 2008 10:03 AM EDT

Okay, so I know I'm treading in dangerous waters. But I found a great example of how John McCain's claim that he would never exploit his prisoner of war experience is more than a little bit phony.

McCain recently said that Dancing Queen, by ABBA, was his favorite song. Questioned by an incredulous reporter after making the selection, McCain pointed to his war service as the explanation:

Walter Isaacson: "What were you thinking?"
John McCain: "If there is anything I am lacking in, I've got to tell you, it is taste in music and art and other great things in life. I've got to say that a lot of my taste in music stopped about the time I impacted a surface-to-air missile with my own airplane and never caught up again."

Yes, I realized he's joking around. But McCain "impacted a surface-to-air missile" in 1967.

Dancing Queen was recorded in 1976.

The claim that McCain is a stoic war hero, too scarred to talk about his time overseas and too principled to exploit it for political gain, is a media narrative that has gone unquestioned for too long.

PS — Want to make clear that McCain has the right to talk about his war service all he wants, just as John Kerry did in 2004. But we collectively have to put to rest this myth that McCain chooses not to in an admirable and principled act of self-denial.

Pakistan's Musharraf Resigns

| Mon Aug. 18, 2008 10:00 AM EDT

Facing prospective impeachment proceedings and under pressure from Pakistan's new ruling political coalition, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has resigned. "Whether I win or lose the impeachment, the nation will lose," Musharraf said in an emotional hour long speech carried on Pakistani national television. "They don't realize they can succeed against me but the country will undergo irreparable damage." As army chief, Musharraf toppled Pakistan's president Nawaz Sharif in a coup in 1999, and ruled as head of Pakistan's powerful military and as the nation's president for eight years. Under mounting political pressure, he agreed to step down as military chief late last year. It's not clear who the new president will be. "We will continue to work with the Pakistani government and political leaders and urge them to redouble their focus on Pakistan's future and its most urgent needs, including stemming the growth of extremism, addressing food and energy shortages, and improving economic stability," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in a statement.


And John McCain, Former Prisoner of War, Had Oatmeal for Breakfast

| Mon Aug. 18, 2008 9:28 AM EDT

Okay, so expect some action on the blogs about this today. At Saturday's presidential forum at Saddleback Church — the one I said wouldn't seep into Monday's news cycle unless there was a controversy — the moderator, Pastor Rick Warren, assured the audience that while he was questioning Obama, "we have safely placed Senator McCain in a cone of silence." The idea was that McCain, who was to be asked the same questions after Obama was finished, couldn't hear what was going on.

When McCain's portion of the event started, Warren began, "Now, my first question: Was the cone of silence comfortable that you were in just now?"

McCain responded, "I was trying to hear through the wall."

In actuality, McCain was in his motorcade when Obama was being questioned, meaning he could have heard the first part of the event over the radio or gotten information via Blackberry.

But the fact that McCain may have had a slight advantage isn't what caught my eye. What did was how sanctimonious his campaign got when asked about the situation by the press. Here's the New York Times:

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Kerry on the VP Shortlist? Really?

| Sat Aug. 16, 2008 1:28 PM EDT

Reportedly, John Kerry is being considered as Obama's VP.

I'm not buying it. This has to be a series of headfakes from the Obama campaign, right? Creating media speculation on different options — one week of Bayh, one week of Biden, one week of Kerry — keeps people talking about the choice for almost month. And ultimately, they can find a better choice than any of those three, meaning that even if the actual choice is flawed, people will still say, "Whew. Better than the other options, anyway."

But pretty soon they're going to be the campaign that cried wolf.

Veep Pick Sneak Peaks Sunday?

| Sat Aug. 16, 2008 2:29 AM EDT

Check out this line up. Among other interesting match ups on the Sunday talk shows, Virginia governor Tim Kaine and Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal are slated to appear on "Meet the Press." Kaine tells the Washington Post that he was asked to appear by the Obama campaign.

New (Leaked) Music: The Verve - Forth

| Fri Aug. 15, 2008 7:11 PM EDT

mojo-photo-verveforth.jpgPeople think I'm an arrogant jerk, but I really do try to be nice. Honestly. My friends go crazy for Coldplay, and I try to focus on Brian Eno's epic production; buddies want to watch Roger Waters for three hours, and I'm a good sport and hang around. But The Verve has caused perhaps insurmountable rifts between me and my hipster pals. They love The Verve, and I think that other than the inspired sampling on "Bitter Sweet Symphony," Richard Ashcroft and co are dull as doorknobs, whiny, plodding, a fine example of Britishness covering up lack of ingenuity. Like Sigur Ros, they're lumped in with a genre populated by good and great bands, but they just don't measure up. The Verve split in 1999 after Urban Hymns brought them worldwide fame, but recently have come back together for a few live shows. Forth is their first album together in ten years, which leaked onto the intertubes this week.

Poor McCain, Even Jackson Browne and Mike Myers Are Against Him

| Fri Aug. 15, 2008 6:33 PM EDT

mojo-photo-mccainwaynebrowne.jpgCan't somebody throw the guy a bone? John Mellencamp said "uh-uh," Chuck Berry said "sorry," even fellow politician John Hall (he wrote "Still the One") said "no dice." Only the Rich part of Big and Rich seems to care. Well, it turns out that the McCain campaign is just shooting the moon now, culturally speaking, throwing copyrighted material into their ads willy-nilly like a demented mash-up hooligan. I guess the Republican presidential nominee should take it as a compliment that people are still paying any attention, since a couple more artists have sued to make him stop. First up, Jackson Browne is none too happy about "Running on Empty" being used in ads for the senator, apparently without a license, filing suit against McCain and the Republican Party. A McCain campaign spokesman denied they had anything to do with it.

But they've got a bad track record: just a few days before, Mike Myers demanded the McCain campaign remove the "Wayne's World" clip from their "celebrity" anti-Obama ad. The campaign's Michael Goldfarb tried to make a joke out of it, blogging that "apparently, we are not, in fact, worthy." Ha, but overlooked is the fact that they put one of the most recognizable moments in Saturday Night Live history in a TV spot, and didn't think to call anybody? Could they possibly just be playing a cynical political game, breaking the rules intentionally just to get some coverage? Nah, they wouldn't do that. Well, hey, John, you kooky culture jammer, if you want to use some of my mashups in your commercials, you go right ahead. I'm sure the original artists whose rights I never bothered to get wouldn't mind…