Blogs

McCain != Bush Becomes Harder With Discovery of New Quotes

| Thu Jun. 12, 2008 11:50 AM EDT

Liberal bloggers spend a fair amount of time pointing out that John McCain is a lot like George W. Bush. But now two quotes have emerged in which John McCain himself argues he's a lot like George W. Bush, making his task of distancing himself from the President that much harder.

Quote 1, June 2005, Meet the Press:

RUSSERT: The fact is you are different than George Bush.
SEN. McCAIN: No. No. I–the fact is that I'm different but the fact is that I have agreed with President Bush far more than I have disagreed. And on the transcendent issues, the most important issues of our day, I've been totally in agreement and support of President Bush.

Quote 2, May 2003, Your World with Neil Cavuto:

"The president and I agree on most issues. There was a recent study that showed that I voted with the president over 90 percent of the time, higher than a lot of my even Republican colleagues."

I mean, c'mon. This isn't hard. McCain once said of Bush, ""[H]e has more than earned our support. He has earned our admiration and our love." Bush reportedly supported McCain in the Republican primary because McCain was "best to carry forth his agenda."

McCain's attempts to distance himself from Bush aren't just an uphill climb. They're an uphill climb with a monkey on his back and one of these tied to his leg.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

SCOTUS Rules Gitmo Detainees Can Challenge Detention in US Civilian Courts

| Thu Jun. 12, 2008 11:33 AM EDT

The Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Guantanamo detainees yet again. According to the AP, SCOTUS ruled today that "foreign terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay have rights under the Constitution to challenge their detention in U.S. civilian courts."

In its third rebuke of the Bush administration's treatment of prisoners, the court ruled 5-4 that the government is violating the rights of prisoners being held indefinitely and without charges at the U.S. naval base in Cuba. The court's liberal justices were in the majority.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the court, said, "The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times."
It was not immediately clear whether this ruling, unlike the first two, would lead to prompt hearings for the detainees, some of whom have been held more than 6 years. Roughly 270 men remain at the island prison, classified as enemy combatants and held on suspicion of terrorism or links to al-Qaida and the Taliban.

We may finally see some progress on this issue. Twice before, the Supreme Court has ruled prisoners at Guantanamo held without charges can go to American civilian courts to ask that the federal government justify their detention. Both times, Congress has changed the law to keep them from doing so. But in both instances, Congress was controlled by Republicans and the White House was occupied by George Bush. With Democrats in control of Congress and two presidential candidates who favor the shuttering of Gitmo, we may finally begin down the path to justice sometime in 2009.

Background on the case is available here. For the recent Mother Jones cover package on detainees and torture, see here. For an inside look at Guantanao, check this out.

Video: Cusack's McCain Baiting

| Wed Jun. 11, 2008 9:12 PM EDT

First, John Cusack made War, Inc., a film satirizing post-9/11 America, about which he bantered with our lovely co-editor here.

Now, Cusack's officially become pundit bait with a MoveOn.org ad in which he equates John McCain with President Bush:

I think it's safe to tally that as another celebrity endorsement for Obama.—Steve Aquino

Music: Is Flying Lotus the New J Dilla?

| Wed Jun. 11, 2008 5:51 PM EDT

mojo-photo-flyinglotusla.jpgOkay, for those of you not attuned to underground instrumental hip-hop, perhaps that headline didn't make much sense. Quick background: J Dilla was a groundbreaking producer, real name James Dewitt Yancey, who worked with artists from Common and the Pharcyde to Kanye West and Busta Rhymes. He suffered from lupus, dying in February, 2006, at the heartbreakingly young age of 32. I've already blathered endlessly about his genius and the brilliance of his final album, Donuts, a mostly-instrumental work of re-imagined soul and melancholy notes. Dilla's wonky, spacey style has definitely been influential, but yet it always felt like there were few (if any) hip-hop producers in his realm, creating a sound that's definitely experimental, but still warm, organic, and full, with an off-kilter, syrupy feel to the rhythm.

