Political MoJo

Influential Economist Milton Friedman Dies

| Thu Nov. 16, 2006 6:55 PM EST

One of the world's most well-respected economists, dead at 94.

As one of the granddaddies of free market thinking -- some would argue the granddaddy -- Friedman was enormously influential in the political philosophies of generations of conservatives.

In the name of equal time, something Friedman likely wouldn't have supported, we offer this bio of Friedman, and this homage to his grand competitor, John Kenneth Galbraith.

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Kowtow to Lieberman Watch

| Thu Nov. 16, 2006 4:43 PM EST

Amid Kate Zernike's NYT story about the back-scratching/stabbing, camera mugging, stump practicing, circus that was yesterday's Congressional hearing (ostensibly, the reason was to ask Gen. Abizaid what he thought of the more troops/less troops, timetable vs. facts on the groud debate on Iraq strategy), came sickening evidence of the games that Joe Lieberman is playing with both sides of the asile:

There was the self-described "Independent Democrat — capital I, capital D," who is at risk of bolting and taking his party's new narrow majority with him. (Was that red tie a hint?) And there were the two parties, trying to bolster their positions on the war after an election that each side seemed to interpret in wildly different ways...
Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, began acting the role of cross-examiner, leading Gen. John P. Abizaid, the top American military commander in the Middle East, to say that such a withdrawal would increase violence and instability.
"I take it by your answer that you profoundly disagree?" Mr. Lieberman asked. With the Democrats, he meant. "We have a window of opportunity and, really, responsibility now, after the election," he said, "to find a bipartisan consensus for being supportive of the efforts of our troops and our diplomats there to achieve success."
To this, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, the leading Democratic contender for the 2008 race, knocked back the remains in her coffee cup [Easy, Hill.]...
As [Flordia Dem. Senator] Mr. Nelson questioned General Abizaid, the Arizona senator [that'd be McCain] stood up to confer with Senator Susan M. Collins, a moderate Republican from Maine. At this, Mr. Lieberman got up and walked to the Republican side to join them in a brief, chuckling huddle, then ambled back to his party's side with a glance at his colleagues as if to say, "You watching?"
In his questions, Mr. Lieberman noted that he was "picking up on" points Mr. McCain and [GOP Sen] Mr. Graham had made.

Sigh. Six more years of this.

Iraqis to Rumsfeld: Send Us Beer

| Thu Nov. 16, 2006 4:17 PM EST

Last week, we found out that some U.S. soldiers in Iraq don't know who Donald Rumsfeld is.

But the Iraqis do, take this shopkeeper in Bahgdad:

The beer was running out, he said, a problem he blamed on the Americans. All the alcohol sellers in his area, Mansour, have been killed, and most shops are now closed.
"Who's responsible for that? Rumsfeld," he said. "He should send us some beer."

Yup, on the "my bad" front, Rummy owes a whole lotta people a round of drinks.

Bush to Lott: Help Is On Its Way

| Thu Nov. 16, 2006 3:17 PM EST

Just a reminder from Mother Jones: "We've got a lot of rebuilding to do. First, we're going to save lives and stabilize the situation. And then we're going to help these communities rebuild. The good news is -- and it's hard for some to see it now -- that out of this chaos is going to come a fantastic Gulf Coast, like it was before. Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott's house -- he's lost his entire house -- there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch." (Laughter) -- President Bush, touring hurricane damage, Mobile, Alabama, Sept. 2, 2005.

B-1 Bob to Run for Prez?

| Thu Nov. 16, 2006 2:40 PM EST
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That's the scuttlebutt from the New Hampshire Union Leader, which says former California Republican Rep. Bob "B-1" Dornan is considering throwing his hat into the ring for 2008. His platform? Purge the adulterers and gays from the GOP:

"I can't stand the thought of my party having as its three front-runners three open adulterers, Newt Gingrich, Giuliani, and McCain," Dornan said.

"I've got one mission left in me, to come up to New Hampshire and tell the truth, and tell the Republicans you better find yourself a fresh face and not Rudy Giuliani who took his mistress around with him and then divorces Donnna who learns she was divorced sitting at home watching TV with her children.

"We need a fresh face if the Republican Party is going to appeal to an Orthodox Jewish, Evangelical or practicing Catholic."

Aside from adultery, Dornan's other issue is homosexuality, which he called "a cancer in my party."

He said he'd consider backing the right candidate or even running for President himself.

"Fifteen hundred bucks (to file for President)? It would be worth it if I could stand in front of a huge audience again and say, folks, is the Republican Party the party of values, the party of life?"

Oh, this is gonna be good. Let's see if this—unlike many of Dornan's pet military aviation projects—can actually get off the ground.

Leave No ID Behind, Said the Poll Workers

| Thu Nov. 16, 2006 1:21 PM EST

Many people who made the grave error of not updating their drivers' licenses after moving [gasp] were rejected from the polls last Tuesday. The GOP's latest disenfranchisement strategy, tightening voter-ID requirements, might have worked a little too well. Among those rejected was Republican Rep. Steve Chabot of Ohio. (Republican Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina was also turned away but not because of a new law). They had enough time and will to go home and retrieve another ID. God only knows how many people didn't.

Poll workers zealously enforced new requirements, even in states where courts had struck them down. For one, Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan had to argue her way into the booth.

The requirements are a complicated patchwork of laws across the country. States that have recently tightened laws and now require a photo ID are Arizona, Indiana, New Mexico (but only in Albuquerque), and Ohio (but only for in-precinct voting, and a lawsuit is still pending). On the other hand, courts blocked laws that legislatures passed that would require IDs in Georgia and Missouri. Michigan's Supreme Court is currently debating a photo-ID requirement and Arizona has increased the documentation you need to register to vote.

Here are the laws in every state.

—April Rabkin

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Did Robert Gates' Planning Help Bring Black Hawk Down?

| Thu Nov. 16, 2006 2:52 AM EST

When the lame-duck Senate Armed Services committee starts confirmation hearings next week on Robert Gates, President Bush's replacement for Donald Rumsfeld, Gates' performance in his last government job, as head of the CIA, is certain to come up. But will any of the senators ask Gates about his role in the first Bush administration's final blunder—the military operation in Somalia, launched by George H. W. Bush in the lame-duck days after the 1992 election, and brought to a disastrous conclusion six months later under Clinton? John Prados, an analyst at the National Security Archives and author of the new book Safe for Democracy, says it was Gates who approved the "initial architecture'' for the operation, including making arrangements for TV crews in Mogadishu to train their spotlights on the Marines' dramatic night landing. The CIA then led the troops inland, spread them out, and set up bases while keeping tabs on the conflict through its assets with the warlords; by the following spring most of the U.S. troops had been replaced by UN forces, and the rest were pulled after the Black Hawk Down debacle in June 1993.

Despite questions about his handling of the Somalia planning and other intelligence matters, Prados says he expects Gates to be confirmed easily; Armed Services Committee chair John Warner, R-Va., voted for Gates' confirmation in 1991. Once in office, Prados says, Gates could help bridge divisions between the CIA and the military, perhaps even pulling the plug on Rumsfeld initiatives that pit military intelligence initiatives against the CIA. Just don't expect him to crack down on politically influenced intelligence; that, after all, was his specialty.

Pakistan Rape Victims Get Break ...

| Thu Nov. 16, 2006 1:37 AM EST

Here's what passes for progress in the Islamic world these days: Pakistan has repealed a law that required rape victims to produce four witnesses to prove that a crime had been committed against them. Failing that, the victims could be charged with adultery - as several thousand have been since the law was imposed in 1979. The issue has been highlighted by the dogged fight of Mukhtar Mai, a village woman who was gang-raped in 2002 and then had the temerity to try to get her attackers prosecuted. Naturally, she now has a blog.

... and Iranian Gays Get Death

| Thu Nov. 16, 2006 1:09 AM EST

The latest Iranian convicted of "moral corruption, battering and sodomy" was publicly hanged in the western town of Kermanshah to the cheers of hundreds of spectators, the official news agency IRNA reports. As I've mentioned before,
the regime has executed an estimated 4,000 gay men and lesbians since the 1979 revolution.

McCain Officially Forms Exploratory Committee for '08 Run

| Wed Nov. 15, 2006 10:56 PM EST

Word leaked a few days ago that John McCain would soon launch an exploratory committee for his 2008 presidential run. Today, he did it. The BBC reports he launched a website as well; readers who believe McCain's reputation as a political maverick to be undeserved may find this website just as interesting.

In other McCain news, his plan to send more troops to Iraq did not fare well when proposed to CentCom commander Gen. John Abizaid. The general said he "met with every divisional commander, Gen. Casey, the core commander, Gen. Dempsey" and asked them if bringing "in more American troops now, [would] add considerably to our ability to achieve success in Iraq and they all said 'no.'"