Mojo - December 2007

Income Inequality Hits Record Levels

| Thu Dec. 13, 2007 11:27 AM PST

MoJo fans already know income inequality is a huge problem in America, but they may not know that it's getting worse, and fast.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) just updated their invaluable data series on income inequality and the results are startling. Income inequality among households, both before and after Federal taxes, grew more quickly over the last two years of the series, 2003-05, than over any other two-year period on record, back to 1979.
Over those two years, the growth of inequality transferred $400 billion dollars from the bottom 95% to the top 5%. That is, had the income distribution remained as it was in 2003, the income of each of the 109 million households in the bottom 95% would have been $3,660 higher in 2005.

More here. Two Americas, indeed...

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Jenna Bush Is Not a Rock Star

| Thu Dec. 13, 2007 10:44 AM PST

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Right now, merely steps away from our humble D.C. bureau, First Daughter Jenna Bush is signing copies of her new book, Ana's Story, at our local Borders. Except for an extra helping of Young Republicans milling around in New Paperbacks, you wouldn't even know she was in there. The turnout is modest at best, a sign, perhaps, that book publishing is a brutal business, even with White House connections. Still, Bush's book ranks a very respectable 729 on Amazon...

More (Weak) Inconsistency Claims Thrown Obama's Way

| Thu Dec. 13, 2007 9:51 AM PST

obama-flag.jpg A little more oppo research on Obama has hit the press. A few days back, a rival campaign gave Politico a 1993 survey that Obama filled out on which Obama indicated positions on the death penalty and on gun control that are slightly different from the ones he holds now.

Now someone has given a similar survey, this time from 2003, to ABC News. Again, Obama's answers are ever-so-slightly different than his current positions. Follow me, after the jump.

Hillary Wins Big Endorsement: Her Mother

| Thu Dec. 13, 2007 9:42 AM PST

The Hillary Clinton is airing a new 30-second television ad in Iowa today that features...her mother:

DOROTHY RODHAM: What I would like people to know about Hillary is what a good person she is. She never was envious of anybody--she was helpful. And she's continued that with her adult life with helping other women. She has empathy for other people's unfortunate circumstances. I've always admired that because it isn't always true of people. I think she ought to be elected even if she weren't my daughter.

Never envious, always helpful. Insipid? A wee bit. And note that she's been helping "other women," not "other people." With Barack Obama in the lead in the first state, the Clinton campaign is obviously aiming to preserve its support among older women. Is this an indication Clinton and her strategists are worried about their base?

Update: Video of the ad after the jump.

Political Focus on Immigration Raising Hate Crimes, Discrimination Against Hispanics

| Thu Dec. 13, 2007 8:58 AM PST

A disgusting corollary to the anti-illegal immigration zeal gripping our national debate (and the minds of many Republican voters) is increased discrimination and hate crimes against Hispanics, both legal and illegal.

From a very good Washington Post op-ed on "nativist ferocity":

It's a fair guess that this cruel campaign of immigrant-bashing will eventually turn toxic for the Republican Party itself, whose own strategists (Karl Rove, among others) have long grasped the growing electoral clout of Hispanics. Those Hispanic voters, native-born or not, are anxious and angry about the intensifying nativist zeal in political rhetoric, which many are rightly blaming on the Republicans. In a new survey by the Pew Hispanic Center, half of all Hispanics in America reported that the debate on immigration has had a specific negative impact on their lives; 41 percent said that they or someone close to them had suffered discrimination in the past five years -- up from 31 percent in 2002.
The new data undercut the Republicans' frequent protestations that their targets are not legal immigrants but illegal ones. The attacks have become so venomous, and the policy proposals so pernicious, that, predictably, they have caused collateral damage among Spanish-speaking and non-native-born people generally. The anti-illegal-immigrant crowd would have us believe it honors and admires legal immigrants; in fact, it is making America a less hospitable place for them.

Much more after the jump...