Flying Lotus' origins in Winnetka, California, couldn't be more removed from J Dilla's Detroit upbringing, but the 24-year-old producer (aka Steve Ellison) may have established himself as the heir to Yancey with his new album, Los Angeles. Sure, there are the basic similarities: this is crunchy, organic-sounding instrumental hip-hop, with an unashamed love of drums: tracks like "Melt" focus almost entirely on exotic-sounding percussion, similarly to the brief tom-tom-driven "People" from Dilla's Donuts. But Flying Lotus is no copycat. On last year's Reset EP, he struck out on a slightly darker, more electronic direction, with mechanical, buzzing tones accompanying quirky samples, and that trend is in evidence on Los Angeles as well: "Riot" features a vibrato electronic bass line, and interludes like the 45-second "Orbit 405" are a cacophony of electronic static and bleeps, like a compilation of all cell phones dialing on the eponymous freeway.

After the jump: Who's your famous auntie?

McCain Snubbed by Chuck Berry But Still Loves ABBA

| Wed Jun. 11, 2008 4:58 PM EDT

mojo-photo-mccainabbaberry.jpg

You almost start to feel kind of sorry for GOP candidates out there on the stump. As we've reported here on the Riff before, Republicans tend to have a tough time finding tunes to play at their public events, since the artists, once they find out, tend to make very public rejections and denouncements of said candidates using their songs. Presidential candidate John McCain has himself acknowledged the problem, joking that the campaign has been using Chuck Berry's 1958 classic "Johnny B Goode" only "because it's the only one they haven't complained about us using." Well, scratch another one off your playlist, Johnny, since Mr. Berry has just announced his support for Barack Obama. Duh:

"America has finally come to this point where you can pick a man of colour and that not be a drawback," Berry said. "It's no question, myself being a man of colour. I mean, you have to feel good about it." The anointment of Mr Obama as the Democratic presidential candidate was, he added, "definitely a proud and successful moment for all the people of this country – not just black people, but Americans in general." Berry, known as the "father of rock 'n' roll", recounted: "In the Fifties there were certain places we couldn't ride on the bus, and now there is a possibility of a black man being in White House."

Oh well.

After the jump: If you change your mind, I'm, uh, the first in line?

Citizens of Lesbos Finally Taking Action Against Name-Stealing Gay Women

| Wed Jun. 11, 2008 4:54 PM EDT

Oh dear.

A group of plaintiffs from the Greek island of Lesbos begins their quest in court today to stop gay women from calling themselves lesbians.

Presumably they will have to sue in every nation in the world (except Iran, of course). More:

"We are very upset that, worldwide, women who like women have appropriated the name of our island," said Dimitris Lambrou, a magazine publisher who is one of those bringing the complaint with other islanders. "Until 1924, according to the Oxford English dictionary, a Lesbian was a native of our isle," he said. "Now, because of its new connotations, our womenfolk are unable to call themselves such and that is wrong."
...Lambrou insists he has "nothing against lesbians" who flock to Eressos — a resort on the island that is famed as the birthplace of the 5th century BC poet Sappho — and whose contribution to the local economy has been considerable.

Via the very excellent AMERICAblog.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

New Report Findings on Middle Class Health Insurance

| Wed Jun. 11, 2008 4:06 PM EDT

Universal health care might be something even the staunchest Republicans start to consider after this news:

According to a report released this week by The Commonwealth Fund, 25 million Americans were underinsured in 2007—a 60 percent jump since 2003.

And it's the middle class who's feeling the pain, again.

What does being underinsured get you?

What If the Stimulus Bankrupts the Government?

| Wed Jun. 11, 2008 3:52 PM EDT

Dear IRS,

I am writing to ask whether I may return my 2007 stimulus payment of $89.43. I read today that this payment has contributed to a record-breaking federal budget deficit for the month of May—a whopping $166 billion—and feel that it is my patriotic duty to return my windfall to keep the bankers in Dubai from foreclosing on major American landmarks. I can survive without it, and certainly wouldn't feel good about spending the extra money knowing that my kids will still be paying interest on it well into their old age. Besides, eighty bucks won't do much for this rotten economy so you might as well keep it where it could do some good. Maybe you can use it to catch some tax cheats.

Thanks.

