Mojo - August 2008

Russia, China, India: Traces of Coming Power

| Wed Aug. 13, 2008 3:22 PM EDT

I'll confess I missed the opening ceremony of the Olympics — pretty grand from what I hear — but what I didn't miss was Harold Meyerson's excellent meditation on what that ceremony meant for the future of global power. "The summer of '08, historians will most likely tell us, signaled the rise of a multi-power, non-Western-dominated planet," Meyerson writes. "It also was the time when it became clear that the American Century would not lap over from the 20th into the 21st." Read the whole thing.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

More on Obama and Africa: the Global Poverty Act

| Wed Aug. 13, 2008 1:10 PM EDT

In a web piece that published yesterday, I note many of the enlightening conversations about Barack Obama that I had on my recent trip to Africa.

I should add one thing: Kenyans and Tanzanians I spoke with rejected the idea that they support Obama (and they almost universally do) because he will usher in a more favorable foreign policy toward Africa. "All Americans presidents have the same policy on Africa," one man told me. "We do not know if Obama will be different."

In actual fact, however, Africans have reason to be optimistic. Obama is the primary sponsor of the Global Poverty Act (S. 2433), a bill that would commit the United States to "the reduction of global poverty, the elimination of extreme global poverty, and the achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goal of reducing by one-half the proportion of people, between 1990 and 2015, who live on less than $1 per day." (Full text of the bill here.)

Critics of the bill allege that binding ourselves to the UN's goals would also bind us to its aid targets. The United Nations asks every nation to contribute 0.7 percent of its GDP to foreign aid. Currently, the United States is missing the mark by a substantial amount:

Bad Idea of the Day, Week, Month...

| Wed Aug. 13, 2008 12:41 PM EDT

Apparently, Jeremiah Wright is going on a book tour in October.

Update: Possibly not true. Did you know Rev. Wright got banished to Ghana?

Tom Friedman Catches On to McCain's Missed-Vote Hypocrisy

| Wed Aug. 13, 2008 11:22 AM EDT

I've seriously hated on Tom Friedman in the distant and near past, but I have to admit he gets it right on energy most of the time. Yesterday's column is a good example. Maybe I just like it because it touches on one of my favorite topics, absenteeism in Congress.

John McCain recently tried to underscore his seriousness about pushing through a new energy policy, with a strong focus on more drilling for oil, by telling a motorcycle convention that Congress needed to come back from vacation immediately and do something about America's energy crisis. "Tell them to come back and get to work!" McCain bellowed.
Sorry, but I can't let that one go by. McCain knows why.
It was only five days earlier, on July 30, that the Senate was voting for the eighth time in the past year on a broad, vitally important bill — S. 3335 — that would have extended the investment tax credits for installing solar energy and the production tax credits for building wind turbines and other energy-efficiency systems...
Senator McCain did not show up for the crucial vote on July 30, and the renewable energy bill was defeated for the eighth time. In fact, John McCain has a perfect record on this renewable energy legislation. He has missed all eight votes over the last year — which effectively counts as a no vote each time. Once, he was even in the Senate and wouldn't leave his office to vote.
...Despite that, McCain's campaign commercial running during the Olympics shows a bunch of spinning wind turbines — the very wind turbines that he would not cast a vote to subsidize, even though he supports big subsidies for nuclear power.

For more examples of John McCain complaining about public policy problems and then missing votes to address those problems, see here.

Russia Agrees to Georgia Cease-Fire, Situation Remains Volatile

| Tue Aug. 12, 2008 4:05 PM EDT

Just a day after some western and Georgian observers feared that Russia was on the verge of cutting Georgia in half, and may even try to take the Georgian capital Tblisi and demand the country's surrender, Russian president Dmitri Medvedev has agreed to a European-backed cease-fire. But news reports indicate the situation is still volatile and much unclear about how the cease-fire would be implemented, and explosions and violence continue in places including in the Georgian port city of Poti.

