Blogs

Clinton at Rushmore: Our Soundbite Culture Paralyzes

| Thu May 29, 2008 1:17 PM EDT

I find this interaction sad:

Clinton stood before the four former presidents [on Mount Rushmore] and listened in as a park ranger explained some of the history. At one point, she was asked if she could one day picture herself up there. She smirked and shook her head as she contemplated whether to offer a quick soundbite.
"I …" she started to say, before throwing her hands up.
"You think Bill Clinton should be up there?" another reporter asked.
"Why don't you learn something about the monument," Clinton finally said, before walking away to greet some more tourists.

Maybe Clinton is fatigued and frustrated and beleaguered. Maybe the soundbite-hungry nature of our culture, our technology, and our media weighed so heavily on her mind she was unable to say anything, paralyzed by the fear that she would again make instant, accidental, and unwanted news.

I don't know. Whatever the reason, I'm strongly and perhaps irrationally sympathetic.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

CA Gay Marriage Will Start June 17

| Wed May 28, 2008 10:11 PM EDT

The California state Office of Vital Records just announced that gay couples will be able to legally marry in the state starting June 17. The marriages, unless some legal impediment arises, will be valid until November, when a state-wide ballot gives Californians the opportunity to ban gay marriage. However, a poll released today showed that 51 percent of Californians approved of gay marriage, while only 41 percent disapproved. The remaining 7 percent had "no opinion."

If gay marriage stays legal in California, it may be a boon for everyone, not just the couples getting married. Gov. Schwarzenegger has already said that gay couples traveling to California to get married could provide a nice economic boost. California has the highest number of same-sex couples in the nation. If only a quarter of the 184,500 cohabiting, same-sex couples got married, it would mean 46,125 weddings. Multiply that by $27,852, the average cost of a wedding according to study by Conde Nast Bridal Group, and it would mean more than $1 billion for the state economy.

If you wanted to take things further, you could calculate in money saved by shared health care coverage, being bumped up a tax bracket on joint returns, and other similar measures, which could add up to more than $3 billion.

Gay marriage: good for the economy, bad for bigots.

The Similar Governing Philosophies of George W. Bush and Saddam Hussein

| Wed May 28, 2008 8:17 PM EDT

From the Politico story about Scott McClellan's new book:

Bush was "clearly irritated, … steamed," when McClellan informed him that chief economic adviser Larry Lindsey had told The Wall Street Journal that a possible war in Iraq could cost from $100 billion to $200 billion: "'It's unacceptable,' Bush continued, his voice rising. 'He shouldn't be talking about that.'"

From the CIA's 2004 report on Iraq's WMD:

Climate Change Hammering Land, Water, Farms, Biodiversity

| Wed May 28, 2008 6:50 PM EDT

395742119_89e6d6a97f.jpg Climate change is already affecting US agriculture, water resources, land resources, and biodiversity, and will continue to do so. This based on a new report—the synthesis of 13 federal research agencies and 38 authors from a variety of universities, national laboratories, non-governmental organizations, and federal services. That fact that so many government agencies are involved in this study—released by the US Department of Agriculture—is as much the news as the study itself. New Scientist quotes ecologist and author Anthony Janetos of the Joint Global Change Research Institute in College Park, Maryland: "The fact is, we're seeing lots of effects and impacts right now. These effects appear to be happening faster than expected, and the magnitude is bigger than expected. That's a surprise."

For example, climate change has already brought forward the start of spring growing seasons by as much as two weeks, and similar changes have occurred in the timing of bird migrations. Warmer conditions have also resulted in many plants and animals extending their geographic range further northward and higher up mountains. As climate change alters precipitation patterns, much of the eastern US has already become moister, while the west has become more arid. This means less winter snowpack in western mountains, and thus less snowmelt to keep rivers running cold and full in summertime. The higher stream temperatures are likely to put added stress on aquatic ecosystems.

You can access the final report in its entirety here. The highlights:

• Grain and oilseed crops will mature more rapidly, but increasing temperatures will increase the risk of crop failures, particularly if precipitation decreases or becomes more variable.

Pork: The Other Clear Nail Polish

| Wed May 28, 2008 5:00 PM EDT

Pork-pic-155x200.jpg

This is, of course, an ad for pork. I can't believe it took the industry this long to help us females make the important connection between clear nail polish and pork tenderloin.

Then again, maybe we should have figured this out on our own. I mean, after all, clear nail polish is the "estrogen equivalent of duct tape." As for a pork tenderloin, one "can fix just about anything with it lickity-split too—Asian Grilled Pork Tenderloin, Hawaiian Cobb Salad..." I mean, let's not mince words: you can basically forget about snaring a husband sans pork and polish.

