Mojo - June 2008

Obama/McCain Voting Blocks Already Established?

| Thu Jun. 12, 2008 9:23 AM PDT

I know it's foolhardy to read too much into any single poll, but I thought the demographic groupings on display here are interesting. I wonder if the allegiances of these subgroups will hold through November. MSNBC:

Obama has opened up a six-point advantage over McCain (47%-41%) in the latest NBC/WSJ poll... Obama leads McCain among African Americans (83-7), Hispanics (62-28), women (52-33), Catholics (47-40), independents (41-36) and even blue-collar workers (47-42). Obama is also ahead among those who said they voted for Clinton in the Democratic primaries (61-19). Meanwhile, McCain is up among evangelicals (69-21), white men (55-35), men (49-41), whites (47-41), and white suburban women (44-38).

White women are viewed as a crucial swing vote — Republicans almost always win white men, but whichever party takes white women usually takes the White House. Currently, Obama beats McCain among white women 46-39.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

McCain != Bush Becomes Harder With Discovery of New Quotes

| Thu Jun. 12, 2008 8:50 AM PDT

Liberal bloggers spend a fair amount of time pointing out that John McCain is a lot like George W. Bush. But now two quotes have emerged in which John McCain himself argues he's a lot like George W. Bush, making his task of distancing himself from the President that much harder.

Quote 1, June 2005, Meet the Press:

RUSSERT: The fact is you are different than George Bush.
SEN. McCAIN: No. No. I–the fact is that I'm different but the fact is that I have agreed with President Bush far more than I have disagreed. And on the transcendent issues, the most important issues of our day, I've been totally in agreement and support of President Bush.

Quote 2, May 2003, Your World with Neil Cavuto:

"The president and I agree on most issues. There was a recent study that showed that I voted with the president over 90 percent of the time, higher than a lot of my even Republican colleagues."

I mean, c'mon. This isn't hard. McCain once said of Bush, ""[H]e has more than earned our support. He has earned our admiration and our love." Bush reportedly supported McCain in the Republican primary because McCain was "best to carry forth his agenda."

McCain's attempts to distance himself from Bush aren't just an uphill climb. They're an uphill climb with a monkey on his back and one of these tied to his leg.

SCOTUS Rules Gitmo Detainees Can Challenge Detention in US Civilian Courts

| Thu Jun. 12, 2008 8:33 AM PDT

The Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Guantanamo detainees yet again. According to the AP, SCOTUS ruled today that "foreign terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay have rights under the Constitution to challenge their detention in U.S. civilian courts."

In its third rebuke of the Bush administration's treatment of prisoners, the court ruled 5-4 that the government is violating the rights of prisoners being held indefinitely and without charges at the U.S. naval base in Cuba. The court's liberal justices were in the majority.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the court, said, "The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times."
It was not immediately clear whether this ruling, unlike the first two, would lead to prompt hearings for the detainees, some of whom have been held more than 6 years. Roughly 270 men remain at the island prison, classified as enemy combatants and held on suspicion of terrorism or links to al-Qaida and the Taliban.

We may finally see some progress on this issue. Twice before, the Supreme Court has ruled prisoners at Guantanamo held without charges can go to American civilian courts to ask that the federal government justify their detention. Both times, Congress has changed the law to keep them from doing so. But in both instances, Congress was controlled by Republicans and the White House was occupied by George Bush. With Democrats in control of Congress and two presidential candidates who favor the shuttering of Gitmo, we may finally begin down the path to justice sometime in 2009.

Background on the case is available here. For the recent Mother Jones cover package on detainees and torture, see here. For an inside look at Guantanao, check this out.

Citizens of Lesbos Finally Taking Action Against Name-Stealing Gay Women

| Wed Jun. 11, 2008 1:54 PM PDT

Oh dear.

A group of plaintiffs from the Greek island of Lesbos begins their quest in court today to stop gay women from calling themselves lesbians.

Presumably they will have to sue in every nation in the world (except Iran, of course). More:

"We are very upset that, worldwide, women who like women have appropriated the name of our island," said Dimitris Lambrou, a magazine publisher who is one of those bringing the complaint with other islanders. "Until 1924, according to the Oxford English dictionary, a Lesbian was a native of our isle," he said. "Now, because of its new connotations, our womenfolk are unable to call themselves such and that is wrong."
...Lambrou insists he has "nothing against lesbians" who flock to Eressos — a resort on the island that is famed as the birthplace of the 5th century BC poet Sappho — and whose contribution to the local economy has been considerable.

Via the very excellent AMERICAblog.

What If the Stimulus Bankrupts the Government?

| Wed Jun. 11, 2008 12:52 PM PDT

Dear IRS,

I am writing to ask whether I may return my 2007 stimulus payment of $89.43. I read today that this payment has contributed to a record-breaking federal budget deficit for the month of May—a whopping $166 billion—and feel that it is my patriotic duty to return my windfall to keep the bankers in Dubai from foreclosing on major American landmarks. I can survive without it, and certainly wouldn't feel good about spending the extra money knowing that my kids will still be paying interest on it well into their old age. Besides, eighty bucks won't do much for this rotten economy so you might as well keep it where it could do some good. Maybe you can use it to catch some tax cheats.

Thanks.

McCain on Whether Cheney Could Serve in His Administration: "Hell, Yeah"

| Wed Jun. 11, 2008 9:41 AM PDT

john-mccain-dick-cheney-250x200.jpg John McCain has been on both sides of a lot of issues. He hated social conservatives leaders; then he embraced them. He opposed the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy; now he supports them. He said Roe v. Wade shouldn't be overturned; now he says it should.

So it's not surprising that McCain has had a diversity of views about Dick Cheney. In early 2007, when he was gearing up his presidential run, McCain was critical of Cheney, saying, "The president listened too much to the Vice President... Of course, the president bears the ultimate responsibility, but he was very badly served by both the Vice President and, most of all, the Secretary of Defense."

But in 2004, when McCain was campaigning for the Bush-Cheney ticket, McCain said Cheney is "one of the most capable, experienced, intelligent and steady vice presidents this country has ever had."

And most disturbingly, McCain told a Cheney biographer in 2006 that he would want Cheney serving in his administration, should he be elected president:

"I will strongly assert to you that he has been of enormous help to this president of the United States... I don't know if I would want him as vice president. He and I have the same strengths. But to serve in other capacities? Hell, yeah."

If the Democrats are smart, this will be in every advertisement from now until November. (H/T TP)

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Will the Iraqi Government Destroy Half of McCain's Campaign?

| Wed Jun. 11, 2008 8:53 AM PDT

John McCain and George W. Bush argue that maintaining high levels of U.S. troops in Iraq is essential for the security of Iraq, the region, the world, and, of course, the Untied States. But that does not seem to be the position of Baghdad.

In recent days, there has been a spate of news reports on the troubled negotiations between the Bush administration and the Iraqi government concerning the under-construction agreement that will govern the presence of U.S. troops and military bases in Iraq. The Washington Post reports on the front page:

Top Iraqi officials are calling for a radical reduction of the U.S. military's role here after the U.N. mandate authorizing its presence expires at the end of this year. Encouraged by recent Iraqi military successes, government officials have said that the United States should agree to confine American troops to military bases unless the Iraqis ask for their assistance, with some saying Iraq might be better off without them.
"The Americans are making demands that would lead to the colonization of Iraq," said Sami al-Askari, a senior Shiite politician on parliament's foreign relations committee who is close to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki "If we can't reach a fair agreement, many people think we should say, 'Goodbye, U.S. troops. We don't need you here anymore.'"

See the disconnect? McCain and Bush insist that we have no choice but to keep a large number of U.S. soldiers in Iraq. But Iraqi pols allied with the government look at U.S. troops presence as something that is optional. If these Iraqis can have the Americans there on their own terms, it's fine. If not, their position is, bye-bye.

