Mojo - November 2009

Days of Whines and Rogues: Palin's Persecution Complex

| Wed Nov. 18, 2009 11:23 AM EST

If you can stand to read one more thing about Sarah Palin's overhyped autobiography Going Rogue, have a look at Thomas Frank's takedown in today’s Wall Street Journal, called "The Persecution of Sarah Palin." Frank argues that the supposedly tough, indefatigable Palin—the woman who shoots wolves from helicopters and is pround of her high school nickname "Sarah Barracuda"—has in fact drawn virtually all of her political capital from depicting herself as a victim.  

Remember when, as First Lady, Hillary Clinton was ridiculed for talking about the "vast right-wing conspiracy" against her husband’s presidency? The conspiracy against Palin, if we are to believe her take on things, is vaster still. It includes not only everyone to the left of William McKinley, but also everyone who ever contradicted, annoyed, or said mean things about her. Furthermore, it’s these malevolent enemies, and never Palin herself, who are responsible for every one of her screwups, shortcomings, and humiliations.

Members of Palin’s base—who similarly tend to see themselves as victims of the tax-hiking, government-expanding, latte-drinking, sushi-eating, Volvo-driving, New York Times-reading left-wing freak show—appear to wholeheartedly embrace, and even celebrate, this etiology. Frank writes that conservatives "love a whiner," and continues:

It is her mastery of the lament that explained former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s appeal last year, and now her knack for self-pity is on full display in her book, “Going Rogue.” This is the memoir as prolonged, keening wail, larded with petty vindictiveness. With an impressive attention to detail, Ms. Palin settles every score, answers every criticism; locates a scapegoat for every foul-up, and fastens an insult on every critic, down to the last obscure Palin-doubter back in Alaska.

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Oliver North Goes Off the Climate Deep End

| Wed Nov. 18, 2009 11:12 AM EST

Oliver North is using climate change denialism to fundraise for his non-profit group Freedom Alliance. In a six-page stream-of-consciousness fundraising letter, North warns of the "liberty killing 'Cap and Trade' boondoggle" that socialists are plotting in response to the "phony climate 'crisis.'" The solution? Write him a check.

Climate change would appear to have little connection to Freedom Alliance's stated mission, which is "to advance the American heritage of freedom by honoring and encouraging military service, defending the sovereignty of the United States and promoting a strong national defense." And it's not clear which roles on North's resume—his past notoriety in the Iran-Contra scandal or his current gig as a Fox News host and commentator—best qualify him to weigh in on climate science.

Nevertheless, in his letter and a petition sent to supporters, North mashes together all manner of wacky climate change denier talking points. The basic premise is that Barack Obama, Democrats in Congress, and climate scientists are socialists hell-bent on using a faked climate crisis to control the masses. North argues that "there is no proof of man-made global warming," that "the world has actually been cooling for the last ten years," and that "there is no evidence that greenhouse gases have anything to do with global warming in the first place." Plus, he points out: "If man is solely responsible for the warming of the earth, how did the ice age ever end without the help of automobiles and coal burning factories?"

"[T]he bottom line is this," North writes. "The entire 'global warming' scare is based on a series of accepted myths put forward by socialists looking to redistribute wealth, phony politicians, greedy scientists and dim-witted wealthy elites (see Hollywood)."

North asks supporters to sign a petition to Obama that questions whether glaciers are really melting, and argues that limiting emissions via a "cap-and-tax" scheme would be an attempt to "change nature or God's will." He also asks supporters to shell out money—up to $1,000—to help his group defend America from this sinister plot.

He adds this P.S. at the end:

Again, ever wonder why the liberals now always try to use the new term "catastrophic climate change" rather than "global warming." It's because it allows them to blame EVERY weather event (heat waves, blizzards, floods, draughts, hurricanes, etc.) on you, me, and our current use of fossil fuels. The goal? To destroy our way of life and con us into giving away billions of dollars to solve a non-crisis we have no power to prevent, even if it were real! I hope and pray that you understand – and that you will sign our PETITION TO PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA and rush it and your gift of $20, $25, $35, $50, $75, $100, or more back to me here at Freedom Alliance today.

An Inconvenient Bill

| Wed Nov. 18, 2009 11:11 AM EST

Barbara Boxer celebrated the passage of her climate bill out of the Environment and Public Works committee with a festive gathering for environmentalists and her Democratic colleagues on Tuesday, featuring cookies, coffee, and billionaire philanthropist Ted Turner. It was hard to tell that Boxer was only able to pass the bill out of her panel by skipping the markup, and that the legislation has basically been put on ice until sometime in 2010.

"I think it's important to see how far we've come," said Boxer, motioning to giant cue cards her staff had prepared depicting a timeline of climate legislation developments to date.

But if there's one thing that this week has made clear, it's how far the US has to go. At a meeting with Harry Reid and other committee chairs on Monday, Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus indicated he won't mark up his portion of the climate bill until January. Over the weekend, world leaders agreed to put off a binding global deal until sometime next year.

Boxer, who has long been the Senate's lead voice on climate, acknowledged the reality: her legislation is "an inconvenient bill." The health care debate has pushed the climate issue back repeatedly, and now Boxer and others are indicating that financial reform and perhaps even another jobs-focused stimulus may push ahead of climate on the Senate calendar.

O.J. Simpson and KSM

| Wed Nov. 18, 2009 10:56 AM EST

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is worried that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will be acquitted—just like O.J. Simpson was. A lot of people thought Simpson was guilty, Grassley told Attorney General Eric Holder a a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Monday morning—but Simpson was acquitted anyway.

Rove, Cheney, Gingrich and Kristol Fail To Rally 9/11 Trial Foes

| Wed Nov. 18, 2009 10:40 AM EST

On Monday, Karl Rove sent a tweet to his 92,000 followers: "Don't sit out: 9:30am 11/18 Dirksen Senate Bldg Rm G-50 to oppose Atty Gen's testimony on trying terrorists on U.S. soil." On Tuesday, Newt Gingrich dispatched a similar message to his 1.2 million Twitter devotees: "Join @keepamericasafe at 9:30am Wed at Dirksen Senate Bldg to protest Holder's testimony on bringing terrorists to US." Keep America Safe is Elizabeth Cheney's new hawkish group—neocon godfather Bill Kristol is one of its three board members—and on Tuesday it tweeted followers: "Reminder 9:30 am show Holder and Obama what you think about the terror trial decision." The Keep American Safe website also posted a "call to action," urging protesters to storm the Senate on Wednesday morning, when Attorney General Eric Holder was scheduled to testify about the Obama administration's plan to bring 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other terrorism detainees to New York City to stand trial. Cheney's outfit asked its supporters to send Obama and his allies in Congress a clear message: "WE WILL FIGHT YOU ALL THE WAY."

No such message was delivered on Wednesday morning. When Holder arrived at  the committee room in the Dirksen Building, there were no demonstrators, no angry mob. Some 9/11 relatives who oppose trying KSM in New York were in the house. (There are 9/11 families on both sides of this debate.) But the scene was the same as that accompanying most hearings. There was not even a standing-room-only crowd. Plenty of empty chairs could be found in the seating section for the general public. No throng of irate citizens was gathered in the hallway or outside the building. The Capitol Hill police reported no signs of any protest. This was no tea party. Essentially, no one had responded to the urgent pleas from Rove, Gingrich, Kristol, and Cheney.

The hearing did heat up—because of the Republican senators present. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) slammed the KSM decision, charging that it demonstrates that for Obama "fighting terrorism is not the priority it once was." He excoriated the Obama administration for believing "we can return to a pre-9/11 mindset."

This was no surprise. Republicans pounced on this issue immediately. Rep. John Shadegg (R-Ariz.) went on the House floor earlier this week and assailed the move, suggesting that because of the KSM trial, Mayor Michael Bloomberg's daughter could be "kidnapped at school" by a terrorist. (Bloomberg supports bringing KSM to Manhattan to face justice just blocks away from where the World Trade Towers once stood.) No doubt, conservatives will continue to bang this drum, claiming that the pending KSM trial somehow indicates that Obama is not serious about national security. But when it came to rousing right-wing foot-soldiers for this effort, Rove, Gingrich, Kristol, and Cheney had no luck. Next time they might want to consider outsourcing the job to Michele Bachmann.

