Blogs

Clinton "Whip Team" Organized to Slay PUMAs

| Thu Aug. 21, 2008 10:32 AM EDT

Clinton supporters hoping to agitate at the convention (starting Monday!) will face some friendly fire.

In an unusual move, Hillary Clinton's staff is creating a 40-member "whip team" at the Denver Democratic convention to ensure that her supporters don't engage in embarrassing anti-Obama demonstrations during the floor vote on her nomination, according to people familiar with the planning.
The team, which is being organized by longtime Clinton staffer Craig Smith, is working in conjunction with Obama's floor organizers to help foster the image of a unified front during a roll-call process Clinton herself has described as an emotional "catharsis" for her disappointed supporters.

This part isn't so helpful: "Clinton spokesperson Kathleen Strand emphasized the team would not seek to convince delegates to vote for the former first lady, but would hand out Clinton signs to supporters who requested them." [Emphasis mine.]

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John McCain Does Not Know How Many Houses He Owns. This Is Not a Joke

| Thu Aug. 21, 2008 8:55 AM EDT

A fall full of moments like these will be entertaining. You have to wonder if there is video.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said in an interview Wednesday that he was uncertain how many houses he and his wife, Cindy, own.
"I think — I'll have my staff get to you," McCain told Politico in Las Cruces, N.M. "It's condominiums where — I'll have them get to you."
The correct answer is at least four, located in Arizona, California and Virginia, according to his staff. Newsweek estimated this summer that the couple owns at least seven properties.

The McCain family has proved to be out of touch before. These aren't harmless little gotcha moments. This sort of thing is a threat to your pocketbook.

Murakami's Running Lags Behind

| Wed Aug. 20, 2008 7:51 PM EDT

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I can't tell you how excited I was to read Haruki Murakami's new memoir, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. As a runner and admirer of Murakami's work, I raced to the bookstore in hopes of discovering thrilling personal connections between myself and the great novelist.

Unfortunately, what aspects I could relate to— the pain of training for a marathon; the feeling of running outside in the wet New England fall—were eclipsed by a parade of high-school-gym-class-style clichés ("Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional."). Even more disappointing was the pace and style of the book: The rambling trains of thought did not arrive at interesting destinations, and despite Murakami's claim to months of careful editing, the collection is about as organized and well thought out as your average LiveJournal entry.

And that's what this book seems to be—not a memoir or an essay collection so much as Murakami's personal blog, printed out and placed between two hard covers. And no matter who keeps them, personal blogs are ultimately records of the quotidian. Even giving Murakami the benefit of the doubt—perhaps his hackneyed phrases are much more beautiful in the original Japanese—the book cycles again and again through the kinds of small revelations that I have on every run. Running is hard. Running is like writing. These are not insignificant, but neither are they worth $21.

Greenland's Ice, Going, Going. . .

| Wed Aug. 20, 2008 7:05 PM EDT

Daily satellite images of Greenland's glaciers reveal the break-up of two of its largest glaciers in the last month. A massive 11-square-mile piece broke off the Petermann Glacier in northern Greenland between July 10th and by July 24th. That's half the size of Manhattan. Between 2000 and 2001 the same glacier lost 33 square miles of floating ice.

What worries researchers from the Byrd Polar Research Center at Ohio State University is what appears to be a massive crack further upstream. A break-up there would doom 60 square miles, or one-third of what's left of the massive ice field.

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An 11 square mile area of the Petermann Glacier in northern Greenland (80˚N, 60˚W) broke away between July 10th and by July 24th. Petermann has a 500-square-mile floating section, the longest floating glacier in the Northern Hemisphere. Photo courtesy Byrd Polar Research Center, Ohio State University.

2008 Conventions: Who's Performing?

| Wed Aug. 20, 2008 5:30 PM EDT

almanns-300.jpgI'd love to attend the upcoming RNC and DNC, if nothing else just to watch the live music performances; and yes, this makes me a geek. Despite several lineup reports, when I called event planners today to confirm, my call to the DNC went straight to voice mail and folks at the RNC said to call back next week.