It's within the Iraqis' rights to set whatever terms they desire. Iraq supposedly is a sovereign nation. (This week, Maliki visited Iran.) But the Iraqis' approach to the negotiations undermine McCain and Bush's defense of the current policy. McCain says it's crucial that the United States remains in Iraq and wins the war. Iraqi leaders are indicating that it ain't so crucial that the U.S. troops stay. (This morning on a conference call with reporters arranged by the Barack Obama campaign, former Navy Secretary Richard Danzig noted an "irony": the Iraqi parliament is deeply immersed in the negotiation of this agreement, yet the Bush White House refuses to involve directly Congress in the agreement.)

So what might happen to the McCain candidacy if the talks--which are supposed to lead to an agreement by the end of July--fail and Iraq gives Bush the boot? McCain won't have a war to promote any longer. And he won't be able to depict Barack Obama as a defeatist surrender-monkey who will yank out troops precipitously and endanger every single family in the United States. In other words, half of McCain's campaign will be gone. (On the Today Show this morning, McCain said that "General Petraeus is going to tell us" when U.S. troops can be withdrawn from Iraq. McCain seemed oblivious to this recent news and the possibility that Iraqis may tell the United States when to withdraw.)

If the talks do collapse, one possibility would be a year-long extension of the current U.N. mandate covering the U.S. troops presence in Iraq. That could keep the status quo in place. Yet if it comes to that, the signal from the Iraqi government will still be, we don't want you here in the way you want to be here. Such a development will not help the war-is-all candidate.

McCain Before: 100 Years; McCain Now: Whatever

| Wed Jun. 11, 2008 7:52 AM PDT

McCain has wised up. When asked when troops could come home from Iraq by Matt Lauer on the Today Show, McCain elected not to say "100 years" or "a thousand years." Instead he said, "that's not too important." Here's the video, with the context of his statement in full:

McCain's statement is both callous and out of touch: the troops certainly want to know if the war they are fighting will be over at some point, and the American people overwhelmingly want the troops home within the next two years. There is a hunger, I think, to know that are some point this failed adventure in the Middle East will be behind us and America can reset its priorities.

No Wacky Father-Son Congressional Match Up in NY; Political Humorists Cry a Single Tear

| Wed Jun. 11, 2008 6:46 AM PDT

What a shame. This wonderful little GOP disaster has reportedly been diverted. Seriously, if you don't know what I'm talking about, click the link just for the picture.

The Most Serious Antiwar Candidate in '08

| Tue Jun. 10, 2008 7:10 PM PDT

Is it former Republican Congressman and current Libertarian Party presidential nominee Bob Barr? Here's what Barr said today at an event sponsored by the Campaign for a New American Policy on Iran, where he was joined by lefty California Reps. Barbara Lee and Lynn Woolsey (via Reason):

"Neither Sen. McCain nor Sen. Obama can be trusted to keep the peace," says Barr.
The potential consequences of war, Barr explains, "include attacks on our troops stationed in Iraq, threats to the Gulf oil trade, terrorist attacks around the world, subversion of friendly Arab and Muslim governments, destruction of the democracy movement within Iran, and enduring hostility towards America throughout much of the world." To risk paying such a price without attempting to deal directly with the Iranian regime "would be counterproductive, costly, and dangerous. Even as our hand-picked and supported Prime Minister Maliki in Iraq talks with Iranian leaders, and even as the Olmert government in Israel talks with the Assad regime in Syria, the Bush Administration refuses to engage one of the largest and most important countries in that part of the world – Iran. This makes no sense."
Moreover, notes Barr, a former House member, "the power to declare war on Iran lies with the Congress, not the president." Unfortunately, presidents have routinely abused their role as commander-in-chief of the military. "The president is to direct any war, but the Constitution vests the power to decide if there will be a war in the legislative branch," emphasizes Barr.

Can anyone imagine Barack Obama talking like this, especially now that we're into the general?