Political MoJo

Mother Jones Nominated for Two National Magazine Awards

| Wed Mar. 14, 2007 9:14 PM EDT

Well, the moment long awaited by a couple hundred magazine editors and virtually unnoticed by the rest of the world has finally arrived! Finalists for the 2007 National Magazine Awards (read: stuff we all printed in 2006) were announced today, and Mother Jones scored two nominations, which is less than the New Yorker, but just as many as Time.

We got the big one, General Excellence! Which is sort of like being nominated for Best Picture. OK, in our circulation size (between 100,00 and 250,000), it's probably more like Best Foreign Feature. But still! Our fellow nominees are: Foreign Policy, Philadelphia Magazine, Salt Water Sportsman, Seed. If we get just a little bigger (hint: subscribe, you webbies) we'd be up against the likes of (this year) The Atlantic, New York, Audubon, Texas Monthly, and Cookie (sadly, not as yummy as it sounded).

Check out the three issues that got us this far here, here, and here.

And we were also nominated for Best Interactive Feature, for our fabulous(ly labor intensive) Lie by Lie: Iraq War Timeline. Learn more about it here.

MoJo last won in 2001, for General Excellence. Last year we were nominated for Public Interest for our ExxonMobil exposé.

A list of the mags that got multiple nominations is after the jump. You can go to the full breakdown here.

Meanwhile, thanks to everyone involved. Staff, former staff, writers, illustrators, photographers, fact-checkers, web designers, subscribers, donors, advertisers, to say nothing of our agents, personal trainers, life coaches, Harvey Weinstein....

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Military Man in a Pickle Over Anti-Gay Remark

| Wed Mar. 14, 2007 8:26 PM EDT

pace.jpgComments made by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Peter Pace, in an interview with the Chicago Tribune may make his, from a PR perspective, one of the most disastrous interviews ever given.

Pace said he believed homosexuality was immoral and that he doesn't "believe the United States is well served by a policy that says it is OK to be immoral in any way." He compared homosexuality to adultery, I suppose to avoid the obviously delusional comparisons conservatives such as Rick Santorum have made. But his comparison raises the question: Will the military institute a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy with regard to adultery?

Of course, Pace was only saying what most military men think—but the military, led by Colin Powell, carefully crafted an alibi for its homophobia when it demanded in 1993 that Clinton not allow out gays to serve in the military. It's not that we're homophobic, the brass said; it's that the grunts are so homophobic they'd sooner fight a gay platoon-mate than the enemy—and that's OK.

Pace also violated another military stance in speaking the truth that dare not speak its name. The military is, at present, desperate not to revisit the gays in the military issue, because commanders know now would be an opportune time to repeal the rule. Homophobes can get down with the idea of sending gays and lesbians off to die for them, as evidenced by the drop by half in the annual number of soldiers discharged for being gay since 9/11. More than half of all Americans support lifting the ban.

John Warner, a Republican on the Armed Services Committee, suggested that the policy will at least be reviewed when he said, "I respectfully but strongly disagree with the chairman's view that homosexuality is immoral." A Republican! This could only happen with the military desperate to boost its numbers.

California Woman, Kept Alive With Marijuana, Again Declared A Potential Federal Criminal

| Wed Mar. 14, 2007 7:51 PM EDT

Angel Raich has an inoperable brain tumor, a seizure disorder, scoliosis, severe chronic pain, chronic nausea, and some other ailments that leave her unable to eat and cause her to be officially dying. You may recall that, five years ago, the 41-year-old Oakland woman sued then-U.S. attorney general John Ashcroft and the federal government over her right to use medical marijuana, which is legal in California. According to her doctors, she will die without it. According to a federal appeals court, she can drop dead.

The Supreme Court ruled against Raich two years ago, saying medical marijuana users and their suppliers could be prosecuted for breaching federal drug laws even if they lived in a state such in which medical marijuana is legal. Today, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals also ruled that Raich and her suppliers could be prosecuted for violating federal drug laws. However, the court left open the possibility that if Raich were arrested, her attorneys may be able to mount a "medical necessity defense."

Raich says she will continue to smoke and eat marijuana.

State of Texas: A Plague of Warts on You

| Wed Mar. 14, 2007 7:44 PM EDT

After years of living in Texas, I developed a handy rule of thumb: If the State of Texas does something reasonable, it's not going to stick. And so it is with Governor Rick Perry's order to mandate HPV vaccinations for public schoolgirls.

(I should clarify that the strains of the HPV virus linked to cervical cancer are not the same ones that cause warts. Yet another reason why vaccinations will not encourage kids to have sex.)

Center for American Progress' Campus Progress Launches New Iraq Campaign and Film Project

| Wed Mar. 14, 2007 6:18 PM EDT

Campus Progress, the campus arm of Washington-based think-tank the Center for American Progress, has just launched two new programs, the Iraq Campaign and the Iraq Film Project, both geared toward changing the course of the war through advocacy and education. Campus Progress is offering grants of $200-1,000 to students working on Iraq advocacy and education campaigns on their college campuses. The group is sponsoring the Iraq Film Project, whereby Iraq movies can be screened on campuses nationwide, "as a means of intensifying and enhancing [the] debate on the war, and engaging young people in a search for the right course going forward." They are dedicated to assisting students who want to plan an event and have award-winning films available, like The War Tapes and Ghosts of Abu Ghraib (read the Mojo review of the film here), as well as speakers available for the events. Several schools including Lehigh, Princeton and Amherst have already planned screenings for their schools. To get involved or for more information, click here.

