Political MoJo

Mary Cheney: It's a Boy!

| Thu Apr. 5, 2007 1:59 PM EDT

Dick Cheney's already a grandfather. There are five young impressionable minds he's molding; let that one settle in. (And all those family hunting trips? Hopefully the grandkids get the good body armor.) Now a sixth is on the way, this one born of his lesbian daughter Mary and her partner, Heather Poe. Cheney has hardly been the bragging granddad to date, but yesterday he went public with his pride as he announced that the baby is a boy.

Cheney told ABC Radio, "I'm looking forward to the arrival of a new grandson." He said that the baby was due next month (but didn't say whether his nursery is filled with purple Teletubbies or is swathed with a rainbow).

He also didn't say that he supports the right of said grandson's parents to be happily married. The bastard.

"I think each state ought to have the capacity to decide how they want to handle those issues . . . And I obviously think it's important for us as a society to be tolerant and respectful of whatever arrangements people enter into."

Cheney's punt to the states is telling. His daughter and her partner live in Virginia, where in November voters approved a sweeping amendment banning gay marriage (and stripping all unmarried couples of many rights). So Poe will have no legal relationship to the child she and Mary are bringing into the world together — how would Dick feel about this one if Poe were the one carrying the baby?

But in some ways, this was a pretty big step for the guy. Remember back in January when Wolf Blitzer asked him about the impending arrival of his grandchild? Cheney warmly replied that the topic was "out of line."

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John Walker Lindh Asks for Shorter Sentence in Light of Hicks Plea Deal

| Thu Apr. 5, 2007 11:42 AM EDT

In light of David Hicks' sentencing to nine months in an Australian prison, John Walker Lindh is requesting that his 20-year sentence be reduced. An entry on Lindh from the Mother Jones Iraq War Timeline:

[Lindh is captured on November 25, 2001 and] will be charged with ten counts, including conspiring to support terrorist organizations and conspiring to murder Americans. Maximum sentence: three life terms and 90 additional years in prison. He will eventually plead guilty to two counts: violating an executive order prohibiting US citizens from giving their services to the Taliban and committing a felony while carrying firearms. He'll be sentenced to 20 years in prison, a long sentence for a nonviolent felony conviction for a first-time offender.

David Hicks is an Australian who was caught fighting for the Taliban by the Northern Alliance. John Walker Lindh is an American who was caught fighting for the Taliban by the Northern Alliance. One could probably argue that Hicks' sentence is too light (and pretty clearly a political move designed to help the unpopular conservative Australian PM John Howard in an election year), and one could probably argue that Lindh's sentence is too heavy. Dude was an incredibly screwed up 19-year-old when he made his way to a Pakistani madrassa and began his journey to "terrorist" status.

Keep in mind that Lindh was tried and sentenced roughly half a year after he was captured, whereas Hicks was held in Guantanamo for almost five years without charge.

And FYI, Mother Jones has done some really good work on John Walker Lindh in the past. See "Trial by Fury" and "Anatomy of a Whistleblower."

Giuliani Flip-Flop-Flips on Flat Tax

| Thu Apr. 5, 2007 11:02 AM EDT

Rudy Giuliani is was one of the GOP's strongest opponents to a flat tax. When Steve Forbes was running for president on the idea in 1996, Rudy "disparaged a flat tax in general and Mr. Forbes's plan in particular," according to the New York Times. Rudy said a flat tax "would really be a disaster."

But what's a disaster between presidential candidates? In exchange for Steve Forbes' endorsement, Giuliani recently announced he was a big proponent of the flat tax. He said of a federal income tax, "maybe I'd suggest not doing it at all, but if we were going to do it, a flat tax would make a lot of sense."

Okay, so that's a flip-flop. Care to reverse your position again, and make it a flip-flop-flip?

[When asked how he could support a flat tax after long opposition, Giuliani said,] "I didn't favor it, I said something academic... What I said was, and it was not a joke, but it was half-jocular, was if we didn't have an income tax...what would I favor? First I would favor no tax. That would be my first position. My second position would probably be a flat tax."
But, he said, the tax "would probably not be feasible."

I love this attitude. Can you imagine him as president? "Oh, did I say we should bomb Iran? I was kidding. But kidding on the square. I was, like, half kidding. Oh, Ahmadinejad launch an attack on Israel as a response? Crap. You're kidding, right?"

The problem with Giuliani, and maybe this is a good problem, is that he isn't comfortable flip-flopping. McCain panders to people he once despised and Romney has reversed his entire playbook on social issues -- and both are sticking to their reversals, no matter how shameless or false they appear, and no matter how hard they get hammered for it. Giuliani, on the other hand, seems uncomfortable abandoning positions he has long held, and after he abandons them, he claims them back, or gets hopelessly muddled.

Maybe that's to his credit.

More on this at Bruce Reed's space on Slate. Also, Cameron blogged about the flat tax and Giuliani's relationship to the crooked Bernard Kerik in an earlier post titled "Giuliani Meltdown."

Giuliani Flip-Flop-Flips on Public Funding for Abortions

| Thu Apr. 5, 2007 10:39 AM EDT

Earlier, I wrote about Giuliani's flip-flops on public funding for abortion:

A top Rudy advisor has told the conservative National Review that Rudy opposes public funding for abortions. That's very different from Rudy's position in the 90s, when he ran for office touting his support for public funding.

CNN dug further into this recently when it interviewed Giuliani, and some poor writer had to figure out how to transcribe Giuliani's endless maneuvering and non-answers. Check it out.

In a 1989 speech now being widely circulated on the Internet, Giuliani called for public funding of abortions for poor women, saying, "We cannot deny any woman the right to make her own decision about abortion because she lacks resources."
Asked by Bash [the interviewer] if he would maintain that position as president, Giuliani said "probably."
"I would have to re-examine all of those issues and exactly what was at stake then -- that was a long time ago," he said. "When I was mayor, adoptions went up, abortions went down. But ultimately, it's a constitutional right, and therefore if it's a constitutional right ... you have to make sure that people are protected."
Pressed if he would support public funding for abortions, Giuliani said, "If it would deprive someone of a constitutional right, yes, if that's the status of the law, then I would, yes."
After the interview, Giuliani's campaign clarified that if elected, he would not seek to change current federal law, which limits public funding for abortions to cases of rape, incest or where the life of the pregnant woman is in danger.

So within the space of one interview, Giuliani says he would "probably" support public funding for abortions, then says he would have to support public funding because choice is a constitutional right, then says he would not support public funding except in a few instances.

All of this from a guy who has spent his career being a strong pro-choice advocate, and is known for his strength and resolve.

McCain's Bazaar Photo Op Saga Ends in Bloodshed

| Wed Apr. 4, 2007 8:06 PM EDT

God, this is so sad.

21 Shia market workers were ambushed, bound and shot dead north of the capital. The victims came from the Baghdad market visited the previous day by John McCain, the US presidential candidate, who said that an American security plan in the capital was starting to show signs of progress...
Mr. McCain said that the situation was showing signs of improvement and blamed waning support in the United States for the war on the media, which were portraying an overly negative image of the crisis.

I suppose if 21 people weren't killed coming out of the market, 21 different people would have been killed somewhere else, just because violence is that bad in Baghdad these days. But seriously, Jesus Christ.

What a horrible price to pay so an American politican could make a fake point to undergird his fake credibility.

Spotted on Wonkette.

Gingrich: Pie, Meet Boca

| Wed Apr. 4, 2007 7:54 PM EDT

gingrich.jpgAt a speech to the National Federation of Republican Women, Newt Gingrich argued that the United States should abolish bilingual education so that "people…learn the language of prosperity, not the language of living in a ghetto." The likely presidential candidate also said that the government should not require that ballots "be printed in any one of 700 languages depending on who randomly shows up" to vote. (Because non-English speakers do everything without foresight or logic, apparently.) The lady Republicans cheered thunderously.

Hispanics, however, were predictably peeved by these comments, and Gingrich was asked about them in an appearance on Hannity & Colmes. I'm not sure if his response there was anti-Semitic or just stupid, but he said, "Frankly, ghetto, historically had referred as a Jewish reference originally. I did not mention Hispanics, and I certainly do not want anybody who speaks Spanish to think I'm in any way less than respectful of Spanish or any other language spoken by people who come to the United States."

Finally, he faced the music and apologized to the Hispanic community—I mean, obviously, he meant no harm and doesn't hold any negative stereotypes or anything. What a bunch of oversensitive, hot-blooded, bean-eating, lazy, sombrero-wearing landscapers to think otherwise!

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Life After Cars

| Wed Apr. 4, 2007 7:03 PM EDT

Unlike the rest of the chorus chanting that Americans should drive less, James Howard Kunstler—the author of The Geography of Nowhere and The Long Emergency, an exploration of what life will be like after oil ceases to be plentiful and cheap—actually provides specifics.

Learn what they are on our environmental blog, The Blue Marble.

Debunking Sandra Tsing Loh's review of I'd Rather Eat Chocolate: Learning to Love My Low Libido

| Wed Apr. 4, 2007 3:18 PM EDT

A new book claims women have weaker sex drives than men because of testosterone.
Yeah right. First of all, women have testosterone too. Secondly, testosterone is made out of cholesterol, which is just about the least sexy molecule I can think of.

Keep reading on The Riff.

Prosecutor Purge: House GOPers Call Out DOJ, Mock Bush's Immigration Record

| Wed Apr. 4, 2007 2:22 PM EDT

TPMmuckraker brings this Washington Times piece to our attention. House Republicans still think there was no foul play in the recent canning of eight U.S. Attorneys (no surprise there), but they do take issue with the reasons given by the DOJ (the Dems took issue a long time ago). And one reason, in particular, has them chuckling. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a California Republican, sneered:

"It stretches anybody's credibility to suggest that this administration would have retaliated against U.S. Attorneys for not enforcing immigration laws. This administration itself is so lax in its attitude towards immigration laws and controlling the border."

Rohrabacher is referring to the firing of San Diego's former U.S. Attorney Carol Lam, who was forced to resign last winter under the premise that she was not filing enough immigration cases. (Au contraire.) Anyone who has been following the prosecutor case knows that the DOJ's allegations against Carol Lam are bogus and more likely the reason she was let go was because she was hot on the trail of defense contractor Brent Wilkes and former CIA official Kyle "Dusty" Foggo. TPMmuckraker notes that AG Alberto Gonzales' lying evoked unity among Dems and Republicans. I'd say we owe this bipartisan harmony to Bush's immigration record.

Obama Matches Hillary Clinton's Fundraising Record

| Wed Apr. 4, 2007 11:50 AM EDT

People were impressed that Hillary Clinton raised $26 million in the first quarter of 2007 -- but not that impressed. Clinton, after all, came into the fight with a pre-constructed fundraising machine and the best organization of any candidate in either party. After two senate campaigns and eight years in the White House, she was pretty much expected to set a fundraising record.

This news, though, is really wowing people: Obama raised $25 million in the first quarter. It's an outstanding number from a guy who entered the national stage three years ago and is building his fundraising apparatus while raising money. I guess people don't share my concerns.