Political MoJo

Advertise on MotherJones.com

More Wikipedia Fun (Waaaaah!)

| Sun Aug. 19, 2007 2:06 AM EDT

So the Times has gotten around to a story on Wikiscanner, the new online tool that allows you to look up Wikipedia edits made from computers at various organizations, companies, etc. (Check out our favorite editing wars here, and our interview with Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales on politics 2.0 here.) It's got some choice tidbits—someone at the Gray Lady edited the entry for Condoleezza Rice to change "pianist" to "penis"—but overall, the BBC take a couple of days ago was more amusing (h/t to our own Cameron Scott). There's the CIA bit Bruce blogged on:

On the profile of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the tool indicates that a worker on the CIA network reportedly added the exclamation "Wahhhhhh!" before a section on the leader's plans for his presidency.

There's also this:

The site also indicates that a computer owned by the US Democratic Party was used to make changes to the site of right-wing talk show host Rush Limbaugh.

The changes brand Mr Limbaugh as "idiotic," a "racist", and a "bigot". An entry about his audience now reads: "Most of them are legally retarded."

[...]"We don't condone these sorts of activities and we take every precaution to ensure that our network is used in a responsible manner," Doug Thornell of the DCCC told the BBC News website.

And the list goes on... someone at Diebold removed a reference to the company chairman Walden O'Dell being a top Bush fundraiser... the Vatican edited an entry on Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams... But why let other people have all the fun. Try it yourself. (A "Mother Jones" search, sadly, finds no entries. But why is someone at the Republican Party editing the "Baking" entry to add a citation for "bottom broiler"?

Man Arrested For Holding "Impeach" Sign

| Fri Aug. 17, 2007 7:16 PM EDT

Jonas Phillips, a native of Asheville, North Carolina, sometimes stands at an Interstate overpass near his workplace and holds a sign that reads Impeach Bush-Cheney. Wednesday morning, he'd been standing there about ten minutes when he was approached by one Russell Crisp of the Asheville Police Department. Crisp asked Phillips how long he intended to stay in his spot, and Philips said not long--he had to be at work shortly. The officer then asked Phillips for his ID. Phillips asked if he had done anything wrong, and Crisp said only that a sergeant was on the way.

Sergeant Randy Riddle then appeared, told Phillips to put his sign down and to place his hands behind his back. He then arrested and handcuffed Phillips, and—when asked—informed him that he was in violation of County Ordinance 16-2, and that he was obstructing the sidewalk. Phillips replied that Officer Crisp had witnessed a man walk by him and his sign and could therefore attest that the sidewalk had not been obstructed.

According to Phillips, Riddle then yelled "You were obstructing the sidewalk!" "I'm sick of this shit!" and "Here's your fifteen minutes of fame, buddy." (Do you think Crisp has a working knowledge of Warhol?)

Once at the jail, Phillips says he was repeatedly questioned about his memberships in particular groups—Veterans for Peace and the Southeast Convergence for Climate Action. He was then searched, photographed and given a court date.

Phillips reports that in Asheville, it is legal to stage a protest on a city sidewalk without a permit. According to his wife, he has contacted the American Civil Liberties Union for help. Also, the police are considering changing the charge to a state violation of endangering motorists. After all, he must be guilty of something.

Breaking: Tony Snow Resigning

| Fri Aug. 17, 2007 6:55 PM EDT

After less than a year and a half as the White House spokesman, Tony Snow plans on leaving the gig. So says CNN. Props to them for throwing in this bit:

Snow told conservative talk-show host Hugh Hewitt on Thursday that "financial reasons" may prevent him for serving the remainder of his boss's presidency.
"I'm not going to be able to go the distance, but that's primarily for financial reasons." Snow said. "I've told people when my money runs out, then I've got to go."
According to The Washington Post, Snow makes $168,000 as the White House spokesman.

Maybe this is all an elaborate ruse to get a raise...

Jenna Tidbit

| Fri Aug. 17, 2007 4:34 PM EDT

From the NYT, almost too good to believe:

Jenna Bush recently finished a book based on her experience working with Unicef, called "Ana's Story," about a teenage single mother living with H.I.V. Ms. Bush is working on a children's book with her mother about "a mischievous little boy who likes to do everything but read," according to the publisher, HarperCollins.

Too many jokes...

Also getting married: Andrew Sullivan.

Clinton Leaving Obama in the Dust: New Cali Poll Results

| Fri Aug. 17, 2007 4:01 PM EDT

Wow, the gap is worse than Obama's people might have feared. As Ryan Lizza wrote in GQ, back in the spring:

Obama's pollsters were finding alarming evidence that their candidate was vulnerable to the same phenomenon. When they compared the percentage of Democrats who said they strongly approved of Obama with the percentage who said they would vote for him, they found that the latter number was significantly lower than the former. Inside the campaign, aides dubbed this "the Gap." It was a sobering, hard number that quantified the difference between vague enthusiasm and actual votes. For Hillary Clinton, the gap is much smaller. The majority of voters who strongly approve of her also say they will vote for her.

And that seems to be borne out by some shocking new poll results (California only folks) today (via the SF Chron):

New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, bolstered by an aggressive campaign organization in California, has amassed a whopping 30-point lead over Illinois Sen. Barack Obama &mdash and enjoys more support among likely voters in the state Democratic primary than all of her Democratic presidential rivals combined, a Field Poll released today shows.
The poll solidifies Clinton's position as the clear front-runner in the nation's most populous state &mdash and raises questions about Obama's effort in California, whose primary is Feb. 5. The Illinois senator has seen his support drop by one-third since the previous Field Poll taken in March....
Clinton's strengths in California include a crushing 4-1 lead among Latino voters, a more than 2-1 lead among women and African American voters, and at least a 2-1 lead in every geographic region in the state, the poll showed. She is also the overwhelming favorite in all age groups and ethnic groups and at every education level.
The robust poll findings, DiCamillo said, suggest Clinton may be putting to rest some of the commonly cited worries of Democrats regarding her campaign — that she could be too divisive and therefore less attractive to independent and swing voters.
"I was looking for hints of vulnerability... and it's not really there in the data," DiCamillo said. "One theory was she is going to do very poorly among Republicans ... (but) you don't really see any evidence to support that."
The poll showed that all three top Democratic candidates would defeat the four leading Republicans: former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson and Arizona Sen. John McCain.
But Clinton appears strongest in head-to-head matchups &mdash leading all the GOP candidates by 15 to 20 percentage points.

Did Obama peak too early? Or is it too early to tell much from poll numbers? It's an impressive ground effort in California, that much seems clear.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

More Recalls: Flaming Fords Back in the News

| Fri Aug. 17, 2007 3:41 PM EDT

If you own one of the 3.6 million Ford cars and trucks now being recalled due to a cruise control mechanism that can spontaneously catch fire (full list of vehicles here), don't be surprised. Media outlets have been reporting on the faulty part for years now, and Ford has been recalling vehicles that include it in fits and starts. This last batch of cars and trucks brings the total vehicles recalled because of the part to 10 million.

Mother Jones is one of those news outlets that has reported on the issue. For more info on the recall, the faulty part, and the damage done to Ford's customers because of it, see "Flaming Fords" from our March/April 2006 issue.

Sometimes Fame Isn't Enough...

| Fri Aug. 17, 2007 12:48 PM EDT

Two stories of mistaken identity:

  1. Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu mistaken for a bag lady.

  • Writer Stephen King mistaken for a vandal.
  • 'Mothballed' Russian Bombers Resume Long-Range Patrols

    | Fri Aug. 17, 2007 12:35 PM EDT

    I wrote last week of a flight of Russian long-range bombers to the Pacific island of Guam. Well, the news today is that Putin has decided to make it a regular thing. From the BBC:

    "We have decided to restore flights by Russian strategic aviation on a permanent basis," Mr Putin told reporters at joint military exercises with China and four Central Asian states in Russia's Ural mountains.
    "In 1992, Russia unilaterally ended flights by its strategic aircraft to distant military patrol areas. Unfortunately, our example was not followed by everyone," Mr Putin said, in an apparent reference to the US.
    "Flights by other countries' strategic aircraft continue and this creates certain problems for ensuring the security of the Russian Federation," he said.
    In Washington, a state department spokesman, Sean McCormack, said Russia's decision was "interesting".
    "If Russia feels as though they want to take some of these old aircraft out of mothballs and get them flying again, that's their decision," he told reporters.
    One of the reasons Russia halted its flights 15 years ago was that it could no longer afford the fuel.
    Today Moscow's coffers are stuffed full of oil money, says the BBC's Rupert Wingfield-Hayes in Moscow, and the Kremlin is determined to show it is still a military power to reckon with.

    CARE Doesn't Want the U.S.' Money

    | Thu Aug. 16, 2007 7:04 PM EDT

    CARE, an organization that combats poverty, will no longer accept $45 million a year in funding from the U.S. government. It's not often you hear about a charity walking away from that much money, but CARE's reasons are sound. It comes down to the fact that the U.S. food aid program is designed to suit American agricultural and shipping interests more than those of the world's poor. Jonathan Schwarz, in our upcoming issue (hitting the newsstands in early September), documents why this is happening and what Congress needs to do to change it. But lucky for you, you don't have to wait. Read the entire article here.

    —Celia Perry