Political MoJo

GOP Rule and North Korean Nukes

| Tue Oct. 10, 2006 7:20 PM EDT

Think Progress brings to our attention that most of the growth of North Korea's nuclear weapons program occurred under "conservative administrations known for their supposed 'strength' on defense" beginning in the mid-1980s under Ronald Reagan. Read their full timeline of events here.

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No Pets Left Behind

| Tue Oct. 10, 2006 6:57 PM EDT

On Friday, President Bush quietly signed into law a bill requiring states to help evacuate pets in the wake of a natural disaster. The law follows one of the lesser publicized tragedies of FEMA's bungled evacuation of the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina. Because of a "no-pets" policy, FEMA forced evacuees to abandon their dogs, cats and any other domesticated friends (including service-animals). An estimated 50,000 pets were left to drown, starve or otherwise suffer. And remember all those folks who refused to leave their homes? According to a recent poll, 1 in 5 say they refused to evacuate because they did not want to leave their pets behind.

The documentary Dark Water Rising, now out on DVD, chronicles Katrina's animal casualties and the tireless efforts of rescuers who worked to save them. The film also offers an unfiltered look at the hurricane's devastation of New Orleans' poorest neighborhoods and hints at the kind of bureaucratic ineptitude and infighting that have slowed reconstruction.

--Koshlan Mayer-Blackwell

Who Holds the Solution to the Byline Gender Gap?

| Tue Oct. 10, 2006 6:21 PM EDT

Alternet's (formerly Mother Jones') Ann Friedman takes a strong position on magazines' byline gender gap, going so far as to recommend quotas, which Alternet has employed in order to ensure that efforts to even the byline score are made. Quotas are often the subject of controversy, but when looking at the results published by WomenTK.com, and highlighted in Mother Jones last January, it's impossible not to be struck by the gap and to reach out for any and all solutions. Here's Friedman's go at the ratios (male-to-female contributing writers/editors):

The American Prospect: 21:12
The Atlantic: 27:6
Harper's: 30:2 (masthead not online)
In These Times: 6:6
Mother Jones: 10:5
The New Yorker: 44:18
The Nation: 26:4
The New Republic: 12:2
Salon: 14:7
Slate: 20:6
Washington Monthly: 30:5

Yup, Mother Jones is in there, and although we look better than most, there's always room for improvement.

Warships Headed to Iran

| Tue Oct. 10, 2006 4:49 PM EDT

Is the Bush administration really nuts enough to go to war with Iran when the military is stretched thin in Iraq and Afghanistan? Several media outlets, including Mother Jones, think the administration is capable of it. But the predictions of war with Iran are moving beyond armchair psychoanalysis and into wargame-watching.

A strike force led by the aircraft carrier Eisenhower is currently making its way to the entrance of the Persian Gulf, with a predicted arrival date of October 21. The Navy officially claims that the Eisenhower's deployment is part of a normal rotation of ships in and out of the Gulf. But The Nation reports that the carrier's deployment date was pushed up significantly. Both Time and MSNBC say the move was accompanied by a request from the Chief of Naval Operations to revamp a plan to blockade Iran from the Persian Gulf.

The Nation got its story from an anti-war retired Air Force Colonel, Sam Gardiner, who claims that officers of the deploying ships contacted him and "complained that they were being sent to attack Iran without any order from the Congress." But the president might see it differently. When Bush addressed the U.N. in mid-September, he claimed that Iran's leaders were "fund[ing] terrorism and fuel[ing] extremism." And President Bush has made a point of broadly interpreting the post-9/11 congressional vote authorizing him to combat terrorism (including as authority to conduct warrantless surveillance on American citizens). He could potentially initiate conflict with Iran with no further congressional approval.

Babs and Bush Duet

| Tue Oct. 10, 2006 2:25 PM EDT

bushand-babs.gif

Babs kicked off yet another farewell tour in Philadelphia on Wednesday night and one of her guests was longtime fan and political compadre George W...OK, it was Bush impersonator Steve Bridges, the same guy who tag-teamed with GWB at the White House Correspondents Dinner. Babs' shtick, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported, was to toss the faux Bush softballs "only to have him give glib, breezy answers, like proposing to solve the national debt by selling Canada. "They don't use half of it!" he exclaimed.

Web Redesign Shows Fox News' True Colors?

| Tue Oct. 10, 2006 1:07 PM EDT
fox_news.jpg

Conspiracy theory of the day, courtesy of advertising/branding blog Snark Hunting:

Gearing up for November's elections, Fox News has quietly morphed their corporate color scheme, replacing nearly all of the red with blue.

