Mojo - July 2009

MoJo Mix: 1 July 2009

| Wed Jul. 1, 2009 11:25 AM EDT

Oh, Sarah Palin. You really are the gift that keeps on giving. But does the Vanity Fair profile of you really deserve such mass quantities of Republican vitriol? Kevin Drum investigates. Plus, three sweet and savory stories for your Canada Day MoJo Mix:

1) 5 troubling SCOTUS rulings you should really be an expert on by now.

2) Why Honduras is the butt of all Mexican jokes, coup be damned.

3) From editor to topless-club manager, and other tales from America's endangered newspapers.

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Even God Thinks Joe the Plumber Shouldn't Run for Congress

| Wed Jul. 1, 2009 10:19 AM EDT

From Joe the Plumber's recent interview with WorldNetDaily:

Asked if he has plans to run for public office, he replied, "I hope not. You know, I talked to God about that and he was like, 'No.'"

This breaks God's long streak of telling people they should run for Congress. Thankfully for God, Joe is willing to let God change God's mind:

But Wurzelbacher said he will keep that door open if God ever calls him to be that leader.

(Via ThinkProgress)

 

Michael Scheuer Vying For a Role on 24?

| Wed Jul. 1, 2009 9:40 AM EDT

Getting exercised over the mind-numbing stupidity exhibited each day on the cable news networks is easily avoided. Just turn them off. Read a book. Go for a walk. Do something... anything else. But occasionally they're worth watching (in very small doses), if only for their grim comedic value. Tuesday's Glenn Beck show on Fox News is a case in point. The conservative blowhard spoke with Michael Scheuer, former chief of the CIA's Bin Laden unit, about Obama's proposed plan to send 1,500 National Guardsman to the US-Mexico border to combat drug smuggling. But the conversation quickly went off course, ultimately ranging from Scheuer's views on gun control (Democrats "want guns only in the hands of the government") to his aggrieved sense of populism. Scheuer, a highly educated guy himself and one who made a career in the elite echelon of the country's intelligence service, derided how the federal government is run by elitists who care nothing for the common man. "Now the minority--those folks who go to Harvard and Yale and the prestigious universities who think they know everything and who want the government to control everything--are in power. The majority of Americans... are generally neglected in terms of security by the minority that runs this government." Music to the ears of Scheuer's Fox audience.

But Scheuer didn't stop there. When Beck brought up Obama's strategy against Al Qaeda, the former CIA man launched into a diatribe you'd expect from Jon Voight's crazy-patriot character on 24, not from America's former chief Bin Laden hunter. The transcript speaks for itself:

Do the Dems Have 60 Senators Or Not?

| Wed Jul. 1, 2009 9:29 AM EDT

Now that Al Franken will soon be seated, the Democrats finally have their filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Or do they? Steve Benen says "talk of the Democrats' 'magic number' is misplaced," and points to Joshua Green's argument that, with Robert Byrd and Ted Kennedy both in ill-health, the actual logistics of getting sixty Democrats to the Senate floor to cast a vote are still pretty tough (although one imagines that Kennedy might simply will himself there to cast a vote on health care, the cause for which he's worked most of his life). Benen also reminds us that "the 60-seat Democratic caucus includes Ben Nelson. And Joe Lieberman. And Evan Bayh, Mary Landrieu, Blanche Lincoln and their merry band of Blue Dogs," making passing actual liberal legislation difficult.

Also riffing off the problems with getting progressive legislation through Congress, Ezra Klein says that real reform may be simply impossible:

The implicit assumption of these arguments about strategy is that there is, somewhere out there, a workable strategy. That there is some way to navigate our political system such that you enact wise legislation solving pressing problems. But that's an increasingly uncertain assumption, I think.

That may be true. But Democrats should know that it's unlikely that voters—or, for the matter, the mainstream media—will accept any of those excuses. Yes, these things are hard. Barack Obama said so himself, many times, on the campaign trail. But Democrats and liberals are in the most powerful position they've been in at least 30 years, and probably since the Great Society. Senators, including Nelson & Co, are real people with real decision-making abilities. Either they'll fix health care, address the energy crisis, and get the economy moving, or they won't. But pretending that you're going to be able to deflect the blame for not addressing the country's problems when you control both houses of Congress and the White House is folly. It may not be fair, but people expect results. Yes, 60 isn't a magic number. Yes, there are Ben Nelson-types in the caucus. Yes, the entire political system is messed up. Deal with it.

We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for July 1, 2009

Wed Jul. 1, 2009 9:03 AM EDT

U.S. Army Sgt. Brandon Barnett (right) from Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, United States Army Europe leads his team up a ridge line during a dismounted patrol near Forward Operation Base Lane, Zabul Province, Afghanistan, on Feb. 26, 2009. DoD photo by Staff Sgt. Adam Mancini, U.S. Army. (Released)

Honduras for Dummies

| Wed Jul. 1, 2009 6:00 AM EDT

There was a coup in Honduras this weekend (the first successful one in Latin America since the end of the Cold War), but if you didn't know about it, you wouldn't be alone. Even if you heard the news, you might not know much else about the ex-banana republic located between Guatemala and Nicaragua. The small Central American nation of Honduras has produced none of the famous musicians or controversial populist demagogues that pique our interest, although deposed president Manuel Zelaya is a close friend of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez. But now that President Obama has roundly condemned the coup and pundits are calling it a litmus test fo democracy in the region, there's a few things you might want to know. 

*According  to extensive research, academia, news reports, Honduras hasn't visibly changed much since the days of Yanqui Imperialism. Just to be sure, I called my twin sister, who traveled the whole country by bus while working for Save the Children and said that Dole still has a significant presence, as do Mormon missionaries for whom Honduras is now a number one destination.