Mojo - April 2008

Rove to Obama: Attack! Don't Attack!

| Mon Apr. 28, 2008 2:03 PM EDT

Bush's Brain is either a bad political consultant or he is — shocker! — screwing with Democrats.

Karl Rove, The Financial Times, December 2, 2007: "Memo to Obama":

First, stop acting like a vitamin-deficient Adlai Stevenson. Striking a pose of being high-minded and too pure will not work. Americans want to see you scrapping and fighting for the job, not in a mean or ugly way but in a forceful and straightforward way.
Hillary may come over as calculating and shifty but she looks in control. You, on the other hand, often come over as weak and ineffectual. In some debates, you do not even look at her when disagreeing with her, making it look as if you are afraid of her. She offers you openings time and again but you do not take advantage of them. Sharpen your attacks and make them more precise.

Karl Rove again, in the latest issue of Newsweek, May 5, 2008: "Dear Senator Obama...":

Stop the attacks. They undermine your claim to a post-partisan new politics. You soared when you seemed above politics, lost altitude when you did what you criticize. Attacks are momentarily satisfying but ultimately corrode your appeal.

I love that major news outlets keep paying Karl Rove for advice that no one is seeking. Oh, and not disclosing that he's an adviser to John McCain, for cripes sake.

Hat tip The Joshua Blog.

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Time for Cindy McCain to Release Her Tax Returns

| Mon Apr. 28, 2008 1:53 PM EDT

McCain's money...

Aside from a Wachovia checking account, in which he keeps between $15,000 and $50,000 (wouldn't some of that money earn more interest in a certificate of deposit?), all of the couple's assets are in Cindy's name. John McCain's tax return is so anemic, so marginal to the couple's actual financial situation, that he doesn't even take a deduction for interest on his home mortgage. Presumably Cindy does, since disclosure forms indicate that she has several mortgages.
We don't know for certain whether she does, because the campaign has declined to release Cindy McCain's tax returns. This data gap sets McCain apart from his Democratic opponents, who have released jointly filed tax records going back a minimum of seven years. Thanks to McCain's lack of genuine opposition in recent months, there has been very little clamor to release Cindy McCain's returns, even from those Republicans who loudly insisted that Hillary and Bill Clinton were hiding something in theirs.

From Slate, via The Plank.

Clapping Along With Bush at the White House Correspondents' Dinner

| Mon Apr. 28, 2008 1:37 PM EDT

On Saturday night, as I was sitting at the annual White House Correspondents' Association dinner--Washington's official prom--I had a vision of the future.

This is what I saw: it's decades from now, and historians and others are trying to understand what happened in the first years of the 21st century. That was when the United States government initiated a foolhardy war on the basis of fear and hyped-up threats. It was also a period when the people in charge did not take one of their last chances to deal with the real danger of global warming. And, of course, it was during those years that American leaders hocked the nation to China and the nation's global financial standing diminished. And these historians are asking, "What the hell went on."

Well, look at this old tape, one says, it just might explain. And they huddle over a holographic view-screen and watch as George W. Bush, the president during those years, is conducting the U.S. Marine Corps Band at the 2008 correspondents' dinner. He's mugging for the crowd, as he proceeds. The audience of journalists is laughing.

And when the song is over, Bush (and the band) receives rousing cheers and a standing ovation from the crowd.

Trying the Impossible: Building Public Support for Fixing the FEC

| Mon Apr. 28, 2008 1:27 PM EDT

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has started a new website called fixthefec.org, in order to (1) educate the public about the current situation with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC), which is currently out of order due to a lack of commissioners and will may not serve its traditional role of referee in the 2008 elections, and (2) build public support for a fix and pressure the Senate into acting. For everything — everything! — you need to know about why the FEC is broken, and what its inoperability means for the election season, see my recent article on the subject.

