Mojo - June 2009

Climate Debate Begins: Republicans Lie, NYT Yawns, TV Jackos Off

| Fri Jun. 26, 2009 12:43 PM EDT

Nobody in the mainstream media seems to care that debate has begun in the House this afternoon on the single most important piece of environmental legislation ever. As of 1 p.m. Eastern, there's still no mention of the Waxman-Markey climate bill on the front page of the Times' website; the paper's Caucus blog deems it worthy of a mention but changes the subject halfway through to talk about immigration reform. Climate Progress rues the Reuters headline: "Michael Jackson overshaddows Farrah Fawcett on a sad day."

Meanwhile, Republicans are not being called out for spewing lies on the House floor about the bill's scientific mandate and price tag. Many of them are repeating the bogus claim that the Congressional Budget Office found that the bill would add $.77 a gallon to the price of gasoline in the next decade. That number actually comes from the American Petroleum Institute, which decided to ignore the CBO's real analysis and produce its own. In reality, the CBO found that gas prices in 2019 would be about $.20 higher than they are today. More important, it found that the climate bill will cost the average American the equivalent of a postage stamp per day--and before you count the benefit of energy efficiency savings.

Earlier this week, the Washington Post released a poll showing that 75 percent of Americans believe that the government should "regulate the release of greenhouse gases" from cars and other sources. So presumably, many people would actually care to know that a climate bill is up for debate, and that Republicans are doing everything they can--truth and future generations be damned--to kill it. These guys are the true kings of Neverland. We're missing the one freak show that matters.

 

 

 

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Quote of the Day: The Lies of George W. Bush

| Fri Jun. 26, 2009 11:07 AM EDT

"When I look back on the Bush years, I think of the lies. There were so many. Lies about the war and lies to cover up the lies about the war. Lies about torture and surveillance. Lies about Valerie Plame. Vice President Dick Cheney's lies, criminally prosecutable but for his chief of staff Scooter Libby's lies. I also think about the extraordinary and fundamentally cancerous expansion of executive power that led to violations of our laws and our principles."

—Dan Froomkin, in his final column for the Washington Post.

Best in Blog: 26 June 2009

| Fri Jun. 26, 2009 10:19 AM EDT

Sure, Michael Jackson's brilliance changed music, as everyone who's ever moonwalked, breakdanced, or lugged a boom box to school to play "Thriller" during recess knows. But now the recently departed King of Pop is also changing the weekend news arc. Will this be the last we hear of Iran from the MSM?

Our Friday faves:

1) Guess Who's Selling Wall Street's Bull?

Hint: He was a Bush aide who cooked up a phony pitch for the Iraq War. Read more.

 

2) The Biofuel Boondoogle

Midwestern Congressman Collin Peterson introduces the week's worst amendment to the Waxman-Markey climate bill. Read more.

 

3) BK's New BJ Ad, Now With More Ick Factor

Have you seen the burger-as-blow-job Burger King ad just that burst onto the scene? Here it is.

Hypocrite of the Day

| Fri Jun. 26, 2009 10:05 AM EDT

Iranian cleric Ahmad Khatami, sermonizing at Friday prayers in Tehran:

"I ask the judiciary to behave harshly and cruelly with the leaders of the protests, as they are fed by the U.S. and Israel, so that it will teach a lesson to others."

[...]

Khatami said [Mir-Hossein Mousavi's] calls to annul the vote are "words of force."

 

We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for June 26, 2009

Fri Jun. 26, 2009 9:57 AM EDT

Retired Staff Sgt. Bradley K. Gruetzner explains his prosthetic arm to servicemembers at Al Faw Palace, Camp Victory, Iraq, June 21. Greutzner, along with five other soldiers, have returned to Iraq to visit forward operating bases to witness the changes that have taken since their injuries. They are part of a pilot program, "Operation Proper Exit." Greutzner was injured May 26, 2007, by an improvised explosive device while traveling in a convoy 15 miles north of Baghdad. (Photo courtesy army.mil).

Are Iraqi Forces Prepared to Take Over?

| Fri Jun. 26, 2009 9:26 AM EDT

That was the question discussed by three Iraq experts on a press call Friday morning hosted by the National Security Network. In compliance with the Status of Forces Agreement struck with the Iraqi government in November 2008, US troops will complete their withdrawal from Iraq's cities by Tuesday, thus (hopefully?) ending an era of US involvement in the country--and, of course, inaugurating a new one. Come next week, Iraqi soldiers and police will take over all active patrols in the country's major urban centers. They've been training for the job for years. And though we all remember reports from a few years ago of Iraqi units that were nothing more than paper phantoms, by all accounts the security forces have more recently made great strides.

But while Iraqi units have been trained and equipped, one of the more pressing questions is whether they have the logistical capacity to maintain operations without extensive US assistance. "Everybody claims to be a tactician, [but] professionals are logisticians," says Paul Eaton, a former Army major general who led the training of Iraqi forces after the 2003 invasion. "When American soldiers pull out of the urban concentrations, will there be a logistical tail to support the Iraqi soldiers, so [they] will have faith in the chain of command that they're gonna be resupplied and, if wounded or hurt, that they'll be evacuated? That 'if' I cannot answer. We will see it develop." 

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Yes, Michael Jackson is Dead

| Thu Jun. 25, 2009 5:25 PM EDT

I can't believe TMZ was right. Michael Jackson, King of Pop, is actually dead at age 50, reports the Los Angeles Times. From reports looks like he was in a "deep coma" when LA Fire Department picked him up, and then died. Sad news.

My personal MJ memory: carrying around a battered cassette tape of Thriller for years, to be played mostly on my sky-blue boombox. Yes, I was a child of the 80s. My mother wouldn't let me watch the Thriller video (too scary, and un-Christian), so I secretly danced to it at my friend's house who (blessedly) had both MTV and a VCR player. As someone who took years and years of ballet and other forms of dance, I will say the man was an amazing dancer. If any of you are interested in seeing some of the art he collected (some is legit, some schmaltzy), check out the auction of property he held last month at an LA auction house here.

Rep. Michele Bachmann Cites War-Time Internments in Her Crusade Against 2010 Census

| Thu Jun. 25, 2009 2:13 PM EDT

Just days after Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) told the world (or at least whoever reads The Washington Times) that she would not be completing her 2010 Census questionnaire in its entirety, she has decided to cite as rationale incidents from World War II, when the Census Bureau released confidential information to the Roosevelt administration to aid the government's effort to round up Japanese-Americans into internment camps.

Yes, the Census Bureau committed a major error during the 1940s. One assumes that such egregious offenses and violations of personal privacy wouldn't occur today. Right?

A better argument for Bachmann to make would have been to cite the Census Bureau's disclosure of Arab-Americans' demographic data to the Department of Homeland Security in the post-9/11 era (Wouldn't that be a great coalition: The Arab American Institute Foundation, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, and Rep. Michele Bachmann?)

As if the 2010 Census didn't already have enough problems of its own, the continued politicization of this process will only be a greater detriment to the American people.

Bachmann, for your viewing pleasure:

A Defense of Mark Sanford, Sort Of

| Thu Jun. 25, 2009 10:29 AM EDT

Like David, I'd been feeling kind of sorry for Mark Sanford. But it took a while for me to figure out exactly why. It wasn't just his stream-of-consciousness confessional yesterday, with its cringe-inducing lack of modern political stage management and weirdly touching digressions on dinosaur sheets. Nor was it the fact that his plainly heartfelt emails to his mistress are now splattered all over the internet. Somehow, I realized, the details for which Sanford is being mocked actually made him seem more likeable to me.

Take, for instance, his professed love of digging holes for fun. There's a low-hanging joke there, obviously. But I was struck by this quasi-Waldenesque passage from his email correspondence:

Got back an hour ago to civilization and am now in Columbia after what was for me a glorious break from reality down at the farm. No phones ringing and tangible evidence of a day’s labors. Though I have started every day by 6 this morning woke at 4:30, I guess since my body knew it was the last day, and I went out and ran the excavator with lights until the sun came up. To me, and I suspect no one else on earth, there is something wonderful about listening to country music playing in the cab, air conditioner running, the hum of a huge diesel engine in the background, the tranquility that comes with being in a virtual wilderness of trees and marsh, the day breaking and vibrant pink coming alive in the morning clouds — and getting to build something with each scoop of dirt. It is admittedly weird but one of my more favorite ways of escaping the norms, constant phone calls and formalities that go with the office.

In other words, Sanford appears to be a rare creature among politicians: an introvert. Someone who needs a little solitude on a regular basis in order to stay on top of things. A textbook case, if you go by Jonathan Rauch's great piece in the Atlantic from some years back. Rauch notes that introverts typically don't fare well in national politics, citing Richard Nixon and Calvin Coolidge as examples, and Sanford is really not helping the introvert's cause.

Still, I found Sanford's oddball hobbies and totally self-annihilating honesty to be a strangely refreshing departure from the usual cast of chronic narcissists and sado-meglomaniacs and pathological glad-handers that typically dominate blockbuster political scandals. I'm setting the bar really low, I know. And I don't mean this as an excuse for Sanford's hypocrisy or his rigidly ideological economic policies, which lacked compassion for anyone down on their luck. But in the pantheon of politicians who have screwed up on a monumental scale, he seems a little more human than most.

Mark Fiore Cartoon: What to Give the Iranian Regime

Wed Jun. 24, 2009 6:30 PM EDT

Satirist Mark Fiore has dreamed up a device perfect for Iranian mullahs: The power-cling.

See how it works here.