Blogs

Where's the Beef on Obama's New Faith-Based Initiative Plan?

| Tue Jul. 1, 2008 10:24 AM EDT

Barack Obama is unveiling a plan to reform and invigorate President Bush's program of faith-based initiatives. In a speech today dedicated to the topic, Obama is expected to point to his own religious background as motivation for the new policy:

"I came to see faith as being both a personal commitment to Christ and a commitment to my community; that while I could sit in church and pray all I want, I wouldn't be fulfilling God's will unless I went out and did the Lord's work."

The plan centers around an office Obama would establish called the President's Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. According to a factsheet provided by the campaign, the primary goals of the council are relatively simple:

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Wesley Clark Clarifies

| Tue Jul. 1, 2008 9:13 AM EDT

Or, as he puts it, reiterates. Here's his statement responding to the controversy created by his comments over the weekend.

I have made comments in the past about John McCain's service and I want to reiterate them in order be crystal clear. As I have said before I honor John McCain's service as a prisoner of war and a Vietnam Veteran. He was a hero to me and to hundreds of thousands and millions of others in Armed Forces as a prisoner of war. I would never dishonor the service of someone who chose to wear the uniform for our nation.
John McCain is running his campaign on his experience and how his experience would benefit him and our nation as President. That experience shows courage and commitment to our country — but it doesn't include executive experience wrestling with national policy or go-to-war decisions. And in this area his judgment has been flawed — he not only supported going into a war we didn't have to fight in Iraq, but has time and again undervalued other, non-military elements of national power that must be used effectively to protect America. But as an American and former military officer I will not back down if I believe someone doesn't have sound judgment when it comes to our nation's most critical issues.

In short, he's not shutting up. I know I was critical of Clark yesterday, but I'll admit, it is a pleasant (and obviously foreign) experience to watch a Democrat not backing down on national security.

Okay, Wall-E Was Pretty Great

| Mon Jun. 30, 2008 7:48 PM EDT

mojo-photo-walle2.jpgPixar's latest animated romp Wall-E beat out Angelina Jolie as superhero assassin-recruiter-whatever flick Wanted to collect over 63 million bucks into its cute little trash-compactor belly this weekend, and after feeling a bit guilty for posting a skeptical review before even seeing it, I escaped the gay pride crowds by heading for a Saturday night showing. While I'm not really qualified to agree or disagree with the Chicago Tribune's claim that this is the "best American studio film this year," I will say it was really quite good, probably the best Pixar film yet, but not without its flaws.

The Halfway Mark: The Best Albums of 2008 So Far

| Mon Jun. 30, 2008 4:42 PM EDT

mojo-photo-2008.jpgHappy bottom of the year, everybody. It's hard to believe, but 2008 is already half done, with only six months remaining for us to get our year-end best-of lists together! How will we manage? Sure, we're waiting for new discs from Beck, Black Kids, The Faint, maybe U2, and, uh, New Kids on the Block, but in the meantime, here's an admittedly subjective list of the finest full-length releases of the year so far (complete with videos!), as well as a "next 10" list of CDs nipping at their heels. Will Party Ben like experimental hip-hop and droney noise-rock this year? Click the "continues" button and find out!

The Dust Off: Cheech and Chong

| Mon Jun. 30, 2008 3:41 PM EDT

The pending release (August 12) of Tommy Chong's unauthorized biography of the infamous comedy duo Cheech & Chong shouldn't be the only reason to revisit the duo's raunchy, 70s- and 80s-era, marijuana-laden humor, such as:

FBI's Anthrax Investigation Gone Completely Cold?

| Mon Jun. 30, 2008 3:40 PM EDT

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It's been seven years since the anthrax attacks. The FBI has dropped "hundreds of thousands of agent-hours on the case," says its website. Nine thousand interviews have been conducted; 6,000 grand jury subpoenas have been issued; and 67 searches completed. The result? On Friday afternoon, the Justice Department settled with biological weapons scientist Steven Hatfill—the FBI's longtime lead suspect in the case, famously declared a "person of interest" in 2002 by then-Attorney General John Ashcroft—for $5.82 million. The move, skillfully buried in weekend news coverage, amounts to a public confession from the FBI that its anthrax investigation has gone cold.

