Political MoJo

"Hillary 1984" is like Bob Corker's Ad against Harold Ford, Jr.

| Fri Mar. 23, 2007 3:57 PM EDT

Have you seen Hillary 1984? You've got to. It's brilliant. About 1.3 million people have already seen it. It's the advent of a new political era. The minute-and-a-half-long clip, spliced from an Apple commercial from Super Bowl, shows hundreds of men as just ashen drones marching in line and then sitting down before a screen under Hillary's head talking, detached from her body. Everything is gray and lifeless. The only dash of color at all is when a busty blonde wearing only a white tank and orange shorts—a Hooters girls outfit but with only one "O" in the logo over her chest—runs through the crowd of men and hurls a javelin at Hillary's head, shattering the screen, spreading light everywhere.

Yep, it's brilliant. And lefty bloggers are cheering it as the advent of "open-source politics" because it's on YouTube. What none of them have mentioned is the reason why it's so effective: It exploits subconscious bigotry, just like the ad for now-U.S. Senator Bob Corker in October. Since blacks weren't recognized as fully human, this country used to have special laws for them. Black men could not sleep with white women, but it was fine the other way around (even the president did). Black men with white women is still taboo—that's why broadcasting a blonde actress crooning, "I met Harold at the Playboy party…. Harry [wink], call me!!" was enough to derail Harold Ford, Jr.'s, campaign. The racism operated subtly and subconsciously enough to change the minds of people who would never admit to being racist. Lefties pointed that out, but not as loudly as they should have. Ford lost.

Likewise, women weren't recognized as fully human in this country until recently, and modern society still has a taboo against women holding power. Lefty bloggers who don't think Hillary has the charisma to win the general election may be happy that this ad will derail her in the primary. But they look like hypocrites unless they stop cheering for a moment to mention that the ad exploits subconscious fears. That goes for you too, Arianna Huffington—author of On Becoming Fearless. "Hillary 1984" is as un-Democratic as the ad against Harold Ford was.

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Iraqi Refugees Now Top Asylum Seekers In The World

| Fri Mar. 23, 2007 2:44 PM EDT

How much longer can the U.S. deny the refugee crisis in Iraq? According to a new U.N. report, Iraqi refugees are now the top asylum seekers anywhere.

Asylum applications by Iraqis in industrialized countries rose 77 percent last year, from 12,500 in 2005 to 22,200 in 2006. UNHCR spokesman Peter Kessler said "There has been an abject denial of the impact, the humanitarian impact, of the war, the huge displacement within Iraq of up to 1.9 million people who are homeless because of the war."

As Leigh wrote earlier this week, Syria has taken a huge portion of Iraqi refugees (some 1.2 million in a country of 19 million) while the United States has so far taken in less than 500 with promises of allowing 7,000 this year. Many of these refugees are Iraqi's who worked for the United States and are now under death threat, as David Case writes in our current issue.

Over at Foreign Policy in Focus, Kristele Younes of Refugees International outlines a number of proposals to help Iraqi refugees, including more funding for the UNHCR (whose budget for dealing with Iraqi refugees is 22 million, less than $7 per refugee) and more international cooperation to address the crisis.

Yet the crux of her argument is this:

The United States must begin by acknowledging that violence in Iraq has made civilian life untenable, creating a refugee crisis that is essentially exporting the nation's instability to neighboring countries.

"Exporting the nation's instability." So in four years the US has managed a war that has not only led to more terrorist attacks worldwide, but has also made for a more volatile region overall.

No one, and I mean no one, is shouting 'four more years' now.

—Amaya Rivera

Iraq's Deputy PM Injured in Attack

| Fri Mar. 23, 2007 1:15 PM EDT

I think it's fair to say that one of the main barometers for the effectiveness of the surge and Baghdad security crackdown Bush has imposed on the nation is the safety of government officials in Baghdad. For the second day in a row, an attack in Baghdad has targeted a government official. Today, the target was the highest ranking Sunni Muslim in the government, the Deputy Prime Minister Salam al-Zubai. Mr. Zubai was among 15 wounded in the attack, in which 9 people died. Not only does the attack cast doubt on the American troops' ability to control Baghdad, it also deals a major blow to the Iraqi government's legitimacy to lose one of its precious few Sunnis.

Learn more on Mother Jones' Sunni/Shiite cheat sheet and primer on Iraqi political parties (including Zubai's Accord Front).

Grenade in Green Zone Just Misses al-Maliki and U.N. Secretary General

| Thu Mar. 22, 2007 5:01 PM EDT

A rocket just missed a building in Baghdad's Green Zone that houses both the U.S. embassy and the Iraqi Prime Minister's office. Both al-Maliki and the U.N.'s new Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon were in the building at the time. Both were uninjured, but, tellingly, Ban was frightened where al-Malike appeared unfazed, saying, "Nothing's wrong." Perhaps for obvious reasons, a Secretary-General (in that case Kofi Annan) last visited Baghdad nearly a year and a half ago. And, if you're wondering why the media insists on making Baghdad sound so bad, it's because the folks at the AP office heard whoosh of the rocket launch. That surge is really working, eh?

SC Passes Mandatory Ultrasound-Viewing Bill, Sees Through Shady Abortion-Getters' Tricks

| Thu Mar. 22, 2007 3:32 PM EDT

In yet another scheme to guilt-trip women out of having abortions, the South Carolina House passed a bill yesterday that requires women to view their own ultrasounds before having the procedure.

Yelling and crying ensued as several representatives begged for inclusion of an amendment waiving the requirement for victims of rape and incest. It failed. So did one that would exempt women in cases in which a judge had found probable cause or issued a warrant for sexual assault charges.

Supporters of the bill, whose churches are evidently not-so-separate from the state building in which they were standing, combatted the pleas for compassion with such infallible arguments as "Are you saying God creates mistakes with the lives he creates?" Others rejected the amendments because women [who want abortions are a bunch of lying, manipulative sluts who] "would make up sexual assaults" in order to get around the bill.

In 2005, Focus on the Family announced plans to spend $4.2 million equipping pregnancy centers nationwide with ultrasound machines. Their ministry is becoming law: Seventeen other states have or are considering some kind of ultrasound-before-abortion legislation. (Mississippi has a "listen to your fetus' heartbeat" offer on the table.)

But South Carolina is the first to require that women actually look at the ultrasound. No one in the House would answer Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter (D-Orangeburg) when she asked whether the women would have to be held down and forced to view the images.

—Nicole McClelland

Creator of Hillary 1984 Owns Up, Proves Me Right

| Thu Mar. 22, 2007 10:39 AM EDT

The creator of the Hillary 1984 ad has owned up, and I firmly believe that the back story proves correct the theory I blogged earlier: this was the creation of a web-savvy person working on their own, and only a response in kind will effectively combat its popularity and power. (See Hillary's response here.)

The Huffington Post did the digging, and got the creator ("ParkRidge47") to fess up in a blog post. His name is Phil de Vellis and he works (well, worked) for Blue State Digital, an internet consulting company with roots in the Dean campaign and a long track record of working for high profile candidates. Thing is, Blue State Digital now works for Obama. Was Hillary 1984 a premeditated and conventionally-conceived campaign ad? Nope -- de Vellis did the work on the weekend, with his own time, equipment, and creative direction. But surely he was doing the work for BSD in a nudge-nudge sort of way, right? Just because he did the work on his personal computer on a Sunday doesn't mean he wasn't working for the company, and indirectly, Obama. Well, de Vellis has resigned upon being outed, which makes a pretty solid case that he was acting on his own, and in a way that the company wouldn't approve of. The ad, after all, is not in the style of the high-minded campaign Obama is trying to run.

So the facts support my theory. This campaign ad was created by someone working on their own -- an insurgent if you will. If it had been created within the official framework of a presidential campaign, it would have been more careful, more respectful of convention and boundaries, and thus far less interesting.

And FYI - the ad in its various forms has now been viewed almost three millions times on YouTube.

Update: Howard Fineman of Newsweek sees this as part of the "New Uncontrollable Campaign." The old, controllable campaign was controlled by the candidates, their staffs, and prominent members of the major media. Wonder who that would include...

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UK National Security Priorities Similar To Ours--Oh Baby!

| Thu Mar. 22, 2007 12:26 AM EDT

A terrorist can look like this. Or this. Or maybe even this.

Four-month-old Eden Lurie of Manchester tried to get a passport, but her photo was rejected because her hair was judged "too spiky." The rules require that hair and eyes are clearly defined and that the face take up at least 65% of the photo. The British Passport Service says it makes allowances for children in that they may be facing away or have their mouths open, but no spiky hair. Eden was given a really bad "virtual haircut" for her photo.

In other news, it turns out that the British Home Office issued nine passports to Dhiren Barot, Osama bin Laden's "U.K. General." Barot was planning to murder thousands of people in a series of terrorist attacks. Barot, you can see, had a good passport photo, but because of his passports, Baby Eden looks like a wind-blown Marine.

Tom DeLay, Revealed in His Tell-All, Tattle-Tale Book

| Wed Mar. 21, 2007 9:10 PM EDT

delay.jpgAll this time, we've thought Tom "The Hammer" DeLay was a vicious partisan. Well, turns out he might just be vicious. As CNN reports, DeLay's new book attacks even his conservative peers, and "[o]nly DeLay's wife and daughter escape unscathed." Gingrich is vain and "an ineffective speaker of the House." Armey is "so blinded by ambition as to be useless to the cause."

On the other hand, anyone who calls W. "compassionate, but ... certainly no conservative," lies far to the right of anything but crazed partisanship, so maybe it's more accurate to say DeLay is a vicious partisan and just a dick.

Stoning Deaths Continue In Sudan

| Wed Mar. 21, 2007 6:20 PM EDT

Two allegedy adulterous women were recently sentenced to stoning deaths in North Sudan. The defendants had neither lawyers nor interpreters in a capital crimes trial that wasn't even conducted in their first language.

The man charged in one of the women's cases got off due to a lack of evidence that was for some reason sufficient enough to condemn the woman, who currently has her child with her in prison.

Reuters reports that Sudan's penal code mandates execution by stoning for convicted adulterers. Single people caught having sex out of wedlock are subject to lashing.

Two years ago, a woman's stoning sentence in western Darfur was "reduced" to lashing after activists launched a campaign on her behalf. Since the country seems unlikely to voluntarily clean up its human rights act anytime soon, here's hoping Oprah, or Jesus, will intervene.

--Nicole McClelland

Stricter Enforcement along Border Effective - Or is it Wishful Thinking?

| Wed Mar. 21, 2007 6:12 PM EDT

exodus_265x164.gif "It's as if Mexico and the United States are at war," said one migrant who couldn't make it across for all the National Guardsmen stationed along the border. Border Patrol offices along popular pathways into the United States are reporting significant drops in the number of (failed) migrations, according to the Los Angeles Times. In addition to more patrols, new strategies include jailing everyone, even first timers, for up to 2 weeks. Writing for Mother Jones, Vince Beiser argued that the so-called border fence would be a fiasco. Charles Bowden also rejects worker permits and an open border.

The Border Patrol says with the increased punishments and patrols, apprehensions are down by as much as two-thirds. But Bowden, who has spent his life reporting on the border (and shares some of his sun-baked wisdom in his MoJo piece), writes, "On the line, all numbers are fictions. The exportation of human beings by Mexico now reaches, officially, a half million souls a year. Or double that. Or triple that."

Seasonal declines notwithstanding, one of two facts will have to change before migrants stop coming: There are no jobs in Mexico. There are jobs for Mexicans in the United States. Even the optimistic Times piece acknowledges that. It quotes Wayne Cornelius, director of the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at UC San Diego, who says "The modes of entry do change. Location of entries change. But the basic dynamics of the process don't change, because the economic factors and family ties that drive the movement haven't changed."