Mojo - September 2009

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Beck Watch: NYT Weighs Ludacris, Jay-Z, and Glenn Beck

| Mon Sep. 21, 2009 2:07 PM PDT

Attention Beck Watchers: The Gray Lady is officially in the game. Over the weekend, the New York Times ran two stories about Beck—one, an op-ed about Beck as classic American populist, the other an unlikely comparison between talk radio and gangsta rap.

I, for one, find this refreshing. Nothing diffuses a situation like gently intellectualizing it to death from a great distance. Right?

Then there was this gem, from Beck's Twitter: Sept 28. Lets make it a day of Fast and Prayer for the Republic. Spread the word. Let us walk in the founders steps.

Yes, that's Glenn Beck co-opting Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year, for the Fox Nation. I would be really, really mad, except that there so precious few Republican Jews to begin with, and since virtually all of them either speak only Russian or don't own TVs and eschew the mainstream media, Beck's entreaty (and my rage) will surely fall on deaf ears.

Without further ado, here's who still advertising:

 

  • Conservatives for Patients' Rights
  • Carbonite
  • Rosland Capital
  • The Law Office of Pulaski & Middleman
  • Superior Gold Group
  • Clarity Media Group (The Weekly Standard)
  • Goldline International
  • Freije Treatment Systems (EasyWater Systems)
  • Scarguard
  • Free tax analysis 800-514-8680
  • News Corp. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • FEMA (National Flood Insurance Program)
  • LifeLock
  • Roche Diagnostics (Accu-Chek Aviva)
  • Imperial Structured Settlements
  • Credit card & debt relief helpline 1-800-650-6878
  • ExtenZe
  • Jos. A. Bank Clothiers

 

Will WWE Chair Vince McMahon Hurt Linda's Senate Hopes?

| Mon Sep. 21, 2009 11:59 AM PDT

Since former WWE CEO Linda McMahon announced that she will challenge embattled Sen. Chris Dodd for his seat in 2010, a number of highly reputable sources have praised McMahon's business savvy and professionalism—especially in contrast to her more colorful husband, WWE Chairman Vince McMahon.

Vince is known to be bombastic, egocentric, and a dedicated performer in the ring. [See video of Vince below.] His past antics could become a sore subject in Connecticut, where residents watch wrestling less than voters in other states. Even pro wrestlers have mixed feelings about the duo: "The idea that Vince McMahon could be in the vicinity of one of our lawmaking bodies just frightens me," says former wrestling announcer Jim Cornette. Jake "The Snake" Roberts, told Impact Wrestling that Linda "was always the steady oar in the water...Anybody that can put up with all the wrestlers and stuff...has certainly got their head screwed on right." Lanny "The Genius" Poffo agreed, noting to the Daily Beast that McMahon would be a great Senator because "she is the opposite of Nancy Pelosi."

But while Linda runs on a platform of public transparency, has her husband already displayed too much?

Watch WWE Chairman Vince McMahon:

We're Number 37: Singing for Health Care Reform

| Mon Sep. 21, 2009 10:49 AM PDT

Singer/songwritter Paul Hipp has put out a little YouTube ditty in mock-celebration of the US' thirty-seventh place ranking in the World Health Organization's most recent ranking of health care systems around the world. Like the best Dylan tracks, this one is more about the message than the music (i.e., Hipp's got a terrible voice). Give it a listen anyway and remember what's at stake in the health care debate.

Climate Change Back on the Agenda?

| Mon Sep. 21, 2009 10:24 AM PDT

After months of obsessing over health care, President Barack Obama could give the climate debate a much-needed shot in the arm this week. Tomorrow he'll speak at the United Nations' Climate Summit in New York, a test run in advance of the Copenhagen conference in December. While Majority Leader Harry Reid has signaled that the Senate may not take up climate legislation until next year, Obama's unofficial "green cabinet" has been quietly lobbying senators behind the scenes to assure them that the climate bill is viewed as a priority by the administration, the Washington Times reports. But the real test of Obama's climate commitment will come later in the week when he addresses the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh. Though the climate isn't officially on the agenda there, watch how Obama does or doesn't talk up green jobs and a carbon market to get an idea of how fast he wants to move on cap and trade.

The New Black Panthers and Me

| Mon Sep. 21, 2009 3:01 AM PDT

There's a new investigation of politicization at the Justice Department. But this time, it's not former President Bush's appointees who are in the hot seat—it's President Obama's. On September 9, the DOJ's ethics watchdog, the Office of Professional Responsibility, opened an inquiry into the department's decision not to pursue charges against several men accused of voter intimidation at a Philadelphia polling place on Election Day last November. The Associated Press reported:

The department filed a civil complaint in January against three men, alleging two of them intimidated voters on Nov. 4 by standing outside a polling place wearing uniforms of the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. Justice officials later chose to drop the matter against two of the men and get an injunction against a third, prompting criticism from conservatives that the three had gotten off lightly as a result of political interference from the new Democratic administration.

I witnessed the incident at the Philadelphia polling station, and captured it on a video that became a YouTube sensation. You can see that video below the jump, as well as my account of what went down:

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We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for September 21, 2009

Mon Sep. 21, 2009 2:59 AM PDT

Airman 1st Class Davis Smith carries a guide used in airfield construction Sept. 9, 2009, at Forward Operating Base Dwyer, Afghanistan. He is part of a team preparing the area for a runway that will allow C-17 Globemaster IIIs to deliver cargo and people directly to FOB Dwyer. Airman Smith is assigned to the 1st Expeditionary RED HORSE Group and is deployed from Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Shawn Weismiller)

Need To Read: September 21, 2009

Mon Sep. 21, 2009 2:58 AM PDT

Today's must-reads didn't make any deals with the pharmaceutical industry:

  • Baucus Bill Sticks To Pharma Deal That Supposedly Wasn't Struck (Ryan Grim/HuffPo)
  • Why is it at all controversial to demand that debit card customers be able to decline overdraft "protection?" (WaPo)
  • You have no idea what health care really costs  (Ezra Klein/WaPo)
  • McChrystal's Report (Kevin Drum/MoJo)
  • The New Black Panthers and Me (MoJo)
  • How the Baucus Plan Bilks People Over 50 (MoJo)
  • How the US removed half a ton of uranium from Kazakhstan (Is Nice!/WaPo)
  • Olympia Snowe: "My Party Has Changed" (Steve Benen/The Washington Monthly)
  • Blue Dogs Aim To Scuttle/Pre-Empt Obama's Financial Regulatory Reforms (Politico)
  • Did the White House Give Joe Wilson Everything He Wanted? In a Word: Yes (Brian Beutler/TPM)
  • "On every major measurement, the Census shows the country lost ground during the Bush years." (The Atlantic)
  • Obama Admin. Pressured NY Gov. David Paterson Not To Run for Reelection; Paterson Running Anyway (NYT)
  • Atul Gawande for Senate: Best. Idea. Ever. (Yglesias)
  • Shocking news: CIA Directors conclude CIA shouldn't be investigated for murder (Glenn Greenwald)
  • A Brief History of Macroeconomics (Paul Krugman/NYT)

I post items 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.)

Santorum Tanks, Huckabee Triumphs Again

| Sat Sep. 19, 2009 5:49 PM PDT

Well, the results are in and it looks like former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum has exactly zero hope of ever mounting a serious presidential campaign. Not that anyone really thought he did, except perhaps for him. Santorum's name was on the ballot for the straw poll at the Family Research Council's Values Voter Summit in DC this weekend, along with other GOP luminaries such as Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney. In past years, the straw poll has been an early testing ground for the GOP's presidential aspirants. But if Santorum was hoping to woo activists from a distance (he didn't actually show up to campaign) with his anti-gay history, it didn't work. Santorum managed to garner a scant 2.5 percent of the vote, saved from coming in dead last only by Ron Paul. 

As in past years, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee cleaned up big time. None of the other candidates even came close to his 28 percent of the votes. Behind him, there was a four-way tie among Romney, Palin, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), a guy who looks very much like someone running for vice president (the Indiana curse, perhaps). The fact that Palin fared so poorly also doesn't bode well for her future as a candidate, as she nearly lost to virtual unknowns Pence and Pawlenty along with Huckabee. 2012 is still a long way away, but it's not hard to imagine Huckabee as an early frontrunner for the race. His youthful fondness for frying squirrels in a popcorn popper nothwithstanding, Huckabee polled within seven points of Obama in April this year in an early look at potential matchups for 2012. Having seen him light up a room this weekend before the values voters, I have to think he's a pretty serious candidate.

Mitt Romney For Olympics Czar?

| Sat Sep. 19, 2009 8:54 AM PDT

Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney entered the Values Voters Summit in DC Saturday like royalty, with the disco ball turning and patriotic music from the 2002 Olympics blasting from the speakers. It was a warm welcome from a group of Christian conservatives who largely prefer non-Mormon Bible-thumper Mike Huckabee as a presidential candidate. Watching Romney read his speech word for word from the teleprompters, it seemed clear that he had made a huge tactical error in picking a career. He still looks more like a TV president than Martin Sheen ever could.

Still, his speech garnered a lot more enthusiasm than that of say, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, who also failed to stick to the protocol here of starting out with a Bible story. Romney decried out-of-wedlock births and rapped on White House czars. He had a few snappy one-liners. Repeating the GOP mantra on cap and trade, which he equated with a 15 percent income tax on all Americans, he quipped, "Democrats keep talking about climate change. I think they're confusing global warming with all the heat they've been taking at town halls." 

After two days of such rhetoric, though, it was clear that the conservatives need to coordinate their jokes better. (And a pox on Nancy Pelosi for every referring to town hall participants as an "angry mob.") By noon Saturday, Romney was like the 18th speaker to invoke the mob reference. The conservatives were funnier dissing Tom DeLay's new ballroom dancing career, which has been a running gag this weekend.

Romney's speech wasn't helped by coming last in the lineup, behind Bill Bennett, a genuinely funny guy. His Mormon heritage really hurts him in the humor department. Having grown up in Utah, I know first-hand that Mormon humor is distinctly inside-baseball and, well, not very funny. (What do you call a burger that catches fire on the grill? A burnt offering, yuck yuck.)  Romney's version of the town hall riff: "The Demorats call them a mob, crazies, trash—I call them patriots." 

Failed humor aside, Romney made a solid showing to an appreciative crowd. Nonetheless, he's still likely to get killed in the straw poll. In 2007, he just edged out Huckabee, but that was largely because of Internet voting, which has since been banned as a result. This year's poll is strictly in-person. And if Romney can't win over the values voter foot soldiers, there's not much hope for him nationally. Maybe he has a future as Obama's Olympic czar. That's one offical White House job that the values voters might approve of.