Blogs

NYT Plays Fact-Checker

| Tue Jul. 8, 2008 3:03 PM EDT

And does it well. Robert Pear's article absolutely shreds John McCain's plan to balance the budget with tax cuts and pixie dust.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Denver's Black National Anthem Mistake

| Tue Jul. 8, 2008 2:40 PM EDT

Apparently, some jazz singer decided to hijack a political event in Denver and sing the Negro National Anthem instead of, you know, the American one. The one she'd been asked (though for no pay) to sing.

Rene Marie specifically tied her act of supposed civil disobedience to Obama's upcoming August visit. If she thought he'd be pleased, she was just as wrong as when her tiny brain suggested she 'go there' in the first place. What is up with folks like her and Rev. Wright?

A Great Observation About Washington from (Duh) Henry Waxman

| Tue Jul. 8, 2008 10:59 AM EDT

Henry Waxman may try to eliminate Karl Roves from future White Houses. Why, he observes, should the presidential administration be able to use federal funds to pay a nakedly political staffer whose only job is to position the president for reelection? Congress isn't allowed such luxuries. Waxman put it this way to The Hill:

"Why should we be using taxpayer dollars to have a person solely in charge of politics in the White House? Can you imagine the reaction if each member of Congress had a campaign person paid for with taxpayer dollars?"

Right on, brother.


Diplomacy at Its Finest

| Tue Jul. 8, 2008 10:52 AM EDT

Heckuva job:

An embarrassed White House apologized on Tuesday for an "unfortunate mistake" -- the distribution of less-than-flattering biography of Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi at the Group of Eight summit. Still, the gaffe led to headlines in Italy.
The summary of Berlusconi was buried in a nearly inch-thick tome of background that the White House distributed at the summit of major economic powers. The press kit was handed out to the White House traveling press corps.
The biography described Berlusconi as one of the "most controversial leaders in the history of a country known for government corruption and vice."

The bio went on to say that after Berlusconi took office, "he and his fellow Forza Italia Party leaders soon found themselves accused of the very corruption he had vowed to eradicate." Who wants to bet George gets an extra thorough security check on his first post-presidency trip to Rome?

Idiocy or Intentional Media Manipulation: Jonah Goldberg Edition

| Tue Jul. 8, 2008 10:43 AM EDT

If you heard Barack Obama say that he wants to "set a goal for all American middle and high school students to perform 50 hours of service a year, and for all college students to perform 100 hours of service a year," would this be your response?

There's a weird irony at work when Sen. Barack Obama, the black presidential candidate who will allegedly scrub the stain of racism from the nation, vows to run afoul of the constitutional amendment that abolished slavery.
For those who don't remember, the 13th Amendment says: "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime … shall exist within the United States."
I guess in Obama's mind it must be a crime to be born or to go to college.

You would if you were the author of this book.

Iraqi PM: I Want a Timetable

| Tue Jul. 8, 2008 10:09 AM EDT

What degree of agency do we give the Iraqi government? The AP:

Iraq's prime minister said Monday his country wants some type of timetable for a withdrawal of American troops included in the deal the two countries are negotiating.
It was the first time that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has explicitly and publicly called for a withdrawal timetable — an idea opposed by President Bush.
He offered no details. But his national security adviser, Mouwaffak al-Rubaie, told The Associated Press that the government is proposing a timetable conditioned on the ability of Iraqi forces to provide security.

This is more a change in rhetoric than a change in substance. A timetable for withdrawal tied to unspecified benchmarks of Iraqi troop readiness is a recipe for staying in the country indefinitely. But it does represent a break from the Bush Administration, and if Maliki backs up this new language with specifics, we'll have a situation on our hands.

Obama, for the record, wants combat troops out in 16 months. I wonder if in his upcoming trip to Iraq, he'll meet with Maliki.

Update: Bush's statement on the sovereignty of the Iraqi government after the jump.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Smart Energy = No More Wall Warts

| Tue Jul. 8, 2008 2:07 AM EDT

Surge_protector.jpg

Wall warts are those external power adapters that come with everything electronic these days. We know they suck. First of all, they're energy vampires, sucking 4 percent of all electricity used in the average US home even when they're not in use. They consume 52 billion kilowatt hours of power annually, the same amount of energy produced by 20 average-size power plants.

