Political MoJo

Romney: I'll Make Up Anything if Pat Robertson Approves

| Mon May 7, 2007 1:48 PM EDT

Any francophiles out there that want to fact-check Mitt Romney?

"In France, for instance, I'm told that marriage is now frequently contracted in seven-year terms where either party may move on when their term is up. How shallow and how different from the Europe of the past."

Yup, Mitt Romney is courting the religious right (he made the statement at a graduation speech at Regent University, the college founded by Pat Robertson) the easiest way Republicans know how: bashing the French. Oh, and porn and violence:

"Pornography and violence poison our music and movies and TV and video games. The Virginia Tech shooter, like the Columbine shooters before him, had drunk from this cesspool."

Good heavens, can you imagine if Mitt Romney ever saw violent porn starring unmarried French people? His head would explode. But even a headless Mitt Romney would kowtow to the leaders of the religious right. You can't win in the GOP without doing so:

It was Romney's second appearance at Regent University in the past four months. His visits underscore the competition for support from top Christian conservative leaders such as Robertson, whose television programs have millions of viewers. Romney, along with several other GOP hopefuls, attended a convention of religious broadcasters in February. Former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani will appear at Regent next month.

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How Come Obama MySpace Page Creator Doesn't Have a Lawyer?

| Mon May 7, 2007 1:15 PM EDT

As Josh writes here, there has been quite the flurry over the changing of hands (from young paralegal and diehard supporter to Obama's official campaign staff) of the unofficial, yet official-looking, 160,000 friend-boasting Barack Obama MySpace page. When the scandal blew up, there was talk that the 160,000 MySpace friends Joe Anthony, said diehard supporter, rallied together were theoretically worth a bundle of cash, and therefore all moral questions aside, the Obama campaign should pay up. Micah Sifry, founder of techPresident, (a site that monitors campaigns' web strategies) noted on the site:

Care2, the massive progressive email list vendor, charges about $1 per email address that they generate for a campaign.

But like Sifry points out, Anthony could not have generated this large number of members if it weren't for Obama's success and charisma, so it's not like he could expect to make $160,000 plus, but I'm betting, if he'd played his cards right, he could've raked in some dough. I mean, these campaigns pay media consultants big money to gather supporters the way Anthony did. Apparently, though, contrary to what Obama's campaign staff were claiming -- that he was just looking for a "big payday" -- Anthony doesn't seem to be after money at all. Sifry writes on Friday:

Anthony is pondering donating the url over to a non-profit group, or trying to continue working with the community gathered around the site to make it into a kind of clearinghouse or forum on the presidential candidates in general.

He is also still planning to vote for Obama!? Alright, so, I know I should feel warm and fuzzy about this, but instead, I'm scratching my head. This guy could have made some money -- at the very least, he could have more adamantly demanded some compensation for his 2.5 year-long (Anthony maintained the page for 2.5 years) labor of love. Why didn't he? Are we really seeing loyalty to the Democratic movement trump selfish desires, did he just give up or did he not have the right counsel? He's a paralegal, right? Where were all his lawyer friends?

Military Identifies Media and Warlords as Non-Traditional Threats

| Mon May 7, 2007 11:50 AM EDT

Via CJR Daily and Wired, a look at the military's new list of traditional and non-traditional threats:

 army_media300.jpg

Yup. In light of the crackdown on milblogging, it only makes sense that the media would be considered a threat on par with al Qaeda, drug cartels, and my personal favorite, warlords. After all, when you're spreading democracy in Iraq, the first thing you want to do is illustrate exactly how hostile you are towards the First Amendment.

Prez '08: Hagel-Bloomberg on an Independent Ticket?

| Mon May 7, 2007 11:07 AM EDT

I've written at great length about the presidential chances of Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel. For a Republican base grown tired of the war and a bumbling president, but still committed to conservative positions on social issues, the anti-war but very culturally conservative Chuck Hagel is the closest thing out there to a perfect candidate -- he's certainly better than the flip-flopping and socially moderate trio of Romney, McCain, and Giuliani.

And as Hagel grows into the role of the White House's chief GOP antagonist (he's the first Republican to say Wolfowitz should step down at the World Bank), he has announced he's mulling an independent run for the presidency. The chance to grab anti-war voters from across the spectrum and Republican voters enchanted by his purist stances on social issues must be mighty appealing. Throw in the rumors that Hagel might partner on the ticket with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is highly effective and almost post-partisan, and you've got some worthwhile '08 drama. (The rumors, by the way, were started by Hagel and Bloomberg themselves in a delectable bit of stagecraft. They had dinner together in early May, then leaked the news and denied its significance in Bloomberg's own wire service.)

So my predictions of a Hagel-Huckabee ticket may not come to pass. Sadly, Hagel-Bloomberg just doesn't have the same ring.

Strange Bedfellows Dep't: Sens. Brownback and Biden

| Sat May 5, 2007 3:31 PM EDT

About as different as can be, the Republican senator from Kansas and the Democratic senator from Delaware now have the same plan on Iraq: split it up into three loosely federated regions with one religious sect in each.

Small-Scale Campus Shooting

| Fri May 4, 2007 9:20 PM EDT

A young man shot his roommate at Keene College and then shot and killed himself as police approached. Clearly, the problem was the gun-free zone Keene College had established in the young men's room.

(The roommate survived.)

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Conservative YouTube Steals Its Smokin' Logo From Philip Morris

| Fri May 4, 2007 9:12 PM EDT

There's already some derisive buzz about QubeTV, the video sharing site for conservatives who claim that liberal media giant YouTube won't let them play in its digital sandbox. I haven't had time to wade into its archives, but I notice that it's off to a great start by appropriating part of its logo from Altria (A.K.A. Philip Morris). Are the Qubers just lazy graphic designers or image-remixing copyfighters? We'll see what happens when the first cease-and-desist letter arrives...

altriaripoff.gif

Breaking: Another Investigation into the D.O.J.

| Fri May 4, 2007 8:44 PM EDT

Oh. My. God.

Just when you thought things couldn't get worse for Alberto "Gonzo" Gonzalez, ohmygod! A Washington, D.C., TV news program did some digging and discovered that the Justice Department hasn't just neglected civil rights and voting rights and prosecuted the first ever "reverse discrimination" voting rights case on record—it also fails to hire any non-white lawyers! Now Rep. John Conyers, who leads the House Judiciary Committee, is promising yet another investigation. Among the specific charges is that the key department of the—wait for it—civil rights division has failed to hire a single black attorney since 2003 to replace those who have left. Currently, only two lawyers in that department are black.

In case you're scratching your head saying, "Local news did this?", The reporter who led the investigation for WJLA-TV had recently come from the Center for Public Integrity. The investigation also relied on a consulting firm's analysis of D.O.J. diversity. That report found that "minorities perceive unfairness," are "significantly under-represented in management ranks," and are "more (about 50 percent more) likely to leave than whites."

Snap, Alberto. Join Clarence Thomas in the Top 5 of big-time affirmative action beneficiaries who become reactionary extremists in order not to admit that maybe they got a little more of a leg-up than the next non-white guy.

And resign already.

War Is Driving Soldiers Crazy, Pentagon's Own Task Force Admits

| Fri May 4, 2007 7:32 PM EDT

A task force commissioned by the Pentagon itself concluded that repeated deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan are resulting in higher instances of mental health problems among troops, which the military health system is in no way prepared to handle. The panel found that nearly 40 percent of soldiers report psychological concerns. Nearly half of guardsmen report problems, due to repeated deployments—which are expected to continue. The task force labeled the Pentagon's mental health care system conservative and out-of-date, and proposed a paradigm shift from relying on soldiers to self-report to focusing on prevention and screening. Sometimes it takes a task force to state the obvious. Mother Jones has reported all this (and then some) before.

Putting a Pricetag on the Climate

| Fri May 4, 2007 6:12 PM EDT

Ecologists and economists have put a controversial dollar figure on biodiversity, but this week marks the first time the UN has ever put a price-tag on the climate. What would it cost to keep greenhouse gases close to their current levels? One estimate of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is shockingly cheap.

"The cheaper scenario would mean going out to dinner one time less a year, whereas the higher figure gets into the range of having or not having a car," says Ralf Martin of the London School of Economics. "The higher figure might be a hard sell. However, I would suggest that whether either figure is acceptable depends largely on how it will be sold to voters."

The problem is, this calls not for individual asceticism like scrimping on toilet paper, but new government policies like a carbon tax. Predictably, the White House had a knee-jerk response, saying the least ambitious target "would cause a global recession." Well, what recession would catastrophic climate change bring? What dent would losing the Eastern seaboard put in the US GDP? The IPCC should estimate that too, if only as a talking point.

Policy wonks have to speak the language of the economic growth. But what is that saying--you can't solve a problem within the mindset that created it? Bill McKibben pointed out how we got stuck in this mindset and why wonks need tolook beyond the framework of the GDP as a measure of progress. The GDP doesn't even correlate with happiness among nations.