Blogs

Obama Goes on the Air With McCain's Houses

| Thu Aug. 21, 2008 12:36 PM EDT

The Obama campaign has the quickest video team on these here internets. It already has an ad up on what is quickly becoming my new favorite story.

I know they had to keep it simple, but I would have tried to work in this point. Take a look at the spending habits of the McCains ("Cindy McCain charged as much as $500,000 in a single month on one American Express card and $250,000 on another") and the fact that they have so many million-dollar homes that John McCain can't even remember them all. And then consider the fact that wasteful spending is supposedly John McCain's animating passion.

I view this as a more serious hypocrisy that John Edwards' zip code-sized house. And we all know how long that story hung around.

Update: Another point Obama's team could have made: how can someone oversee the housing crisis when he doesn't have any day-to-day concerns about his own mortgage? Or mortgages, as the case may be? How can this person set tax rates for the middle class? All of that is implied, I suppose...

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Obvious Policy Suggestion for Barack Obama

| Thu Aug. 21, 2008 12:18 PM EDT

Propose using John McCain's myriad properties to address the housing crisis.

How many Americans who have lost their homes to foreclosure can fit on a ranch with four addresses and six houses? I'm guessing a fair amount. We could make it a TV show! What happens when a bunch of pissed off voters stop being polite and start getting real?

It's Easy to Get Confused By John McCain's Houses

| Thu Aug. 21, 2008 11:50 AM EDT

Look, I can understand why John McCain has trouble counting his houses. Are we talking properties? Addresses? Homes? Because when you have a massive ranch with a half dozen homes and four addresses on it, things get confusing.

From a press report on the barbecue McCain threw for the members of the media (no, Mother Jones was not invited) in March:

McCain said... the Hidden Valley Ranch [in Arizona] got its name from the horseshoe shape of the creek that runs through the property.
He said he built the first house on his property 24 years ago and now there are six houses on his lot.

The addresses on the ranch are 11455 E Hidden Valley Road, 11445 E Hidden Valley Road, 11415 E Hidden Valley Road, and 11405 E Hidden Valley Road. I'm going to go ahead and assume that's a sizable ranch.

Here's the closest to a full account of the McCains' properties that I can find. It's from the Politico story that revealed exactly how extravagant the McCains' spending is ("Their credit card bills peaked between January 2007 and May 2008, during which time Cindy McCain charged as much as $500,000 in a single month on one American Express card and $250,000 on another"):

Clinton "Whip Team" Organized to Slay PUMAs

| Thu Aug. 21, 2008 11:32 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.]

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

| Thu Aug. 21, 2008 9:55 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 8:51 PM EDT

images.jpeg

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.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Greenland's Ice, Going, Going. . .

| Wed Aug. 20, 2008 8:05 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.

petermann_breakup-1_web%20copy.jpg

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 6:30 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 5:28 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.

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

| Wed Aug. 20, 2008 4:28 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."