Mojo - September 2009

Bill Clinton Backs Gavin Newsom's 2010 CA Gov Bid

| Tue Sep. 15, 2009 3:44 PM EDT

Former president Bill Clinton today showed his support for San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom's run for California governor in 2010. Next month, Clinton will travel to California to accompany Newsom to a Los Angeles event and a large-dollar fundraiser. This high-profile boosterism comes at a good time: native San Franciscan and current State Attorney General Jerry Brown, has reportedly raised twice as much campaign money as his younger opponent.

Although the backing of a former president is a novel one for California statewide primary (or so a former head of the state's Democratic Party told ABC) it's not hard to see why Clinton would favor Newsom. Besides the party line, Clinton ran against Brown in 1992 and Newsom was a strong supporter of Hillary Clinton during the Democratic presidential primaries. Newsom told the San Francisco Chronicle the endorsement was "a big deal," especially considering how early on in the race it is.

While Newsom has been criticized in San Francisco for the Care Not Cash homeless program and "immigration sanctuary," it'd be hard to find a Democrat Californians like more than Bill Clinton. Basking in Clinton's glow could only help Newsom, especially considering he polled behind Brown twice in August, even among San Franciscans.

 

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The Phony Age Gap War

| Tue Sep. 15, 2009 2:25 PM EDT

In “Politics and the Age Gap,” featured in Sunday’s New York Times, Adam Nagourney adds to the litany of recent articles that position old people as a primary obstacle to health care reform. In part, the target of these pieces is the tea party geezers who rant about socialism--but it goes well beyond that. Seniors tend to be depicted, explicitly or implicity, as obstinate or selfish because they fear cutbacks in Medicare will be made in order to provide health care for younger people. What’s more, they refuse to accept that Medicare benefits must be cut now to keep the program from going bankrupt before younger generations even get to use it.

Thus, the argument goes, what’s really going on in the health care struggle is a fight by the old against the young, in which we miserly old coots are unwilling to give up what we’ve got for the sake of the greater good. “As the population ages and the nation faces intense battles over rapidly rising health care and retirement costs,” Nagourney writes, ”American politics seems increasingly divided along generational lines.”

But the whole intergenerational conflict is a phony one. This health reform debate is about substituting a trumped up intergenerational war for what ought to be, if anything, a class war--pitting the old against the young, instead of pitting the rich against the poor, or the corporations against the little guy. 

If health reform moves forward, there surely will be cuts to Medicare--that isn’t some paranoid fantasy on the part of demented old folks. And you can be sure the cuts won’t only apply, as promised, to “waste and inefficiency.” But the real scandal is this: The only reason that any cuts at all need to made to Medicare is because pols are unwilling to cut the profits of insurance and drug companies. That’s where the money to finance health reform really should be coming from.

In other countries, single-payer systems deliver better health care at far lower cost.  If we did the same here--or at least made moves in that direction--there would be enough for everyone. We could have Medicare for all--the young as well as the old.

WWE CEO Linda McMahon to Slam Dodd

| Tue Sep. 15, 2009 1:22 PM EDT

It's no surprise that Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd is in trouble. Chairman of the Senate banking committee—during the worst banking crisis in recent history—is not exactly a desirable job. But Dodd can't seem to catch a break. In June of last year, it surfaced that he received favors from the mortgage company Countrywide Financial as part of the "Friends of Angelo" program, which waived fees and rules for prominent businessmen and politicians close to the company's chief executive Angelo Mozilo.

With his approval ratings tanking, there has been much speculation about who the GOP will tap to oust Dodd in the 2010 midterm elections. Former Rep. Rob Simmons is the most likely challenger—a recent Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll shows Simmons beating Dodd in a dead heat. But Simmons and Dodd should get ready to rumble, because the uber-rich World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) CEO Linda McMahon is likely to join the fight to tag team Dodd. Her spokesman is already talking smack against McMahon's future rivals: "She plays to win, so if she gets in, she's in all the way. She has the capacity to bring considerable resources to the race, and she has an established record."

McMahon's plan to take Dodd to the ropes comes as he draws criticism from all sides. Controversial documentary film maker (and one-time Mother Jones editor) Michael Moore takes aim at Dodd in his new film "Capitalism: A Love Story." Speaking to the Washington Post this week, Moore said Dems should ask Dodd to step aside to keep the GOP out of Connecticut. "I don't know why they'd risk losing that seat just because they're afraid to tell him not to run," he said.

Washington's Worst: McConnell and 14 Other Corrupt Lawmakers

| Tue Sep. 15, 2009 11:35 AM EDT

Last week Stephanie asked, "Where’s Mitch McConnell?" Well, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has just released its fifth annual report on the 15 most corrupt members of Congress, and the good-government group has an answer: misusing his nonprofit and handing out favors to former clients and staffers.

Senate Minority Leader McConnell, the highest ranking elected Republican, is no stranger to CREW’s survey of the seamy side of Washington. He's been on the list the past two years as well. This year’s list features five new members: Senators Roland Burris and John Ensign; Representatives Nathan Deal, Jesse Jackson, Jr. and Pete Visclosky; and, after a two year absence, Rep. Maxine Waters.

Although Democrats outnumber Republicans on this year's list, Republicans punch well above their weight in this congressional corruption survey, with seven GOP lawmakers on the list, which can be viewed below in its entirety. The full report and individual dossiers on those named and shamed can be viewed at the special site CREW has set up to publicize its findings.

Death of Usama bin Ladotune (Not Feat. T-Pain)

| Tue Sep. 15, 2009 10:33 AM EDT

Spencer Ackerman's gone and done it. He autotuned Osama:

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Jews: Not "Values Voters"?

| Tue Sep. 15, 2009 9:31 AM EDT

This weekend, thousands of "values voters" will convene in Washington for their annual summit sponsored by the Family Research Council (motto: "Defending faith, family and freedom"). All of the conservative luminaries will be there: Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, and maybe even Sarah Palin. (South Carolina Mark Sanford was, sadly, disinvited over the summer.) One group of voters won't be too well represented, however. Event organizers have conveniently scheduled their big DC summit for Rosh Hashanah, meaning that most Jews will be elsewhere, celebrating their biggest holiday of the year just as Bill O'Reilly kicks off the summit's Friday evening plenary session. Not that many Jews were likely to come anyway; the Family Research Council isn't known for its interfaith outreach. But still, for a religious group, the scheduling seems a little insensitive. Perhaps it was intentional, you know, to keep out the mainstream media.

That seems unlikely, however, given that in past years, the FRC summit has been a hotbed of news. In 2007, it was the place to be for aspiring GOP presidential candidates. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee emerged as a major contender, tying in a straw poll at the event with the better-funded presidential contender former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Huckabee's overwhelming win of the on-site voting also showed early on that Romney had not captured the hearts of critical evangelical Republicans, a sign of things to come. Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback also used the event to announce that he was dropping out of the race.

The 2008 summit was less eventful as political activists focused on the elections, but it did make some headlines after reporters discovered exhibitors at the event selling racist anti-Obama junk, including "Obama Waffles," boxes of which featured caricatures of Obama with big lips and wearing a Muslim headdress. But 2009 promises to be a big year for the conservatives, who are once again energized in opposition to the new administration and Democratic Congress. It will also be a testing ground for potential GOP contenders—people like Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and, of course, Palin if she decides to attend. (At this writing, she had been invited but not confirmed as a speaker.) They'll get an early chance to try to woo the influential evangelical foot soldiers of the GOP. But if the candidates want to court the Jewish vote, perhaps they'll have to do it on Christmas day.

 

We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for September 15, 2009

Tue Sep. 15, 2009 8:16 AM EDT

U.S. Army Soldiers carry a bag filled with food and water that will sustain them while on a multi-day mission near Sar Howza in Paktika province, Afghanistan, Sept. 2, 2009. The Soldiers, assigned to 1st Squadron, 40th Cavalry Regiment, will hide the bag until they return to gather and distribute the contents before moving to a different location. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew Smith.)

Need To Read: September 15, 2009

Tue Sep. 15, 2009 7:36 AM EDT

Today's must-reads:

  • Our radical activist Supreme Court? (The Economist)
  • Dems likely to sanction Joe Wilson for outburst (WaPo)
  • Judge: $33 million settlement over Merrill Lynch bonuses "does not comport with the most elementary notions of justice and morality." (NYT)
  • Andrew Sullivan: Dear President Bush (The Atlantic)
  • Shocker! WaPo publishes another misleading op-ed! (Yglesias)
  • Human Rights Watch's Marc Garlasco slammed for his Nazi memorabilia collection. (NYT)
  • The skinny on Jay Leno's new show (NYT)
  • Cry for the rich, part one: Lehman Brothers, one year later (NYT)
  • Cry for the rich, part two: "World's Wealthy Pay A Price in Crisis." (WaPo)

Seriously, people, can we cut it with the rich people pity party? Anyway, I post pieces like these throughout the day on twitter. You should follow me, of course. David Corn, Mother Jones' DC bureau chief, also tweets. So do my colleagues Daniel Schulman and Rachel Morris and our editors-in-chief, Clara Jeffery and Monika Bauerlein. Follow them, too! (The magazine's main account is @motherjones.)

Corn on Hardball: Is the Public Option Dividing Liberals?

Mon Sep. 14, 2009 7:18 PM EDT

David Corn and Lynn Sweet joined Chris Matthews on MSNBC's Hardball this evening to discuss whether the public option is dividing democrats and what, exactly, Rahm Emanuel and Rod Blagojevich talked about.

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