Blogs

John McCain Needs to Chat With Tommy Franks

| Tue Mar. 25, 2008 10:53 AM EDT

The LA Times catches John McCain dismissing a key criticism of the Iraq war:

"I know of no one who believes attention to Iraq at that point diverted our attention from Tora Bora," McCain said....
"We should have put more boots on the ground there to apprehend [Osama bin Laden]. Everyone agrees. But I have no reason to believe that because we urged attention to Iraq, it had any tactical effect on the battleground."

Tora Bora was where the American military had bin Laden pinned down in late 2001, only to have him escape from its grasp (you can read more here). As Think Progress helpfully points out, then-CENTCOM Commander Tommy Franks, who oversaw the Middle East, had the following reaction to the Bush Administration's instructions in November and December of 2001 to start planning for war in Iraq: "They were in the midst of one war in Afghanistan, and now they wanted detailed planning for another? Goddamn. What the f--k are they talking about?"

Want to know more? Read Plan of Attack. Or The One-Percent Doctrine. Or Cobra II. Planning for a second war while trying to fight the first compromised our effectiveness in both. That's indisputable, no matter what John McCain says.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Harry Reid, Rainmaker?

| Tue Mar. 25, 2008 10:06 AM EDT

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid insists he's got the whole Democratic race under control. Here's a conversation he had with the Las Vegas Review-Journal last week:

Question: Do you still think the Democratic race can be resolved before the convention?
Reid: Easy.
Q: How is that?
Reid: It will be done.
Q: It just will?
Reid: Yep.
Q: Magically?
Reid: No, it will be done. I had a conversation with Governor Dean (Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean) today. Things are being done.

What? "Things are being done"?

For the record, I asked the Clinton campaign if it knew what Reid was talking about. It didn't. Its response, from top Clinton aide Harold Ickes: "This process needs to play out. There are a number states left to vote." I'll call Reid's office next.

The Clinton Campaign's New Math

| Mon Mar. 24, 2008 5:35 PM EDT

clinton.jpg Unless something truly monumental produces lopsided victories for Hillary Clinton in the upcoming primaries, her chances for the Democratic nomination rely on superdelegates overturning the will of Democratic voters. Knowing this, her campaign has regularly identified criteria upon which the superdelegates might choose Clinton over Obama, some of which directly reflect the voters' intent (pledged delegate count, popular vote) and some of which are essentially judgment calls (electability, readiness). The campaign's problem is that the former criteria currently favor Obama and the latter don't lend themselves to a slam dunk consensus. In fact, they have so far been rejected by the majority of Democratic voters, who think electability and readiness are either better found in Obama or are trumped by Obama's ability to usher in change. If superdelegates were to cite Clinton's electability and readiness in order to coronate a nominee, it could drive voters out of the party.

But the Clinton campaign has found a new angle: imaginary electoral college votes. It is sending surrogates out to push the idea that superdelegates should vote for the candidate who would have come out ahead if the primaries were awarding electoral college votes instead of delegates.

Global Warming for Fun and Profit

| Mon Mar. 24, 2008 4:41 PM EDT

Sick of frittering away your hard-earned wages on March Madness? How about betting on melting ice instead?

An annual contest to guess the exact moment the ice breaks on the River Tanana, 300 miles north of Anchorage, is attracting global interest, both as a chance to win a $300,000 (£151,000) prize and as one of the world's most precise scientific indicators of the effects of global warming.

Betting closes at midnight on April 5, and tickets are sold throughout Alaska.

White House Destroyed Hard Drives That May Have Contained Missing Emails

| Mon Mar. 24, 2008 4:32 PM EDT

The White House has responded to a judge's order asking it to explain why it shouldn't be required to make copies of all of its hard drives to ensure the recovery of missing emails by claiming that many of the relevant hard drives have been destroyed. You read that correctly: the White House position is "We don't have to preserve hard drives containing missing email because we already destroyed them."

Is it Possible to Take Back an Endorsement?

| Mon Mar. 24, 2008 3:31 PM EDT

lieberman200.jpg The Day of New London, Connecticut, has an ass-kicking editorial about John McCain's traveling buddy. It's titled, "We Don't Know This Sen. Joe: Sen. Lieberman has been too busy burning bridges to build any."