CREW's new website is a badly needed effort, but one that is unlikely to succeed. I say that with a tone of resignation. The FEC is not a sexy topic and no one but good government reformers gets excited about it. Besides, there is no one whose interests are directly affected by the agency's work. This was a point made to me by Robert Lenhard, a former nominee for the FEC who withdrew his name from consideration recently because of the delay in getting the FEC fixed. "This is an agency without a constituency group," he said. "There is no one other than the American people in some sort of broad and abstract sense whose self-interest is advanced by the existence of the FEC. There is no group that comes forward and says, 'No, no, no. This agency's work is essential and must continue.'"

Good luck to the folks at CREW in their fight on this issue. They'll need it.

McCain's Bizarre Undiscovered Foreign Policy Ideas

| Mon Apr. 28, 2008 11:05 AM EDT

McCain's troubling foreign policy vision on Iraq/Afghanistan/the war on terror is well-known. But he's just as recklessly hawkish when it comes to the rest of the world. For example, he wants to create a League of Democracies that will replace the United Nations. Here's the always insightful Fareed Zakaria:

The approach lacks any strategic framework.... How would the League of Democracies fight terrorism while excluding countries like Jordan, Morocco, Egypt and Singapore? What would be the gain to the average American to lessen our influence with Saudi Arabia, the central banker of oil, in a world in which we are still crucially dependent on that energy source?

McCain also wants to throw Russia out of the G8, a potentially world-changing move. He would bring in India and Brazil while excluding China. Again, Zakaria:

Pentagon Puppets Put on Ice

| Mon Apr. 28, 2008 10:55 AM EDT

The Pentagon program that used retired military officers as sock puppets in the media has been put on hold. This means the Department of Defense acted on the issue more quickly than most parts of the press.

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Operation Orchard

| Mon Apr. 28, 2008 4:04 AM EDT

Late last week, two senior US intelligence officials and a senior administration official provided background briefings to Congressional committees and the media on what they said was the evidence of North Korean involvement in a covert Syrian nuclear reactor. The facility was destroyed by Israeli air strikes last September, in an operation dubbed "Operation Orchard" that was subject to an Israeli news blackout.

"What we're going to discuss is a nuclear reactor," one senior US intelligence official told (.pdf) the media. "It was constructed by the Syrians in the eastern desert of Syria along the Euphrates River on the east side. The Syrians constructed this reactor for the production of plutonium with the assistance of the North Koreans."

"Our evidence goes back an extended period of time," he continued. "In the spring of last year, we were able to obtain some additional information that made it conclusive. And so, we engaged in this policy process of now that we have the evidence, what do we do about it? The evidence concluded a nuclear reactor, as I mentioned, constructed by the Syrians, started probably in 2001, completed in the summer of 2007. And it was nearing operational capability."

MoJo Convo: Nuclear Energy

| Mon Apr. 28, 2008 12:22 AM EDT

We asked a futurist, a MoJo writer, a No Nukes activist, and a weapons security expert:

What is nuclear energy's place in the future mix of energy sources?

They'll be checking in on this Blue Marble entry all week to discuss their controversial answers with readers—and each other. Want to talk to Stewart Brand, Judith Lewis, Jonas Siegel, or Harvey Wasserman about their take on nukes? Join the conversation here.

Congressman Hodes Calls for Investigation of "Independent" Military Analysts

| Fri Apr. 25, 2008 6:54 PM EDT

As Jonathan Stein reported on Wednesday, Sen. Carl Levin has begun putting pressure on Defense Secretary Robert Gates to investigate allegations made in last Sunday's New York Times report regarding the Pentagon's use of "ex"-military officials to shape public perception of the Iraq War.

Yesterday Congressman Paul Hodes of New Hampshire joined in by officially requesting Chairman John Tierney of the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs to hold a hearing on the matter. Hodes asserts that "the Department of Defense used these analysts to manipulate public opinion toward supporting the Administration's policy in the War in Iraq."

From Congressman Hodes' letter:

Voters Without Borders

| Fri Apr. 25, 2008 5:18 PM EDT

Neat.

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From Open Left, via Yglesias.