Blogs

The Gays Have Won Republican Minds; Hearts to Follow?

| Wed Nov. 21, 2007 4:26 PM EST

The users of Conservapedia care about one thing, and one thing only.

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Republicans Candidates Who Beat Cancer Would Be Terrible for Fellow Cancer Survivors

| Wed Nov. 21, 2007 3:55 PM EST

Fact of the day: Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, and John McCain are all cancer survivors, but all are putting forward health care plans that would likely deny coverage to other cancer survivors who are not seeking insurance through government or job-related plans. Cancer survivors, even if they have been cancer-free for years, are regularly denied health insurance when they try to purchase it as individuals. Fact of the day 2: Republicans are jerks.

(H/T Think Progress)

Examining Mike Huckabee's Fiscal Record: It's Very Un-Republican

| Wed Nov. 21, 2007 3:11 PM EST

huckabee_mouth_open.jpg Mike Huckabee is the Republican in the presidential race who spends the most time talking about middle Americans—their health care needs, their lack of job security, the crumminess of the schools that educate their children, etc. His attention to these seemingly left-of-center issues—and the lengths to which he went to act on them as governor of Arkansas—has gotten him branded as an irresponsible tax-and-spender by some parts of the GOP establishment. Bob Novak, for example, called him a member of the "Christian left."

So with the help of the magnificent FactCheck.org, let's take a look at Huckabee's financial record.

Huckabee claims to have cut taxes "almost 94 times" while Governor. (An odd construction, but whatever.) He adds that he saved "the people of Arkansas almost $380 million." That's true. Huckabee cut taxes 90 times from 1997 to 2005, reducing state revenues by $378 million.

But Huckabee also presided over 21 tax increases, none of which he mentions on the stump. And those tax increases totaled much more than $378 million. According to the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, the "net tax increase under Huckabee's tenure was an estimated $505.1 million," adjusted for inflation.

Spending did go up under the Huckabee regime—the state budget was $10.4 billion in his first year as Governor (again, adjusted for inflation), while it was $15.6 billion in 2006. So he is, technically, a tax-and-spender. But Huckabee balanced the Arkansas state budget every year he was governor (balancing the budget is a requirement under Arkansas state law) and in the end, Huckabee had a positive effect on the state ledger: He faced a $200 million deficit in 2002, but ended his term with a $844.5 million surplus. That's a billion dollar turnaround, taxing-and-spending be damned.

A bit more, after the jump.

Fred Thompson's DIY Phone Bank

| Wed Nov. 21, 2007 2:20 PM EST

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It's either a sign of severe desperation or a novel campaign innovation, but GOP candidate Fred Thompson has just debuted a do-it-yourself phone bank. "Phone for Fred" allows volunteers to download voters' phone numbers off his website, and encourages them to get the word out about their candidate. Oh, but they should be nice about it and only call in the evening. The campaign seems like a formula for disaster, but hey, at least it's cheap!

Mulling Over the Case for Hillary Clinton

| Wed Nov. 21, 2007 2:09 PM EST

clinton.jpg If you read MoJoBlog regularly, you know I have my reservations about Hillary Clinton. But I find Princeton professor Sean Wilentz's endorsement of her compelling.

[Clinton] understands how American politics works. She understands the trajectory of American political history for the last 40 years because she's lived it in a way that the others haven't, really.

Okay, fair enough. She's most able to win the game of politics as it is currently constituted. She makes this argument on the stump. But I happen to think that game chews up good people (like Al Gore, for example) and no longer works for the benefit of everyday Americans (if it ever did). As naive as it sounds, I'd like a candidate who can think beyond that game. What do you think of Obama, Mr. Wilentz?

You cannot have a president who doesn't like politics. You will not get anything done. Period. I happen to love American politics. I think American politics is wonderful. I can understand why people don't. But one of the problems in America is that politics has been so soured, people try to be above it all. It's like Adlai Stevenson. In some ways, Barack reminds me of Stevenson.... There's always a Stevenson candidate. Bradley was one of them. Tsongas was one of them. They're the people who are kind of ambivalent about power. "Should I be in this or not... well, yes, because I'm going to represent something new." It's beautiful loserdom.

Okay, interesting...

The fact is, you can't govern without politics.

Now wait a minute. How do we know that for sure? We do know that it is very, very hard to get elected when you don't like politics, but we don't know for a fact that it is very, very hard to govern when you don't like politics. We don't have an example in recent American history of a president who tried to change Washington instead of working within it.

Keep reading, after the jump...

How Our "Friends" Support Law and Order

| Wed Nov. 21, 2007 1:49 PM EST

The Saudi judiciary is defending its punishment of a 19-year-old rape victim--that's right, a victim--because she was in a car with a man not related to her when the crime occurred. The woman's original punishment was 90 lashes, but she has since committed another crime: She spoke with the news media. Now, her sentence is six months in prison and 200 lashes.

Islamic law forbids a woman to associate with males who are not part of her family. As for speaking with reporters, the official Saudi press agency explains that "whoever has an objection on verdicts issued, the system allows an appeal without resorting to the media." Add 110 lashes and six months in what I feel certain is not a "rehab" prison.

In the meantime, the court also doubled the sentences of the seven men who committed the rape.