Cheney's Holiday Party: The CIA Chief's View

| Thu Dec. 13, 2007 8:33 AM PST

The WP reports:

After being grilled by the Senate intelligence committee for more than an hour Tuesday, CIA Director Michael Hayden went to Vice President Cheney's annual holiday party, where he endured more interrogation for a full 20 minutes from the Fourth Estate.
Ensnared in a scandal over the destruction of waterboarding videotapes, Hayden fielded questions -- off the record -- from eggnog-lubed reporters. He withstood the friendly Q and A with smiles and a relaxed air (aided by a nice, cold beer) until he spotted someone who could stop the torture: Cheney chief of staff David Addington. "David, save me!" Hayden jokingly shouted.
Addington obliged and physically pulled the Air Force general from the scrum of reporters. (Hayden received no assists from three Iraq war architects who also attended the party: former deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz, former defense undersecretary Doug Feith and their boss, former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld.) CIA chief spokesman Mark Mansfield told On the Hill that it was all in good fun. "He was just kidding around," Mansfield said. Hayden, who took his wife, Jeanine, to the vice president's party, was in "good spirits" all day, Mansfield said.
Hayden used Addington's helping hand to break away from the Fourth Estate interrogators because, Mansfield said, he "was out of Schlitz."

That sounds about right.

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Al Sharpton Under Investigation. Again

| Thu Dec. 13, 2007 7:35 AM PST

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Federal agents issued a half-dozen subpoenas yesterday to associates of the Rev. Al Sharpton ordering them to appear this month before a New York grand jury. The feds are also looking for documents relating to Sharpton's failed bid for president in 2004 and some related business entities. Sharpton seemed surprised by it all, but his lawyer, Michael Hardy, provided the best quote of the day yesterday when he told the AP that no one was especially concerned. "I can't think of a time when the Rev. Sharpton wasn't under investigation," he said.

Ryan White's Mother Still Trying To Meet With Mike Huckabee

| Wed Dec. 12, 2007 7:13 PM PST

For the second time, Jeanne White-Ginder, represented by the Human Rights Campaign and the AIDS Institute, has sent a letter to presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, asking him to meet with White-Ginder, the mother of Ryan White. White, at age 13, was diagnosed with AIDS and expelled from his school twenty-three years ago, and his case came to national attention. He died in 1990 at the age of 18.

White-Ginder, HRC and the AIDS Institute are interested in talking with Huckabee because of comments he made in 1992, when he said that people with AIDS should be isolated, even though it was an established fact that the syndrome could not be spread through casual contact. Just three days ago, the former Arkansas governor said that he stands by his belief that AIDS patients and individuals carrying HIV should be isolated.

The letter states: "We look forward to discussing our experiences and personal insight with you and your campaign. This was not and is not an issue of 'political correctness,' as you have stated previously. Rather, this is an issue of valuing science-based evidence over unfounded fear or prejudice."

Clinton Supporter Raises Idea of Young Obama Dealing Drugs

| Wed Dec. 12, 2007 4:22 PM PST

billy-shaheen.jpg Earlier today Billy Shaheen, Hillary Clinton's New Hampshire co-chair and husband of former N.H. governor Jeanne Shaheen, was thinking out loud about electability. He made these comments about Barack Obama, who just climbed into a tie with Clinton in N.H. in a CNN poll that had Obama down 20 points in September:

"The Republicans are not going to give up without a fight ... and one of the things they're certainly going to jump on is [Obama's] drug use."

Okay, fair enough. In making the case that his candidate is more electable, it is reasonable for Shaheen to point out that Obama has spoken openly about using marijuana and cocaine in his early years. That is something the GOP will likely jump on, after all. Shaheen continued:

"It'll be, 'When was the last time? Did you ever give drugs to anyone? Did you sell them to anyone?'... There are so many openings for Republican dirty tricks. It's hard to overcome."

Hey now! That's some strong stuff! Just because Shaheen wrapped his comments in a blanket of sympathy (or supposed sympathy) doesn't hide the fact that he just raised, for the first time in the campaign, the possibility that Barack Obama was a drug dealer.

young-obama.jpg And this is probably so obvious I don't need to say it, but I will. Any comment along these lines is racially coded. No one—no one—would ask if Mitt Romney slung rock if he were to admit he did drugs as a kid. Same with John Edwards or Hillary Clinton. But for many Americans the young Obama, who went to Columbia and Harvard Law, fits into their mental picture of what a drug dealer looks like.

Shame on Shaheen. I really hope this wasn't coordinated within the Clinton campaign. Right now they're saying, "These comments were not authorized or condoned by the campaign in any way."

Obama's response, after the jump.

Mike Huckabee: "Don't Look All That Closely"

| Wed Dec. 12, 2007 3:12 PM PST

This is just delightful.

"Not a crook or a weirdo or a Mormon." Good enough to win this field!