Mojo - July 2007

Regime Change Here at Home

| Wed Jul. 25, 2007 3:02 PM EDT

Is this our future?

I'm looking forward to the 2030s: hottest, drunkest presidents ever.

It's an incredibly slow news day, folks.

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Survey: Muslim Support for Suicide Bombings Declining

| Wed Jul. 25, 2007 11:10 AM EDT

This morning's Washington Post reports on the results of a recent Pew Global Attitudes survey, showing that most of the world's Muslims reject suicide bombings and violence against civilians. The poll, conducted between April 6 and May 29, surveyed 45,239 people in 46 countries. Not surprisingly, Palestinians were the most enthusiastic supporters of suicide bombings: 70 percent of them responded that such attacks are "sometimes" or "often" justified. The countries showing the least amount of support? Egypt (8 percent) and Pakistan (9 percent). The survey also suggested that, in many countries, enthusiasm for suicide attacks has fallen sharply since 2002. At that time, 74 percent of Lebanese, 43 percent of Jordanians, and 26 percent of Indonesians agreed that at least some suicide bombings could be justified; today, those statistics stand at 34 percent, 23 percent, and 10 percent, respectively. Pew also discovered waning support for Osama Bin Laden in many of the same countries. The most precipitous decline was in Jordan, where just 20 percent of respondents voiced confidence in the Al Qaeda leader, down from 56 percent in 2002.

Is the Onion Smarter Than the Entire Foreign Policy Establishment?

| Tue Jul. 24, 2007 2:12 PM EDT

Note the date on this Onion point-counterpoint. The humorists knew what was coming.

— Nick Baumann

Dick Morris, Breaking Big Stories. Fred Thompson, Playing the Dirty Money Game

| Tue Jul. 24, 2007 1:36 PM EDT

Mother Jones loves exposing the Washington game wherein lobbyist children work with their lawmaker parents, a game that results in a shocking (shocking!!) rate of success for the lobbyists and lots of money spread around for all involved.

Today, with an assist with Dick Morris, we bring you a consultant son working with his presidential candidate father, with, oh yes, lots of dirty money...

What did Fred Thompson's son, Daniel, do to earn the more than $170,000 that his firm, Daniel Thompson Associates, was paid from his father's federal political action committee, the Fred D. Thompson PAC?
The records suggest he did next to nothing.

Undeclared candidate (I love that phrase) Thompson has been running a PAC since 2003 with the leftover money from his senatorial campaign committee. He began the PAC with $378,601 and did nothing with the organization except give that money away. Of the payouts, $176,000 went to Thompson's son's firm, $46,000 went to federal races, $35,000 went to "other political donations," and $62,700 went to charity. Meaning over half of the PAC's payments have gone to Fred Thompson's son. One might even say this was a conscious effort to enrich a family member: a scam, in short.

Evidence of that theory lies in the fact that, as Morris writes, "it's hard to find any evidence of bona fide work done by Daniel Thompson Associates for his father's PAC." Thompson's PAC didn't do anything that would require a consultant, except maybe write checks. Or find people to write checks to, a service that would hardly require a payout of almost $180,000.

Thompson is from an earlier era of congressional Republicans — let's call them the pre-2006 era Republicans. They played fast and loose with ethics rules and campaign donations, and got slammed by voters as a result. It's no surprise that the presidential frontrunners for the GOP are a mayor, a governor, and the strongest supporter of campaign finance reform in the country. Do they really want to add a dirty money man to that list?

Understatement of the Day

| Tue Jul. 24, 2007 12:15 PM EDT

From Daniel Benjamin (Brookings Institution) and Steve Simon (Council on Foreign Relations) in their op-ed in today's New York Times, which suggests that we use the CIA to root out Al Qaida in Pakistan:

While the C.I.A. doesn't have an unblemished record...

Posted without further comment.

— Nick Baumann

Hatch Act Violations Extend to Diplomatic Corps

| Tue Jul. 24, 2007 12:40 AM EDT

We've blogged in the past about Karl Rove's political PowerPoints that Rove's deputies went around Washington showing to federal employees, acts of politicalization that are obvious violations of the Hatch Act.

The Post has an A01 story revealing that those PowerPoints even reached foreign policy folks, specifically top diplomats.

