Mojo - September 2008

See Ya Later, Joe

| Sat Sep. 6, 2008 3:56 PM EDT

This isn't terribly subtle. Nor should it be.

"Lieberman went too far when he distorted Sen. Obama's record," said [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid spokesman Jim Manley. "From Reid's perspective, (Lieberman) has every right to give a partisan speech to whomever he wants. But he doesn't have the right to distort Sen. Obama's record like that. Sen. Reid was very disappointed in Lieberman's speech."
Added Manley: "The Democratic caucus will likely revisit Lieberman's situation after the November elections."
Asked if Reid was putting Lieberman on notice, Manley replied: "Without overplaying it, the answer is, yes."

Via Crooks and Liars.

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Palin Is the Right's Obama

| Sat Sep. 6, 2008 11:51 AM EDT

Via Andrew, here's an astute point from a writer at the conservative Power Line blog:

We conservatives have had a good time ridiculing the Obama phenomenon, especially its messianic feel -- the willingness of its adherents to pour so much hope and belief into such an empty, or at least incomplete, vessel -- and its elevation of "narrative" over substance.
It turns out that we were dying to have basically the same experience.

The Right has repeatedly accused Obama of being a blank slate upon which his supporters draw what they want to see. Whatever "hope" and "change" are to them, that's what Obama supposedly stands for. But my experience at the Republican convention was that Palin plays the exact same role for the GOP. I mentioned this in my video dispatch. If John McCain was too old and stiff, she was the new blood and the energy the ticket needed. If McCain was too moderate, she had the conservative credentials the ticket needed. If McCain was too wishy-washy on abortion, she was the committed pro-lifer the ticket needed. And so on.

The difference is, Obama has spent significant amounts of time defining the change he seeks — just look at the middle 20 minutes of his convention speech from Denver. Palin has never made that effort — she's only been around a week and has never spoken to the press!

McCain's Domestic Policies: As Old As He Is

| Fri Sep. 5, 2008 2:38 PM EDT

Even though he's 72, I never really think of John McCain as old, at least until he is forced to discuss domestic policy. It's not entirely his fault. When forced to make a nod to less manly subjects such as health care and education and other items not related to the war or foreign policy, his entire party's domestic policy offerings have changed little since Newt Gingrich was king of the Capitol. Case in point: Last night, McCain said he opposed Obama's "health-care system where a bureaucrat stands between you and your doctor."

It's the same argument Republicans used in 1994 to kill off the Clinton health plan. But much has changed since the debut of Harry and Louise 14 years ago, and the recycled line seems hugely out of touch with reality. This past year, my family has been forced to switch health plans three times, and every one of these plans has not only a different set of rules, gatekeepers, and attendant paperwork, but also of approved doctors. How long can Republicans continue to insist that a government-sponsored plan would be worse than this? Government doesn't have a monopoly on bureaucracy. Some of my health care plans make the Post Office look efficient.

McCain's Big Speech: More Prison Cell Than Policy

| Fri Sep. 5, 2008 1:19 AM EDT

Number of sentences in John McCain's acceptance speech about his experience as a POW in Vietnam: 43.

Number of sentences about his 25 years in the House and Senate: 8.

The convention ended as it began: a commemoration of McCain's hellish years in a Hanoi prison cell four decades ago. The political equation was a simple one: POW equals patriotic hero equals a fighting president. Before McCain walked down the long runway at St. Paul's Xcel Center, a baritone voice declared over the P.A., "When you've lived in a box....you put your people first." Case closed.

But there was a speech to get through. And before McCain arrived at the climactic I-was-a-POW finale, he delivered, in wooden style, a no-better-than-par speech that was mostly a series of traditional GOP buzz phrases: lower taxes, cut spending, open markets. He noted, "We believe in a strong defense, work, faith, service, a culture of life, personal responsibility, the rule of law, and judges who dispense justice impartially and don't legislate from the bench. We believe in the values of families, neighborhoods and communities." (Just not community organizers.) Was the speechwriter who penned Sarah Palin's acceptance speech too busy to work on McCain's?

Unlike most speakers at the convention, McCain acknowledged that some Americans are facing tough times. "I fight for Bill and Sue Nebe from Farmington Hills, Michigan, who lost their real estate investments in the bad housing market," he said. "Bill got a temporary job after he was out of work for seven months. Sue works three jobs to help pay the bills." And he said he would fight for Jake and Toni Wimmer of Franklin County, Pennsylvania. "Jake," he explained, "works on a loading dock; coaches Little League, and raises money for the mentally and physically disabled. Toni is a schoolteacher, working toward her Master's Degree. They have two sons, the youngest, Luke, has been diagnosed with autism." But how would McCain help these folks? Moments later, he offered a dumbed-down version of his economic plan: " I will keep taxes low and cut them where I can. My opponent will raise them. I will open new markets to our goods and services. My opponent will close them. I will cut government spending. He will increase it." (By the way, many analysts and journalists have repeatedly noted that Obama's economic plan would cut income taxes far more than McCain for Americans below the top 1 percent.)

Best Throw Away Line of the Day

| Thu Sep. 4, 2008 10:26 PM EDT

Last line of Patrick Healy's NYT piece:

The Democrats also had a band that played a variety of pop anthems, whereas the Republican hall has been filled with a mix of country music and mellower harmonies. Delegates in both cities have occasionally broken into dancing, and rhythm's challenge has appeared bipartisan.