Not sure which makes me gag more, the kicker ("The Other White Meat and clear nail polish. Two handy-dandy things I can't live without") or the very pink color of the raw pork in the ad, which if I am not mistaken looks unnaturally pink...

Found on Salon's women's blog, Broadsheet. Originally spotted on Copyranter.

Citizen's Arrest of Bolton Fails

| Wed May 28, 2008 4:42 PM EDT

Nothing came of this. From the Guardian:

As Bolton, a former US ambassador to the UN, ended his hour-long discussion at the Hay festival, Monbiot, who had earlier challenged him for alleged breaches of the post-war Nuremburg Principles, moved towards the stage waving a charge sheet.
But security staff, alerted by pre-publicity, intervened and bundled Monbiot out of the tent as 20 supporters chanted "war criminal" and waved placards. The comedian, Marcus Brigstocke, who tried to pursue Bolton as he left the other side of the tent, was also blocked by security staff.

How sadly anti-climactic.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

FOIA Works

| Wed May 28, 2008 4:37 PM EDT

The federal government firmly believes in the freedom of information.

Obama, Clinton Camps Make Case In Advance of Key DNC Meeting on FL and MI

| Wed May 28, 2008 4:01 PM EDT

On a conference call with reporters today, the Clinton campaign made it clear what it hopes to get out of the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee (RBC) meeting scheduled for this Saturday. The meeting, which is open to the press and will be covered by Mother Jones, seeks to resolve the controversy surrounding Michigan and Florida. "Delegate allocation must fairly reflect the popular vote," Clinton delegate counter Harold Ickes said over and over. Ickes statement summarizes the Clinton position: count the popular vote percentages exactly as they were filed back in January, even though Obama wasn't on the ballot in Michigan and neither candidate campaigned in Florida, and distribute the states' delegates accordingly.

But the delegates aren't really the secret to the their plans. Obama currently leads in pledged delegates 1659-1499. If you split Michigan's 128 delegates according to the vote count (55 percent for Clinton, 40 percent for "uncommitted"/Obama), Clinton nets 70 and Obama nets 51. The rest go to also-rans, primarily Kucinich. If you divide Florida's 185 delegates exactly as the popular vote went (50 percent for Clinton, 33 percent for Obama), Clinton gets 92 delegates to Obama's 42. The rest again go to also-rans, primarily Edwards this time.

Now this hypothetical doesn't factor in the possibility that the DNC will halve Michigan and Florida's delegations as punishment for moving their primaries ahead of Party-set limits, and to ensure that states don't repeat this fiasco in 2012. Instead, it counts the delegates exactly as Clinton wants.

Putting a Rumor to Rest

| Wed May 28, 2008 2:23 PM EDT

Yesterday, Asia Times ran a story saying 'Bush plans air strikes' on Iran by August. "After receiving secret briefings on the planned air strike, Senator Diane Feinstein, Democrat of California, and Senator Richard Lugar, Republican of Indiana, said they would write a New York Times op-ed piece 'within days', the source said last week, to express their opposition," the outlet reported, adding that the oped hadn't materialized.

I chased down Senator Lugar's spokesman today who told me the story is flat out untrue. Senator Lugar "wasn't briefed, there's no oped," says Andy Fischer, spokesman for Lugar, who is vice chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Fischer said he'd been getting calls about the bogus report for two days.

Trita Parsi, the head of the pro-engagement National Iranian American Council and a former Congressional staffer, tells me he too heard the rumor of Congressional briefing on Iran, but that the whole thing "doesn't make sense to me though." Parsi said.


Troubling (?) Webb and Obama Similarity

| Wed May 28, 2008 1:51 PM EDT

If you've been reading these interwebs at all, you know they are atwitter with talk of Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia becoming Sen. Obama's VP. There are all sorts of serious concerns with Webb, to which I will add only this superficial one. Here's a Webb quote from a 2006 Wall Street Journal op-ed:

The politics of the Karl Rove era were designed to distract and divide the very people who would ordinarily be rebelling against the deterioration of their way of life. Working Americans have been repeatedly seduced at the polls by emotional issues such as the predictable mantra of "God, guns, gays, abortion and the flag" while their way of life shifted ineluctably beneath their feet.

Sounds an awful lot like this famous quote:

You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not.
And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

The quotes aren't exactly the same, obviously, but they seem to share a belief that working class conservatives vote the way they do because they've been blinded by social issues, instead of being rational actors who choose to prioritize social issues over their economic self-interest. Probably not something the Democrats want to double down on with their presidential ticket.

Hat tip Kos.