Mojo - September 2008

McCain, Champion Deregulator

| Wed Sep. 17, 2008 9:59 AM EDT

Listen up. Yesterday I called bullshit on John McCain's brand-spanking-new zeal for regulation. Why should we believe a life-long deregulator when he says he's the man to bring tight, effective controls and safeguards to Wall Street? Why should we believe a man who voted consistently against accountability in the financial sector when he says stuff like, "In my administration, we're going to hold people on Wall Street responsible. And we're going to enact and enforce reforms"?

Answer: we shouldn't.

I want to make it as clear as possible that what John McCain is advocating in the face of these new developments in the economy is completely antithetical to his actual beliefs.

Here's McCain speaking to the Wall Street Journal in May 2007:

"You are interviewing the greatest free trader you will ever interview, and the greatest deregulator you will ever interview."

Here's McCain addressing the housing crisis in March 2008:

"Our financial market approach should include encouraging increased capital in financial institutions by removing regulatory, accounting and tax impediments to raising capital."

And here he is speaking again to the Wall Street Journal, apparently a receptive audience for regulation-bashing, in March 2008:

"I'm always for less regulation. But I am aware of the view that there is a need for government oversight. I think we found this in the subprime lending crisis -- that there are people that game the system and if not outright broke the law, they certainly engaged in unethical conduct which made this problem worse. So I do believe that there is role for oversight.
"As far as a need for additional regulations are concerned, I think that depends on the legislative agenda and what the Congress does to some degree, but I am a fundamentally a deregulator. I'd like to see a lot of the unnecessary government regulations eliminated, not just a moratorium."

You see where that got us.

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Obama Releases Two-Minute Ad on Financial Meltdown

| Wed Sep. 17, 2008 9:39 AM EDT

Apparently the Obama people think the financial turmoil of the last few days is an opportunity to speak directly to the American people worth breaking the bank for. They've put an extremely rare two-minute advertisement on the air "nationally and in battleground states around the country," according to the campaign.

It is everything Obama has been criticized for being on the stump these past several weeks: thoughtful, measured, and post-partisan. It takes no jabs at John McCain or George W. Bush. In the last few days, though, Obama and his ads have hit harder; obviously the campaign felt the content of this ad is too serious to be presented in that style. Key question: Does it hold your attention?

BlackBerryGate Continues: "Morse Be Damned!"

| Tue Sep. 16, 2008 4:06 PM EDT

I love the internet. Here's what some jokester created after the McCain campaign claimed John "Is Aware of the Internet" McCain invented the BlackBerry.

McCain_Blackberry_Poster.jpg

Previous example of the internet having fun at John McCain's expense can be found here.

One Person Who Could Tell John McCain Who Invented the BlackBerry

| Tue Sep. 16, 2008 2:34 PM EDT

Elise Pickering, a member of the Women for John McCain Steering Committee who lobbied for BlackBerry's creator, Research in Motion, earlier this year. (Via the Senate Lobbying Database.)

Palin Contradicts Palin on Troopergate Explanation

| Tue Sep. 16, 2008 2:33 PM EDT

palin-motorcycle-250x200.jpg

As part of an effort to beat back the investigation into whether Governor Sarah Palin fired Alaska's public safety directory Walt Monegan because he refused to dismiss a state trooper involved in an ugly divorce with her sister, Palin's attorney filed papers on Monday claiming that Palin fired Monegan because of his "outright insubordination" regarding policy and budgetary matters. The problem with this explanation: it directly contradicts Palin's own story.

In mid-August, Palin spoke with New Yorker writer Philip Gourevitch, who was in Alaska--prior to Palin being named John McCain's running-mate--to do a piece on "the peculiar political landscape" of the state. During his time there, the controversy regarding Monegan's dismissal was in the news in Alaska. And Gourevitch asked Palin about it:

[Palin] said that one of her goals had been to combat alcohol abuse in rural Alaska, and she blamed Commissioner Monegan for failing to address the problem. That, she said, was a big reason that she'd let him go--only, by her account, she didn't fire him, exactly. Rather, she asked him to drop everything else and single-mindedly take on the state's drinking problem, as the director of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board. "It was a job that was open, commensurate in salary pretty much--ten thousand dollars less"--but, she added, Monegan hadn't wanted the job, so he left state service; he quit.

Top McCain Surrogate Says McCain's Not Qualified To Run a Corporation

| Tue Sep. 16, 2008 2:26 PM EDT

First, a McCain aide suggested John McCain invented the BlackBerry. But now, another top McCain aide--Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard--says that McCain (and Sarah Palin) would not be qualified to run a major corporation. Really, she did:

Update: The fallout of this comment has not been good for Fiorina.

