2008...essiah-complex - %2

Kucinich's UFO Sighting: What He Really Saw

| Fri Jan. 4, 2008 9:27 PM EST
kucinichbelieve250.jpg

Dennis Kucinich has taken a lot of flack for saying that he once saw an unidentified flying object near Shirley MacLaine's house back in 1982. The Wall Street Journal just did a front-page story on it, adding to the Kucinich-as-silly-person storyline. But what if he really did see something—just not an alien spaceship? That's the skeptical-yet-speculative theory being floated over at Cannonfire:

The sighting took place in Washington state near Mt. Ranier, where the "flying saucer" craze was born.

Judging from the description of the three vehicles witnessed that day, I theorize that the party saw a test of prototype UAVs, or drones. Such unmanned reconnaissance craft were little-known at the time. They are well-known nowadays, since they play a major role in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Although the early development of unmanned craft is not easy for outsiders to trace, these devices do have a long history. Marilyn Monroe, in the days before she had that name, once worked for a company producing the first mass-produced UAVs.

The Kucinich sighting took place in Graham, Washington, situated directly between Mount Ranier and McChord Air Force Base. (The mountain is some twenty miles away from the base.) The report indicates that the craft were flying toward McChord. After the flyover, Kucinich's party saw military helicopters in the area.

Then how to explain MacLaine's claim that during the sighting Kucinich felt "a connection in his heart and heard directions in his mind"? No doubt the Department of Peace would want to keep that love-drone technology in its arsenal.

(Image: Buckeye State Blog)

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Off the Trail, and on the Warpath

| Fri Jan. 4, 2008 7:29 PM EST

It turns out Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was half right. After a poor showing in Iowa last night, Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., dropped his bid to be the Democratic nominee for president—and, as such, will not be captive to the pander-inducing whims of electoral politics when the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is reconsidered later this month. But that doesn't mean he won't be back on the floor of the Senate blocking any FISA bill that contains an immunity provision for the telecommunications industry. Here's what he said in his concession letter:

Clinton, Edwards Campaigns Go Negative on Obama

| Fri Jan. 4, 2008 7:00 PM EST

So what does Clinton do to regain momentum in New Hampshire? Attack Obama from the right.

Hillary's aides point to Obama's extremely progressive record as a community organizer, state senator and candidate for Congress, his alliances with "left-wing" intellectuals in Chicago's Hyde Park community, and his liberal voting record on criminal defendants' rights as subjects for examination.

And what does Edwards do to keep Obama from getting the whole Iowa bounce? Attack Obama as a corporate tool.

Edwards' staff also immediately began to take shots at Obama: Appearing on MSNBC this morning, Edwards' manager David Bonior described Obama as a sellout to corporate America: "Barack Obama's kind of change is where you sit down and you cut a deal with the corporate world."

Neither of these approaches look all that promising, from first glance. But this could get ugly. (Via Sirotablog)

In New Hampshire, Hillary Finds It Tough To Dash Obama's Hope

| Fri Jan. 4, 2008 5:32 PM EST

The battle of New Hampshire—on the Democratic side—opened Friday morning with an obvious question: what, if anything, would Hillary Clinton do differently? Her 8-point loss to Barack Obama in Iowa was a clear indicator that what she had been doing until then was not working. And when it comes to the sort of voters who contributed to Obama's impressive win on Thursday night—including independent, young, and upscale voters—New Hampshire is a better hunting ground for Obama than Iowa. So reporters and politicos were wondering how Clinton would recalibrate in response to the thumpin' she had received.

Early in the morning, in a cold airport hangar in Nashua, in front of a couple of hundred people (including Arkansans and AFSCME union workers who were bussed in), Clinton provided the answer: not much. In her only major campaign appearance of the day (she would later join the other Democratic candidates at a dinner for the state Democratic party), she essentially stuck with the message that had failed her in Iowa.

