Mojo - October 2008

McCain on a Veep Candidate: Looks Count

| Thu Oct. 23, 2008 6:19 PM EDT

Historians and political writers will for years wonder and write about what moved John McCain to select Sarah Palin as his running mate. But perhaps a newspaper clipping from 1988 offers a bit of insight into how McCain thinks about a veep pick.

Two decades ago, another GOP vice presidential nominee was also something of a puzzling choice: Senator Dan Quayle. Many questioned George H.W. Bush's decision to tap a little-known senator as his running-mate. But some observers thought that Quayle's looks (he was compared to Robert Redford) would help the ticket with the ladies--female voters, that is. Was that a sexist? Whether or not it was, McCain accepted this perspective. According to a Newsday article from that time, McCain said, "A guy that good-looking just has to be attractive to women," said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

Twenty years later, did McCain take a similar view when searching for his ticket partner?

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An Early Voting Story That Pulls on the Heart Strings

| Thu Oct. 23, 2008 4:23 PM EDT

This is kinda magical, I'm not going to lie. It's a story a reader emailed to Ben Smith after voting early in Cincinnati:

The Upside of the Mortgage Crisis

| Thu Oct. 23, 2008 3:39 PM EDT

It's hard to believe that most Americans aren't re-thinking their lifestyle choices in the wake of the economic meltdown we're navigating. I know I have, and what I've mostly been thinking about is how to stay out of debt, slash expenses, build up my savings (now that I live in an economic banana republic), and downsize without sacrificing more comfort than I can sustainably live without. If you thought you were thinking outside the box on insulating yourself from economic turmoil and simplifying your life, check these folks out:

Bill and Sharon Kastrinos practice the ultimate in minimalism. They've squeezed into a 154-square-foot home that looks more like a kid's playhouse than their previous 1,800-square-foot home....
The house cost them $15,000, and the utilities are a mere $15 a month. The couple now live on property owned by their daughter in California wine country, where the average home in 2007 cost $725,000. If they want to leave, the home has wheels and can be pulled behind their vehicle and plugged into any RV park in the nation.

Turns out, there's a boomlet growing among homebuilders developing this new specialty: dollhouses for people.

Are New Airport Scanners a "Virtual Strip Search?"

| Thu Oct. 23, 2008 3:23 PM EDT

EU lawmakers and its civil liberties' group, along with our own ACLU, are up in arms over a new airport scanner recently authorized there. From CNN:

The new system, which the European Union plans to authorize at the bloc's airports, allows guards to see an outline of passengers' bodies beneath their clothes, making it easier to detect any concealed objects.

When I read the comments here on MoJo, I often wonder what the hell most of them are doing reading (or trying to read) our liberal musings. Now, I'm going to end up dragging some knuckles of my own. Unless the small photo accompanying the article is misleading, it looks like the screeners (of whom I am no fan) aren't seeing much. Mostly skeletons and clothing seams. I'm also noticing that many travelers approve of the new technology since it makes the post-9/11 Death March lines move much faster.

OK. Now I'll wait for the links in the comments showing exactly how invasive and revealing the scans are in real life. I can admit I'm wrong since I so rarely am.

Even so, though, given that strange women have repeatedly felt me up IN PUBLIC for no reason whatsoever, I'm not so sure I care about being just one more walking skeleton some TSA drone is none too happy to be looking at.

Perhaps, though, it's not being seen sorta naked that is bothering civil libertarians, but rather that the search is invasive merely by virtue of going beneath the clothing. Point taken. In these post-Gitmo, post-wiretapping, post-any sort of personal sovereignty world we're increasingly living in, maybe this is a stand worth taking (however miniscule the actual loss of privacy) just to oppose the mission creep of this administration's assault on our rights.

Maybe I'm becoming de-sensitized (first they came for the Jews...), but until I see some better photos, I'm going to wait this one out. I find the hand searches so loathesome at this point, I might just prefer the scan.

The Pirates Who Stole Christmas

| Thu Oct. 23, 2008 3:20 PM EDT

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According to a new report from the Kuala Lumpur-based International Maritime Bureau, which tracks piracy on the high seas, instances of piracy this year are on par with the last—199 worldwide between January and September 2008 versus 198 during the same period last year. But bucking the trend are the waters off the coast of Somalia, where attacks have grown 75 percent, numbering 63 since last January, almost a third of the world total.

IMB Director Pottengal Mukandan characterized Somalia's piracy epidemic as "unprecedented" and said "it is clear that pirates in the Gulf of Aden believe that they can operate with impunity in attacking vessels." Indeed, men in speedboats armed with AK-47s and RPGs have raked in some $30 million ransom so far this year, seizing over 30 merchant ships, including the MV Faina, a Ukrainian vessel carrying 33 T-72 battle tanks, allegedly bound for the government of South Sudan.

Video: Meet the Black McCains

| Thu Oct. 23, 2008 2:24 PM EDT

Much as it means to them to mingle at their bi-racial family reunions, guess who these folks are voting for?

Courtesy of the Wall Street Journal.

And just for giggles, check McCain here, during his 2000 run, gobsmacked to learn that his Mississippi family—the one which owned 2000 miles of plantation and fought in the Civil War—had ever owned slaves. For a smart guy, connecting the dots seems kinda laborious:

"But what McCain didn't know about his family until Tuesday was that William Alexander McCain had owned 52 slaves. The senator seemed surprised after Salon reporters showed him documents gathered from Carroll County Courthouse, the Carrollton Merrill Museum, the Mississippi State Archives and the Greenwood, Miss., Public Library."

"I didn't know that," McCain said in measured tones wearing a stoic expression during a midday interview, as he looked at the documents before Tuesday night's debate. "I knew they had sharecroppers. I did not know that."

..."I knew we fought in the Civil War," McCain went on. "But no, I had no idea. I guess thinking about it, I guess when you really think about it logically, it shouldn't be a surprise. They had a plantation and they fought in the Civil War so I guess that it makes sense."

"It's very impactful," he said of learning the news. "When you think about it, they owned a plantation, why didn't I think about that before? Obviously, I'm going to have to do a little more research."

Then he began to piece together information out loud. "So maybe their sharecroppers that were on the plantation were descendants of those slaves," he said.

Puh-lease.

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GOP Gets Catty

| Thu Oct. 23, 2008 10:11 AM EDT

I told you it was going to get fun.

Here's John McCain, slamming George W. Bush and the Republican Congress in the Washington Times today:

"We just let things get completely out of hand," he said of his own party's rule in the past eight years...
"Spending, the conduct of the war in Iraq for years, growth in the size of government, larger than any time since the Great Society, laying a $10 trillion debt on future generations of America, owing $500 billion to China, obviously, failure to both enforce and modernize the [financial] regulatory agencies that were designed for the 1930s and certainly not for the 21st century, failure to address the issue of climate change seriously..."
"I think, frankly, the problem was, with a Republican Congress, that the president was told by the speaker and majority leaders and others, 'Don't veto these bills, we need this pork, we need this excess spending, we need to grow these bureaucracies.'"

And, naturally enough, Republicans are slapping back. Anonymously, of course. "One of the most senior Republican strategists in the land" tells Politico:

"Lashing out at past Republican congresses instead of Pelosi and Reid, and echoing your opponent's attacks on you instead of attacking your opponent, and spending 150,000 hard dollars on designer clothes when congressional Republicans are struggling for money, and when your senior campaign staff are blaming each other... 10 days before the election, you're not doing much to energize your supporters."

Let the finger-pointing, name-calling, and back-stabbing begin.

Mormon Church GOTV for Prop 8: "Do All You Can"

| Thu Oct. 23, 2008 12:27 AM EDT

Another night in Oakland, another round of Prop 8 picketing. This time a couple dozen people spread out on each of the four corners at MacArthur and High Sts. in east Oakland, California leading the fight against gay marriage. The scene was, oddly enough, jumping. Lots of teenagers, some grandmas, cheering, each with a sign. The most popular were "Prop 8 = Free Speech" (that 'equal' is making it into the anti-gay marriage push holds its own irony), and "Honk if you Support Prop 8" (the intersection was as loud as a a Manhattan thoroughfare). Detractors, those with No on Prop 8 signs and vocal drivers provoked screaming ("God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve!"), middle fingers out of car windows, lots of pointing against windshields, a real show of humanity.

I talked to a few picketers and found out they're all from area Mormon churches. They've been picketing every night at various spots across the Bay Area. One young woman, Patricia, who's 18, said she and her church go to a different intersection most every night. I asked if she was going to vote. "Yeah, I'm voting, yes on Prop 8." Who are you voting for for president? Her response might be what surprised me the most, after the jump.

VIDEO: On Hardball, I Explain Why Sarah Palin Is a Socialist

| Wed Oct. 22, 2008 11:05 PM EDT

Who's the most socialistic governor in the United States? You betcha--it's Sarah Palin. That's what I said on Hardball (video below). But before we got to a highfalutin' discussion about ideology and the campaign, Chris Matthews, conservative radio talk show host Heidi Harris, and I discussed the troubles of GOP Republican Michele Bachmann, who might lose her seat because she played Hardball last Friday and lost. Bachman calling Democrats "anti-American," Palin spending $150,000 on clothes (which I discussed earlier on MSNBC)--these days, for left-of-center pundits, it's as easy as shooting pit bulls in a barrel

Another College Campus Shooting

| Wed Oct. 22, 2008 3:21 PM EDT

Sadly, this time in Kentucky.