It is horrific enough that rape victims are punished in Saudi Arabia, but there are other problems with the system that are just as disturbing. Individuals on trial are often not permitted to have defense attorneys present, and there are no sentencing guidelines other than the judges' discretion.

Women in Saudi Arabia have no freedom of movement and may not even drive a car. First Lady Laura Bush recently wore an abaya in Saudi Arabia and declared--to the astonishment of millions--that the garb was "traditional" and "a religious choice," without addressing the social roots of how that "choice" came to be. It is estimated that the Saudis have invested over $750 billion in the U.S., and--as we know--at least several thousand directly into the hands of George W. Bush. There has never been much enthusiasm among Western nations to support women's rights in their own countries, much less in very oppressive countries. Now the relationship between the Bush administration and Saudi Arabia--not to mention the relationship between the Bush administration and U.S. women's rights goals--makes it impossible to do anything but look the other way when a young gang-rape victim is tortured by her own government.

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Introducing the Polling Project: Getting to the Bottom of the Polling Industry

| Wed Nov. 21, 2007 1:29 PM EST

Arianna Huffington has a simple question: "Are polls measuring the 2008 election or are they driving it?"

With that in mind, she's launched the Polling Project, a attempt to shine a bright light on the polling industry and its effects on the American political discourse. "We want to get to the bottom of how pollsters conduct their surveys, how they gather and build their stats, how they target who they contact, and, ultimately, how they reach their conclusions," says Arianna.

It's a worthy endeavor in part because it gets beyond what you would find in a well-researched book on the subject, through the magic of citizen participation. If you've been contacted by a pollster, the Polling Project wants to hear about your experiences. All of the project's cosponsors, which includes, in addition to Mother Jones, Talking Points Memo, Instapundit, Politico, and the Nation, are putting a button on their websites that direct you to this form.

If enough people participate, the project will be able to determine if midwesterners are being asked different questions than their coastal counterparts, if blacks and Hispanics hear questions no one else does, and if push polls are popping up around the country. Perhaps most importantly, we'll find out if polls are creating buzz instead of just reporting it.

So if you get a call from a pollster, click the link on our left sidebar the next time you visit motherjones.com. Your name and contact info won't be revealed. So help out if you can!

Trial Lawyers Still the Democrats' Deep Pockets

| Wed Nov. 21, 2007 1:27 PM EST

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Lots of corporate money is making an exodus from the GOP and resurfacing in various Democratic campaign coffers this year. Yet there's still plenty of evidence that the Democratic presidential candidates are going to rely heavily on trial lawyer funding, even with a few of the old reliables either in jail, under indictment or facing other criminal charges.

The latest report comes from Mississippi, where Bill Clinton will headline a fundraiser at the home of Richard "Dickie" Scruggs, trial lawyer extrordinare and, incidentally, Trent Lott's brother-in-law. Scruggs is best known for his role in initiating the tobacco litigation in the 1990s that led to an enormous settlement between the states and the cigarette companies. The litigation also netted Scruggs several billion in legal fees and a Hollywood portrayal in the movie "The Insider."

But Scruggs is in a spot of trouble these days. He's facing criminal contempt of court charges in Alabama for allegedly violating a protective order in a case involving Katrina-related insurance claims. Apparently, though, the charges aren't serious enough to scuttle the Clinton fundraiser. No word yet on whether Scruggs' friend and fellow Mississippi trial lawyer John Grisham will make an appearance, but no doubt he's on the invite list. Last year, Grisham gave the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee nearly $27,000, and the former Mississippi state legislator was active in Democratic politics long before he was a bestselling author....

More Big Burgers for a Buck

| Wed Nov. 21, 2007 11:03 AM EST

1_xldoublewhoppercheese.jpgNews from the fast-food world: Burger King is about to roll out a $1 double cheeseburger. The new promotion is designed to challenge McDonald's rein over the rock-bottom food market. McDonald's has had a $1 double cheeseburger for years now on its "value menu," which according to the Wall Street Journal, accounts for nearly a quarter of its sales, but Burger King's double has sold for twice that much. Experts predict that BK's new burger-for-a-buck campaign will set off a price war. Who knows how low it could go!

This is probably good news for all you beef eaters out there, but it can't be good for the nation's collective waistline. Someday someone will study whether the race to the bottom burger pricing produced a corresponding increase in obese Americans. After all, BK will be making it even easier for people to consume more than 1,000 calories and 67 grams of fat in one sitting, for just a buck. If there was ever a good case to be made for a junk food tax, this might be it.

Reality PMC

| Wed Nov. 21, 2007 9:55 AM EST

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Ever wonder what it's like to stalk poachers in Africa, spy on mobsters, or rescue hapless aid workers from Third World war zones? (Really? You have? Me, too.) For the moment, you've still got to send your resume to Erik Prince for such thrills. But soon all you'll have to do is crack open a beer and ease into your comfy chair. The History Channel has greenlighted production on a new reality show, tentatively called "Eyes on Target," which will feature "the best private military operators in the world, using the most advanced equipment conducting real missions," says one of the producers. The eight-part series will offer "unparalleled access" to private military operators in the field, depicting in detail how special operations are conducted "from start to finish."

The show's creators say it will only cover "legally sanctioned operations." I guess we'll have to subscribe to premium cable for the other stuff...