You can follow David Corn's postings and media appearances via Twitter. Ditto for Nick Baumann

What the KSM Trial Distracts Us From

| Wed Nov. 18, 2009 9:41 AM EST

It's pretty clear by now that the 9/11 terror trials are going to be a media circus. The Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the subject today is packed with reporters. But the trial of five 9/11 plotters is, to some extent, a distraction from the larger issue of how we should deal with detainees.

This morning, the Washington Post "appears to have broken a significant news story without really knowing it," writes Marc Ambinder. The Obama administration will continue to detain as many as 75 terrorist suspects without charge. If they think the ACLU and other civil liberties rights groups will be happy with that, they're dreaming. But the right is going to slam the administration, too: Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Alab.) is doing that now, saying that Obama's moves show that "for the US fighting terrorism is not the priority it once was," and that the administration thinks "we can return to a pre-9/11 mindset."

The administration has chosen the worst of both worlds: it's going to get hammered by the right for trying some terrorists and hammered by the left for not trying all of them. It's not an enviable position, and it doesn't seem to make much political sense.

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SarahPAC Scrubs Site of Pro-Choice Nomination

| Wed Nov. 18, 2009 9:22 AM EST

On Tuesday, Mother Jones reported that the anti-abortion group American Right to Life planned to protest at one of Sarah Palin's book promotion appearances in Indiana because it believes Palin isn't really pro-life. ARTL's Exhibit A is Palin's March appointment of a former Planned Parenthood board member to the Alaska Supreme Court. ARTL had included the information in a report outlining its case against Palin on its new website, Prolife Profiles.

Apparently ARTL has hit a nerve with the Palin campaign. Less than 24 hours after the group posted the report, Palin's political action committee, SarahPAC, scrubbed its website of any mention of the court appointment. (Palin had issued a news release about it earlier this year.) Fortunately, ARTL cached the web page and it's now available for the ages here. They write in the new report:

While National RTL and the pro-life industry continue to allow the Body of Christ to be deceived into thinking that Sarah is 100% pro-life, she cannot hide her record from God, nor from the public. Pro-lifers do not appoint abortionists to the Supreme Court just as an abolitionist would not appoint a slave trader. Please pray with us that Sarah will apologize to the children of Alaska, specifically those who have been dismembered since March 4, 2009, for appointing an 'outstanding' unrepentant pro-abortion lawyer. SarahPAC took this information down; ProlifeProfiles put it back up. Welcome to the end of child killing in our lifetime."

Bad Arguments

| Wed Nov. 18, 2009 9:17 AM EST

I'm at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing this morning, where Attorney General Eric Holder is scheduled to testify about his controversial decision to try a handful of 9/11 terrorism suspects in federal court. Red flags the government may have missed leading up to Nidal Hasan's Fort Hood shooting rampage are also expected to come up. Though conservative groups have been calling on their supporters to protest the hearing all week, there doesn't seem to be much sign of impending activism. I did, however, overhear hear a few relatives of 9/11 victims speaking to reporters outside the hearing room. One was talking about how the terrorists didn't give 9/11 victims any civil liberties and therefore don't deserve any themselves. But this argument applies to all murderers. "Ordinary" murderers don't give their victims any "civil liberties" before they kill them, and yet they still get access to our justice system. If I was arguing against the trials, I'd spend more time focusing on the fact that KSM et. al. aren't citizens and less time on the horror of their crimes. Although it does raise an interesting question: Are there some crimes so horrible that the perpetrators don't deserve trials? Perhaps, but that just brings you back to the Nuremberg trials: what could be worse than what Goering did?

I'll be providing regular updates from the hearing, so please check back.

Follow Nick Baumann on twitter.

We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for November 18, 2009

Wed Nov. 18, 2009 7:47 AM EST

Afghan children on a rooftop watch a US Army Soldier below as he performs perimeter security during a mission in the village of Miricalai, Khowst province, Afghanistan, Nov. 11, 2009. The Soldiers are assigned to the 25th Infantry Division's Company D, 1st Battalion, 501st Regiment, 4th Brigade. (US Army photo by Spc. Christopher Nicholas.)

Need To Read: November 18, 2009

Wed Nov. 18, 2009 7:20 AM EST

Today's must reads:

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