Hey, when your brand is all about championing the powers that be, being a chameleon is your only survival option.

Sure enough, its web site has lost a lot of its once red-blooded palette. And I don't think it's because they're Billy Bragg fans. (Right: FoxNews.com before and after.)

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Suddenly, Democrats are the Official Morality- and Anti-Terrorism Party

| Mon Oct. 9, 2006 10:20 PM EDT

Yep, it's official. In the span of a week, the Democratic Party has gone from being the party of dissolute, weak-kneed peaceniks to being the party of morally upstanding security men—according to, of all people, Americans.

A Newsweek poll released Saturday found that more Americans trust Democrats to "do a better job of handling moral values" than trust Republicans—42 percent vs 36 percent. And a USA Today poll gave Democrats a 5-point edge on fighting terrorism, which is astonishing considering the so-called War on Terror as been the heart of GOP's campaign.

The lead could evaporate as Republicans dump their huge war chests into attack ads, but for the moment one could be forgiven for feeling a sense of awe: not since well before 9/11 have the Democrats so thorougly socked it to Republicans on the GOP's home turf.

Baker Commission Proposes the United States of Iraq

| Mon Oct. 9, 2006 8:04 PM EDT

The Baker Commission, a bipartisan group set up by Congress, is now proposing the division of Iraq into separate Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish regions. James Baker, former US Sec of State and Co-chair of the commission, says this is the only alternative to Bush's steadfast rule of "staying the course." The division will transfer power to the regions and a skeletal central government based in Baghdad will head up, among other things, the distribution of oil.

It turns out that this is not the first time the division of Iraq has been on the table. According to the Centre for Research on Globalization, the idea was actually part of the administration's pre-invasion plan.

But like many administration non-plans, this one seems ill-advised.

According to the British Sunday Times, "Many Middle East experts are horrified by the difficulty of dividing the nation." Juan Cole weighs in on his site:

1. No such loose federal arrangement would survive very long (remember the post-Soviet Commonwealth of Independent States?).

2. The Sunni Arabs, the Da`wa Party and the Sadr Movement are all against such a partition and together they account for at least 123 members of the 275-member parliament.

3. The Sunni Arabs control Iraq's downstream water but have no petroleum resources. If the loose federal plan ends in partition, the situation is set up for a series of wars of the Sunni Arabs versus the Shiites, as well as of the Sunni Arabs and some Turkmen versus the Kurds.

And so on.

As Goes One Republican Editor in PA, So Goes the Country?

| Mon Oct. 9, 2006 7:29 PM EDT

In an editorial titled "Time To Switch Teams," a Times Herald-Record business editor announces he why won't vote (as he always has) Republican in the fall:

The reason Republicans are bent out of shape is that this Foley scandal is the proverbial last straw. We've had it. The out-of-control spending. The earmarks. The graft with the lobbyists. The arrogance. The abrogation of principles that Goldwater, Reagan and others worked decades to spread.
The Republicans will lose the House in November. Absent big changes, I have to say they deserve to. I will help them lose it, because in my own congressional district, Pennsylvania's 10th, I'm voting for Democrat Chris Carney. As the campaign literature for Carney slyly notes, he's been married for 18 years to his college sweetheart.
Why might he note that? Because his opponent, and the incumbent, Republican Don Sherwood, engaged in a five-year affair in Washington with a mistress some three decades his junior.
My father had choices. The Republicans offer me candidates who can't even keep their pants on. I've had it.

(Great. But why "slyly"?)

With $90,000 In His Freezer, What's Not To Love?

| Mon Oct. 9, 2006 5:19 PM EDT

New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin has endorsed the candidacy of Louisiana Rep. William Jefferson, the man who gave a new meaning to the term, "cold hard cash." Jefferson is the target of a federal bribery investigation. Those he has not been charged, one of his aides and a Kentucky businessman have already pleaded guilty. During the course of the investigation, agents found $90,000 in cash hidden in Jefferson's freezer.

The surprise isn't so much that Nagin would lend his support to someone under investigation who looks pretty guilty, but that he would so enthusiastically support a Democrat. Nagin, a lifelong Republican who suddenly "became a Democrat" a day before his first mayoral campaign began, has governed like a Republican, and even endorsed Bobby Jindal (now a Congressman) for governor. Jindal is not merely Republican, but is on the extreme right wing end of things.

Nagin's endorsement of Jefferson adds one more item to the list of things he has done that cast doubts on his ability to lead. From waffling about whether a landfill should be in the middle of a residential area to bungling the towing of trashed cars after Katrina to recently making a questionable deal with a trash pickup company, the mayor has caused New Orleanians to question his re-election. However, they have only themselves to blame.