Mojo - May 2008

One Problem With Hillary as VP

| Fri May 23, 2008 10:52 AM EDT

As Joe Sudbay at AMERICAblog points out, there's a serious problem with the idea of Hillary Clinton as Obama's VP. She, but much more likely Bill, might not pass the vetting process.

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Bush Plans to Be Active Presence on Campaign Trail

| Fri May 23, 2008 10:36 AM EDT

mccain_bush_hug.jpg From AFP:

Bush and McCain plan to appear side by side at a May 27 fundraiser, their first public embrace since March 5, making the most of one of the president's most potent remaining political weapons.
Bush has done 19 political fundraisers in 2008, scooping up 37,142,500 dollars, according to records carefully kept by CBS news. His totals since 2001, including his 2004 reelection, are 310 events and 766,782,500 dollars.
The White House says the president plans to campaign vigorously for fellow Republicans, including McCain... "I think you'll see the president out on the campaign trail quite a bit. We'll keep you posted on their events that they may have together," spokesman Scott Stanzel said Monday.

This is helpful for McCain in that Bush can open the wallets of members of the conservative base that have not yet and probably will not warm to McCain. But if Bush does rallies and TV spots instead of just closed-door fundraisers, well... that's Christmas come early for the Democrats.

Obama and Clinton in Withdrawal Talks

| Fri May 23, 2008 10:08 AM EDT

CNN is reporting that the Clinton and Obama camps are holding "formal meetings" about Hillary Clinton's withdrawal from the Democratic primary. The report is sourced almost entirely to Clinton insiders — the Obama folks are denying unequivocally that talks are occurring — and they appear to see three scenarios:

(1) Obama chooses someone other than Clinton as vice president. The Clinton people consider this "totally unacceptable" and akin to "open civil war within the party." If it were to happen, Clinton's campaigning for Obama in the general would be "quite aloof."
(2) Obama publicly offers the VP spot to Clinton, which she would then reject.
(3) The candidates talk personally and hammer out a solution. Clinton gets her debt covered or gets Obama's support in a later run for Senate Majority Leader.

Video:

Finally, McCain Repudiates Rev. Parsley, His Anti-Islam "Moral Compass"

| Thu May 22, 2008 10:36 PM EDT

Finally.

Once John McCain had resolved on Thursday to repudiate fundamentalist preacher John Hagee (who had called the Catholic Church "the great whore" and who had said Hitler was doing God's work during the Holocaust), the presumptive Republican presidential nominee went on a roll, and in the same news cycle he also rejected the endorsement of Reverend Rod Parsley, the megachurch pastor who had said it was the United States' historic mission to see the "false religion" of Islam "destroyed."

After issuing a statement dumping Hagee, McCain told the Associated Press that he also was now refusing Parsley's support: "I believe there is no place for that kind of dialogue in America, and I believe that even though he endorsed me, and I didn't endorse him, the fact is that I repudiate such talk, and I reject his endorsement." McCain and Parsley had campaigned together in February in Ohio, and at a rally McCain had hailed Parsley as "one of the truly great leaders in America, a moral compass, a spiritual guide."

Two weeks after that rally, on March 12, Mother Jones first reported that Parsley in a 2005 book, Silent No More, had essentially called upon Christians to wage a "war" against Islam with the aim of eradicating it. For that article and subsequent pieces, I called the McCain campaign for comment multiple times to ask if the Arizona senator would repudiate Parsley, who is a powerful political player in the critical state of Ohio. McCain's press office ducked each call.

Pity the Lobbyists

| Thu May 22, 2008 6:31 PM EDT

The Onion asks, "Are Politicians Failing Our Lobbyists?" H/T Sunlight.



McCain Finally Renounces Hagee; What About Parsley?

| Thu May 22, 2008 4:09 PM EDT

John McCain today finally denounced and rejected the endorsement of fundamentalist Pastor John Hagee. It wasn't Hagee's comments on the Catholic Church "the great whore") or gays (God sent Hurricane Katrina to New Orleans as punishment for a gay pride parade) that went too far for McCain. It was Hagee's claim on a 1990s television show that Hitler was doing "God's work" during the Holocaust by setting in motion events that forced Jews to return to Israel.

Now what about Rod Parsley? This political ally of McCain has decried Islam as a "false religion" and says it's the historic mission of the United States to eradicate Islam. McCain has yet to reject the endorsement from Parsley, with whom he campaigned in February. It's tough to figure out McCain's moral universe. Attributing Hitler's mass-murder of Jews to God--that's a no-no. Calling for the destruction of an entire religion? So far, that's no reason for McCain to reject an endorsement.

UPDATE: After McCain rejected Hagee's endorsement, Hagee withdrew his endorsement of McCain. In other words, you can't fire me, I quit.

BTW, McCain is also finally releasing his medical records--after postponing doing so for a year. But he's making these records available for only three hours on a Friday before a holiday weekend--to guarantee less media coverage--and his campaign has sort of banned New York Times reporter Lawrence Altman, one of the leading medical reporters in journalism, from reviewing the records. Only a handful of media outfits selected by the campaign will be permitted to send reporters to a conference room in Phoenix to examine the records. And the Times was not chosen. None of the reporters will be allowed to make any copies of the records.

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Are Whites Taking Over Historically Black Colleges?

| Thu May 22, 2008 2:35 PM EDT

Morehouse, flagship of HBCUs and Dr. King's alma mater, graduated its first white valedictorian this year, Joshua Packwood. Homey, and he is officially that now, is a Rhodes Scholar who turned down an Ivy League scholarship for Atlanta and earned a perfect 4.0. Weird, huh? How did Stewart and Colbert miss this? I'd love to see Larry Wilmore 'interview' this guy.

ABC "Exclusive" On McCain and the Anti-Islam Pastor: Was MoJo Robbed? UPDATED

| Thu May 22, 2008 2:11 PM EDT

I'm glad that Good Morning America covered the connection between John McCain and Rod Parsley, the Ohio megachurch pastor who has said it is the United States' historic mission to see the "false religion" of Islam "destroyed."

But did ABC News' top investigative reporter, Brian Ross, have to swipe the story from us?

In the lead-in to piece, Diane Sawyer calls it an "exclusive Brian Ross investigation." Exclusive? How so? On March 12, Mother Jones first reported that Parsley, whom McCain had recently campaigned with and hailed as "a spiritual guide," had written a book in 2005, Silent No More, in which he essentially called for the eradication of Islam and branded the entire faith as a satanic conspiracy. The article noted that McCain had accepted Parsley's endorsement and explained that Parsley is a key political player in Ohio, where he has registered and driven to the polls tens of thousands of social conservative voters. Many websites and blogs linked to the article.

Following up on this piece, two weeks ago, Mother Jones and Brave New Films released a video which showed Parsley railing against Islam "as an anti-Christ religion that intends, through violence, to conquer the world" and basically calling for its destruction. The video juxtaposed Parsley's extreme anti-Islam rhetoric with video of McCain hailing Parsley at a February 26, 2006 campaign rally (the same rally featured in Ross' report). The footage of an excitable Parsley came from the DVD companion to his Silent No More book that is still sold by his World Harvest Church. It took me about six weeks to obtain the version of this DVD set that included Parsley's extreme anti-Islam remarks. One version of the DVD collection does not contain the disc covering Islam, and his church's store (which does not ship by first class or any overnight delivery service) was very, very slow in sending out the full collection that did.

McCain: Contradicting His Record on Gay Rights

| Thu May 22, 2008 1:45 PM EDT

John McCain is going on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" today to express moderate support for same-sex couples. He urges gay couples to enter "legal agreements" for the purposes of "insurance and other areas, decision that have to be made." You can see McCain's comments and Ellen's eloquence on the issue here:

Problem is, in 2006 McCain campaigned for Arizona Proposition 107 (video here), which, according to the proposition's website, sought to ban not only gay marriage and but also "giving recognition or benefits to marriage counterfeits, like 'civil unions' or 'domestic partnerships.'" That would suggest McCain's record doesn't match his words. Maybe his thinking has evolved in two years?

Hap tip to Cliff Schecter, who has more.

Billions of Dollars Unaccounted For in Iraq, Pentagon IG Reports

| Thu May 22, 2008 1:45 PM EDT

379443006_cf0e6b4b8f.jpg

Want to see a signature worth $320 million? Click here. It belongs to Jack Gardner, an official with the now-defunct Coalition Provisional Authority, who in July 2003 authorized that amount to be transferred to the Iraqi Ministry of Finance for the payment of Iraqi salaries. There are no other records of the transfer, just Mr. Gardner's John Hancock. Now that's power.

The payment is but one example of the process by which U.S. dollars have disappeared without a trace into the confusion (and, yes, corruption) of Iraq reconstruction, confounding Pentagon auditors who are now trying to find out where all that money went... and what exactly, if anything, the U.S. got in return.

One such auditor is Mary L. Ugone, the Pentagon's deputy inspector general for audit. Her testimony this morning before Rep. Henry Waxman's (D-Calif.) Committee on Oversight and Government Reform coincided with the release of a new report from Pentagon's Office of Inspector General, which reviewed over 180,000 payments made by the Pentagon to contractors in Iraq, Kuwait, and Egypt, totaling approximately $8.2 billion. Of that, the Pentagon admits that it cannot properly account for how $7.8 billion—"a stunning 95% failure rate in following basic accounting standards," Waxman said in his opening statement.