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When Not Inventing the BlackBerry, What Did John McCain Do As Commerce Chairman?

| Tue Sep. 16, 2008 1:54 PM EDT

John McCain has admitted in his more candid moments that "the issue of economics is not something I've understood as well as I should." So if he wasn't learning economics, what exactly did McCain do as chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee from 1997-2001 and 2003-2005?

Not a whole heck of a lot. Former FCC chairman Reed Hundt told Salon last month, "The thing that stands out for his entire tenure is that he has never had a priority, and has never had, to my knowledge, any accomplishment of any kind at all." Think Progress points out that, "When McCain took over his second tenure of Senate Commerce Committee, the United States ranked fourth in broadband penetration. In 2007, two years after he had given up that position, the United States had dropped to 15th in the world."

Think Progress also spoke to Blair Levin, Hundt's chief of staff at the FCC. He points out that McCain actually voted against the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA '93) that "authorized the spectrum auctions that created the competitive wireless market that gave rise to companies like Research in Motion [the creator of Blackberry]."

Conclusion: Not only did McCain not invent the BlackBerry, he was one of only five Senators who voted against a BlackBerry-creating bill.

A Republican Strategist's Take on the Presidential Race

| Tue Sep. 16, 2008 1:52 PM EDT

Republican public relations strategist Marty Youssefiani has worked on numerous House and national races, and when I saw a CNN analysis by his old mentor Ed Rollins the other day on how Palin changed the game, I asked Youssefiani for his take. By way of background, when I spoke with Youssefiani in the late spring, he was fairly convinced that Obama would win the election, on the strength of inspiring the registration of so many new, first time voters.

Ed is right in that [Palin] changed the short term dynamics of the game. But I'm increasingly skeptical about McCain's ability to sustain the energy -- through three debates and this volcanic economy! (I have a hunch McCain may have peaked too early.)
On the other side, Obama can ill-afford to (personally) engage in the nasty game; instead he needs to figure out -- very quickly -- how to close the sale and convince the margins that he is not surface thin. On that note, Biden's (unfathomable pick over Hillary) problem is: unlike Palin, his personal likability factor ranks with that of Ashcroft! He has always come across as mean, bitter and personally angry. He is probably the truly smartest one of the bunch, but time is running out on him and he's got to be careful with Palin.
On the "Bradley Factor": I do think it is very, very real vis-a-vis the polls; however, in my opinion, come Nov 5, the biggest story will be how the genius pollsters missed/under factored the massive new registered voters, which will counter balance the Bradley factor -- in favor of Obama, and, at the end, make the difference. There you have it.

I asked Youssefiani about the conventional wisdom in the past being that young people say they're going to vote, but don't.

Very true. But my hunch is that we are going through a paradigm shift and that all bets are off this year. We're guaranteed to break all voting participation records... The country is following both campaigns closer than ever before (reflected by the Nielson ratings); New registration surge is not waning and if battleground [Virginia] is any indication (requests for 200,000 additional new registration forms) we are in for a tidal wave come November. Sure, I may be wrong, but I like my chances that we are more likely to see an unprecedented wave of more dedicated new/young voters than not -- especially if the economic news continues.

Mission Creep Dispatch: Katherine McCaffrey

| Tue Sep. 16, 2008 11:29 AM EDT

mccaffrey.pngAs part of our special investigation "Mission Creep: US Military Presence Worldwide," we asked a host of military thinkers to contribute their two cents on topics relating to global Pentagon strategy. (You can access the archive here.)

The following dispatch comes from Katherine T. McCaffrey, an assistant professor of anthropology at Montclair State University in New Jersey and author of Military Power and Popular Protest: The US Navy in Vieques, Puerto Rico.

McCain's Top Policy Man: McCain Qualified for Presidency Because He "Helped Create" BlackBerrys

| Tue Sep. 16, 2008 10:40 AM EDT

This, I suspect, will be as big a headache for the McCainers as the "How many houses do I own?" episode. I mean, we're still joking about Al Gore inventing the internet eight years later, right?

Asked what work John McCain did as Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee that helped him understand the financial markets, the candidate's top economic adviser wielded visual evidence: his BlackBerry.
"He did this," Douglas Holtz-Eakin told reporters this morning, holding up his BlackBerry. "Telecommunications of the United States is a premier innovation in the past 15 years, comes right through the Commerce committee so you're looking at the miracle John McCain helped create and that's what he did."

Update: For what it's worth, BlackBerry is made by a Canadian company.

Update Update: The AP gets sassy in its write-up, saying, "McCain has acknowledged that he doesn't know how to use a computer and can't send e-mail, one of the BlackBerry's prime functions."

Too Many Updates!!: The Obama campaign keeps its eye on the ball in its response:

"If John McCain hadn't said that 'the fundamentals of our economy are strong' on the day of one of our nation's worst financial crises, the claim that he invented the BlackBerry would have been the most preposterous thing said all week," said Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton.