Mojo - August 2008

John McCain Has More Odd Things to Say About Russia/Georgia

| Fri Aug. 15, 2008 11:14 AM EDT

This Russia-Georgia conflict is really producing some weird comments from John McCain. You probably saw his statement that "In the 21st century, nations don't invade other nations." Now he's saying this:

My friends, we have reached a crisis, the first probably serious crisis internationally since the end of the Cold War. This is an act of aggression.

I just don't know what is going on in John McCain's brain. The Iraq War is undoubtedly a crisis. It was a crisis for the military, which was underprepared for the fight, lost thousands of young men and women, and is now so spent it cannot address problems elsewhere in the world. It was a crisis here at home, because of how much money it cost the American people ($3 trillion, by one estimate). And it was a crisis of credibility. Black sites, Gitmo, Abu Ghraib, rendition, warrantless wiretapping... Iraq and the greater war on terror has led to an implosion of our moral authority abroad. John McCain may not consider all that a crisis, but I sure do.

Oh, and PS — 9/11?

Oh, and PPS — McCain wants to throw Russia out of the G8. Take a moment to learn how insane that is.

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The Campaign Goes Christian

| Fri Aug. 15, 2008 10:35 AM EDT

The first joint appearance of the general election season is tomorrow night. You've probably heard nothing about it. You'll probably hear nothing about it.

Barack Obama and John McCain will both travel to Lake Forest, CA, tomorrow night for the Saddleback Civil Forum at Saddleback Church, one of America's preeminent megachurches. (Today is the last day of the Obama family's Hawaiian vacation.) The candidates will sit down with Rick Warren, Saddleback's pastor and the author of The Purpose-Driven Life, to talk about global poverty, HIV/AIDS, and climate change. The topics will be a welcome departure, from Obama's point of view, from the standard "values voters" issues of abortion and gay marriage.

The forum should be interesting for two reasons. First, it will be an opportunity to test my theory that Obama should do well in head-to-head events with McCain, and that, as such, regular town hall events would have been good for Obama, in contradiction to what the Obama camp apparently believes.

Troops Abroad Give to Obama 6:1

| Thu Aug. 14, 2008 3:59 PM EDT

Interesting...

According to an analysis of campaign contributions by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, Democrat Barack Obama has received nearly six times as much money from troops deployed overseas at the time of their contributions than has Republican John McCain, and the fiercely anti-war Ron Paul, though he suspended his campaign for the Republican nomination months ago, has received more than four times McCain's haul.

Despite McCain's status as a decorated veteran and a historically Republican bent among the military, members of the armed services overall -- whether stationed overseas or at home -- are also favoring Obama with their campaign contributions in 2008, by a $55,000 margin. Although 59 percent of federal contributions by military personnel has gone to Republicans this cycle, of money from the military to the presumed presidential nominees, 57 percent has gone to Obama.

It's a relatively small sample size, for what it's worth: 134 members of the armed services deployed abroad have given to Obama, to the tune of $60,642. And just 26 members of the armed services deployed abroad have given to McCain, for a total of $10,665. Ron Paul's numbers fall roughly halfway in between. That's a stunningly low number for McCain, isn't it?

Oh, and I should point out that this isn't new.

Why is HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt Blogging About Abortion?

| Thu Aug. 14, 2008 2:06 PM EDT

I can't decide which end of the latest abortion kerfuffle is more inappropriate:

The US Department of Health and Human Services's ill-fated (I hope) attempt to redefine birth control as abortion,

OR,

the fact that HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt is blogging about it on my dime:

"I'm delighted to announce that with the help of Planned Parenthood, my blog—for the first time—received more visits than my teenage son's MySpace page. Perhaps I'll address the subject of physician conscience one more time."

Tough call. Either way, I want my tax dollars back.

Read more about the Medical Right's latest volley in the choice wars here, here, and here.

Partition in Iraq: A Serious Problem With Biden as VP?

| Thu Aug. 14, 2008 12:11 PM EDT

biden250x200.jpg The chattering classes are buzzing with the possibility of Barack Obama choosing Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE), the six-term Senate veteran and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as his running mate. While the consensus seems to be that Biden would be a safe pick because of his foreign policy credentials and his long history of accomplishment, the question of whether or not he still supports the Biden Plan, a proposal for the partition of Iraq that was the centerpiece of Biden's presidential campaign and is at odds with Obama's withdrawal plan, is a potential stumbling block for the campaign.

