Mojo - October 2008

McCain Reportedly Pulling Out of Michigan

| Thu Oct. 2, 2008 2:36 PM EDT

As the polls pull away from him in Michigan, John McCain is reportedly pulling all TV ads in the state and moving most staff to more competitive battlegrounds. The move means that McCain is not playing offense in any 2004 Kerry states except New Hampshire, which has just four electoral votes.

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Obama Up in Florida: Local GOPers Meet Secretly To Worry

| Thu Oct. 2, 2008 2:04 PM EDT

Four recent polls showing Barack Obama moving ahead of John McCain in the all-important state of Florida--and leading McCain there by 3 to 8 points--have sent Sunshine State GOPers into a (secret) panic. The St. Petersburg Times reports:

Florida Republican leaders hastily convened a top secret meeting this week to grapple with Sen. John McCain's sagging performance in this must-win state.
Their fears were confirmed Wednesday when four new polls showed Sen. Barack Obama leading, a reversal from just a few weeks ago when McCain was opening up an advantage....
With some grass roots organizers complaining about coordination problems with the campaign, Republican Party chairman Jim Greer gathered top officials at the state headquarters in Tallahassee on Tuesday afternoon. He swore the group to secrecy.
When asked about it by the St. Petersburg Times, Greer confirmed the meeting. He largely declined to discuss what was said.

Or what they are planning. Note to Democrats, rent Recount--just in case.

McCain Wants Afghanistan "Surge;" U.S. Commanders Do Not

| Thu Oct. 2, 2008 2:03 PM EDT

Let's assume for a minute that the Iraq "surge" was primarily responsible for this year's reduction in violence there. A debatable point, but say it's true. Why shouldn't we just do the same thing in Afghanistan? That's the question on McCain's mind lately. "The same strategy that [Obama] condemned in Iraq," McCain said at last Friday's debate, referring to the Iraq surge, is "going to have to be employed in Afghanistan."

Hey, if it worked in one place, it'll work somewhere else, right? Not quite, say U.S. commanders (here and here). In a comforting departure from the adage that generals are always preparing to fight the last war, new CENTCOM commander General David Petraeus and the top NATO commander in Afghanistan, General David McKiernan, are warning that things aren't that simple and that lessons learned in Iraq don't necessarily translate.

As Petraeus told the New York Times yesterday, "People often ask, 'What did you learn from Iraq that might be transferable to Afghanistan?' The first lesson, the first caution really, is that every situation like this is truly and absolutely unique, and has its own context and specifics and its own texture."

McKiernan seconded the thought with this explanation to the Washington Independent:

[Afghanistan] has very harsh geography. It's very difficult to move around, getting back to our reliance on helicopters. It's a country with very few natural resources, as opposed to the oil revenues that [Iraq] has. There's very little money to be generated in terms of generated in Afghanistan. The literacy rate - you have a literate society in Iraq, you have a society that has a history of producing civil administrators, technocrats, middle class that are able to run the country in Iraq. You do not have that in Afghanistan. So there are a lot of challenges. What I don't think is needed - the word that I don't use in Afghanistan is the word 'surge.' There needs to be a sustained commitment of a variety of military and non-military resources, I believe.

All this said, McKiernan has also asked for more troops. Surge or not, Afghanistan is heating up and the next president will have to figure out how to best to proceed.

Bill O'Reilly Sees Himself as Proof of God

| Thu Oct. 2, 2008 1:56 PM EDT

Or, more accurately, he sees his rise to the top of the media world as proof of God. No joke. From his new book, called A Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity:

"Next time you meet an atheist, tell him or her that you know a bold, fresh guy, a barbarian who was raised in a working-class home and retains the lessons he learned there.
"Then mention to that atheist that this guy is now watched and listened to, on a daily basis, by millions of people all over the world and, to boot, sells millions of books.
"Then, while the non-believer is digesting all that, ask him or her if they still don't believe there's a God!"

As if you needed any more proof that this man is a complete egomaniac...

(Via Oxdown Gazette)

Mission Creep Dispatch: John Pike

| Thu Oct. 2, 2008 12:40 PM EDT

pike.jpgAs 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 John Pike, director of the military information website GlobalSecurity.org.


Regarding Bear DNA: Russia and Sarah Palin's Geopolitics

By now we've probably all seen the interview, or at least the spoofs: "As Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where do they go?" Sarah Palin asks Katie Couric. "It's Alaska. It's just right over the border....They are right there; they are right next to our state."

U.S.-India Nuclear Deal Passes Congress

| Thu Oct. 2, 2008 12:10 PM EDT

NagasakiCloud4Large.jpg

In the midst of debating a bailout package for Wall Street, the Senate took a break last night to vote on a measure that, although buried in the current news cycle, carries real consequence for the future of the world's already troubled nuclear nonproliferation efforts: in a vote of 86-13, the Senate approved the Bush administration's plan to begin supplying India with civilian nuclear reactors, nuclear fuel, and other related technologies. In return, India will open 14 civilian nuclear reactors to inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency; 8 more military nuclear sites will remain off limits. The Senate vote followed House approval of the measure last week and a decision last month by the Nuclear Suppliers Group (a consortium of 45 nations involved in nuclear trade) to issue a waiver to India recognizing its status as a nuclear weapons state.

