Mojo - July 2008

Adelson-Funded Freedom's Watch Donates to Pro-McCain Vets Group

| Fri Jul. 11, 2008 11:14 AM EDT

Pro-war advocacy group Freedom's Watch has made a "significant" contribution to support a planned $10 million ad campaign by the pro-McCain Vets for Freedom, National Journal's Peter Stone reports (sub. only):

The group [Vets for Freedom] expects to spend close to $10 million on a four month advertising and grassroots drive to make the case that the Bush administration's policies in Iraq and Afghanistan are making significant progress, says its chairman, Pete Hegseth. Vets for Freedom boasts some 25,000 members. The first part of the campaign is a two-week, $1.5 million ad buy this month in five battleground states. According to a GOP consultant familiar with the group, it received a "significant" donation from Freedom's Watch, which is largely funded by Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson. Freedom's Watch has also helped the veterans group find large donors to bankroll its operations, according to the consultant.

Several members of the Vets for Freedom advisory board, among them ret. US Army Lt. Col. John Nagl and the Brookings Institution's Michael O'Hanlon, recently departed the group's advisory board, because of its partisan activities.

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McCain Forgeting Just How Absent He Has Been in Senate

| Fri Jul. 11, 2008 11:00 AM EDT

John McCain is really pushing my buttons right now. He's slamming Obama for being weak on Iran's Revolutionary Guard by saying this:

"This is the same organization that I voted to condemn as a terrorist organization when an amendment was on the floor of the United States Senate. Senator Obama refused to vote."

Hahaha, Obama is totally screwed! He's soft on those crazy terrorist Iranians who want to kill American babies!

Oh, wait. John McCain missed that vote, too.

So (1) John McCain is soft on terror, and (2) he's too out-to-lunch to remember that he's soft on terror. What's worse?

And if you don't know McCain's history with vote-skipping (it's basically all he does), check out this and this.

Sandra Day O'Connor: Back On The Bench!

| Fri Jul. 11, 2008 10:11 AM EDT

150px-O%27connor%2C_Sandra.jpgMaybe former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor just got sick of arguing with Scalia when she decided to quit her lifetime appointment in 2005. Clearly she didn't step aside because she didn't like being a judge! At 78, no one would knock O'Connor for spending more time on the links, but instead, last week, O'Connor made news in Boston when she not only heard an appeal in a federal money-laundering case, but wrote the opinion, too. Oddly enough, her ruling now allows federal prosecutors to proceed with a case against the only Republican running to fill a state legislative seat being vacated by a Democrat. (You can read more about the case here.) Even in retirement, it seems, O'Connor is redefining "judicial independence."

McCain Exploits the Steelers. Now the Man Has Gone Too Far

| Fri Jul. 11, 2008 9:32 AM EDT

steelers-tattoos.jpg One thing politicians should never, ever do is disrespect storied professional sports franchises. Too many people are too invested in teams like the Cubs, the Red Sox, the Red Wings, the Packers, etc. — using them for phony political purposes deeply offends people. See an example of a true sports fan at right.

Maybe I'm just projecting. Today, I'm offended. John McCain is using the Pittsburgh Steelers, the greatest professional sports franchise in American history, for his personal gain. Also, he's exploiting his record as a POW, but I'm offended less by that.

Congress Atwitter Over Members' Use of Social Networking, Video Sites

| Fri Jul. 11, 2008 9:09 AM EDT

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Government isn't exactly on the leading edge of the technological revolution. The GAO reported yesterday that several federal agencies still rely on "paper and file" systems to store emails. And John McCain, devoted Luddite that he is, has admitted he doesn't know how to use a computer. But even for members of Congress who do know a thing or two about technology, their ability to use it to communicate with constituents is restricted by arcane congressional rules—rules that are now at the center of a partisan slug fest on Capitol Hill.

Suppose you're a congressman, and you'd like to post a periodic video message on your website updating constituents on your activities. You film it, post it on YouTube, and embed a link on your homepage. It's that easy, right? Wrong. By including YouTube content on your page, you'd find yourself in violation of policies that pre-date the Internet by a couple hundred years.