Friday's Battle Cry: "Music News Day!"

| Fri Jan. 4, 2008 5:25 PM EST

News 0104

  • Album sales in the US were down 9.5 percent from last year, even though digital sales rose 45 percent and "overall music perchases," which include albums, singles, digital tracks and music videos, were up 14 percent.

  • The Foo Fighters will perform with an "unsigned instrumentalist" as part of an American Idol-style contest at this year's Grammy Awards. The "My Grammy Moment" competition is open to string, woodwind and brass players, one of whom will join Dave Grohl & co. at the ceremony February 10th.
  • Swedish singer-songwriter José González is planning a "green tour" of North America, partnering with a company called Reverb to provide biodegradeable catering supplies and offsetting the tour's carbon emissions. Tour dates include NYC's Highline Ballroom on 3/11, LA's Wiltern on 3/25, and SF's Fillmore on 3/27.
  • I'm not talking about Britney Spears.
  • John McCain, All-Around Good Guy

    | Fri Jan. 4, 2008 3:06 PM EST

    mccain-angryu.jpg

    If John McCain does something hypocritical in a forest, does anyone notice?

    As everyone knows, John McCain is just a great guy. So great, apparently, that he can criticize negative ads one moment, then turn around and issue his own attack ads the next, and no one will report it. According to a biting Media Matters piece:

    Numerous print media outlets reported on Sen. John McCain's assertion following the Iowa caucuses that "[t]he lesson of this election in Iowa is that ... negative campaigns don't work." But none of those articles noted that McCain has run negative TV and Web ads against Mitt Romney.

    Numerous attack ads, indeed. McCain just released another one today, which says, in part: "Mitt Romney, leading? He'd rather call lawyers."

    The main-stream media, tell the full story? They'd rather just keep loving John McCain. Let's hope they at least report the "Let's stay in Iraq for 100 years" comment.

    Advertise on MotherJones.com

    How Obama Won, and What it Means for the Democratic Race

    | Fri Jan. 4, 2008 3:36 AM EST

    obama-iowa-win600.jpg

    I knew there was something afoot for Barack Obama about half an hour into the caucus I attended at Merrill Middle School in Des Moines, Iowa. First of all, there was the turnout. Democratic Precinct 72 had roughly 25 attendees in the 2004 caucus, according to precinct chair Louise Alcorn. Today, it had 58. And even though the caucus represented a union-heavy neighborhood, which one might expect to turn out for John Edwards, the first count of the night identified 24 Obama supporters, 16 Edwards supporters, and just 12 Hillary Clinton supporters. The caucus also included one Biden supporter, four Richardson supporters, and one undecided voter, all of whom later spread evenly to the larger groups.

    The relatively small precinct only had two delegates to give, so the Clinton, Obama, and Edwards groups all tried convincing each other that they ought to switch camps. Though the Edwards supporters in attendance were well-prepared (they had pies and candy available for converts) and committed (they gave passionate speeches advocating for Edwards), the Obama supporters sat steadfast and quiet. caucus-speaker.jpg After some heated moments, including a long discussion of whether Elizabeth Edwards' cancer necessarily meant she would die while her husband was in office, the final count showed that Obama had actually grown in strength. Obama 25, Edwards 22, and Clinton 11—Obama and Edwards each took home one of the precinct's two delegates.

    By the time the caucus wrapped, it was becoming clear that Thursday was Obama's night. Anecdotal reports suggested that turnout was way up—the eventual turnout number would shatter all records—a fact that favored Obama significantly because it meant first-time caucus-goers, independents, and young voters were turning out big time. Indeed, young voters in particular might be the story of the Iowa caucuses: notoriously hesitant to participate, they composed over 50 percent of Obama's support. News reports even indicated that Obama had beaten Clinton among women.

    The final results—Obama 38 percent, Edwards 30 percent, Clinton 29 percent—suggested that Iowans had responded to Obama's call for decreased partisanship and a renewed politics that left special interests and lobbyists behind. In fact, they had answered it so fervently, and in such large numbers, that they had bested the best political machine in politics by nine points. In his victory speech at the Hy-Vee Hall in Des Moines, where supporters hugged, cried, and hooted randomly, a grinning Obama struck almost grandiose tones.

    Watching the Caucuses: Obama Speech Strikes Keith Olbermann Dumb

    | Fri Jan. 4, 2008 2:02 AM EST

    mojo-photo-caucuses.jpg

    Approaching the coverage of the Iowa caucuses like I suspect a lot of Americans were—unspeakably sick of Bush, uncommitted to a Democrat, curious about how things would shake down—there were a couple fascinating moments. MSNBC's coverage brought out their new power duo of Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews, and after the margin of Obama's victory became clear, Matthews seemed to want to grab the mantle of "fiery liberal commentator" from his cohost. Asking questions of their panel of experts, he launched into a spitting tirade about how Clinton could possibly be considered an agent of change when she voted for the Iraq war, emphasizing over and over that "two thirds of the party has voted against her." A quick channel change to Fox News saw their reporter, a wide-eyed strong-jawed frat boy in what looks like military-issue headphones, stationed at the Huckabee headquarters, barely able to contain his glee over Huckabee's win. Over at CNN, their situation room seemed invaded by information-filled data screens, with entrance poll pie charts rolling around the studio like mad Pac-Men.

    Iowa Isn't Quite What You Think: Remember Jesse Jackson in '88

    | Fri Jan. 4, 2008 1:39 AM EST

    There are a lot of reasons not to compare Barack Obama and Jesse Jackson, but Obama's romp in Iowa tonight does bring to mind 1988, when Jesse Jackson and his Rainbow Coalition captured 11 percent in the Hawkeye State—coming in behind Dick Gephardt, Paul Simon (both veteran pols from neighboring states), and Michael Dukakis, but still astounding in a state where conventional wisdom had pegged Jackson as a quasi-fringe candidate (and where, as commentators never tired of pointing out, the black population was less than 1 percent). Back then, as I recall, some of the things that worked in Jackson's favor were cadres of passionate field organizers; some really smart strategizing that the campaign never got credit for; a deep, deep anger over the way ordinary people had been hung out to dry in the farm crisis; and, well, that thing that just might make Iowa a useful participant in the primary sweepstakes after all (okay, go ahead and flame), which is that people there seem to insist on making their own choices, conventional wisdom be damned.

    Update: Yes, I'm confused too: some sources I've seen say Jesse got 11 percent, some say 9, and he's entirely missing from the Wikipedia entry; what's up with that?

    Biden and Dodd Out; Richardson Stays In With Some Guile

    | Fri Jan. 4, 2008 12:20 AM EST

    CNN is reporting that Joe Biden and Chris Dodd are dropping out of the presidential race. According to the current count, Biden took 0.94 percent of delegates and Dodd took 0.02 percent. And though Richardson's press secretary told me in November that "a top three finish is all we need," Richardson is going to take his fourth place finish (and 2.10 percent of delegates) and move forward. "We made it to the final four," Richardson said in a statement. "My staff and volunteers worked their hearts out to get us here. Now we are going to take the fight to New Hampshire."

    There's some intrigue with Richardson. I heard a Richardson precinct captain say he was told personally by someone in the Richardson campaign to throw his caucus-goers to Obama if Richardson wasn't viable. The reasoning given, according to this precinct captain, was that internal polling was telling the Richardson campaign that Obama needed the most help, and by throwing support to him, no clear frontrunner would emerge in the race. The move also insured that Biden and Dodd didn't get any additional support. After all, what does a few extra percent for someone like Obama really matter?

    Richardson, however, will have to drop out soon, barring a miraculous comeback. It will be interesting to see if Biden, Dodd, or Richardson endorse a remaining candidate.