On Monday morning, Senator Amy Klobuchar endorsed Barack Obama--and joined Senator Claire McCaskill as another prominent female senator from a purple state backing Obama. During a conference call with reporters, Klobuchar noted that she expected the fierce Democratic nomination contest to continue "through the primaries." But what about after that? In an interview on Saturday, Hillary Clinton vowed she would stay in the contest past the primaries--which end in early June--until the convention, which opens at the end of August. Would Klobuchar echo the call of other fretting Democrats that the race should somehow be decided soon after the primaries conclude?

Clinton, she said, "has every right to continue her campaign." But, Klobuchar added that she had "faith our candidates will figure it out" and that the contest "will come to an end in the early summer." Our candidates, she remarked, "will do the right thing."

Perhaps. But Clinton is only digging in her heels, and there's no official mechanism through which the Democrats could declare the race over prior to the late-summer convention. Faith--and hope--may not be enough to settle the matter in June.

In this video, Lou Dobbs spends a minute and a half talking about how America can and does talk openly about race — in contradiction to the crybaby claims of Barack Obama and Condoleezza Rice — only to close by almost uttering a phrase that could easily be seen as having racial connotations. Dobbs stops himself and gets flustered, thereby hilariously undermining his whole point.

Listen, when media pundits have to produce a certain amount of bombast every day, sometimes they get tripped up. But rarely is the nonsense coming out of their mouths so quickly proven false.

Harboring vague thoughts of anti-government mayhem may mean the Justice Department labels you a criminal. So I'm intrigued to see how Fox covers the alleged homegrown terror cells in their special this weekend, Jihad USA. It promises to investigate the "emerging threat from people who have been radicalized by extreme Muslim doctrine within the U.S."

Well, one such case of alleged domestic terrorism is the "Liberty City 7" trial , which now rests in the hands of a jury—again. The first trial for the Miami-area men accused of plotting to blow up the Sears Tower in 2006 ended in a mistrial, partly because there was little concrete evidence the men were serious about the plot and because FBI collaborators provided many of the materials needed to complete it. The jury so far has spent four hours in deliberation, and will return on Monday to continue.

If Fox's preview of the documentary, in which the Miami case is discussed, is to be believed, then Jihad USA will be one-sided indeed. Fox anchor and Jihad USA host E.D. Hill says the documentary "will frighten you, but it will inform you." I don't doubt Jihad USA will be frightening, but informative? If the hysterical tone of the preview is any indication, probably not.

As much opprobrium as is being heaped on Obama's pastor Rev. Wright these days, what about the black folks who aren't speaking up? If anyone with an African forebear is black, and blacks are assumed to feel some sort of kinship with each other, how can any blacks take part in the Beijing Olympics this summer?

Of course, my argument is that 'black' is meaningless unless its disparate communities can be shown to overlap politically or culturally and, most of all, demonstrate some sort of allegiance to each other. I wish all 'blacks' did, but we don't. So what's the point in demanding that the label be applied to all of us when it comes to protests, but not on the ground when a discrete group of non-native born blacks are getting their asses kicked for the crime of being black?

We didn't fight for the Haitian boat people, qua blacks. We didn't fight for Rwanda, nor against the Darfur genocide. Steven Spielberg pulled out as artistic director of the Beijing Olympics (and adopted a black child), but multi-millionaire black athletes are taking the fifth on China's crimes lest their marketability drop even a tad. China is Sudan's largest investor, a country which is at war with its 'black' population. It even enslaves them. If 'black' has any meaning, where is the black outcry against China's investment in genocide against Sudan's blacks?

mojo-photo-bruno.jpgWhat I wouldn't give to have seen this. Apparently, Kansas is the first known location for Sacha Baron Cohen's new movie Brüno, the "sequel" to Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, and the expected run-ins with the local populace have started to hit the news. Dateline: Wichita, and the amazingly-named Mid-Continent Airport (like, why not just call it "Bumfuck Airplane Place"?). The Bruno people got permission to film inside the airport, reportedly claiming to be from German TV, as one does (although Brüno is supposed to be Austrian). Things seemed fine, until they turned their cameras on, according to the Wichita Eagle:

The film crew tossed off their coats and did some "kissing" and "fighting" in the hallway leading to the security area at the airport. The security officer called his chief. His chief watched the live security surveillance and reported that no laws were being broken. "At that point, we didn't feel like we had any law enforcement issues," said [assistant director of airport operations Brad] Christopher, who was dealing with the situation that day. But it was "inappropriate," he said. Christopher asked the crew to leave, and the crew left peacefully. "We felt like we were deceived, lied to about the intent and what their true intents and plans were for this film," Christopher said. He said several other locations in Wichita were also targeted.

