2008 - %3, June

Dov Charney Doesn't Mean the C-Word Pejoratively

| Tue Jun. 3, 2008 12:59 PM EDT

dov-charney.jpgWhile I have blogged before about the ridiculous sexism of American Apparel CEO and founder Dov Charney, I was hoping not to have to repeat myself. Unfortunately, aging hipster Charney has been sued—yet again—by a female employee.

Former product placement executive Jeneleen Floyd has sued 38-year-old Charney for screaming at her and demanding she "pretend to masturbate" in front of coworkers. Floyd declined, but a different employee simulated masturbation while Charney pretended to engage in an oral sex act with him. According to the lawsuit filed last week, Charney verbally castigated Floyd during off-work hours and demanded she work until midnight as retribution for her actions.

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Waxman Writes Attorney General, Seeking Information on Cheney's Alleged Role in Plame Outting

| Tue Jun. 3, 2008 12:47 PM EDT

New revelations from former White House press secretary Scott McClellan have prompted House Oversight and Government Reform committee chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) to write to Attorney General Michael Mukasey, seeking documents concerning White House officials' role in the outting of former CIA officer Valerie Plame. In particular, Waxman is seeking an unredacted transcript of Vice President Dick Cheney's interview with the FBI concerning his possible role in the matter.

"It appears from the interview reports that Vice President Cheney personally may have been the source of the information that Ms. Wilson worked for the CIA," Waxman writes. " Mr. Libby specifically identified the Vice President as the source of his information about Ms. Wilson."

"New revelations by former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan raise additional questions about the actions of the President and the Vice President," Waxman continues. "Mr. McClellan has stated that '[t]he President and Vice President directed me to go out there and exonerate Scooter Libby.' He has also asserted that 'the top White House officials who knew the truth — including Rove, Libby, and possibly Vice President Cheney — allowed me, even encouraged me, to repeat a lie.' It would be a major breach of trust if the Vice President personally directed Mr. McClellan to mislead the public."

Below, excerpts from Waxman's letter to Mukasey:

AP: Clinton to Acknowledge Obama Has Delegates to Win; Clinton Camp: That's False

| Tue Jun. 3, 2008 11:01 AM EDT

The AP is reporting that Clinton will acknowledge in her speech following the South Dakota and Montana primaries tonight that Obama has the delegates needed for the Democratic Party nomination. Terry McAuliffe said on NBC this morning that when Obama gets the delegates for the nomination, Clinton will concede. That suggests Clinton will shut down her campaign or suspend her campaign tonight.

Yet, McAuliffe just went on CNN and said, "the race goes on." He insisted that Clinton will only drop out or suspend her campaign when Obama officially gets 2,118. The Clinton campaign sent out a blitz to reporters backing McAuliffe up and saying Clinton will not concede tonight. But all of this insistence that the race doesn't end tonight is a bit silly. It will probably end tomorrow or Thursday, when Obama gets enough superdelegates to push him over the edge.

And finally, I want to reiterate something I said yesterday. When Obama gets to 2,117, every undeclared superdelegate in America is going to be calling David Axelrod hoping to be the deciding vote. I'll bet the campaign groups a whole bunch together in order to avoid a melee.

Update: AP also reporting that Obama has asked for a meeting with Clinton "on her terms" for "after the dust settles." Let the healing begin.

Hey, a Moment of Intellectual Honesty Out of Bill Kristol

| Tue Jun. 3, 2008 10:03 AM EDT

My thoughts on Bill Kristol are usually condemnatory, so I was pleasantly surprised when he defended Obama's national security credentials recently. Here he is at an AIPAC conference explaining that there are few major differences between Obama and McCain on foreign policy.

"There are actually no disputes of that nature...with the exception of Iraq this time. Obama's not for cutting the defense budget; Obama's not for pulling troops back from our forward positions around the world, with the exception of Iraq. Obama and McCain don't actually differ, at least on paper, even on Iran, where they're arguing about whether they would talk to [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad or not -- and I think that's an important dispute. Still, at the end of the day, Obama doesn't say he would rule out the use of force. McCain certainly is committed as he said this morning to trying to increase economic pressure on Iran, which Obama has also talked about."

Now, Kristol's not entirely correct here. Obama opposed the Senate amendment that classified Iran's Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization. He is open to a softening of American policy toward Cuba. He generally sees a larger role for diplomacy than McCain, and rejects the bellicosity of the Bush Administration's foreign policy, while McCain embraces it. He rejects conventional wisdom on international issues. John McCain seems to embody it.

But the strategic thing for Kristol to do would be to be paint Obama as weaker than McCain on defense. So weak in fact that he endangers American (and Israeli!) security. McCain said just this yesterday, but Kristol declined in his AIPAC comments. So in the interest of giving credit where it's due, kudos to Kristol.

Clinton Signaling Strong Interest in VP Slot?

| Tue Jun. 3, 2008 9:26 AM EDT

From CNN:

Sen. Hillary Clinton is poised to deliver a message Tuesday "that she will do whatever it takes" to put a Democrat in the White House — a message that Barack Obama insiders say indicates she would accept an offer to be Obama's running mate if asked.
"In her speech tomorrow night, she will convey the message that first and foremost she is committed to Democrats winning in November and will do whatever she's asked to do," a close friend and adviser of the former first lady, who speaks with her regularly and is privy to her deliberations, told CNN Monday.
"She will do whatever it takes to bring the party together to win and whatever is asked of her to make sure the Republicans are defeated."
That message has been conveyed to the Obama campaign via informal channels, according to Obama insiders who said the message is a signal that she would be willing to serve as his vice president.

What to make of this report from a week and a half ago? Was it completely erroneous?

Top Scientists Call For Swift, Deep Carbon Cuts

| Mon Jun. 2, 2008 8:46 PM EDT

sci_econ_letter_chip.jpg In an open online letter, more than 1,700 of America's leading scientists and economists call on policymakers to legislate immediate, deep reductions in global warming emissions. The letter comes as the Senate begins to debate the Lieberman-Warner climate bill—which already fails to match the cutbacks advised in the letter. The online statement includes the signatures of six Nobel Prize winners and 31 members of the National Academy of Sciences, and marks the first time leading US scientists and economists have joined to make an appeal to policymakers. "We call on our nation's leaders to swiftly establish and implement policies to bring about deep reductions in heat-trapping emissions. The strength of the science on climate change compels us to warn the nation about the growing risk of irreversible consequences as global average temperatures continue to increase over pre-industrial levels. As temperatures rise further, the scope and severity of global warming impacts will continue to accelerate."

Nevertheless, the GOP, those Grand Old Peabrains, threaten to filibuster, while Bush, the mastermicromind, promises to veto. Think of this week's efforts by the Senate as a kind of paid rehearsal for the really big legislative battles that will supposedly consume their senatorial calories sometime in the coming years… As for those concerned that a dress rehearsal and a long debate aren't swift enough or deep enough, here are a few highlights from the many voices included the letter:

"Investing now in energy efficiency and low-carbon technologies not only will create new business opportunities, but is also likely to be less expensive than a crash program to implement these solutions at a future date, when it will be more difficult to limit climate impacts"—Anthony C. Fisher, University of California Berkeley... "The future of our society depends on effectively managing and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Public and private research and development support for these efforts will allow us to transition to a carbon-neutral energy system that improves both environmental quality and economic growth"—Gordon Rausser, former chief economist of the US Agency for International Development.

The letter ends almost plaintively: "A strong U.S. commitment to reduce emissions is essential to drive international climate progress. Voluntary initiatives to date have proven insufficient. We urge U.S. policy makers to put our nation onto a path today to reduce emissions on the order of 80 percent below 2000 levels by 2050. The first step on this path should be reductions on the order of 15-20 percent below 2000 levels by 2020, which is achievable and consistent with sound economic policy. There is no time to waste. The most risky thing we can do is nothing."

Julia Whitty is Mother Jones' environmental correspondent, lecturer, and 2008 winner of the Kiriyama Prize and the John Burroughs Medal Award.

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Myanmar Guilty of "Criminal Neglect," Says Gates

| Mon Jun. 2, 2008 4:14 PM EDT

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It's now been a month since Cyclone Nargis swamped the Burmese coast, inundating huge swaths of the low-lying Irrawaddy Delta and killing as many as 134,000 people. A further two million living amidst the flood damage are now at risk of disease, with tens of thousands facing the immediate threat of starvation, according to humanitarian NGOs.

Speaking at a security conference held in Singapore over the weekend, Defense Secretary Robert Gates accused Burma's military government of "criminal neglect" and warned that "unless the regime changes its approach, more people will die."

Some NGOs, frustrated with the pace of relief operations, are urging the U.S. military to launch a series of unilateral relief missions, with or without Burma's permission. (The moral dilemma at issue brings to mind a similar case, circa 2003, in which some humanitarians found themselves applauding the U.S. invasion of Iraq that toppled Saddam Hussein.)

But Gates, acknowledging that "it's becoming pretty clear that the regime there is not going to let us help," ruled out the possibility. "There is great sensitivity all over the world to violating a country's sovereignty, and particularly in the absence of some kind of U.N. umbrella," he said. Gates went on to deny that the American experience in Iraq had anything to do with its reluctance to go it alone.

Be that as it may, relief work is front and center in the Pentagon's emerging war on terrorism strategy. In my most recent piece for Mother Jones, I described a November 2005 policy statement, Directive 3000.05, which states clearly and for the first time that stability operations—Pentagon-speak for relief and humanitarian work—now rank of equal importance to combat missions. Already Burma has allowed 95 U.S. military relief sorties, carrying 1.5 million pounds of supplies, to land in the city of Yangon. But the far larger payload of humanitarian supplies now waiting aboard a fleet of U.S. naval ships (led by the USS Essex, pictured above, which alone carries 22 helicopters), has not been cleared for delivery. Helicopters could deliver supplies directly to where they are needed, but that, it seems, is the problem: the military regime fears any direct contact between its population and the U.S. military.

Bo Diddley Dies at 79

| Mon Jun. 2, 2008 2:38 PM EDT

mojo-photo-diddley.jpgLegendary guitarist Bo Diddley has died at age 79. The AP calls him "a founding father of rock 'n' roll whose distinctive 'shave and a haircut, two bits' rhythm and innovative guitar effects inspired legions of other musicians," while Billboard notes his contribution to the essential ingredients of contemporary music, saying his fuzzy, distorted guitar sound "perfectly complimented his frenetic songs, which he played on a homemade square guitar while decked out in dark sunglasses and a black hat. Similarly, his rhythmic, boastful vocal style predated rap by several decades." Across the pond, the UK Guardian also acknowledges Diddley's influence, saying his "signature "hambone" beat provided one of the original and most enduring rhythms in rock… [and provided] the foundations from which many musicians - including the British invasion bands of the 1960s - have built."

After the jump, some videos.

McClellan and Me, Part II: Did I Shift from Target to Influence?

| Mon Jun. 2, 2008 11:01 AM EDT

Did I help motivate Scott McClellan to write his book blasting the Bush White House as a den of disingenuousness?

Over the weekend, Politico published McClellan's original proposal for his book. (Hat tip to Ryan Grim, who's written for Mother Jones, for snatching this scoop.) In the proposal McClellan promised, "I will look at what is behind the media hostility toward the President and his Administration, and how much of it is rooted in a liberal bias."

Yes, that ol' "liberal bias." McClellan promised to skewer the media for being run by out-of-touch left-leaning journalists:

Fairness is defined by the establishment media within the left-of-center boundaries they set. They defend their reporting as fair because both sides are covered. But, how fair can it be when it is within the context of the liberal slant of the reporting? And, while the reporting of the establishment media may be based on true statements and facts, is it an accurate picture of what is really happening? And, how much influence do the New York Times and Washington Post have in shaping the coverage? And, why does the media do such a poor job of holding itself to account, or acknowledging their own mistakes?

But, McClellan said in the proposal he would go beyond an examination of the MSMers:

In addition to covering the above issues and questions, I will get into the influence of activist liberal reporters, like Keith Olbermann, Nation editor David Corn, and Washington Post blogger Dan Froomkin, and activist liberal media personalities, like Cindy Sheehan, Michael Moore, Al Franken, Bill Maher, and Arianna Huffington.

Well, in the end, it seems that I might have had some influence on McClellan, whom I tangled with at the White House. In two books, The Lies of George W. Bush and Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War (the latter co-written with Michael Isikoff on Newsweek), I documented how the Bush administration wielded false information and half-truths (at best) as part of a PR campaign to win public support for the invasion of Iraq. That is exactly what McClellan describes and criticizes in his own book. By the way, the subtitle of my first Bush book was "Mastering the Politics of Deception." What's McClellan's subtitle? "Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception."

So what happened to that "liberal bias." Once outside of the White House bubble, McClellan seems to have discovered that--guess what?--it was closer to the truth than his own press briefings.

Even Utah Not Thrilled to See Bush

| Mon Jun. 2, 2008 10:33 AM EDT

Boy, did I get an earful from my mother this weekend! Not because I haven't come to visit lately, but because the president has. My parents live in Park City, Utah, which last week played host for a few hours to George W. Bush. When I spoke to my mom on Saturday, she was still fuming that Bush had some nerve coming to her town, mucking up traffic, forcing kids to stay out of school, scaring people with helicopters, and then sticking the local taxpayers with $30,000 in security costs, all so Bush can raise money for John McCain, who is afraid to be seen in public with him. What really irked my mom was that just two days after Memorial Day, not a second of Bush's visit involved paying a brief sympathy call to one of the many families in Utah who've lost loved ones in Iraq. Instead, Bush spent his time at the vacation manse of Mitt Romney, chatting up people who'd paid $35,000 a piece to get in the door.

My mom, admittedly a huge Hillary Clinton supporter, was practically spitting as she described how Bush and his enormous entourage that included no fewer than five military helicopters not only failed to meet a single non-donating peon during his visit, but also occupied 80 rooms at the exclusive Stein Erikson Lodge in Deer Valley, where suites even in the off-season will set you back $600 a night. The lodge is the most expensive, swanky resort in all of Park City, with twice-daily maid service, European spa offerings, four-star restaurants, and access to many mountain bike trails.