Mojo - September 2009

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Bill Clinton Backs Gavin Newsom's 2010 CA Gov Bid

| Tue Sep. 15, 2009 12:44 PM PDT

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.

 

The Phony Age Gap War

| Tue Sep. 15, 2009 11:25 AM PDT

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.

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

| Tue Sep. 15, 2009 7:33 AM PDT

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

Jews: Not "Values Voters"?

| Tue Sep. 15, 2009 6:31 AM PDT

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 5:16 AM PDT

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 4:36 AM PDT

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.)