Blogs

List of Republicans Calling BS on ACORN Voter Fraud Allegations Growing

| Fri Oct. 17, 2008 11:21 AM EDT

First the Republican Governor of Florida broke with Republican talking points on this ACORN voter fraud business (here's a primer on the ACORN kerfuffle). Now fired US Attorney David Iglesias, who got the boot in part because he refused to pursue trumped up voter fraud charges against groups like ACORN, agrees.

David Iglesias says he's shocked by the news, leaked today to the Associated Press, that the FBI is pursuing a voter-fraud investigation into ACORN just weeks before the election.
"I'm astounded that this issue is being trotted out again," Iglesias told TPMmuckraker. "Based on what I saw in 2004 and 2006, it's a scare tactic." In 2006, Iglesias was fired as U.S. attorney thanks partly to his reluctance to pursue voter-fraud cases as aggressively as DOJ wanted -- one of several U.S. attorneys fired for inappropriate political reasons, according to a recently released report by DOJ's Office of the Inspector General.
Iglesias, who has been the most outspoken of the fired U.S. attorneys, went on to say that the FBI's investigation seemed designed to inappropriately create a "boogeyman" out of voter fraud.

Let's call this what it is: a massive and well-coordinated attempt to (1) discredit groups that register low-income voters and (2) lay the groundwork for a post-election delegitimization of Obama's victory. It's pre-spin.

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Fox News Is Critical of McCain? "Elites!"

| Fri Oct. 17, 2008 10:41 AM EDT

Here's a lesson in how right-wing messaging works. Rush Limbaugh and Fox News are obviously simpatico most of the time. But of late Bill Kristol, a regular Fox News contributor, has been critical of McCain, and a panel of Fox News pundits including Kristol, Nina Easton, Mort Kondrake, and Juan Williams panned McCain's recent debate performance. So what is Limbaugh's reaction?

LIMBAUGH: The Fox All-Stars, they're not America. They have become elites.

Let's get real. Nothing fundamental has changed about Kristol, Easton, Kondrake, and Williams in the last two weeks. They are the same people with the same political principles. But they are no longer full-throated supporters of the cause, so they get labeled elites. Regardless, of course, of the legitimacy of the term. This is how the right operates.

You know what's particularly funny? Limbaugh immediately follows his accusation about the Fox News contributors by saying this: "You don't know how hard this is for me to say folks, Roger Ailes is one of my closest friends. … Saw him this weekend, I spend a lot of social time with him." You can see the video here.

Roger Ailes is the president of Fox News and a former media consultant for Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George H. W. Bush. Sounds like pretty elite company to me, Rush.

Would Republicans Accuse Joe the Plumber of Voter Fraud?

| Fri Oct. 17, 2008 3:32 AM EDT

Originally published on the Guardian's "On the Road to the White House" blog, a project of Guardian Films

Under the GOP's current vote suppression strategy in Ohio, McCain's now famous icon might have had a hard time casting a ballot. In a case that has now gone to the Supreme Court for review, Republicans in the state are challenging the registrations of all new voters whose names and other information do not exactly match those in government databases. It turns out that one of the present Ohio voters who could have fallen into this category is Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher—or is it Worzelbacher?—otherwise known as Joe the Plumber.

The man John McCain lionized in Wednesday night's debate has since had every aspect of his life scrutinized by the media. They've uncovered some contradictory facts, to say the least: He's not really a plumber, he probably wouldn't pay more taxes under Obama if he bought his business, and he hasn't actually paid some of the taxes he already owes. He's also registered to vote under a different name.

The New York Times politics blog The Caucus yesterday included the following piece of information:

Mr. Wurzelbacher is registered to vote in Lucas County under the name Samuel Joseph Worzelbacher.
"We have his named spelled W-O, instead of W-U," Linda Howe, executive director of the Lucas County Board of Elections, said in a telephone interview. "Handwriting is sometimes hard to read. He has never corrected it in his registration card."
The records, she said, showed he voted Republican in the March primary.

Last Stronghold For Chimps Fails

| Fri Oct. 17, 2008 1:07 AM EDT

490px-MattiParkkonen_chimpanze1.jpg Some days you just gotta cry.

A population survey of West African chimpanzees living in Côte d'Ivoire found 90 percent fewer animals than 18 years ago. The remaining few are highly fragmented, with only one viable population living in Taï National Park.

What's happened? Well, the human population in Cote d'Ivoire has increased nearly 50 percent in 18 years. Add to that a civil war since 2002, and the end of surveillance in the protected areas, and, voilà, the sad end of our closest relatives.

Côte d'Ivoire was one of the final strongholds for West African chimps. Geneviève Campbell of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology suggests their status should immediately be raised to critically endangered on the IUCN Red List. The study appears in Current Biology.

This is one of those days.

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

Antidote to Too Much Politics on the Riff: M.I.A. Update!

| Thu Oct. 16, 2008 10:11 PM EDT

mojo-photo-miapreg.jpgSure, I'm as guilty as anyone. All of us here tend to get all whipped up into a frenzy every time something silly about Palin pops up over at HuffPo, for instance, but come on, doesn't that say "Arts & Culture" up there under "The Riff"? Commenters (and even other MoJo contributors!) may find this arty little blog a lightweight intrusion into their serious non-profit matters, but I say we take a breather from the campaign and focus on what's really important: what M.I.A.'s been up to. OMG, she's got a wee Arulpragasam in the oven! The singer confirmed her pregnancy to Pitchfork, naturally, over the weekend, saying she's "creating a baby," assumedly with the help of her fiancé Ben Brewer. By the way, not only is Brewer the singer for New York band the Exit, he's also the son of Warner Music Group CEO Edgar Bronfman. Hmm, is M.I.A. pulling a McCain, marrying up, for a little bit of—oh, damn, sorry, I promised I wouldn't talk about politics.

