Mojo - May 2008

As Putin Leaves, Russia Rolls Out The Tanks (And Prepares For War?)

| Tue May 6, 2008 4:02 PM EDT

putinstalinlenin.jpg

Tomorrow, eight years after taking power, Russian president Vladimir Putin will turn the reigns of government over to his anointed successor, Dmitry Medvedev. And in keeping with the spirit of Putin's rule, the former KGB man's departure (and the arrival of the like-minded Medvedev) will be celebrated with one last dose of Soviet anachronism: a parade of military hardware in Red Square, the first such demonstration since the fall of the "Evil Empire." According to the Wall Street Journal's Andrew Osborn, over 100 tanks and mobile missile launchers, escorted by about 6,000 ground troops, will parade past the Kremlin, while more than 30 strategic bombers and fighters roar overhead.

More from the Journal:

Departing President Vladimir Putin said Monday that the parade isn't irresponsible saber-rattling but proof of the country's military resurgence. "We are not threatening anyone and don't plan to," he told a farewell cabinet meeting. "This is a demonstration of our growing defense capability."
The parade will be the first time the successor to the Red Army has showed off its armor and missiles on the storied square since 1990, when the faltering Soviet Communist party celebrated the Russian revolution for the last time. Friday's parade will mark the anniversary of the allied defeat of Nazi Germany.

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Why Democrats Are Promoting Gingrich's Worries Regarding the 2008 Elections

| Tue May 6, 2008 3:06 PM EDT

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee--the Democratic Party entity responsible for supporting House candidates--is happy that Newt Gingrich is not happy. On Tuesday, it zapped around a piece that Gingrich wrote for the conservative Human Events magazine, in which he cited the Democrat's recent win in a congressional special election in Louisiana as one helluva warning for the Republican party. Gingrich wrote:

Saturday's loss was in a district that President Bush carried by 19 percentage points in 2004 and that the Republicans have held since 1975.
This defeat follows on the loss of Speaker Hastert's seat in Illinois. That seat had been held by a Republican for 76 years with the single exception of the 1974 Watergate election when the Democrats held it for one term. That same seat had been carried by President Bush 55-44% in 2004.

Gingrich notes that congressional Democrats lead congressional Republicans in generic polling by 18 points nowadays, "reminiscent of the depths of the Watergate disaster." And bashing Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton ain't gonna help the GOPers running for House and Senate seats:

Huffington: McCain Didn't Vote for Bush in 2000

| Tue May 6, 2008 1:05 PM EDT

With this report in mind, I have a question. Is John McCain is the only politician in America who has moved closer and closer to Bush over the last eight years, instead of farther and farther away?

Know Your Enemy: Heather Mac Donald

| Tue May 6, 2008 12:48 PM EDT

If you believe that the criminal justice system is racially biased, you need to know Heather Mac Donald.

She'll mess with your mind and make you either up your politico-cultural game or admit you were wrong. What worries me is that so few on 'our' side can, or bother to, go toe to toe with her. Just about every one of her pieces is a statistical and analytical tour-de-force, while we liberals tend too often to mouth liberal pieties like inside jokes. Just yesterday, I was listening to Angela Davis address the Commonwealth Club (sorry. speech not posted) on my car radio. I agreed with nearly everything she said, but they were dissatisfying lefty bromides, one and all. Racist criminal justice system. Slavery was bad. War in Iraq. The crowd whooped and hollered, but where was the beef, the analysis, the facts? Forgive me Angela, patron saint of the streets, but Mac Donald would have had you for lunch.

The Clinton War on Economists Continues

| Tue May 6, 2008 12:42 PM EDT

Presumably, President H. Clinton's Secretary of the Treasury will be Bo Duke and her Secretary of Labor will be Norm from Cheers.

All of this is particularly funny because of this:

Background here.

Another Example of Why You Can't Trust the Right on Politics of the Left

| Tue May 6, 2008 11:48 AM EDT

Yesterday, I made the case that those of us on the left shouldn't use the arguments of those on the right, even if they ring true, in our own internal debates. An Obama supporter, for example, shouldn't use a right-wing blogger's case against Clinton as evidence because the right-wing blogger's motives are suspect: does she really like Obama, or does she simply want to sow seeds of discord and stir up trouble. She doesn't have the left's best interests at heart, after all.

Yesterday, the Obama campaign found an excellent example of my point. Here is the text of a National Right to Life robocall being made to Democrats in Indiana:

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A Gitmo Update By the Numbers

| Tue May 6, 2008 10:58 AM EDT

guantanamo-plane250x200.jpg The Washington Post reports dismaying news from Guantanamo Bay:

Nearly seven years [after 9/11] not one of the approximately 775 terrorism suspects who have been held on this island has faced a jury trial inside the [Expeditionary Legal Complex Courtroom], and U.S. officials think it is highly unlikely that any of the Sept. 11 suspects will before the Bush administration ends...
"I think it's a near-impossibility that these cases will be in court before the end of the administration," said Jennifer Daskal, senior counterterrorism counsel at Human Rights Watch, who has observed numerous court hearings on the island.
"Some of the detainees haven't even seen their lawyers yet, there's incredibly complicated issues about access to evidence and discovery, and as we've seen with every single case to date, it's incredibly hard to move through a system that lacks established rules and precedent," she said. "Every little detail ends up being contested, because it's an entirely new system of justice."

Here is the history of trials at Guantanamo (or the lack thereof), by the numbers:

McCain Wants a League of What Now?

| Tue May 6, 2008 10:34 AM EDT

Recently, McCain proposed a League of Democracies to replace the United Nations. It wasn't well-received:

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 may now be suggesting an alternative — a League of Nations.

McCain may have misspoken. The League of Nations was established by the Treaty of Versailles in 1919-1920 and folded just after World War II in 1946. McCain was nine at the time. Perhaps he just got confused. Or maybe he's serious and he'll propose the Great Compromise next. We should see some development of this issue over the course of the day.

Update: McCain is speechifying about judicial nominees today. MyDD speculates about the possible nomination of William Howard Taft.

Does Buying Bamboo Sheets Make You an Activist?

| Mon May 5, 2008 8:54 PM EDT

We want the lowdown on student activism, past and present. Been arrested and regret it? Would your school win the prize for silliest student protest? Was student activism way better when you were in school? Is your cause unique?

Help us put together our best student activism roundup yet. It's our 15th annual! Check out last year's. Answer a few quick questions and you could win some cool prizes.

Click here to begin!

Awkward Sports Metaphor of the Day

| Mon May 5, 2008 5:23 PM EDT

I'm going to start referring to America as the "home team."

"We're going to knock balls out of the country's park," [Hillary Clinton] says, standing in a minor-league baseball stadium, "for the home team, which is America."