"The outcome the West is seeking, will not return things to the [pre-war] status quo," said Russia specialist Stephen Sestanovich of the Council on Foreign Relations in a conference call yesterday. "A ceasefire under these circumstances offers a sitution in which Georgia could be occupied by Russian forces, and Georgia could be cut in two, dismembered."

"Is this a game changer?" asked Council on Foreign Relations' Charles Kupchan. "Is it possible to think about the US-Russian relationship moving forward looking somewhat like it's done in the past, where there were good days and bad days, but it was basically respectful and trying to make the best of a difficult situation? I can't answer that. It's too soon. But it's safe to say from here on out, the US and allies will look at Russia more warily."

Minneapolis Hotel Rooms Should Be Available Last Minute

| Tue Aug. 12, 2008 2:58 PM EDT

If you want to go and check out the scene at the Republican National Convention, you shouldn't have a problem. It's not like the hotel rooms in Minneapolis will be taken by Republicans. Politico:

Of the 12 Republicans running in competitive Senate races — five of whom are incumbents — only three have said they will be attending the convention. Six are definite no-shows, and three are on the fence.
"Nobody likes a funeral," said a Senate Republican press secretary...

Ouch. Things are so bad, the National Republican Campaign Committee Chairman, Tom Cole of Oklahoma, is actually discouraging Republican congressional challengers from attending. According to the Hill he called heading to Minneapolis for the convention a "waste of time."

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Newly Unveiled Dem Platform a Strong Statement for Women's Rights

| Tue Aug. 12, 2008 2:43 PM EDT

Dana Goldstein over at the Prospect applauds the newly released Democratic platform.

The draft of the Democratic Party platform, principally written by Obama's Senate policy director, the estimable Karen Kornbluh, is a remarkably feminist document, one befitting of a political party that, this year, came exceedingly close to nominating a woman. In the summer of 2006, I heard Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York speak on the Hill, lamenting that the chicken livered John Kerry team had, for the first time in decades, removed support for the Equal Rights Amendment from the party platform. Well, this year the ERA is back, alongside a truly unequivocal statement of support for reproductive rights, an unprecedented statement in opposition to sexism, and new sections on equal pay, women's economic struggles, work-family balance, and violence against women...
It's clear that care was taken to involve members of Hillary Clinton's circle in the document's drafting (perhaps Dana Singiser), or to at least take their concerns to heart. Clinton's run is presented in the document as a feminist historical feat, and in the foreign policy section, the draft borrows the language of Clinton's celebrated 1995 speech to the United Nations Conference on Women in Beijing: "Our policies will recognize that human rights are women's rights and that women's rights are human rights." Reflecting Obama's own long-standing interest in international development, the documented continues, "Women make up the majority of the poor in the world. So we will expand access to women's' economic development opportunities and seek to expand microcredit."

Goldstein also takes a look at how the language on abortion has changed since 2004 and says the party has gotten even more strongly pro-choice. Take a look.

Obama VP Pick Announced!!

| Tue Aug. 12, 2008 12:17 PM EDT

This is huge!

H/T. Info.

Josh Green. Atlantic. Clinton Memos. Just Read It.

| Tue Aug. 12, 2008 11:54 AM EDT

It's the article everyone's talking about today: Josh Green of the Atlantic gets reams of internal Clinton campaign memos, emails, and other documents from former staffers and runs down the most important parts. Take a gander.

I'll highlight just two things. First, Clinton emerges as a terrible executive. She is unable to hire people who work well together or people who, though at odds, create a useful tension. She is unable to settle disputes after they arise or provide direction that keeps them from arising in the first place. A pattern emerges from Green's documents: Clinton first lets a problem fester, then explodes at her staff for not addressing it, then provides little guidance on how to solve it going forward, and ultimately gets bitten by the problem down the road.

James Fallows Is Feeling Sprightly

| Tue Aug. 12, 2008 11:36 AM EDT

Check out his shredding of David Brooks and the Brooks/Friedman cultural paintbrush. You know the one — it paints a mile wide.