So, other than "kissing" and "fighting," what, exactly, was inappropriate?

mojo-staff-picks-250x250.jpgWelcome back to the "staff picks" shelf at The Riff. R.E.M.'s new album, Accelerate, is due out on Tuesday, April 1. In preparation for this event, Kiera's selections this week (numbers 2 and 3 on the playlist) both have to do with the storied Athens band.

1. "Red and Purple," The Dodos: Their March 18 release, Visiter, combines sort of a punk attitude (using shoes outfitted with tambourines) with, the band would probably hate me for saying so, pretty melodies, that I want to keep listening to.

2. "Orange Crush," Editors: A mellow cover of R.E.M.'s classic. The Editors are British. Do they even have Orange Crush over there?

3. "Dazzling Display," Steve Wynn: Turns out R.E.M. has an imeem playlist, and this one's on it. Peter Buck + Dream Syndicate=pretty cool.

4. "Bodysnatchers," Radiohead: I know, you're tired of hearing about Radiohead, right? I'm recommending this track anyway. This song is revved-up tension that is pretty and strange at the same time.


Happy happy joy joy. Wal-Mart has lost its claim that it alone owns the smiley face. Last week, a federal judge ruled that the websites Walocaust and Wal-Qaeda have the right to spoof the company's smiley-face logo. It's not the first time the chain has wrangled over possession of the vapidly feel-good '70s icon; in 2006 a French businessman who claimed to have invented it tried to block Wal-Mart's attempt to trademark it. (The real creator of the smiley actually appears to be this guy—and not Forrest Gump, either.) The store won that round, saving us from the disaster that would have been Freedom Smileys. But at least the French smileys would have been allowed to unionize.

greenworks-dilutable.gifThe Sierra Club voted this week to suspend its entire 35,000-member Florida chapter for four years and removed the chapter's leadership. The reason? The chapter openly criticized the Club's decision to partner with Clorox for Clorox's new "Green Works" line of "natural" cleaning products.

The dispute between the Florida chapter and the national organization started in December, when Sierra Club's national board of directors overrode the Club's Corporate Relations Committee to approve the deal with Clorox. So far, details about the exact nature of the agreement have not been revealed, except for the fact that Clorox will pay the Sierra Club for its sponsorship and the use of its logo on Green Works products, with the exact amount depending on product sales.

An interesting point to consider as you digest McCain's hero-heavy entrée into the world of general election advertising, from Matt Stoller, via The Plank:

1992, 1996, 2000, and 2004 all saw the candidate without military service elected over the candidate who had served, in several cases heroically.

One could argue that Vietnam is a bigger part of John McCain's persona and appeal than it was of Al Gore's when he ran for president. And while John Kerry made a big deal of his wartime service, it essentially got dismantled by the Swiftboat folks. I'm not denying the trend; just saying we should be on the lookout for a possible exception this time around.

This past week, all three presidential candidates gave major speeches on housing and the economy. Hillary Clinton highlighted her extensive work on the subprime housing crisis and Barack Obama emphasized a modernization of the institutions that regulate the financial industry for the federal government. John McCain, in a widely panned speech, offered no new proposals on either subject. In late January, McCain told reporters, "Even if the economy is the, quote, No. 1 issue, the real issue will remain America's security… I am running because of the transcendental challenge of the 21st century, which is radical Islamic extremism."

Clinton and Obama's speeches, though they had slightly different focuses, underscore the difference between the Democrats and the sole Republican in terms of economic aptitude.

Both Clinton and Obama said that trouble on Wall Street eventually hurts Main Street, and vice versa. Both offered sympathy to families going through foreclosures and tough love for bankers and financial types who rode mortgage-backed securities to ruin. Obama was willing to say plainly "our economy is in a recession," while Clinton went only so far as to say "our economy is in serious trouble."

Clinton claimed that she's been on the subprime hunt for a while now, and she's right. In March 2007, she told the National Community Reinvestment Coalition that she wanted to expand and reinvigorate the Federal Housing Authority, so it could offer "more mortgages at better rates." She also called for "more counseling and information" for potential homeowners, so they could avoid high-interest loans. Shortly thereafter she introduced the 21st Century Housing Act, a bill which, if it were to become law, would use these proposals and others to address the subprime mortgage crisis.