McCain on Whether Cheney Could Serve in His Administration: "Hell, Yeah"

| Wed Jun. 11, 2008 12:41 PM EDT

john-mccain-dick-cheney-250x200.jpg John McCain has been on both sides of a lot of issues. He hated social conservatives leaders; then he embraced them. He opposed the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy; now he supports them. He said Roe v. Wade shouldn't be overturned; now he says it should.

So it's not surprising that McCain has had a diversity of views about Dick Cheney. In early 2007, when he was gearing up his presidential run, McCain was critical of Cheney, saying, "The president listened too much to the Vice President... Of course, the president bears the ultimate responsibility, but he was very badly served by both the Vice President and, most of all, the Secretary of Defense."

But in 2004, when McCain was campaigning for the Bush-Cheney ticket, McCain said Cheney is "one of the most capable, experienced, intelligent and steady vice presidents this country has ever had."

And most disturbingly, McCain told a Cheney biographer in 2006 that he would want Cheney serving in his administration, should he be elected president:

"I will strongly assert to you that he has been of enormous help to this president of the United States... I don't know if I would want him as vice president. He and I have the same strengths. But to serve in other capacities? Hell, yeah."

If the Democrats are smart, this will be in every advertisement from now until November. (H/T TP)

Will the Iraqi Government Destroy Half of McCain's Campaign?

| Wed Jun. 11, 2008 11:53 AM EDT

John McCain and George W. Bush argue that maintaining high levels of U.S. troops in Iraq is essential for the security of Iraq, the region, the world, and, of course, the Untied States. But that does not seem to be the position of Baghdad.

In recent days, there has been a spate of news reports on the troubled negotiations between the Bush administration and the Iraqi government concerning the under-construction agreement that will govern the presence of U.S. troops and military bases in Iraq. The Washington Post reports on the front page:

Top Iraqi officials are calling for a radical reduction of the U.S. military's role here after the U.N. mandate authorizing its presence expires at the end of this year. Encouraged by recent Iraqi military successes, government officials have said that the United States should agree to confine American troops to military bases unless the Iraqis ask for their assistance, with some saying Iraq might be better off without them.
"The Americans are making demands that would lead to the colonization of Iraq," said Sami al-Askari, a senior Shiite politician on parliament's foreign relations committee who is close to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki "If we can't reach a fair agreement, many people think we should say, 'Goodbye, U.S. troops. We don't need you here anymore.'"

See the disconnect? McCain and Bush insist that we have no choice but to keep a large number of U.S. soldiers in Iraq. But Iraqi pols allied with the government look at U.S. troops presence as something that is optional. If these Iraqis can have the Americans there on their own terms, it's fine. If not, their position is, bye-bye.

It's within the Iraqis' rights to set whatever terms they desire. Iraq supposedly is a sovereign nation. (This week, Maliki visited Iran.) But the Iraqis' approach to the negotiations undermine McCain and Bush's defense of the current policy. McCain says it's crucial that the United States remains in Iraq and wins the war. Iraqi leaders are indicating that it ain't so crucial that the U.S. troops stay. (This morning on a conference call with reporters arranged by the Barack Obama campaign, former Navy Secretary Richard Danzig noted an "irony": the Iraqi parliament is deeply immersed in the negotiation of this agreement, yet the Bush White House refuses to involve directly Congress in the agreement.)

So what might happen to the McCain candidacy if the talks--which are supposed to lead to an agreement by the end of July--fail and Iraq gives Bush the boot? McCain won't have a war to promote any longer. And he won't be able to depict Barack Obama as a defeatist surrender-monkey who will yank out troops precipitously and endanger every single family in the United States. In other words, half of McCain's campaign will be gone. (On the Today Show this morning, McCain said that "General Petraeus is going to tell us" when U.S. troops can be withdrawn from Iraq. McCain seemed oblivious to this recent news and the possibility that Iraqis may tell the United States when to withdraw.)

If the talks do collapse, one possibility would be a year-long extension of the current U.N. mandate covering the U.S. troops presence in Iraq. That could keep the status quo in place. Yet if it comes to that, the signal from the Iraqi government will still be, we don't want you here in the way you want to be here. Such a development will not help the war-is-all candidate.