Mojo - April 2007

Giuliani Flip-Flop-Flips on Public Funding for Abortions

| Thu Apr. 5, 2007 11:39 AM EDT

Earlier, I wrote about Giuliani's flip-flops on public funding for abortion:

A top Rudy advisor has told the conservative National Review that Rudy opposes public funding for abortions. That's very different from Rudy's position in the 90s, when he ran for office touting his support for public funding.

CNN dug further into this recently when it interviewed Giuliani, and some poor writer had to figure out how to transcribe Giuliani's endless maneuvering and non-answers. Check it out.

In a 1989 speech now being widely circulated on the Internet, Giuliani called for public funding of abortions for poor women, saying, "We cannot deny any woman the right to make her own decision about abortion because she lacks resources."
Asked by Bash [the interviewer] if he would maintain that position as president, Giuliani said "probably."
"I would have to re-examine all of those issues and exactly what was at stake then -- that was a long time ago," he said. "When I was mayor, adoptions went up, abortions went down. But ultimately, it's a constitutional right, and therefore if it's a constitutional right ... you have to make sure that people are protected."
Pressed if he would support public funding for abortions, Giuliani said, "If it would deprive someone of a constitutional right, yes, if that's the status of the law, then I would, yes."
After the interview, Giuliani's campaign clarified that if elected, he would not seek to change current federal law, which limits public funding for abortions to cases of rape, incest or where the life of the pregnant woman is in danger.

So within the space of one interview, Giuliani says he would "probably" support public funding for abortions, then says he would have to support public funding because choice is a constitutional right, then says he would not support public funding except in a few instances.

All of this from a guy who has spent his career being a strong pro-choice advocate, and is known for his strength and resolve.

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McCain's Bazaar Photo Op Saga Ends in Bloodshed

| Wed Apr. 4, 2007 9:06 PM EDT

God, this is so sad.

21 Shia market workers were ambushed, bound and shot dead north of the capital. The victims came from the Baghdad market visited the previous day by John McCain, the US presidential candidate, who said that an American security plan in the capital was starting to show signs of progress...
Mr. McCain said that the situation was showing signs of improvement and blamed waning support in the United States for the war on the media, which were portraying an overly negative image of the crisis.

I suppose if 21 people weren't killed coming out of the market, 21 different people would have been killed somewhere else, just because violence is that bad in Baghdad these days. But seriously, Jesus Christ.

What a horrible price to pay so an American politican could make a fake point to undergird his fake credibility.

Spotted on Wonkette.

Gingrich: Pie, Meet Boca

| Wed Apr. 4, 2007 8:54 PM EDT

gingrich.jpgAt a speech to the National Federation of Republican Women, Newt Gingrich argued that the United States should abolish bilingual education so that "people…learn the language of prosperity, not the language of living in a ghetto." The likely presidential candidate also said that the government should not require that ballots "be printed in any one of 700 languages depending on who randomly shows up" to vote. (Because non-English speakers do everything without foresight or logic, apparently.) The lady Republicans cheered thunderously.

Hispanics, however, were predictably peeved by these comments, and Gingrich was asked about them in an appearance on Hannity & Colmes. I'm not sure if his response there was anti-Semitic or just stupid, but he said, "Frankly, ghetto, historically had referred as a Jewish reference originally. I did not mention Hispanics, and I certainly do not want anybody who speaks Spanish to think I'm in any way less than respectful of Spanish or any other language spoken by people who come to the United States."

Finally, he faced the music and apologized to the Hispanic community—I mean, obviously, he meant no harm and doesn't hold any negative stereotypes or anything. What a bunch of oversensitive, hot-blooded, bean-eating, lazy, sombrero-wearing landscapers to think otherwise!

Life After Cars

| Wed Apr. 4, 2007 8:03 PM EDT

Unlike the rest of the chorus chanting that Americans should drive less, James Howard Kunstler—the author of The Geography of Nowhere and The Long Emergency, an exploration of what life will be like after oil ceases to be plentiful and cheap—actually provides specifics.

Learn what they are on our environmental blog, The Blue Marble.

Debunking Sandra Tsing Loh's review of I'd Rather Eat Chocolate: Learning to Love My Low Libido

| Wed Apr. 4, 2007 4:18 PM EDT

A new book claims women have weaker sex drives than men because of testosterone.
Yeah right. First of all, women have testosterone too. Secondly, testosterone is made out of cholesterol, which is just about the least sexy molecule I can think of.

Keep reading on The Riff.

Prosecutor Purge: House GOPers Call Out DOJ, Mock Bush's Immigration Record

| Wed Apr. 4, 2007 3:22 PM EDT

TPMmuckraker brings this Washington Times piece to our attention. House Republicans still think there was no foul play in the recent canning of eight U.S. Attorneys (no surprise there), but they do take issue with the reasons given by the DOJ (the Dems took issue a long time ago). And one reason, in particular, has them chuckling. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a California Republican, sneered:

"It stretches anybody's credibility to suggest that this administration would have retaliated against U.S. Attorneys for not enforcing immigration laws. This administration itself is so lax in its attitude towards immigration laws and controlling the border."

