Blogs

Obama Attacks and Nobody Notices

| Mon Nov. 12, 2007 1:35 AM EST

clinton_obama_profile.jpg Here is my final thought on the Iowa Democratic Party's Jefferson-Jackson Dinner that I liveblogged on Saturday night: Barack Obama finally went on the attack against Hillary Clinton and it didn't seem to matter.

Clinton unveiled "Turn Up the Heat" as a new campaign slogan, but it was Obama who was committed to putting his chief rival through the fire, as he had been promising to do for many weeks. A few days prior to the speech, Obama told the press that Clinton was running a "textbook" campaign. Saturday he said, "The same old Washington textbook campaigns just won't do in this election. Triangulating and poll-driven positions because we're worried about what Mitt or Rudy might say about us, just won't do." Triangulating and polls, of course, are the Clintons' forte.

On Saturday night the senator from Illinois said, "When I'm your nominee, my opponent won't be able to say that I supported this war in Iraq; or that I gave George Bush the benefit of the doubt on Iran; or that I support that Bush-Cheney diplomacy of not talking to leaders we don't like." In the span of one long sentence, Obama attacked the frontrunner on Iraq and on Iran, and compared her foreign policy philosophy to Bush's and Cheney's.

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Ron Paul's Legislative Record Must Be Considered

| Sun Nov. 11, 2007 11:53 PM EST

ron_paul200.jpg

We've had a LOT of debate in our comments section between Ron Paul supporters and Ron Paul detractors. Supporters tout his positions on the war in Iraq and the war on drugs, and his willingness to speak honestly and directly at all times. The detractors tend to concede all of those points and then say, "Have you seen the other things the man wants to do?"

Well, now we finally have a definitive list of what those other things are. Over at the blog Orcinus, they've put together a list of bills Ron Paul has sponsored or co-sponsored in his long legislative career. It gives you a great sense of what a President Paul would do on some of the issues that aren't being highlighted in the current debate.

Some of the included are:

H.R.777: To prohibit any Federal official from expending any Federal funds for any population control or population planning program or any family planning activity.
H.R.2597: To provide that human life shall be deemed to exist from conception.
H.J.RES.80: Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States authorizing the States to prohibit the physical destruction of the flag of the United States and authorizing Congress to prohibit destruction of federally owned flags.
H.R.2962: A bill to repeal all authority of the Federal Government to regulate wages in private employment. [Abolition of the minimum wage.]
H.R.1789: To restore the inherent benefits of the market economy by repealing the Federal body of statutory law commonly referred to as "antitrust law", and for other purposes.
H.J.RES.46: Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to deny United States citizenship to individuals born in the United States to parents who are neither United States citizens nor persons who owe permanent allegiance to the United States.
H.R.2424: To repeal the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990 and amendments to that Act.
H.R.1146: To end membership of the United States in the United Nations.

If there are Ron Paul supporters who are familiar with all this, good for them. Everyone ought to be so familiar with the candidates they support. And I'm not a Ron Paul critic; I've admired and repeatedly defended him. But every single Ron Paul supporter needs to read this full list and then state if he or she still wants Paul to win the presidency. Let's get it on.

Update: Glenn Greenwald has essential reading on Paul's flag burning position. Thanks to Greg in the comments.

San Francisco Oil Spill an Avoidable Disaster

| Sun Nov. 11, 2007 9:33 PM EST

Why wasn't a boom, a protective barrier which would have isolated last week's spill to the area directly surrounding the ship, utilized almost immediately? No telling yet, but early on Fish and Game said that private companies would handle the spill cleanup, companies hired by the ship's owners. Huh? That's the proper response an environmental and homeland security hazard? Let the industry mop up?

More on this, at MoJoBlog.

Oil Spill an Avoidable Homeland Disaster

| Sun Nov. 11, 2007 6:32 PM EST

oil%20trail2.jpgLast week's oil spill in San Francisco makes one thing painfully clear: we should, and don't, know better.

