Mojo - April 2008

Ex-Bushie Still Pounding the Pavement

| Sat Apr. 12, 2008 9:27 PM PDT

Loyalty took no one so far in the Bush administration as Alberto Gonzales. But eight months after he resigned amid allegations of possible perjury and enabling arguably unconstitutional activity, the former Bush administration attorney general still cannot find a job, the New York Times reports:

Alberto R. Gonzales, like many others recently unemployed, has discovered how difficult it can be to find a new job. Mr. Gonzales, the former attorney general, who was forced to resign last year, has been unable to interest law firms in adding his name to their roster, Washington lawyers and his associates said in recent interviews.

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On Joss Whedon, Male Feminist

| Sat Apr. 12, 2008 8:15 PM PDT

How I wish I'd remembered to link to this when I wrote earlier this week about the misogyny of the Horton Hears A Who movie.

It's Joss Whedon, the man who gave us Buffy the Vampire Slayer (go ahead and laugh—LOVED it), Angel, Firefly, and much more. Here's a guy who builds killer vehicles around strong, female protagonists and gets rich.

It's his acceptance speech for an award from Equality Now and is one of the best indictments I've encountered of media pack mentality, intellectual laziness, and the near impossibility of having a national conversation around sexism.

Problem is: people think merely asking a seemingly feminist question, while tuning out on the answer, will suffice. Also, the speech is hilarious. Whedon is riffing about all the poseur 'journalists' who interview him and ask the same question, one to which they clearly never do more than type up the answer: How come you write about such strong women?

Enjoy, with my compliments.

Updated: Obama's Hebrew Blog

| Fri Apr. 11, 2008 10:53 AM PDT

Earlier today I passed on the news that according to Israel's Ynet news, Barack Obama today became the first US presidential candidate to start a Hebrew blog.

But an Obama aide, Sam Graham-Felsen, has since been in touch with my colleagues to say the new site is not an official one. "Some supporters made it on their own," Graham-Felson writes. "Obviously any official blog would be on barackobama.com and I would know about it." Oy vey, the perils of blogging. My apologies.

John McCain's Age: An Issue?

| Fri Apr. 11, 2008 10:10 AM PDT

Yesterday, the DNC released some internal polling it conducted on John McCain. There's nothing groundbreaking — some people know a lot about McCain, some don't; some can be swayed by new (presumably negative) information about McCain, some can't — but there is one interesting observation. When swing voters are asked about McCain, the "most frequently volunteered concerns" are his age (19%), his position on the Iraq War (18%), his support for continuing the policies of the Bush Administration (10%), and his positions on economic issues (8%).

That first number is pretty stunning: nearly twice as many people are worried about McCain's age — he'll be 72 in August — than his manifold similarities to a failed president who has an approval rating hovering around 30 percent.

But will the Democrats make an issue of McCain's age? Not according to party chairman Howard Dean, who said yesterday, "I doubt we will bring it up in the election." Dean tried to portray the decision as a moral one: "There is somewhat of a higher ethical bar on what we do. We don't have any Lee Atwaters or Karl Roves on our side." In reality, Dean is probably unwilling to risk upsetting the AARP vote, which turns out reliably and doesn't want to hear that an energetic man of its age should be disqualified from holding office. Age discrimination, and all that.

That doesn't mean age won't be an issue. There will be independent liberal groups, not to mention liberal blogs, that will be all too happy to suggest McCain is "too old-fashioned" or "out of touch with modern views." Heck, even the Democratic nominee can play this game — a surrogate can "accidentally" make a comment that inserts age into the national debate, and then apologize the next day after the damage is done.

And of course, every story and blog post that debates whether age should be an issue makes age an issue.

I'm Not Crazy, Sexism Is

| Fri Apr. 11, 2008 9:59 AM PDT

More, as if we were running low, on sexism, its pervasiveness, and its actual effect on its victims.

