Mojo - August 2008

It's Easy to Get Confused By John McCain's Houses

| Thu Aug. 21, 2008 11:50 AM EDT

Look, I can understand why John McCain has trouble counting his houses. Are we talking properties? Addresses? Homes? Because when you have a massive ranch with a half dozen homes and four addresses on it, things get confusing.

From a press report on the barbecue McCain threw for the members of the media (no, Mother Jones was not invited) in March:

McCain said... the Hidden Valley Ranch [in Arizona] got its name from the horseshoe shape of the creek that runs through the property.
He said he built the first house on his property 24 years ago and now there are six houses on his lot.

The addresses on the ranch are 11455 E Hidden Valley Road, 11445 E Hidden Valley Road, 11415 E Hidden Valley Road, and 11405 E Hidden Valley Road. I'm going to go ahead and assume that's a sizable ranch.

Here's the closest to a full account of the McCains' properties that I can find. It's from the Politico story that revealed exactly how extravagant the McCains' spending is ("Their credit card bills peaked between January 2007 and May 2008, during which time Cindy McCain charged as much as $500,000 in a single month on one American Express card and $250,000 on another"):

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Clinton "Whip Team" Organized to Slay PUMAs

| Thu Aug. 21, 2008 11:32 AM EDT

Clinton supporters hoping to agitate at the convention (starting Monday!) will face some friendly fire.

In an unusual move, Hillary Clinton's staff is creating a 40-member "whip team" at the Denver Democratic convention to ensure that her supporters don't engage in embarrassing anti-Obama demonstrations during the floor vote on her nomination, according to people familiar with the planning.
The team, which is being organized by longtime Clinton staffer Craig Smith, is working in conjunction with Obama's floor organizers to help foster the image of a unified front during a roll-call process Clinton herself has described as an emotional "catharsis" for her disappointed supporters.

This part isn't so helpful: "Clinton spokesperson Kathleen Strand emphasized the team would not seek to convince delegates to vote for the former first lady, but would hand out Clinton signs to supporters who requested them." [Emphasis mine.]

John McCain Does Not Know How Many Houses He Owns. This Is Not a Joke

| Thu Aug. 21, 2008 9:55 AM EDT

A fall full of moments like these will be entertaining. You have to wonder if there is video.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said in an interview Wednesday that he was uncertain how many houses he and his wife, Cindy, own.
"I think — I'll have my staff get to you," McCain told Politico in Las Cruces, N.M. "It's condominiums where — I'll have them get to you."
The correct answer is at least four, located in Arizona, California and Virginia, according to his staff. Newsweek estimated this summer that the couple owns at least seven properties.

The McCain family has proved to be out of touch before. These aren't harmless little gotcha moments. This sort of thing is a threat to your pocketbook.

McCain Would Consider a Draft. Every Parent In America Should Know This

| Wed Aug. 20, 2008 4:28 PM EDT

There is a new video out in which a questioner at a McCain town hall event speaks at length about veterans and then ends with a sentence or two about the need to reinstate the draft if we are going to catch Osama bin Laden. McCain responds, "I don't disagree with anything you said."

The video is making the rounds of the interwebs. McCain's response is a poor choice of words, but not necessarily an endorsement of the draft.

This video, however, is pretty unambiguous. It's from several months back.

McCain does not have an unequivocal, philosophical opposition to using the draft in the war on terror. Do you know an undecided voter who is the parent of a child between 12 and 22? Make sure they've memorized this quote before election day, so they know exactly what they're getting if they vote for McCain:

"I might consider it, I don't think it's necessary, but I might consider it if you could design a draft where everybody equally could serve."

Obama's Historical Comparisons

| Wed Aug. 20, 2008 3:42 PM EDT

In a PressThink post, Jay Rosen takes issue with our recently published forum on Barack Obama. We asked two dozen thinkers and writers, "Is Barack Obama exaggerating when he compares his campaign to the great progressive moments in US history?"

Writes Rosen, "Obama really said something like that? His campaign is a 'movement' comparable to, say, the civil rights movement, or to second wave feminism, or to the labor movement after the industrial revolution? If so, I had missed it."

Rosen is really insistent on this point. He also writes, "any statement from the candidate himself that compared Obama '08 to the great movements for freedom and justice in our history would have been quite the controversy, what with the McCain camp already mocking his messiah complex and calling him "The One." Why would Mother Jones, a progressive magazine, accuse Obama of the same thing McCain is attacking him for?"

To answer the question that ends that passage, we may be a progressive magazine, but we're still journalists who believe in refereeing and commenting on the campaign as fairly as we can. Nothing we write is in service of the Obama campaign and its goals. Occasionally, we'll write posts and articles that hurt Obama; the New Republic, the Nation, and the American Prospect all do the same.

But to Rosen's larger point — Obama does indeed put himself in a historical context alongside the great progressive movements of the last century. Here are four examples, one of which Rosen has already seen. They get long. Feel free to skim. Also feel free to visit the links to get a better sense of context.

In Politics, Cheating on Your Wife Is Relative

| Wed Aug. 20, 2008 2:03 PM EDT

John Edwards cheated on his wife. The media found out about it. John Edwards will not be attending the Democratic convention.

Rudy Giuliani used public funds to cheat on his wife and used city agencies to cover his tracks. The media found out about it. Rudy Giuliani will be delivering the keynote at the Republican convention.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Dear Lord, Glenn McCoy. That Is One Nasty Cartoon

| Wed Aug. 20, 2008 1:22 PM EDT

Take a look at this.

2778212328_292507b008.jpg

If there is some point here relevant to the headlines — beyond the fact that Obama is pro-choice — I don't know what it is. I'm not sure it matters. This is so foul is goes beyond any standard of good taste and common decency. I tend to give satire a pretty wide berth; this is beyond the pale.

Barack Obama beating fetuses with a bloody baseball bat in a dumpster? I can't even look at it for more than a few seconds.

Here's the thing. A few years back I had a coworker who wrote a feminist blog on the side. We used to joke about the way hardcore pro-lifers saw her, as an activist for abortion rights. "They probably think you eat fetuses in a bowl for breakfast," I would say. "With chopsticks!" she would respond.

We knew it was over the top. It was ridiculous. It was parody. And apparently, stunningly, it had elements of truth.

Update: Here's what this is about. As you would guess, it in no way justifies this cartoon. And EF makes a great point in the comments — if Democrats produced something equally disgusting about John McCain, there would be a backlash with serious consequences. It would start, of course, with Fox News, the in-house network of the Republican Party.

Messaging Opportunity for the Left on Immigration

| Wed Aug. 20, 2008 12:46 PM EDT

American gold medalist Henry Cejudo, the son of an illegal immigrant, is a perfect example of why the DREAM Act is a worthy piece of legislation.

Wealth, or the Lack Thereof: One More Note About Biden

| Wed Aug. 20, 2008 11:45 AM EDT

Joe Biden, a leading contender for VP if you believe the buzz, was the least wealthy member of the last Senate and is likely near the bottom in this Senate.

Now, there is nothing inherently ennobling about being poor (I'd be a better man if there were), and there is nothing inherently corrupting about being rich. But the fact that Biden has been in the Senate for 35 years and hasn't seen his personal fortune blossom means that he hasn't used his position, and all the connections and insider knowledge that come with it, as a cash register. It's an easy thing to do without ever overstepping legal boundaries.

Biden has chosen not to. I think that speaks to his priorities and why, fundamentally, he is in Washington.

"Celebrity" Attack on the Airwaves in Yet Another Form

| Wed Aug. 20, 2008 10:54 AM EDT

McCain has a new radio ad out that says, "Celebrities like to spend their millions. Barack Obama is no different. Only it's your money he wants to spend."

I think it's safe to say that the Obama campaign hasn't hammered any message as hard as McCain has hammered this "celebrity" attack. Which is funny, because you'd think "McCain is four more years of Bush" would be easier to make stick, and more effective to boot.

And, for what it's worth, it looks like I was wrong about the "celebrity" attack. I thought it was too transparently silly to be usable. These new poll numbers, which show McCain leading by five, indicate otherwise.