The early story was that the spill wasn't much. The main question addressed in just-after coverage was whether the Cosco Busan's collision with the Bay Bridge would affect traffic. The spill total? 140 gallons. That's a bundle of fill-ups, not good for the Bay by any stretch, but handleable, especially given the resources available, Coast Guard and otherwise. The clean-up? A month, said the rep from Fish and Game.

The cargo ship, en route to South Korea, hit the bridge at 8:30 Wednesday morning, but it wasn't until nearly 5pm that the Coast Guard realized that not 140 but 58,000 gallons of bunker oil (essentially container-ship fuel) were loose in the Bay, constituting the largest spill in the area in almost two decades. The spill, which inexplicably wasn't contained via a boom for hours, thus was spreading in all directions, including several miles out through the Golden Gate and into the open ocean.

The one benefit of oil in water is that because of the separation it's initially easy to track and, where response is swift, contain. So why wasn't a boom, which would have isolated the spill to the area directly surrounding the ship, utilized almost immediately? No telling yet, but early on Fish and Game said that private companies would handle the spill cleanup, companies hired by the ship's owners. Huh? That's the proper response an environmental and homeland security hazard? Let the industry mop up?

Iran NIE Finally "Finished"?

| Sun Nov. 11, 2007 11:24 AM EST

According to Gareth Porter, the intelligence agencies and Dick Cheney's office have wrestled to a tie on Iran:

The US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran has been held up for more than a year in an effort to force the intelligence community to remove dissenting judgments on the Iranian nuclear program. The aim is to make the document more supportive of Vice President Dick Cheney's militarily aggressive policy toward Iran, according to accounts provided by participants in the NIE process to two former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officers.

But this pressure on intelligence analysts, obviously instigated by Cheney himself, has not produced a draft estimate without those dissenting views, these sources say. The White House has now apparently decided to release the "unsatisfactory" draft NIE, but without making its key findings public.

The rest.

Here are the conclusions of the two government "investigations" of whether the Bush administration pressured the intelligence agencies on Iraq. First, the Senate Intelligence Committee:

The Committee did not find any evidence that Administration officials attempted to coerce, influence or pressure analysts to change their judgments related to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capabilities.

And the WMD Commission:

The Commission found no evidence of political pressure to influence the Intelligence Community's pre-war assessments of Iraq's weapons programs.

Look for the reports on how there was no pressure re Iran in early 2011.

Jefferson-Jackson Liveblog Hits the Home Stretch - Clinton and Obama

| Sun Nov. 11, 2007 12:36 AM EST

Here's what's happened so far; here's an explanation of the JJ. Hillary Clinton has taken the stage.

10:49 - Smack down of Obama! Here's Clinton: "Change is just a word if you don't have the strength and experience to make it happen. We must chose a nominee who has been tested and elect a president who is ready to lead on day one."

10:51 - Clinton is emphasizing her experience in the White House. "As First Lady, I fought my heart out for health care." She might not have won, she says, but she laid the ground work for the progress universal health care is making now. The Clinton crowd here is huge, and going absolutely bananas.

10:52 - "We love you, Hillary!!!!" shouts a girl behind me. The Clinton people have rally sticks, made popular at baseball games. They are very loud and very annoying.

More Clinton after the jump. Also, Obama. This is going to be good.

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Jefferson-Jackson Liveblog Continues

| Sat Nov. 10, 2007 11:04 PM EST

Explanation of the JJ Dinner here; part one of the liveblog here.

9:09 - Bill Richardson is speaking, and appears to be wearing heels. On second thought, they may be cowboy boots. Richardson is having trouble getting any verbal momentum going. He is jumping from "restoring the American Dream," to following the Constitution on the matter of torture (does the Constitution mention torture?), to his plan on the war in Iraq. His whole campaign may come down to that war — he is the only candidate who will commit to having all troops out by the end of 2009.

9:15 - Now health care, now education reform, now greenhouse gases. This is what Richardson does. He jumps from policy to policy to policy without an over-arching narrative.