When Biden, who initially supported the war, was running for president, he repeatedly insisted he was the only candidate with a workable plan for ending it. His campaign created a video, featured in the YouTube debate, that said, "Joe Biden is the only one with the experience and the plan to end this war responsibly so our children don't have to go back."

That plan was widely seen as calling for the partition of Iraq. It read, in part, "The United States should actively support a political settlement in Iraq based on the final provisions of the Constitution that create a federal system of government and allow for the creation of federal regions, consistent with the wishes of the Iraqi people and their leaders." Despite Biden's occasional objections, that wording was read by other politicians and the media as calling for the division of Iraq into three regions, one for Sunnis, one for Shiites, and one for Kurds. For that perception, Biden has himself to blame. An op-ed Biden wrote in 2006 described his plan this way:

The idea, as in Bosnia, is to maintain a united Iraq by decentralizing it, giving each ethno-religious group -- Kurd, Sunni Arab and Shiite Arab -- room to run its own affairs, while leaving the central government in charge of common interests....
The first [point of the plan] is to establish three largely autonomous regions with a viable central government in Baghdad. The Kurdish, Sunni and Shiite regions would each be responsible for their own domestic laws, administration and internal security. The central government would control border defense, foreign affairs and oil revenues.

End of War!

| Thu Aug. 14, 2008 12:01 PM EDT

On this day in 1945, Japan surrendered unconditionally, ending World War II. The original New York Times article from that day, available here, contains this interesting tidbit about the events of that day:

The Navy canceled nearly $6,000,000,000 of prime contracts.

That's $6 billion. In 1945 dollars. ($72 billion in today's dollars, according to this site.) Will there ever be an August 14, 1945 for the "War on Terror"?

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Social Security: Message of the Day!!!

| Thu Aug. 14, 2008 11:00 AM EDT

I've received five six seven eight emails from the DNC and the Obama campaign since 11:00 pm last night about Social Security. Most of them attack John McCain.

"DNC Releases New Web Ad Highlighting the Threat John McCain Poses to Social Security."

"MCCAIN WATCH: SAME-AS-BUSH PLAN TO PRIVATIZE SOCIAL SECURITY."

And so on. McCain has suggested in the past that he supports private savings accounts, but he has always fudged on what they would look like and whether or not they would mirror exactly the ones in the controversial plan President Bush pushed several years back. Moreover, McCain has called the basic funding mechanism of Social Security a "disgrace," meaning he doesn't philosophically agree with the program or doesn't understand how it works. The Democrats are right to hit him for all of that.

But there's a distinctly lame feel to the Democrats excitement here — You're not supposed to talk about Social Security in campaigns because it pisses people off! McCain is talking about it! Let's nail him! You can't claim the guy is a fake maverick and then attack him when he talks out of school.

So Much for McCain's No-Lobbyist Policy

| Wed Aug. 13, 2008 11:01 PM EDT

John McCain's declared policy of not having lobbyists as part of his campaign team has always been full of holes and contradictions. But the fact that his top foreign policy advisor Randy Scheunemann arranged a phone call between his longtime lobbying client, the Georgian president, and the Republican presidential candidate on the same day that Scheunemann's lobbying company Orion Strategies signed a $200,000 lobbying renewal contract with the country really takes the cake for conflict of interest. With the Caucasian nation's territorial integrity in jeopardy after five days of fighting with Russian forces, it's hard not to wonder whether the Georgian leadership thinks in retrospect that it got its money's worth from its lobbying investment.


"In the 21st Century, Nations Don't Invade Other Nations"

| Wed Aug. 13, 2008 6:24 PM EDT

McCain today, speaking about Russia and Georgia.

I don't even have to say it. Easiest blog post ever.

Flier Spotted in DC: "BEWARE" of Montgomery McFate

| Wed Aug. 13, 2008 5:11 PM EDT

The Washington City Paper reports that fliers have begun cropping up in northwest DC warning locals to "BEWARE!" of Montgomery McFate, the daughter-in-law of Mary Lou Sapone, the gun lobby spy who infiltrated the gun control movement. As we reported in late July, McFate, an anthropologist who currently serves as a senior social science adviser to the military's Human Terrain program, once played a part in her mother-in-law's intelligence gathering business. So did her husband, Sean McFate, who until recently served as a program director at the Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington think tank.

The City Paper snapped a pic of the flier, which, coincidentally (or, perhaps, not), was spotted in Adams Morgan, around the corner from where Sean and Montgomery McFate reside.

montgomery-mcfate-flier.jpg