Rohrabacher is referring to the firing of San Diego's former U.S. Attorney Carol Lam, who was forced to resign last winter under the premise that she was not filing enough immigration cases. (Au contraire.) Anyone who has been following the prosecutor case knows that the DOJ's allegations against Carol Lam are bogus and more likely the reason she was let go was because she was hot on the trail of defense contractor Brent Wilkes and former CIA official Kyle "Dusty" Foggo. TPMmuckraker notes that AG Alberto Gonzales' lying evoked unity among Dems and Republicans. I'd say we owe this bipartisan harmony to Bush's immigration record.

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Obama Matches Hillary Clinton's Fundraising Record

| Wed Apr. 4, 2007 12:50 PM EDT

People were impressed that Hillary Clinton raised $26 million in the first quarter of 2007 -- but not that impressed. Clinton, after all, came into the fight with a pre-constructed fundraising machine and the best organization of any candidate in either party. After two senate campaigns and eight years in the White House, she was pretty much expected to set a fundraising record.

This news, though, is really wowing people: Obama raised $25 million in the first quarter. It's an outstanding number from a guy who entered the national stage three years ago and is building his fundraising apparatus while raising money. I guess people don't share my concerns.

McCain Continues His Hiring Practices

| Wed Apr. 4, 2007 12:42 PM EDT

In December, I reported that Sen. John McCain had hired Terry Nelson to be his campaign manager in his run for the presidency. Nelson, Bush's national political director in 2004, was the creator of the infamous anti-Ford "Call me" spot that ran in Tennessee. Later that month, I reported that McCain had also hired Jill Hazelbaker as his New Hampshire communications director. Hazelbaker is best known for posing as a liberal and disrupting dialogue on liberal blogs, then lying about it.

Now McCain has hired Fred Malek as his national finance co-chair. If that name sounds familiar, it is because Malek was the man who "counted Jews" for Richard Nixon, who was seriously anti-Semitic and wanted Jewish staff members in the Bureau of Labor Statistics demoted to less visible positions. Malek was also deputy director of CREEP in the 70s. During the 80s, he was deputy chairman of the Republican National Committee, but resigned when it was revealed that he had been the man who compiled the list of Jews for Nixon.

Iran to Release Hostages; Victory for Diplomacy

| Wed Apr. 4, 2007 11:14 AM EDT

Hey, so it turns out if you don't drop bombs first and ask questions later, you can actually get something productive done. And, as a bonus, no one gets killed!

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has given "amnesty and pardon" to the fifteen British soldiers detained by an Iranian border patrol. They are set to be returned to Britain shortly.

Looks like "Britain's quiet diplomacy" did work. Who knows what backroom deal was made to secure the release of these fifteen young people -- the point is they are all safe and an international incident was averted. Are you taking notes, George?

Edwards Goes on the Attack. Target: Obama

| Wed Apr. 4, 2007 10:29 AM EDT

Consider this quote from John Edwards: "I don't know about you, but I'm tired of the rhetoric. It's not enough to talk about 'hope' and 'we're all going to feel good.' We're past that. This is a very serious time in American history. It's time for anybody running for president to treat this seriously. I have talked about hope and inspiration in the past, and they're wonderful things, but you have to translate them into action."

Okay, he's obviously targeting Obama. I'm sure the Obama campaign's response, if there is one at all, will be something about how this attack is another sign of the "smallness of our politics" and how we need to "elevate the tone" in Washington.

(In a recent panel discussion between reps from all three major Dem campaigns, Obama advisor/oracle David Axelrod repeatedly used the phrase "lift this country up" while simultaneously getting in a pissing match with the Clinton rep on hand. See the period from 1:13 to 1:22 in the video "Campaign 2008: Looking Ahead." The Edwards guy tries to stop the bickering by saying something to the effect of "Guys, guys, this is what people don't like.")

I think it's great that Obama inspires and excites people, and that he brings people who don't normally follow politics into the Democratic fold. I think it's great that he gave progressives a speech they can point to and say, "That's our message. That's who we are. That's what we believe." I think it's great that he's so smart, so charismatic, and such a truly phenomenal orator that he can likely overcome the handicaps any minority candidate faces when running nationwide in America.

But can we please get some specifics? You want to lift this country up? What does that mean exactly? You want to reclaim America's promise? Great, how? I assume that underneath the platitudes is a progressive agenda that mirrors the one John Edwards articulates in detail in nearly all of his speeches and appearances. But maybe I'm projecting my desires onto Obama: maybe "the audacity of hope" means something else entirely. I really have no idea.

Perhaps Obama's high-flying rhetoric and ambiguity on the issues is acceptable to folks that make voting decisions based on how they feel and who they're inspired by, as opposed to the nuts and bolts of policy. That's fine. But I'd like more.

This contrast between Obama and Edwards plays out in their campaign appearances. Obama fills his speeches with "anecdotes and set-piece jokes" while Edwards, who has folksy charm by the bushel, instead produces a "stream of policy talk on global warming, Iraq, education, poverty, and health care." Can we meet in the middle, gentlemen? Isn't that in the spirit of lifting this country up?