9:19 - "I've heard one thing that I like about Iowa," says Bill. "Iowa likes underdogs!" You better hope so.

9:20 - Richardson urges Democrats not to "tear each other down." Suggests criticism only on policy grounds. Problem is, the Dems are all pretty much the same on policy. Oh, and I've seen some advance copy from the Obama speech, and it's got some sharp but coded words about Hillary.

Biden after the jump.

Jefferson-Jackson Dinner - Most Exciting Live Blog Ever!

| Sat Nov. 10, 2007 9:59 PM EST

Okay, let's get it on.

8:13 - Nancy Pelosi takes the stage, which is in the shape of a square and surrounded on all sides. Pelosi, like all speakers today, will have to speak while walking in a circle.

8:14 - Pelosi says "all the eyes of the world are on this dinner tonight." The disproportionate amount of power that Iowa has in American presidential elections really is ridiculous.

8:15 - Peeking at Marc Ambinder's blog, I see John McCain had a kind of insane day today, filled with bucketloads of attack politics.

8:20 - The Hillary Clinton supporters here are wearing shirts that read, "TURN UP THE HEAT. TURN AMERICA AROUND." New slogan?

More after the jump, including the Edwards speech.

Iowa's Most Important Dinner - Happening NOW

| Sat Nov. 10, 2007 8:27 PM EST

I'm in the Veterans Auditorium in Des Moines for the Iowa Democratic Party's annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner. For voters nationwide, the JJ, as it's called, is a blip on the radar. But here in Iowa it's huge, particularly in the year before an election. One Obama supporter described it to me thusly: "If the Iowa Caucuses are the Super Bowl, this is the halftime show."

iowa.jpg Six presidential candidates will be speaking to 9,000 of Iowa's most prominent (and richest) Democrats. Also on hand are assorted politicos from the Midwest. Former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack and current Ohio governor Ted Strickland wandered by when I was waiting in the consession line, for example. Nancy Pelosi is the master of ceremonies.

This is an only-in-Iowa event. A rambunctious crowd of young supporters for every candidate have packed the balcony level and are shouting slogans and chants at an ear-rattling volume. They also have coordinated sign gimmicks, like at halftime of a college football game. The youngsters spent all day putting thousands and thousands of signs up inside this auditorium and on the streets surrounding it. Media from all over the world is here.

The JJ can make or break a candidate in this state. Iowans credit the 2003 JJ with making John Kerry's Iowa victory. Before the event, Kerry was down in the polls, looking up at frontrunner Howard Dean. But Kerry unveiled a new stump speech and a new slogan, as many candidates do here, and it propelled him to a caucus win, and eventually the nomination.

I'll be liveblogging things as they happen. If you've got nothing better to do on a Saturday evening, I invite you to follow along.

Party Ben's European Vacation Tour

| Sat Nov. 10, 2007 5:13 PM EST

mojo-photo-europe.jpgLike I mentioned in this week's Top Ten, your grammatically-challenged guest blogger Party Ben is heading off on a European DJ tour tomorrow. It's pretty cool, since, honestly, I'm not really that popular of a DJ, but somehow I managed to cobble together appearances in Poland, Germany, Belgium and France over the course of about three weeks. Because of the tight schedule (and probable unreliability of internet connections at the, ahem, budget accommodations I'll be patronizing) it's unclear how often I'll be able to keep up with my Riff duties, but I'll do my best to post updates now and then on What Life is Like on the Road for a Basically Unknown DJ Guy, or Random Cultural Trends Sweeping the European Continent with Enough Significance to be Obvious Even to a Drunk Tourist. Hopefully the MoJo Arts & Culture Team (I'm capitalizing a lot here, aren't I?) can cover my beat—i.e., anything that happens in the world of Arcade Fire and M.I.A.—while I'm gone, and I'll be back in December.

If for some reason you're more curious about specific locations and venues you can look at the schedule on my website here. Now I'm off to enjoy the favorable exchange rates and general love for Americans that's shared all over the—what? What are you saying? Not so much? Ah.