Mojo - October 2008

Finger-Pointing on the Right

| Tue Oct. 28, 2008 9:57 AM EDT

A quick tour through some morning headlines and columns that offer a glimpse into the right tearing into each other over who's to blame over everything from Palin's wardrobe expense to the Palin pick.

Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen ridicules the conservative magazine writers who cruised up to Alaska and championed Sarah Palin. "Especially in the Weekly Standard, Palin was acclaimed as a tribune of the people. As for her critics, they were dismissed as 'liberal media' types who were not, like conservative editors and TV commentators, one with the people. [Weekly Standard editor Bill] Kristol hit this theme hard, having somehow absorbed Wal-Mart sensitivities while living most of his life in either New York or Washington where, as I can personally attest, real Americans are encountered only when summoned to carry out home repairs. ... It is the height of chutzpah, you betcha, for a coterie of ideologues to accuse Palin's critics of political snobbery. It is also somewhat sad for a movement once built on the power of ideas -- I am speaking now of neoconservatism -- to simply swoon for a pretty face and pheromone-powered charisma. But it is, I confess, just plain fun to see all these expense-account six-packers be so wrong."

From Politico's Mike Allen: "In convo with Playbook, a top McCain adviser one-ups the priceless 'diva' description, calling [Palin] 'a whack job.'"

Meantime, the Weekly Standard's Fred Barnes and Kristol are reportedly blaming Palin's extravagant wardrobe expense on Nicole Wallace, the McCain staffer and former Bush White House official whose spouse heads a new anti Iran group. Is Standard blogger turned McCain campaign blogger Michael Goldfarb the Standard's campaign mole? whispering the secret skinny that Wallace is only a "real American" poseur who is responsible for defiling Palin's Joe Six-Pack image and Wal-Mart cred?

A shame to see these expense-account six-packers as Cohen calls them turn their wrath and whispered smear campaigns on each other with their usual humility.

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More on U.S. Syria Raid

| Mon Oct. 27, 2008 11:56 PM EDT

Back in May, I reported that the US government was using stepped up channels to try to persuade Syria to turn over to Iraq a top alleged Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia figure, Abu Ghadiya, whose real name is Badran Turki Hishan Al Mazidih. A group assembled at the US government's request "concluded," I wrote, "'that the US needed to send a message requesting Damascus' assistance on Abu Ghadiyah. But it should not be seen by Damascus as an American message.' Ideas were floated to ask the Turks, or the French to play the intermediary. 'A request will be made to the Iraqis to ask the Syrians for Abu Ghadiya's extradition.'"

"It will be worth watching to see if Badran Al Mazidih one day finds himself pushed over the Syrian border into Iraq," my post concluded.

Apparently, that's not exactly how things went down. Tonight, the Washington Post and New York Times report that the figure targeted in the US raid in Syria this past weekend was indeed Abu Ghadiya, and that he was killed in the operation:

American officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the secrecy of the raid said the mission had been mounted rapidly over the weekend on orders from the Central Intelligence Agency when the location of the man suspected of leading an insurgent cell, an Iraqi known as Abu Ghadiya, was confirmed. About two dozen American commandos in specially equipped Black Hawk helicopters swooped into the village of Sukkariyah, near the Iraqi border, just before 5 p.m., and fought a brief gun battle with several militants, including Abu Ghadiya, the officials said.
It was unclear whether Abu Ghadiya died near his tent on the battlefield or after he was taken into American custody, one senior American official said.

Abu Ghadiya was reportedly one of four major Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia figures operating in Syria, including one Mazidih brother and two cousins, according to the Treasury Department.



Ted Stevens Will Have One Fewer Vote Next Tuesday

| Mon Oct. 27, 2008 5:30 PM EDT

His own. Stevens won't be allowed to vote for his own reelection because dude is a felon as of half an hour ago.

The longest serving Republican in the Senate and a man many consider to be the most corrupt politician in Washington DC was found guilty earlier today of making false statements on his Senate financial disclosure forms. The seven felony counts could put Stevens behind bars for as many as 35 years, though that seems unlikely.

Alaska state law prohibits felons from voting until their time is served. (No word on whether Stevens will get to vote in the event he is sentenced to no jail time.) Stevens is currently neck and neck in his Senate race against Anchorage mayor Mark Begich. We'll soon see if Alaska is red enough that a Republican can win reelection despite being a convicted felon and despite being unable, by law, to support his own cause. More here.

Wright Happens

| Mon Oct. 27, 2008 5:13 PM EDT

The other shoe finally drops. A group called the National Republican Trust PAC is making a $2.5 million ad buy with the first Jeremiah Wright ad of the campaign. You have to wonder how this campaign would have been different if McCain hadn't chosen the Wright issue to make a stand (his only such stand, it seems) for dignity, respect, and positive campaigning. I can't be the only one who sees a far more difficult path for Obama if ads like the one below are playing regularly from August to November.

By the way, why was McCain willing to go whole hog on Ayers, but unwilling to even touch Wright? It makes no sense to me. As for this ad, it is damaging to Obama but almost certainly too little, too late.

Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.): Palin's Not Ready

| Mon Oct. 27, 2008 2:18 PM EDT

In an interview with his home-state paper, the Omaha World-Herald, Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), says Sarah Palin "doesn't have any foreign policy credentials.":

You get a passport for the first time in your life last year? I mean, I don't know what you can say. You can't say anything.... I think they ought to be just honest about it and stop the nonsense about, 'I look out my window and I see Russia and so therefore I know something about Russia.' ... That kind of thing is insulting to the American people.... [I]n a world that is so complicated, so interconnected and so combustible, you really got to have some people in charge that have some sense of the bigger scope of the world. ... I think that's just a requirement.

Hagel, who is retiring, is perhaps the most outspoken Republican critic of the Iraq war in Congress. Hagel traveled with Barack Obama and Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) when Obama visited Iraq earlier this year. And Hagel's wife, Lilibet Hagel, endorsed Obama earlier this month. Now the Senator himself has become the most prominent Republican critic of Sarah Palin, his own party's VP pick. Could a formal endorsement of Obama be coming before the election?

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'Yes on 8' Blackmail Won't Stop Corporate Opposition

| Fri Oct. 24, 2008 6:55 PM EDT

In case you haven't heard, right-wingers and religious zealots have worked themselves into a tizzy supporting Proposition 8, which would change the California constitution to say marriage is only between a man and a woman. There are even reports that Yes on 8 folks sent threatening letters to 30 companies who donated to No on 8. In the letter, Yes on 8 said that if the companies didn't give them the same amount of money, they would publish their names.

Obviously not fearing a large-scale boycott from the Mormon Church, Steve Jobs and company have spoken out against Proposition 8. From Apple's home page:

Apple is publicly opposing Proposition 8 and making a donation of $100,000 to the No on 8 campaign. Apple was among the first California companies to offer equal rights and benefits to our employees' same-sex partners, and we strongly believe that a person's fundamental rights — including the right to marry — should not be affected by their sexual orientation. Apple views this as a civil rights issue, rather than just a political issue, and is therefore speaking out publicly against Proposition 8.

Other major corporations who have publicly opposed Proposition 8 include Google, PG&E, Levi Strauss, and Clear Channel. If Yes on 8 folks want to organize a boycott, they'll have to do it without Google's search engine, Apple computers, or PG&E's electricity and phone services. The No on 8 have no similar technological limitations, and have even issued a cheeky set of "I'm a Mac; I'm a PC"-style commercials.

—Steve Aquino and Jen Phillips

Obama: It's Colorado, Stupid

| Fri Oct. 24, 2008 11:20 AM EDT

Colorado is the key to a Barack Obama victory.

At least, that's what the Obama campaign strategists seem to believe. This morning, the campaign sent out a schedule of Obama's remaining campaign stops. After Obama finishes visiting with his ill grandmother in Hawaii on Friday, he will return to the trail. First up, there are stops in Nevada. Next he will head to New Mexico. Then his final campaign stops will occur in Colorado.

Notice, there's nothing on schedule (as of yet) for Ohio, Pennsylvania or Florida, the traditional deciders. Instead, Obama is working hard the new swing states, especially Colorado.

Meanwhile, the McCain campaign's attitude toward Colorado is, eh, erratic. The campaign pulled its money out of the state. But after doing that, it decided to send McCain to campaign rallies there. And Sarah Palin has recently campaigned in the state. So what does that mean? Do the McCain strategists believe he can win that state by turning out the base with personal appearances rather than by courting swing voters with expensive teleivsion ads? It's a theory.

Schadenfreude Watch: 10.24.08

| Fri Oct. 24, 2008 11:11 AM EDT

We've written about the McCain campaign and, by extension, the Republican Party coming apart at the seams before, so let's just make it a regular feature. Today, here's Politico:

One well-connected Republican in the private sector was shocked to get calls and resumes in the past few days from what he said were senior McCain aides – a breach of custom for even the worst-off campaigns.
"It's not an extraordinarily happy place to be right now," said one senior McCain aide. "I'm not gonna lie. It's just unfortunate."

Oakland Ground Zero for Prop 8 Hate Speech

| Fri Oct. 24, 2008 12:43 AM EDT

Prop8.jpg Another night of Prop 8 campaigning in east Oakland, this time with supporters and opponents of the ban on gay marriage verbally battling face to face. At least 150 people packed each streetcorner, spilling out into traffic causing tie-ups in traffic and mayhem (I counted 14 police cruisers at one point) with cars honking and both sides yelling back and forth for hours. There was so much energy and anger in the air, people of all races, ages, and backgrounds, so passionate and fervent in their beliefs, taking to the streets. But I kept thinking, what a tragedy, that such energy is wasted on this fight.

Mormon churchgoers have been rallying for Prop 8 at this intersection for several days now and in response neighbors organized via email to counter the message in person with messages of their own. Their message: "Equality for All," "Don't Discriminate, No on 8" and "Say No to Hate, No on 8." The chants were dirtier tonight on the Yes side, along with "Save Our Children" and the "Protect Marriage" there were plenty of "Don't Hate, Be Straight" and "Stop the Virus AIDS" chorus rounds.