MoJo Video: Palin Puts the Party Back in GOP

| Thu Sep. 4, 2008 9:08 PM EDT

Just because you don't love Sarah Palin doesn't mean Republican National Convention-goers don't. Watch our fearless reporter Jonathan Stein's RNC video dispatch [below] as he meets the many fans of McCain and Co.

To see MoJo Video's DNC dispatches, click here and here.

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What They're Saying at the RNC (And What They're Not)

| Thu Sep. 4, 2008 7:53 PM EDT

Progressive Accountability has counted the number of times certain words have been used by the speakers at the Republican National Convention. A sampling of the results:

Obama: 32
Pelosi: 4
Hillary Clinton: 2
Bill Clinton: 2
President Bush: 1
War: 22
Iraq: 11
Terror: 9
The surge: 6
Osama bin Laden: 1
Pakistan: 1
Diplomacy: 1
Afghanistan: 0
Taxes: 64
Business: 46
Poverty: 4
Mortgage: 3
Middle Class: 2
Recession: 0

Things To Do With the Price of Cindy McCain's Outfit

| Thu Sep. 4, 2008 6:12 PM EDT

cindy_mccain_dress.jpg Vanity Fair added up the value of all the parts of Cindy McCain's ensemble Tuesday night and came up with this:

Oscar de la Renta dress: $3,000
Chanel J12 White Ceramic Watch: $4,500
Three-carat diamond earrings: $280,000
Four-strand pearl necklace: $11,000–$25,000
Shoes, designer unknown: $600
Total: Between $299,100 and $313,100

Why is Cindy McCain's $300,000 outfit relevant? Because just one day later the GOP spent the evening slamming Barack Obama as an out-of-touch elitist (using, ironically, former CEOs Meg Whitman, Carly Fiorina, and Mitt Romney to make the case). For reference, here are some things you could do with the money it took to buy Cindy McCain's outfit.

- Buy the average American home, which costs $266,00.
- Fund the $5,000 tax credit John McCain proposes giving to working families to help with the annual cost of health care. You could cover 60 families.
- Buy 30,000 anti-malarial bed nets, including distribution to Africa and education on use for recipients.
- Pay the tuition of 59 Arizona State University students.
- Fly a Learjet 60XR for two and a half days at the price of $4,800 an hour (it's the only way to get around Arizona, you know).
- Provide 6,000 students with school desks taken away by a schoolteacher that Mike Huckabee knows.
- Give tire gauges to 75,949 Americans hit hard by the price of gas, so they can get better mileage in their cars. Or so you can mock Barack Obama.
- Send nine community organizers and one part-timer into the streets to work for a better America (hahahaha!).

Look, there's nothing wrong with being rich. But there is something wrong with the party that has been in bed with the super-rich and with Big Business for decades, and has consistently pushed policies that benefit those interests, claiming to know the pulse of the working man. The price of Cindy McCain's dress isn't relevant because of Cindy McCain, the woman can wear what she wants. It's relevant because of what it illustrates about the Republican Party.

Obama Fundraising Goes Bonkers After GOP's Day-Long Attack

| Thu Sep. 4, 2008 5:41 PM EDT

Proving Sean at fivethirtyeight.com correct, Barack Obama has raised around $8 million since Sarah Palin's speech last night. Better than the $7 million McCain got after the Palin pick was announced. Democrats I've spoken to since the speech have had two reactions, sometimes simultaneously: (1) anger about the fact that their guy got roughed up pretty bad, and (2) fear that the GOP has a new super-effective and super-likeable surrogate. Both emotions lead to the opening of wallets. Maybe Obama doesn't want people to calm down?

For the record, Obama has responded to the beating he took last night. It's after the jump.

Palin, Giuliani Mocked Obama's Organizing Work, But It Was Sponsored By The Catholic Church

| Thu Sep. 4, 2008 5:20 PM EDT

Last night at the Republican National Convention, both Rudy Giuliani and McCain veep choice Sarah Palin mocked Barack Obama's work as a community organizer in Chicago two decades ago. Comparing her experience to Obama's, Palin said "I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer—except that you have actual responsibilities." Despite the fact that organizers do have responsibilities, Palin's derision was echoed by the delegates in the hall, who roared with laughter at the idea that "community organizing" is real work.

But in guffawing at Obama's work, the GOP was mocking the efforts of an important group: the Catholic Church. Obama's community work was part of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, a project sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The Campaign for Human Development has been the church's main anti-poverty and social justice program in America since 1969. Do Palin, Giuliani and all those GOP delegates really believe that bishops' effort to improve the lot of the poor and jobless is a laughing matter?

Mocking church-sponsored community organizing also undermines the right's case for faith-based initiatives and so-called compassionate conservativism. Under the conservative model, a caring citizen doesn't wait for the government to help; he raises himself and his community up—sometimes with the help of community (but non-governmental) groups. It's hypocritical for Republicans to make fun of people for doing what Republicans are always saying they should do—lifting themselves up by their bootstraps. If you want government to to do less, you ought to want community organizers to do more. And as Roland Martin pointed out yesterday on CNN (video below), community organizers are the people assisting Americans hit by the housing crisis and the sputtering economy:

Palin and Giuliani got a good laugh from a friendly crowd, but a lot of Americans won't be in on the joke.