India has been a nuclear weapons pariah since it first exploded an atomic weapon in 1974. (The Nuclear Suppliers Group was established at U.S.-urging after the India test to prevent the country from obtaining additional nuclear capability; it was then aligned with Soviet Union.) Even today India has yet to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and additional nuclear tests in 1998 strengthened international opprobrium and led the Clinton administration to impose economic sanctions.

But all that is now history. Whereas the United States once viewed India through the prism of Cold War politics, it now sees the country as a crucial counterweight in its new power game with China. And the so-called U.S.-India Civil-Nuclear Agreement (known in trade circles as the "123 Agreement") solidifies the new strategic partnership.

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A Sign the Obama Campaign May Have Too Much Money on Its Hands

| Thu Oct. 2, 2008 11:00 AM EDT

Channel 73 of the Dish Network is now labeled "OBAMA" and reportedly plays nothing but Obama's two-minute ad on the bailout. One ad, on a loop.*

What's next? Dudes walking around swing states wearing Obama sandwich boards? Product placement in movies? They certainly seem to have the cash lying around...

* The Obama campaign is now reportedly diversifying the channel's content.

Final (?) Excerpt From the Palin-Couric Interview

| Thu Oct. 2, 2008 9:58 AM EDT

The final excerpt (reportedly) from Katie Couric's interview with Sarah Palin aired yesterday. As a number of people have noted, Palin is unable to identify a Supreme Court ruling that she disagrees with other than Roe v. Wade. In fact, she looks hard pressed to identify another Supreme Court ruling. The really uncomfortable part is the last minute of the video below, but the whole thing is worth watching.


Watch CBS Videos Online

And Kevin notes that Palin's statement that the Constitution includes a right to privacy is a bit odd. She agrees that there is a Constitutional right undergirding Roe, but then asserts that the right ought to be regulated or addressed by the states. Huh?

McCain Campaign Takes the Hard Questions

| Wed Oct. 1, 2008 3:17 PM EDT

Moments ago, Rudy Giuliani took three questions on a McCain campaign conference call for the national press corps.

The first question was about the bailout. It was from a staffer from TownHall.com, a conservative website, but the question itself was not glaringly pro-McCain. Nothing notable.

The second question was from someone named Chuck Pardee. Pardee asserted that Tina Fey and many reporters make their living "embellishing the facts." After criticizing the press for treating Sarah Palin unfairly, Pardee concluded*:

"Do you think embellishing the facts is actually what the concerned voter is after? And specifically, Joe Biden seems to embellish and forget facts just to kind of impress people but when you take Sarah Palin she seems to impress others with her quick study without embellishing the facts. In other words do you think people want a straight shooter or do they want the stuff and fluff?"

Surprisingly, Giuliani said that the American people preferred the straight-shooter and John McCain just so happens to be one. Pardee, by the way, is the "founder and president" of Newsbull.com. He has donated the maximum $2,300 to McCain. It's a shock he didn't ask a tougher question. (And if you're wondering, yes, the McCain campaign knows the affiliations of reporters before they are permitted to ask a question on these conference calls.)

The third and final question came from a woman named Sherry Riggs (sp?). Her affiliation was not announced. She took exception to Giuliani's claim from earlier in the call that Obama had never managed a budget. A hard-hitting question? Not really. Riggs insisted that Obama had indeed managed a budget "with [William] Ayers" when they sat on a board together years ago. According to Riggs, Obama "always spent the money on educational programs that were socialistic in their agenda or their genre."* And, in a real shock, Obama apparently had a $450 billion treasure chest to work with. That seemed a bit high to me, but I'm sure the McCain campaign would only allow legitimate professionals to ask questions on these calls.

Oh, and by the way, Giuliani agreed that more scrutiny ought to be applied to Obama's "hidden" history with Ayers. And with that, the call ended.

* Questions updated with help from the Huffington Post.

Hugh Hewitt and the Department of Caricatures

| Wed Oct. 1, 2008 2:44 PM EDT

hugh_hewitt.jpg Folks on the interwebs are making fun of the questions right wing blogger and talk show host Hugh Hewitt recently put to Sarah Palin. They are the softest of softballs — they make Sean Hannity look like Edward R. Murrow. You can check them out here.

I want to highlight this one in particular:

"You're pro-life, and how much of the virulent opposition to you on the left do you attribute to your pro-life position, and maybe even to the birth of, your decision, your and Todd's decision to have Trig?"

That's right. Hugh Hewitt think the left opposes Sarah Palin because she decided to give birth to a child with Down Syndrome. Not because she knows nothing about foreign affairs while we're engaged in two wars. Not because she has nothing coherent to say about the government bailout of Wall Street as we face a dire economic crisis. Not because of her retrograde views on science and books. Not because she undermines every feminist accomplishment Hillary Clinton fought for earlier this election season.

The left opposes Sarah Palin because she gave birth to a baby with Down Syndrome. Just think about the misconceptions about the left that need to be in place for someone to make that claim. The left either hates infants with disabilities, or it hates women who refuse to abort unborn children with disabilities. Or it wants to jack up some kind of karmic abortion counter as high as possible and is disappointed when it misses an opportunity.

Has Hugh Hewitt ever met a Democrat?