Back to M.I.A.: while the singer grabbed headlines when she appeared to announce her retirement onstage at Bonaroo in June, she emerged from this brief hiatus on Saturday at a Diesel-sponsored shindig in New York to do a few numbers as well as her part in T.I.'s amazing "Swagga Like Us." The party, which also featured Franz Ferdinand and N.E.R.D., was apparently the hottest ticket of the year, with thousands (!) of partygoers reduced to tears when they couldn't get in. Vulture's roundup of the event positively oozes with self-satisfaction at being one of the lucky V.I.P.'s who made it inside, but I admit I'm secreting massive amounts of jealousy. Ahem.

After the jump: More about M.I.A.!!!

The Shah and Us

| Thu Oct. 16, 2008 9:54 PM EDT

THE SHAH AND US....Here's a bit of interesting historical work on the roots of the Iranian revolution:

A new report based on previously classified documents suggests that the Nixon and Ford administrations created conditions that helped destabilize Iran in the late 1970s and contributed to the country's Islamic Revolution.

....The report, after two years of research by scholar Andrew Scott Cooper, zeros in on the role of White House policymakers — including Donald H. Rumsfeld, then a top aide to President Ford — hoping to roll back oil prices and curb the shah's ambitions, despite warnings by then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger that such a move might precipitate the rise of a "radical regime" in Iran.

....Analysts and historians often contend that President Carter, a Democrat, fumbled Iran, allowing the country to eventually become one of the chief U.S. opponents in the region. But the report suggests that his Republican predecessors not only contributed to the shah's fall but also were inching toward a realignment with Saudi Arabia as the key U.S. ally in the Persian Gulf.

....We should get credit for what happened at [OPEC's Doha summit in December 1976]," Kissinger told Ford. "I have said all along the Saudis were the key. . . . Our great diplomacy is what did it."

But it would prove to be a Pyrrhic victory....The shah's government, shaken by the loss of oil revenue, imposed a harsh austerity budget that threw thousands out of work, collapsed investor confidence and panicked middle-class Iranians. Economic chaos and unemployment quickly spread.

Within a year of the Doha summit, the first mass demonstrations that grew into revolution broke out on the streets of the Iranian capital.

The collapse of oil prices in the mid-80s, also engineered by the Saudis, was one of the key factors in the disintegration of the Soviet Union. So apparently Saudi Arabia can claim at least partial credit for both the rise of the Iranian revolution and the fall of communism. Not bad for a country with a population of 20 million or so.

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Recapitalization

| Thu Oct. 16, 2008 9:18 PM EDT

RECAPITALIZATION....Via a link from John Quiggin, here's some raw data for you. It's several years old (too old to include data on Japan's banking crisis), but it includes historical data on the initial cost of recapitalizing banking systems after most of the other financial crises of the past few decades. Given the different nature of every crisis, and the different nature of small countries vs. big countries, it's hard to suggest that there's any kind of "average" recapitalization required after a banking collapse. Nonetheless, the historical records suggest that 5% of GDP would be a reasonable guess and 10% would hardly be out of line, especially given the epic nature of our current meltdown.

And how are we doing in comparison? So far the Treasury has committed $250 billion as part of the Paulson bailout plan and another $100 billion or so to Bear Stearns, AIG, and Fannie/Freddie. To get to 5% of GDP we'd need to increase that to $700 billion. To get to 10% we'd need to increase it to $1.4 trillion. Just some benchmarks to keep in mind.

Flaming the Geezer Vote: Attacks on John McCain's Age May Backfire

| Thu Oct. 16, 2008 8:58 PM EDT

Originally published on the Guardian's "On the road to the White House" blog, a project of Guardian Films

Every year, despite their purported senility and decrepitude, elderly people like myself somehow manage to hobble to the polls with their canes and walkers, or zip down in their golf carts or aging Cadillacs, and figure out which lever to pull or which little box to fill in. We are the most reliable group of voters in America. In 2004, people over the age of 65 made up more than a third of the voting age population, and what's more important, nearly 70% of them actually voted. In addition, seniors are a key segment of the vote in several vital swing states, including here in Nevada, as well as Florida and Pennsylvania.

With this in mind, attacking McCain on the basis of age is not just mean, it's dumb.

Weirdest. Mississippi Political Ad. Ever.

| Thu Oct. 16, 2008 8:37 PM EDT

Lately McCain and Palin (McCalin, if they were a celebrity couple) aren't the only leaders fanning the flames of prejudice among their constituents.

Mississippi's Exhibit A: Republican Sen. Roger Wicker's "zany" ad bashing Democratic rival Ronnie Musgrove for being supported by, (of all people!), The Gays. Who apparently all look like Village People, as imagineered by Walt Disney. (Oh, and cows also support Musgrove. We don't know why.)

Anyway, you can catch the rather surreal video here:

Can Halloween Mask Sales Predict the Election?

| Thu Oct. 16, 2008 7:19 PM EDT

Obama%20mask.jpgMcCain.jpg According to Fortune magazine, more than one Halloween mask retailer has claimed they can correctly predict who will win the White House. Spirit Halloween, the largest seasonal Halloween vendor in the US, says Bush outsold Kerry two to one in 2004, Gore sold 14 percent fewer masks in 2000, and Clinton masks won with 71 percent in 1996.

We decided to update Fortune's presidential mask findings for 2008 thus far; here's what we found.