From mindhacks.com:

Female anger at work seen as worse, a character flaw:

Psychological Science has just published an eye-opening study that found that women who express anger at work were thought of more negatively than men and were assumed to be 'angry people' or 'out of control'. Male colleagues who did the same were typically viewed in a more positive light and were assumed to be upset by circumstances.

(Hat tip: Andrew Sullivan.)

So who's crazier: a woman who expresses basic human emotions appropriately based on relevant stimuli? Or the man who 'sees' anger differently based on the presence, or lack, of a penis on said angry person. But wait, female evaluators also came to the same conclusions when observing angry people in the workplace. Men get angry. Women go insane. And are professionally punished for it.


Medical Nonprofit Designed for 3rd World Helps Here at Home

| Fri Apr. 11, 2008 9:24 AM PDT

This is a heartbreaking look at the uninsured and underinsured in America, and one nonprofit that is doing what it can to help them. If you've got 13 minutes, watch it through the end — the last two minutes are excellent.

If you were looking for a place to make a charitable donation...

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Petraeus for Prez? Not Likely

| Fri Apr. 11, 2008 8:40 AM PDT

The four-star tries to put this rumor to rest.

Exclusive: Read the Internal Documents Exposing the Former Secret Service Agents Who Went Through Greenpeace's Trash

| Fri Apr. 11, 2008 2:10 AM PDT

A Mother Jones exclusive investigation has revealed that a security firm run by cops and former Secret Service agents spied on Greenpeace, Fenton Communications, the Center for Food Safety, and other progressive groups. The most interesting company communiques you weren't supposed to see? Check out the glow-in-the-dark Taco Bell emails and the handwritten notes about which green groups to dumpster-dive in D.C. We've made them public for the first time; they're available on the site here. You'll have to read James Ridgeway's story itself to find out about the Mary Kay cosmetics, Obama, and Scientology angles, though.

Yes, it's weird. Wait'll you get to the Greenpeace undercover operatives part.

Watch Bitter Enemies Make Nice on Bloggingheads.tv

| Thu Apr. 10, 2008 9:20 PM PDT

Not really, but it's a great example of how we reach across the color divide to figure out how to learn to live in peace with each other. It's a video of me and Ross Douthat of The Atlantic. It was fun and I actually learned useful things about the quote-unquote white POV.

Iran: Sabers and Sobriety

| Thu Apr. 10, 2008 2:18 PM PDT

Much has been written already about General David Petraeus' and Ambassador Ryan Crocker's two days of marathon testimony on Capitol Hill this week, including plenty about the degree to which they also testified about Iran's influence both in Iraq and in the greater Middle East. Petraeus was quick to call Iran's influence in Iraq "malevolent", but less quick to reconcile that influence with the fact that Iran is on friendly terms with the U.S.-backed Iraqi government. Just hours after the two men wrapped up their show, President Bush kicked up the rhetoric. According to the Times> of London, "President Bush warned Iran [] that if it did not stop arming and training Shia militia in Iraq then 'America will act to protect our interests and our troops.'"

Interestingly, while Petraeus and Crocker sat before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday, the National Iranian American Council hosted a conference, drawing on the expertise of journalists, scholars, former chief U.N. Weapons Inspector Hans Blix, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), to examine America's best options if it seeks to keep Iran's nuclear weapons program dormant. Iran, which recently claimed to be installing 6,000 new centrifuges at its uranium enrichment plant in Natanz, could restart its weapons program, and preventing that, the guests noted, will likely require direct U.S. diplomatic engagement with the Islamic Republic.

That process would no doubt have an impact on Iran's influence in Iraq, and it might well prove to be a positive one. "Iran recently proved helpful in brokering a ceasefire between Prime Minister al-Maliki and Moqtada al-Sadr's JAM militias in Basra, Feinstein noted. "Clearly, a more positive relationship with Iran might be helpful in stabilizing Iraq." That ceasefire is by no means destined to hold, and will by no means solve the fundamental political rifts that keep Iraq ablaze. But it has knocked violence down noticeably, which is something all sides no doubt welcome.