Until then, I'm going by a scattered reports from the interwebs:

New TV on the Radio Picks Up Where Beck Left Off

| Wed Aug. 20, 2008 4:28 PM EDT

mojo-photo-tvontheradio.jpgNew York combo TV on the Radio made my #2 album of 2006, so when I learned that a track from their upcoming album, Dear Science, was available to stream on their web site, I clicked over there as fast as my mouse could take me. First of all, what's the deal with indie rock bands and wedding announcement fonts? Are they trying to steal a little bit of Ellen DeGeneres' blog fire? Okay, just had to get that out of the way. The song, "Golden Age," is a little more accessible and straightforward than the angst-ridden material on Cookie Mountain; it's got a jaunty little beat and buzzy synths reminiscent of Beck's "Hell Yes," although unlike that song's focused, quirky minimalism, "Golden Age" builds and builds until the whole band is singing along with a crazy horn section. I'm having a bit of trouble making out the lyrics, although at one point Kyp appears to rhyme "natural disaster" with "ghetto blaster," which deserves an award in and of itself. Either way, this is at least my song of the month.

Dear Science is out September 23 on Interscope. After the jump, Beck's "Hell Yes" for comparison, and TV on the Radio's "Wolf Like Me" from 2006's Return to Cookie Mountain, just for fun.

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McCain Would Consider a Draft. Every Parent In America Should Know This

| Wed Aug. 20, 2008 3:28 PM EDT

There is a new video out in which a questioner at a McCain town hall event speaks at length about veterans and then ends with a sentence or two about the need to reinstate the draft if we are going to catch Osama bin Laden. McCain responds, "I don't disagree with anything you said."

The video is making the rounds of the interwebs. McCain's response is a poor choice of words, but not necessarily an endorsement of the draft.

This video, however, is pretty unambiguous. It's from several months back.

McCain does not have an unequivocal, philosophical opposition to using the draft in the war on terror. Do you know an undecided voter who is the parent of a child between 12 and 22? Make sure they've memorized this quote before election day, so they know exactly what they're getting if they vote for McCain:

"I might consider it, I don't think it's necessary, but I might consider it if you could design a draft where everybody equally could serve."

Obama's Historical Comparisons

| Wed Aug. 20, 2008 2:42 PM EDT

In a PressThink post, Jay Rosen takes issue with our recently published forum on Barack Obama. We asked two dozen thinkers and writers, "Is Barack Obama exaggerating when he compares his campaign to the great progressive moments in US history?"

Writes Rosen, "Obama really said something like that? His campaign is a 'movement' comparable to, say, the civil rights movement, or to second wave feminism, or to the labor movement after the industrial revolution? If so, I had missed it."

Rosen is really insistent on this point. He also writes, "any statement from the candidate himself that compared Obama '08 to the great movements for freedom and justice in our history would have been quite the controversy, what with the McCain camp already mocking his messiah complex and calling him "The One." Why would Mother Jones, a progressive magazine, accuse Obama of the same thing McCain is attacking him for?"

To answer the question that ends that passage, we may be a progressive magazine, but we're still journalists who believe in refereeing and commenting on the campaign as fairly as we can. Nothing we write is in service of the Obama campaign and its goals. Occasionally, we'll write posts and articles that hurt Obama; the New Republic, the Nation, and the American Prospect all do the same.

But to Rosen's larger point — Obama does indeed put himself in a historical context alongside the great progressive movements of the last century. Here are four examples, one of which Rosen has already seen. They get long. Feel free to skim. Also feel free to visit the links to get a better sense of context.

In Politics, Cheating on Your Wife Is Relative

| Wed Aug. 20, 2008 1:03 PM EDT

John Edwards cheated on his wife. The media found out about it. John Edwards will not be attending the Democratic convention.

Rudy Giuliani used public funds to cheat on his wife and used city agencies to cover his tracks. The media found out about it. Rudy Giuliani will be delivering the keynote at the Republican convention.

Dear Lord, Glenn McCoy. That Is One Nasty Cartoon

| Wed Aug. 20, 2008 12:22 PM EDT

Take a look at this.

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If there is some point here relevant to the headlines — beyond the fact that Obama is pro-choice — I don't know what it is. I'm not sure it matters. This is so foul is goes beyond any standard of good taste and common decency. I tend to give satire a pretty wide berth; this is beyond the pale.

Barack Obama beating fetuses with a bloody baseball bat in a dumpster? I can't even look at it for more than a few seconds.

Here's the thing. A few years back I had a coworker who wrote a feminist blog on the side. We used to joke about the way hardcore pro-lifers saw her, as an activist for abortion rights. "They probably think you eat fetuses in a bowl for breakfast," I would say. "With chopsticks!" she would respond.

We knew it was over the top. It was ridiculous. It was parody. And apparently, stunningly, it had elements of truth.

Update: Here's what this is about. As you would guess, it in no way justifies this cartoon. And EF makes a great point in the comments — if Democrats produced something equally disgusting about John McCain, there would be a backlash with serious consequences. It would start, of course, with Fox News, the in-house network of the Republican Party.