The Justice Department, far from admitting the colossal nature of its screw-up, refused to admit legal liability for dragging Hatfill's name through the mud, but, according to a spokesman, settled the case "in the best interest of the United States." Hatfill continues to press libel cases against the International Herald Tribune, the New York Times, and columnist Nicholas Kristof. He has already reached private settlements with Vanity Fair and Reader's Digest for their coverage of the case.

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Video: Jay-Z Covers Oasis at Glastonbury

| Mon Jun. 30, 2008 3:06 PM EDT

mojo-photo-jayzglasto.jpgWhen it was announced that the legendary UK music festival had chosen rapper Jay-Z as a headliner, many fans were upset that a rock band wasn't chosen like usual, and even Noel Gallagher of Oasis complained, saying "Jay-Z, I'm not f***ing having him at Glastonbury." Well good old Jay-Z took lemons and made lemonade, opening his set Saturday night with a clip of Gallagher's comments, then emerging to warble a cheeky cover of Oasis' own "Wonderwall." Despite Hova's being a bit, as they say, "pitchy," seemingly all of Glastonbury sang along:

One More Problem With Romney as VP

| Mon Jun. 30, 2008 1:43 PM EDT

John McCain is considering picking Mitt Romney as his VP because of Romney's ability to raise beaucoup bucks from the business and Mormon communities. But if Romney goes to major donors in the business community and picks up $2,300 checks by the bushel, he'll just bolster the image of Obama as the people-powered candidate in the race. The ads are easy: John McCain gets big checks from Mitt Romney's fat cat friends. Barack Obama is funded by people like you. Please give $20 today.

John Yoo's Attempt to Discredit a Critic

| Mon Jun. 30, 2008 1:40 PM EDT

Last week's House Judiciary subcommittee hearing, which featured special guests John Yoo and David Addington, drew a lot of attention for its rhetorical bombshells (Chairman Conyers: Could the president order a suspect buried alive?) and the tense back and forth between the witnesses and Democrats on the bench. But Addington and Yoo are both long-time lawyers--lawyers for politicians, no less--and as such their testimony revealed much, much less about the Bush administration's torture regime than many hoped it would.

In a Speech on Patriotism, Obama Tries To Get Past the '60s

| Mon Jun. 30, 2008 1:28 PM EDT

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Can Barack Obama walk a political/cultural tightrope to success on Election Day?

On Monday, he gave a well-written speech on patriotism. He noted that "at certain times over the last sixteen months, I have found, for the first time, my patriotism challenged--at times as a result of my own carelessness, more often as a result of the desire by some to score political points and raise fears about who I am and what I stand for." And unlike Democrats of the past--Michael Dukakis comes to mind--Obama is not going to give an inch in any battle over who is really a patriot. In the speech, he described the wellsprings of his own patriotism:

One of my earliest memories is of sitting on my grandfather's shoulders and watching the astronauts come to shore in Hawaii. I remember the cheers and small flags that people waved, and my grandfather explaining how we Americans could do anything we set our minds to do. That's my idea of America.
I remember listening to my grandmother telling stories about her work on a bomber assembly-line during World War II. I remember my grandfather handing me his dog-tags from his time in Patton's Army, and understanding that his defense of this country marked one of his greatest sources of pride. That's my idea of America.
I remember, when living for four years in Indonesia as a child, listening to my mother reading me the first lines of the Declaration of Independence--"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." I remember her explaining how this declaration applied to every American, black and white and brown alike; how those words, and words of the United States Constitution, protected us from the injustices that we witnessed other people suffering during those years abroad. That's my idea of America.

Obama declared, "I will never question the patriotism of others in this campaign." Which is not such a big promise to make. (He's going to call McCain unpatriotic?) And he defined patriotism to include dissent (such as the whistleblowing of the soldier who first revealed the abuses at Abu Ghraib) and sacrifice. But what was intriguing was how Obama blended a championship of dissent with a belief in American exceptionalism. In fact, he noted that in order for the former to be legitimate if must be cloaked with the latter: