Political MoJo

One Down... Edwards Loses Liberal Blogger

| Tue Feb. 13, 2007 2:50 AM EST

John Edwards has accepted the resignation of liberal blogger, Amanda Marcotte, central player, along with Melissa McEwan of Shakespeare's Sister, in the netroots drama surrounding the former senator's campaign. Writing on her blog today, Marcotte criticizes Catholic League president, Bill Donohue, for driving her out of the campaign.

She writes:

"If I can't do the job I was hired to do because Bill Donohue doesn't have anything better to do with his time than harass me, then I won't do it."

She continues:

[Bill Donohue is a] right wing lackey whose entire job is to create non-controversies in order to derail liberal politics.

Marcotte is fuming and rightfully so. And, don't get me wrong, I completely agree with the right wing lackey comment and that clearly Donohue has nothing better to do with his time, but hey, what about Edwards? Marcotte makes no mention of how his campaign handled the situation (poorly if you ask me). Maybe criticism of the former senator will follow or maybe the blog-girl signed on to the campaign because she truly believes in the guy and isn't interested in a few parting jabs. I say jab away, Amanda. Not only did Edwards not stand up for his liberal outreach team, he publicly condemned their blogging and made them grovel for an apology from right-wing fanatics.

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Arkansas House Rejects Thomas Paine

| Mon Feb. 12, 2007 11:45 PM EST

A lot of conservative spokespeople like to say that America's founders were Christian, when, in fact, most of them were not. Members of the Arkansas state House of Representatives now know that Thomas Paine was not a Christian: A proposal to commemorate January 29 as "Thomas Paine Day" failed because of concerns about Paine's criticism of Christianity.

Paine, the author of "Common Sense," was a deist. Arkansas state representative Sid Rosenbaum presented to the legislature Paine's book, The Age of Reason, as "anti-Christian" and "anti-Jewish." As a result of this characterization, the proposal to create "Thomas Paine Day" failed to pass the Arkansas House. Only six more votes are needed, however, and the proposal's sponsor, Rep. Lindsley Smith, plans to introduce it again.

Said Paine in The Age of Reason:

I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church.
All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.

HPV Vaccine: A Litmus Test for Sanity?

| Mon Feb. 12, 2007 6:10 PM EST

If nothing else, Merck's new HPV vaccine is good fun because it pits sane against insane conservatives. Sally Lieber—a liberal Democrat who caused some to question her sanity when she introduced a bill criminalizing spanking—rang the bout bell in the California legislature when she introduced a bill requiring vaccination for public schoolgirls.

Arnold, a sane if annoying conservative, has said nothing, but included $11.3 million for the program in his 2007-2008 budget.

Sen. George Runner (R-Lancaster), apparently coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs, called HPV the result of lifestyle decisions, not contagion. "Is there a more productive way for us to spend the money that may help someone who's in a health situation that has nothing to do with their personal choices?" he asked, according to the LA Times.

Couldn't any contagious disease be called the result of personal choices—like swimming in a certain pool, being poor, attending public school, etc.? Fully half of sexually active people contract some form of HPV in their lifetimes—and that's not unmarried or promiscuous sexually active people, that's all sexually active people.

The vaccine may or may not be the miracle drug it's been cracked up to be (largely by maker Merck), but the more conservatives hoot and holler, the more it looks like a reasonable idea.

Why We Should Close Guantanamo (Quick and Dirty Version)

| Mon Feb. 12, 2007 5:50 PM EST

Today's In These Times features "8 Reasons to Close Guantánamo Now." The reasons are likely not unfamiliar to Mother Jones readers, but here are a few highlights:

Not one individual among the nearly 800 incarcerated at Guantánamo has been charged with a crime recognized under either U.S. or international law….86 percent of detainees were arrested by Pakistan or the Northern Alliance and "handed over to the United States at a time when the United States offered large bounties for capture of suspected enemies."

For more on how this happens, check out Mother Jones' "One Detainee's Story," and "Why Am I in Cuba?"

The In These Times article suggests that, while life in Guantánamo is bad, life in the other 20 secret prisons the U.S. is operating is, in all likelihood, worse: "Guantánamo may have been a smokescreen for more inhumane, less legal incarceration and interrogation practices elsewhere." It also reports that "two of Europe's leading terrorism magistrates pointed out that attempts to infiltrate terrorist cells had become much more difficult in the wake of rising public anger over Guantánamo."

But its final conclusion is far from shrill. It suggests that it's just time to move on: "In the wake of 9/11, the United States' pledge to do everything in its power to protect its people from further harm led to a policy of overreaction.…We must no longer act like scared victims, willing to make any bargain with any devil to create the illusion of safety. We must reassert our confidence in the rule and wisdom of law."

Amen to that.

Mother Jones Editors Speak to the Progressive Web Community

| Mon Feb. 12, 2007 3:24 PM EST

My original title for this post was "Sometimes People Want Jobs in Journalism, So They Treat Editors Like Newsmakers and Interview Them." But then I decided not to be a jerk and made it the first line of my post instead.

Last week, Mother Jones editors Clara Jeffery and Monika Bauerlein spoke with CampusProgress about "men, women, and journalism." More specifically, the lack of female writers and editors at thought-leader magazines, MoJo's recent cover story on Hillary Clinton, and how the starving interns and fellows here at Mother Jones really shouldn't be complaining about their wages. Little is said about the quality or professionalism of Mother Jones' bloggers.

All jokes aside, it's worth a read. Have a look!

Iran Gave Some Bombs to Iraqi Shiites, Clearly to Blame for Mess'opotamia

| Mon Feb. 12, 2007 3:02 PM EST

Yesterday, the military backed up its claim that Iran is fueling the violence in Iraq by showing reporters a PowerPoint presentation that contained evidence on bullet hole sizes, bomb construction, etc. Together, the evidence was supposed to make the point that Iran is arming and training extremist militias in Iraq.

It's an interesting story because (1) the Bush Administration is taking a much more public tack in its allegations against Iran than it did with Iraq, (2) it makes me even more worried that we are headed for a violent confrontation with Iran, because otherwise why would the Bush Administration be putting justifications in the public sphere, and (3) the evidence is already running into skepticism.

See the PowerPoint here. Read Josh Marshall's very good "So What?" response here. Read Juan Cole's very detailed "Bullshit!" response here. See General Peter Pace already back off the assertions against Iran here.

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Afghanistan: At Least It's not Iraq!

| Mon Feb. 12, 2007 2:02 PM EST

Here's Robert Gates urging increased NATO involvement in Afghanistan at the Munich Conference on Security Policy this weekend:

[NATO] should be able to generate the manpower and material needed to get the job done in Afghanistan -- a mission in which there is virtually no dispute over its justness, necessity, or international legitimacy. (Emphasis mine.)

In other words, it's not Iraq.

House Anti-Surge Resolution Comes to the Fore

| Mon Feb. 12, 2007 1:42 PM EST

As you probably know, the Senate's resolution expressing disapproval of President Bush's troop increase met an ignominious end. After much brou-ha-ha over Sens. Levin, Hagel, and Biden's version being reconciled with Sen. Warner's version, and grand talk about how this resolution would set up the first serious confrontation between the newly Democratic Congress and the Bush Administration.... the whole thing fizzled in a spat of in-fighting and parliamentary maneuvers.

The House, however, because it has a larger majority for the Dems and a less rigid party-line voting tendency, has more hope. A very simple and straightforward anti-surge resolution is to be introduced tomorrow, and it will be debated for three to four days; each member of the House will be given five minutes to speak. Here is the resolution, in full:

Disapproving of the decision of the President announced on January 10, 2007, to deploy more than 20,000 additional United States combat troops to Iraq.
Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That—
(1) Congress and the American people will continue to support and protect the members of the United States Armed Forces who are serving or who have served bravely and honorably in Iraq; and
(2) Congress disapproves of the decision of President George W. Bush announced on January 10, 2007, to deploy more than 20,000 additional United States combat troops to Iraq.

There are some interesting tidbits in the LA Times article about the resolution. First of all, 30 to 60 Republicans are expected to join the Democrats in voting in favor, which is an astonishing number and will result in a lopsided vote total possibly in the range of 290-145, or 2-to-1 in favor.

Second, this:

The resolution will have at least one GOP co-sponsor, North Carolina Rep. Walter B. Jones, a conservative who publicly broke with his party over the war in 2005.

Mother Jones wrote a cover story on Walter Jones' long road from being the "freedom fries" guy to being a leader war critic. Read that here.

I respect but disagree with this argument being put forward by several members of the GOP:

Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.) said, "I call it the status quo resolution. It basically says 'Don't do something' without saying what we should do."

A lack of an alternative is not a reason to vote against the resolution. There is value in telling President Bush that the American people no longer support moving forward -- escalating -- and that any other option is on the table, if he'd please, but this one isn't. Basically, it's a way of saying, "You've had your chance. Enough."

To be frank, making that statement is good enough for me. The administration has not listened to war critics or the Democrats in six years; what makes anyone think that if the resolution had a coherent alternative written into it, the Bushies would even care?

Coalition of the Willing to Do Anything For Bush

| Mon Feb. 12, 2007 4:24 AM EST

Looks like the Republicans are now pulling the coalition of the willing up onto their bully pulpit. But Australian Prime Minister John Howard's shot at Obama this weekend just may backfire, as it immediately put the Senator on the international stage sparring with a head of state, plus, it keeps the war and its toll in sharp focus.

To refresh, Howard theorized that if he "were running al Qaeda in Iraq," (now that would be something to talk about) "I would put a circle around March 2008 and be praying for a victory, not only for Obama, but also for the Democrats."

This in response to Obama's proposal that the U.S. pull out all troops by the end of next March. "I think that will just encourage those who want to completely destabilize and destroy Iraq, and create chaos and a victory for the terrorists to hang on and hope for an Obama victory."

Obama, not one to back down, responded asking if Howard were to send another 20,000 of his own troops over to Iraq (the country has 1,400 there now), then they could talk. Until then, "it's just empty rhetoric."

This is not the first time that we have heard this chorus, that our enemies will be emboldened with Democrats in power, but to have a foreign head of state slam the Dems? It's a bit like someone outside your family talking smack about your mom, even Republicans are telling Howard to keep his mouth shout. Me, I'm going to go ahead and circle March 2008 so I look out for the chaos and instability that Howard predicts is in Iraq's future.

Another McCain Flip-Flop

| Sun Feb. 11, 2007 11:48 AM EST

It's getting too easy.

Just about a year and a half ago, Sen. John McCain went to court to try to curtail the influence of a group to which A. Jerrold Perenchio gave $9 million, saying it was trying to "evade and violate" new campaign laws with voter ads ahead of the midterm elections.
As McCain launches his own presidential campaign, however, he is counting on Perenchio, the founder of the Univision Spanish-language media empire, to raise millions of dollars as co-chairman of the Arizona Republican's national finance committee.

Past content on McCain reversals here and here.

Update: McCain calls the WaPo article the "worst hit job" of his "entire political career." Doesn't say why it's wrong, though.