They also suck in terms of design. Many are too big and use up both sockets. Some are too heavy to stay in their sockets.

Doug Palmer of Calit2 at UCSD thinks there's a better way. He's designing a prototype for a Universal Power Adapter, or uPower adapter, a "smart" device that would supply both power and communications to consumer electronics.

Palmer's adapter would serve as a single power supply for one or more mobile devices, "requesting" the voltage needed, when needed, and delivering that and nothing more. This makes sense when you think that many modern electronics use only 3 to 12 volts yet have to deal with wall sockets that deliver 220 or 100. In theory, even hybrid cars could be plugged into the uPower adapter.

The smart design might also improve conditions in the developing world. Palmer is collaborating with Calit2's India Initiative, which works with the Indian government, universities, and NGOs to create collaborative projects. One of India's most pressing needs is reliable energy in a country that lacks a reliable power grid. Paired with a low-cost solar panel, the uPower adapter might provide lighting to some of India's 1 billion for the first time.

See? When we actually use our much-vaunted intelligence, the future looks better.

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

Hoax Alert: Bizarre "McCain Adviser" Too Good to Be True

| Mon Jul. 7, 2008 10:29 PM EDT

homer-simpson-doh.jpg A few hours ago, we (okay, I) posted a blog about a man claiming to be a McCain adviser who made ridiculous comments on Iraqi television about building a casino in the Baghdad Green Zone. In addition to the inherent absurdity of it, there was a lot of arrogance, cultural insensitivity, and racism thrown in. Other blogs had posted on the guy, and when I checked him out before posting I found his blog and a foreign policy institute claiming his employ. Turns out the blog and institute, like the adviser, were an elaborate hoax. It didn't help that the guy, in creating his fictional foreign policy expert, closely mimicked the name of a real foreign policy expert.

Here's why I got taken: I received an emailed press release reporting that the supposed McCain adviser had apologized for his comments about the casino. You're welcome to disagree with me, but I had no reason to believe that someone would invent a persona, a blog, a foreign policy institution, a video with a fake Iraqi television station, a press release, and an organization or email entity to send out said press release.

But frankly, there was enough info on the web that I should have sussed this thing out. This is a long way of saying I apologize and that I'm more than a little ashamed. I've taken the post down. Kudos to the inventor of this whole thing. My only consolation is that if I had as much time on my hands as he clearly does, I probably would have figured this out and saved myself a fair amount of embarrassment.

America's Coral Reefs Declining

| Mon Jul. 7, 2008 9:10 PM EDT

398px-PillarCoral.jpg Not good news. NOAA reports that half of US coral reef ecosystems are in poor or fair shape. This includes reefs in the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Navassa Island, Florida, Flower Garden Banks, the Hawaiian Islands, American Samoa, the Pacific Remote Islands, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam and Palau.

The nation's coral reefs face intense threats from development, overfishing, run-off from the land, and recreational use. Even the most remote reefs suffer from marine debris, illegal fishing, and climate change problems, including coral bleaching, coral diseases, and ocean acidification.

More than 270 researchers authored the 15 chapters of the 569-page report, grading the ecosystems' health as excellent, good, fair, poor or unknown. They note that US reefs have been declining for decades. Since the last status report in 2005, two coral species, Elkhorn and Staghorn, have become the first corals ever listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

One thing's for sure, we're going to leave behind tons of documents detailing exactly how the the world got frakked while we awaited the anti-Bush.

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

McCain Complains About Congressional Recess After Missing 367 Votes

| Mon Jul. 7, 2008 5:39 PM EDT

This seems legitimate...

McCain took Congress to task for taking a July 4 recess without completing action on a housing rescue plan, calling it "incredible that Congress should go on vacation while Americans are trying to stay in their homes."

...until you realize that John McCain has missed 367 votes in the 110th Congress. He is the most absent member of the Senate.