White House aides have conducted at least half a dozen political briefings for the Bush administration's top diplomats, including a PowerPoint presentation for ambassadors with senior adviser Karl Rove that named Democratic incumbents targeted for defeat in 2008 and a "general political briefing" at the Peace Corps headquarters after the 2002 midterm elections.
The briefings, mostly run by Rove's deputies at the White House political affairs office, began in early 2001 and included detailed analyses for senior officials of the political landscape surrounding critical congressional and gubernatorial races, according to documents obtained by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Why members of the foreign service need to know which Democrats are targeted for removal in 2008 is beyond me, but if you're going to taint the federal government, you might as well taint all of it. Go big or go home: it's the American way.

Update: The original headline of this article said "diplomatic corp" instead of "diplomatic corps." Mea culpa.

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CNN/YouTube Debate Live Blog! Part 4

| Mon Jul. 23, 2007 9:14 PM EDT

A question in the form of a rap song about No Child Left Behind. Kind of cringe-inducing, but kind of neat. Richardson and Biden, who have differences on Iraq, as documented below, both agree on scrapping it. This is Bush's single greatest domestic accomplishment! What an awful legacy!

Wait, Biden's wife and daughter were killed? Did he just say that? How can everyone talk about John Edwards' dead son without ever mentioning the fact that Biden has lost his wife and daughter? I'm hitting Wikipedia.

Okay, here's what Wikipedia says (authoritative source, I know): "In 1966, while in law school, Biden married Neilia Hunter. They had three children, Joseph R. III (Beau), Robert Hunter, and Amy. His wife and infant daughter died in an automobile accident shortly after he was first elected to the U.S. Senate [in 1973]. His two young sons, Beau and Hunter, were seriously injured in the accident, but both eventually made full recoveries. Biden was sworn into office from their bedside." Biden remarried in 1977.

We just had a question from two fake hillbillies and a question from a snowman. CNN's producers are punchy tonight. (Boy, awkward transition.)

CNN/YouTube Debate Live Blog! Part 3

| Mon Jul. 23, 2007 8:51 PM EDT

Gravel = righteous anger. Seriously. The man is a cauldron of fury. If you think lives were lost in vain in Vietnam and lives are being lost in vain in Iraq, and more importantly, you want a president who is willing to say so loudly, Gravel might be the guy for you.

Question from a soldier in Japan for Hillary Clinton. Islamic states see women as second class citizens, he says. Given that, how can she hope to be taken seriously by leaders of those states? Hillary blows the question out of the water, saying as First Lady she visited 82 countries, including many Islamic ones, and that as a powerful senator she regularly has high-level talks with those folks. Also, there are and have been female leaders across the globe, including some in Muslim-dominated states, like Pakistan. Hillary has been really hammering her credentials and experience — usually by saying that she has the best ability to hit the ground running if elected — and it's hard to argue with her.

CNN/YouTube Debate Live Blog! Part 2

| Mon Jul. 23, 2007 8:20 PM EDT

Obama has a zinger. Asked about whether or not he has authenticity as a black man, he says he proves his credentials when he tries to catch a cab in Manhattan.

Hillary has a good one on whether or not her femininity is in question: "I can't run as anything but a woman." Now Edwards is taking on the question of women — more women than men have trouble getting the health care they need, more women are affected by the minimum wage, and so on. He commends Senator Clinton for her lifetime of work on behalf of women, but claims he is the best advocate for them.

A couple totally awesome questions on gay rights. A lesbian couple asking if the candidates would allow them to marry if they were elected, and then a Baptist pastor who said, if religion was used to justify slavery, banning interracial marriage, and other injustices, and we recognized that was wrong, how can we use religion to deny gay Americans the right to vote. This is the sort of stuff conventional moderators would not have brought up. At least one cheer for YouTube, and Politics 2.0!

CNN/YouTube Debate Live Blog!

| Mon Jul. 23, 2007 7:55 PM EDT

We'll be here all night, folks, watching the Dems debate at the Citadel. Big question, according to the mainstream media anyway: will someone try to distinguish themselves by attacking Hillary Clinton, who leads in all the polls?

Today's questions don't come from moderators — they come from YouTube users who submitted 3,000 questions in the weeks leading up to the debates. CNN showed polls before the debate showing that the younger you are, the more likely you are to use the internet to follow campaign news. But the older you are, the more likely you are to watch a debate on television. What that means is, today is as an inter-generational affair, with old fogies tuning in only to be befuddled by all the youngsters with webcams appearing on their TV screens.

Okay, kicking things off. The first two questions are all crazy and in-your-face. I'm willing to bet CNN could have found enough serious and almost boring questions to make this a conventional affair. But they've been billing this as revolutionary for days, so things are going to have to be edgy. This might be a loooong night.