An obscure 6-member, bipartisan panel called the Commission on Congressional Mailing Standards (also known as the "Franking Commission"), adhering to rules established in 1789, has long regulated congressional communications, making sure that federal dollars are used only for nonpartisan purposes and not for political proselytizing, which must instead come out of individual members' campaign funds—a reasonable enough idea in an earlier time, but one that ignores dramatic changes in the way people communicate in our Twitter age of hyperconnectivity. The regulations are in desperate need of revision, and on that point members of both parties agree. But the devil is in the details... and it's those details that have ignited a breathless exchange of amped-up rhetoric between Democrats and Republicans in recent weeks.

California's Top Democrat Blames Bush (or Somebody) for His Likely Indictment

| Thu Jul. 10, 2008 8:04 PM EDT

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If California state Senate boss Don Perata gets indicted on federal corruption charges, it's the president's fault. Never mind that the feds have been investigating Perata for nearly five years, and muckraking reporters have dug up a treasure trove of dubious deeds on the part of the state's second most powerful pol (after The Governator). But Perata isn't ready to go quietly. He and his pals at the state Democratic Party, which just a week ago added $250,000 to the embattled senator's legal defense fund (the fund has spent more than $1.9 million to date), now are suggesting the White House is persecuting Perata.

On July 9, the East Bay Express, a weekly in Perata's Oakland district (disclosure: I used to be its managing editor), revealed that the lengthy probe of Perata and his associates was coming to a close, and that the senator would likely be indicted soon. Responding to the report today, Perata told a local TV reporter, "My own belief is nobody goes after a ranking Democrat in California unless permission has been given from on high."

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Note to Lesbian Pioneers: Avoid Wisconsin

| Thu Jul. 10, 2008 8:01 PM EDT

Now that gay marriage is legal in California, a same sex marriage showdown is brewing in Wisconsin.

An obscure Wisconsin state law circa 1915 declares fraudulent any marriage performed outside the state if the couple intends to return to Wisconsin to live. I'm gonna spare myself the research and wager that this law had everything to do with anti-miscegenation impulses.

A pioneering lesbian couple has every intention of courting prosecution by traveling to LA on August 8 to marry and return home. Cue "the family values" contingent in Wisconsin.

Jesse Jackson, Out Foxed on Obama

| Thu Jul. 10, 2008 7:47 PM EDT

Yes, Jesse Jackson went off on Obama. To a reporter. But his worst mistake was talking to Fox News.

After an interview there, Rev. Jackson slipped and said what he actually thought about Obama's Cosby-esque, 'blame the black poor' tour, which is that Obama is "talking down to black people," for which the good Rev "wants to cut his nuts off."

( O'Reilly provides the video; Jackson didn't realize his whispers were being picked up by the still hot mic.)

Oh dear.

He's been apologizing ever since (and Jackson's own son felt the need to denounce his dad). But it speaks to a much needed conversation that the black community both needs and wants to have.

Black on Black Nihilism

| Thu Jul. 10, 2008 7:37 PM EDT

I just read something both horrifying and so, so sad on The Root.

It happened two months ago, and this is the first, and probably only, time I'll hear about it: A young, bipolar black woman on an Atlanta bus went manic and terrorized an elderly black woman while the rest of the riders did nothing. Well, except for the ones who laughed and helped the deranged woman freestyle rap lyrics with which to terrorize all our grandmothers. And, of course, the one who was busy taking the video. The other riders didn't respond until she went after them.

Should 4 Dollar Gas=4 Day Work Week?

| Thu Jul. 10, 2008 5:48 PM EDT

school-bus-170.jpgSchool districts across the country, reacting to wicked high gas prices, are shifting to four-day work weeks—and in some cases asking kids to walk a little farther to catch the bus.

While the potential benefits of having kids walk a bit more are intriguing, is it really possible to cram five days of student learning into four?