When The Day endorsed Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman for re-election in November 2006 it was supporting a candidate who demonstrated a history of pragmatic leadership and a willingness to seek bipartisan solutions.
We wonder what happened to that senator....

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Live Review: Vampire Weekend @ Rickshaw Stop, San Francisco

| Mon Mar. 24, 2008 3:12 PM EDT

mojo-photo-vampire2.jpgAppropriately enough, just getting to this show sucked the life out of me like a bloodthirsty Transylvanian. I'm happily relaxing with friends at around 9:15pm, having a spirited argument about Hillary Clinton and political dynasties, and I get a text message from Friend A: "R U cming 2 vamp?" I reply: "yes." Friend A: "Show starts in 15." "Minutes?" I reply. "Yes," comes the answer. As I get my jacket on, another text comes from Friend B: "Can my girlfriend be your +1"? Er, I don't have a +1. "Do you have the # of [Friend C who works at the label]"? I text it to him. Friend A texts again: "I'm here with [Friend D, lead singer of a notable Bay Area rock band], he says 'hi'." Okay. Friend C texts to tell me I now have a +1 and it's for Friend B's girlfriend. I arrive at the show, no sign of Friend B or the girlfriend. "Whr r u," I text. "At the kebab place around the corner." That kebab place is like 3 blocks away! "I'm here, band is on," I text madly, as I hear the strains of "Mansard Roof" through the door. A woman bicycles up and asks the security guy if he saw anyone selling tickets. "Someone was selling a ticket for $60 earlier," he says. "Do you think it's worth it if I wait?" she asks, and he says, "nah, I wouldn't." Minutes and two more songs pass, and no sign of my friends, but then Friend C from the record label shows up and puts Friend B on the list anyway, and I can finally enter the venue.

John McCain Doesn't Know How to Use a Computer (Video)

| Mon Mar. 24, 2008 2:56 PM EDT

This video appears to be from at least six weeks ago, but no one has really commented on it. Do we want a commander-in-chief who can't use a computer without assistance?

Washington is full of these guys, and it's so depressing. Larry Craig once said "I've never used the internet" (though we know he was lying). Ted Stevens thinks the internet is a series of tubes. Bush uses "the Google." I can't wait until we have a computer-literate generation of leaders in our Capitol.

Gender Bending Language

| Mon Mar. 24, 2008 2:05 PM EDT

Last week I examined the issue of gender-neutral language, and demurred at the tendency of the English language to fall back on male-dominant pronouns. Having poked around in a few writing style guides, I concluded that their rules negate the need to pander to linguists looking to strip our pronouns of any association with gender or sex. What my heterocentrist discussion—similar to that of most people—overlooked is how our current construct of language fails to accommodate or even recognize the marginalized transgender or "gender nonconforming" population. An article in New York Times Magazine featuring Rey, a transmale (born female but identifies as male) student, finds that on gender-sensitive campuses "students will often use gender-neutral pronouns like 'ze' and 'hir'—especially if they post on campus message boards." And the appearance of terms such as "gender nonconforming" and "genderqueer" in the article signifies that our relationship to gender is transforming.

"…today many students who identify as trans are seeking not simply to change their sex but to create an identity outside or between established genders—they may refuse to use any gender pronouns whatsoever or take a gender-neutral name…"

Mother Jones took a look at the evolution of gender-neutral pronouns in our March/April 2008 issue. So although our writing style guides allow us to circumvent the current, although heterocentrist, gender pronoun debate, in the future—as our discussions evolve—they might need an update as well.

—Joyce Tang

Drilling Making Alaskans Sick

| Mon Mar. 24, 2008 2:00 PM EDT

offshore200.jpgBy now, most of us have heard about how oil and gas drilling does a number on ecosystems. But it's no good for people, either. By way of the British Columbia online magazine the Tyee comes the story of Nuiqsut, a coastal community of 523 people in northern Alaska, about 100 miles west of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Back in the late '90s, the oil and gas companies wooed the local Inupiat tribe with promises of jobs and minimal environmental impact—just 14 acres of tribal land would be affected by offshore and land drilling, they said. But now, 14 looks more like 500, and the community is a whole lot worse for the wear, says Rosemary Ahtuangaruak, mayor of Nuiqsut and also a health-care worker: