Blogs

Obama Wins the Springsteen Primary

| Wed Apr. 16, 2008 11:18 AM EDT

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Just as Senator Barack Obama's connection to working-class voters is being questioned (unfairly) by Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator John McCain (two true populists, right?), the Bard of the Blue-collar America, Bruce Springsteen, has endorsed Barack Obama, declaring that Obama "speaks to the America I've envisioned in my music." Prior to the start of the Democratic primaries, Springsteen was not jazzed by anyone in the Democratic race, according to a source quite close to him. But the Jersey boy has now jumped in with a full power chord, at an important moment in the race. It's doubtful his endorsement--or that of any singer, celebrity, artist, writer or intellectual--can shift large number of voters. But it's sure better to have the Boss on your side that against you.

From Bruce Springsteen's website:

Dear Friends and Fans:

Like most of you, I've been following the campaign and I have now seen and heard enough to know where I stand. Senator Obama, in my view, is head and shoulders above the rest.

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So Why Are Pennsylvanians Bitter?

| Wed Apr. 16, 2008 11:05 AM EDT

The good folks at 23/6 ("Some of the news, most of the time") have a couple ideas.

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More of 23/6's stuff can be found here.

McCain's Frightening Foreign Policy Vision From 2000

| Wed Apr. 16, 2008 10:00 AM EDT

At least Bush claimed that he wanted a "humble" foreign policy back in 2000. Apparently John McCain was gung-ho about adventures like the Iraq War and willing to say so publicly. Here's McCain in a February 2000 Republican debate:

"I'd institute a policy that I call 'rogue state rollback,'" said McCain. "I would arm, train, equip, both from without and from within, forces that would eventually overthrow the governments and install free and democratically- elected governments."
"As long as Saddam Hussein is in power," he added, "I am convinced that he will pose a threat to our security."

He would "arm, train, equip, both from without and from within, forces that would eventually overthrow" governments that we don't like? That's a recipe for chaos, and you shouldn't need the Iraq War to tell you so. In my view, the fact that McCain was ever this much of an out-and-out hawk is more scandalous than the fact that he slept with a lobbyist or that he was involved in the Keating Five. Holding positions this extreme and this dangerous ought to be considered worse than ethical or moral transgressions. After all, sleeping with a lobbyist doesn't get people killed.

McCain is now denying that this was his position. Specifically, his recent statement on "rogue state rollback" was: "I wasn't saying that we should go around and declare war." If you look at his quote, though, it sounds pretty much like he was suggesting we go around and declare war. Or at least we train and equip people who declare war for us.

Lindsey Graham Goes a Different Kind of Tax Cut Crazy

| Wed Apr. 16, 2008 9:35 AM EDT

mccain-graham250x200.jpg Even though Lindsey Graham has been replaced by Joe Lieberman as John McCain's number one sidekick, he's still spinning away for the Arizona Senator.

John McCain commemorated tax day by delivering a speech that boosted his promises of tax cuts to absurd levels. Lindsey Graham commemorated it by writing an op-ed in the Greenville News that claimed Americans' uneasiness with the economy stems from their worry that the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy might not be made permanent by Congress. Seriously.

Here's Graham:

Music: Bill Cosby, Hip-Hop Producer?

| Wed Apr. 16, 2008 12:43 AM EDT

mojo-photo-puddingcosby.jpgOkay, I hope this isn't a hoax too: Legendary comedian/actor and outspoken curmudgeon Bill Cosby is listed as co-writer and executive producer on a new hip-hop album project called Cosby Narratives Vol. 1: State of Emergency. The album was described in a statement as "an unflinching look at life in the 21st century, but without the profanity, misogyny, violence and braggadocio." Hmm, maybe he means, "life in a utopian space colony in the year 2525?"

The album actually has a somewhat intriguing pedigree, since Cosby will be collaborating with Bill "Spaceman" Patterson, who worked on "The Cosby Show," and Patterson's musical partner Ced-Gee, co-founder of The Ultramagnetic MCs. Hey, isn't that the group that the Prodigy sampled for their infamous 1997 hit, "Smack My Bitch Up"? (Link to video not safe for work). Why yes it is.

Contrary to some reports, Cosby will not rap on the album.

Cosby's been infamous for years, more so after his 2004 "Pound Cake Speech" which was, as Wikipedia puts it, "highly critical of some members and subsets of the black community in the United States." Sorry, Bill; I probably won't be buying Cosby Narratives (expected to be released soon), but considering Bill Cosby Is a Very Funny Fellow… Right! basically shaped my entire sense of humor and was probably my #1 most listened-to album between the ages of 5 and 10, I'm letting this all slide.

Cosby pudding portrait used under a Creative Commons license from Flickr user Rakka.

Some Corals Survived A-Bombs, Others Didn't

| Tue Apr. 15, 2008 8:17 PM EDT

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Fifty years ago the last atomic bomb test shook the Pacific's Bikini Atoll. Now corals are flourishing here again—though with 42 fewer species than prior to the bomb blasts. At least 28 of the missing corals appear to be genuine local extinctions, victims of the 23 bombs exploded at Bikini between 1946 and 1958. An international team has been surveying biodiversity at the atoll, including diving into the 1954 Bravo Crater, site of the most powerful American atomic bomb ever exploded (15 megatons, 1,000 times bigger than Hiroshima). The Bravo bomb vaporized three islands, raised water temperatures to 100,00 degrees F, shook islands 125 miles away and left a crater 1.25 miles wide and 240 feet deep.

The 1946 point of view.

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Easy Desserts From the Pentagon?

| Tue Apr. 15, 2008 4:28 PM EDT

Tucked among the many U.S. Department of Defense emails in my inbox this week, nestled, in fact, between "Border Concerns" and "Coalition Forces Detain 12 Suspects in Iraq Operations," was the rather more provocative subject line: "Easy Desserts."

Yes, the Pentagon Channel has a cooking show. It's called "The Grill Sergeants."

Personally I was unable to get beyond "Turkey Time," but perhaps you'll have more luck than I did with "Flourless Chocolate Cake, Pumpkin Pie Cake, and Caramelized Apples."

Anyway, check it out. It's wistful and telling and weird in all the ways you don't typically hear when you hear about the war.

Plus, where else can you learn how to cook the world's largest turkey from a chef who says, "Can I get a military cadence?" to a uniformed band self-styled "The Tastebuds?"

John McCain Has Gone Tax Cut Crazy

| Tue Apr. 15, 2008 3:44 PM EDT

TNR examines John McCain's speech on the economy today and finds that with his new proposals (a massive corporate tax cut and a doubling of the dependent exemption), he is hitting new heights in tax cut fetishizing.

McCain is now up to about $280 billion per year in tax cuts, far more than the Bush tax cuts in their first 10 years. (His campaign gets a lower number only by claiming that his corporate expensing proposal costs nothing over the long term. This is not a serious argument. A CBO report signed by McCain advisor Douglas Holtz-Eakin shows otherwise.) Against these $280 billion in costs, McCain has still proposed to cut not a single specific discretionary program and not a single specific tax expenditure. His ballyhooed plan to hike prescription drug premiums will save $1 billion per year, again according to CBO. Just $279 billion to go.

Remember, John McCain is pushing all these tax cuts while also proposing an open-ended commitment to the Iraq War. How he plans on doing that without exploding the deficit is anybody's guess.

Muqtada al-Sadr Leads Largest "Humanitarian" Group in Iraq, Says Report

| Tue Apr. 15, 2008 1:09 PM EDT

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Following a model first established by Lebanon's Hezbollah, Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army has become the leading provider of humanitarian assistance to internally displaced Iraqis—in the process winning support from local populations and drawing a steady stream of new recruits. According to a new report (.pdf) from Refugees International, a Washington-based advocacy group, the Iraqi government's failure to respond to the needs of an estimated 2.7 million internal refugees has provided militias with a valuable propaganda tool and a way to strengthen their respective bases of support.

Both Shiite and Sunni militias have gotten into the humanitarian game, but Sadr's organization, under the auspices of local "Martyr Sadr" offices located in cities throughout Iraq, seems to have become the most predominant and, indeed, the most vital to the welfare of thousands of displaced persons.

According to the report:

Because of the Government of Iraq's inability to respond to the needs of Iraqis, and the UN's slowness in addressing the humanitarian crisis in Iraq, a vacuum was created that is being filled by non-state actors. The fragmentation of Iraq and the eradication of any form of real government benefit militias and individual political movements that provide assistance as an integral part of their programs. As a result, non-state actors play a central role in providing assistance to families throughout Iraq. The largest "humanitarian" organization in Iraq is the Sadrist movement affiliated with Muqtada al Sadr, the anti-American Shiite cleric, and his local Offices of the Martyr Sadr, which exist throughout Iraq—from Kirkuk to Baghdad to Basra. Operated on a model similar to Lebanese Hezbollah, his sustainable program provides shelter, food and non-food items to hundreds of thousands of Shiites in Iraq.
Electricity is an essential service that ends up being provided by armed groups.... the Mahdi Army—Muqtada al Sadr's armed group—also "resettles" displaced Iraqis free of charge in homes that belonged to Sunnis. It provides stipends, food, heating oil, cooking oil and other non-food items to supplement the Public Distribution System (PDS) rations which are still virtually impossible to transfer after displaced Iraqis have moved to a new neighborhood, though it is easier for Shiites to do so.

Refugees International concludes that armed militias now have "a quasi-monopoly in the large-scale provision of assistance in Iraq" and warns that such groups are using their good works to recruit an "increasing number" of civilians into their ranks. Put simply, the problem is that, at least when it comes to caring for the population's essential needs, "the government does not have any credibility left with Iraqis."

MoJo Video: Economist Nomi Prins on Death and Taxes

| Tue Apr. 15, 2008 12:55 PM EDT

Mother Jones writer (and former Bear Stearns analyst) Nomi Prins asks students at St. Francis college in New York: What will you do with your Bush stimulus rebate check?

Keep debt at bay, mostly. Watch the video.

Thanks to Lavell Chichester, who filmed and edited the video.