For a comprehensive look at the situation in Iraq, read Mother Jones' new report, "Iraq 101" in our current issue. And for a look at other activism happening on campuses nationwide, check out our 13th annual roundup of campus activists here.

Why is Salon Running Garrison Keillor's Ridiculous Stereotypes of Gay Men?

| Wed Mar. 14, 2007 6:13 PM EDT

In a column called "Stating the Obvious" no less, Keillor spouts:

The country has come to accept stereotypical gay men -- sardonic fellows with fussy hair who live in over-decorated apartments with a striped sofa and a small weird dog and who worship campy performers and go in for flamboyance now and then themselves. If they want to be accepted as couples and daddies, however, the flamboyance may have to be brought under control. Parents are supposed to stand in back and not wear chartreuse pants and black polka-dot shirts. That's for the kids. It's their show.

Does Marine Staff Sgt. Eric Alva who fought and was wounded in Iraq fit this stereotype? Does John Amaechi, a retired NBA player? Keillor is just vomiting up his own homophobic impressions.

Write Salon and ask why they're giving bigotry a platform.

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Watchdog Group Files FEC Complaint Against Duncan Hunter's PAC

| Wed Mar. 14, 2007 2:11 PM EDT

Today, CREW, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, filed a FEC complaint against long-shot Republican presidential candidate Duncan Hunter's leadership PAC. According to CREW, Hunter's PAC, Peace Through Strength Political Action Committee (PTS PAC), has illegally supported the presidential candidate. Before a potential candidate declares a bid for the presidency, they are able to "test the waters" (money can be spent on travel, polling and under $5,000 can be spent on ad campaigns). It appears Hunter didn't follow the rules. PTS PAC spent $17,575 to run an ad campaign last December (before he announced his bid) in NH, which promoted the Representative's support for the construction of a fence along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Mother Jones didn't need CREW to tell us that Hunter is a bit of a shady character. Read some fun tidbits about the Rep. in Mother Jones' "The Men Who Would Beat Hillary" and don't miss our profile on him and his humanitarian brother John Hunter in our current issue. You'd think they were "separated at birth."

Senate Low-Balls 9/11 While NYFD Fight Giuliani

| Wed Mar. 14, 2007 2:05 PM EDT

Five years after 9/11 the Senate has finally gotten around to endorsing the proposals of the 9/11 Commission, weak as they may be. The Senate legislation in its current form faces a veto because it supports the rights of Transportion Security Administration workers to organize. That's anathema to Republicans on the usual anti-union grounds, and in this instance, the outcry will be intense since it was the breaking of the air traffic controllers PATCO union in the early 1980s that launched the Reagan Revolution's march to privatization.

The Senate bill is weaker than the House version. Probably the biggest terrorist threat to the U.S. comes in the form of ignored or non-existent security measures on the docks on incoming freight. Many of the freight containers come from China and are marked in Chinese. They are unloaded in ports like New York or Newark, loaded onto Chinese trucks, and driven away. Any one of them could contain explosives, a load of poison, even a low-level nuclear device. The House bill would have these ships checked at points of origin. The Senate version does not. The Bush administration opposes doing so.

The House bill also would require that all baggage being loaded into a plane be inspected in the same manner as the passengers. The government says that would cost too much and it's plenty OK just to check 30 percent of the baggage as is the current process. The machines that check the baggage are of questionable value, meaning the 30 percent figure probably is on the high side.

On top of all this, the Darth Vader of 9/11, Rudy Giuliani, is using his ill-gotten reputation as a national hero to run for the presidency. NYFD doesn't think he's a hero. This evening at 6 pm, a group called 9/11 Firefighters and Families will hold a press conference outside the New York City Sheraton, the site of Rudy's fundraiser, to expose his failures on 9/11 and before. Here is what they have to say:

"On 9/11/01 NYC was completely unprepared for a terrorist attack, despite the fact that the WTC was first targeted in 1993 with dire consequences, and those responsible vowed to 'return to finish the job.' The first WTC attack was characterized by disorganization, lack of radio communications, lack of an integrated FD & PD command structure, and yet an honorable and heroic response was made by our firefighters and emergency responders."

"History was repeated on 9/11. With eight years as Mayor of NY to correct the problems & protect our city, Rudy Giuliani left the City of NY defenseless on 9/11, resulting in the needless deaths of 343 firefighters and nearly 3,000 innocent victims. Rudy Giuliani was responsible for our City's lack of emergency planning, emergency preparedness, emergency management and the most critical lack of FDNY working radios which doomed the NYC Fire Department on September 11th.** We love our country & America's fire service and they need to know the truth about the real Rudy Giuliani. Since he did not prepare NYC for the second terrorist attack on 9/11, how can the American people trust him to safeguard our entire nation?''

Prosecutor Purge: New Development, Carol Lam Not Fired for Cunningham Investigation

| Wed Mar. 14, 2007 1:10 PM EDT

TPMmuckraker reports today that Carol Lam, one of the USAs fired, was on a DOJ list of prosecutors to be removed months before the Duke Cunningham scandal was revealed. Lam's successful prosecution of Cunningham has been widely believed to be the reason she was fired. This list created by the AG's chief of staff Kyle Sampson may tell another story. Was Lam then actually fired for performance-related reasons? It hasn't appeared so. Last Tuesday, at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on prosecutorial independence of U.S. attorneys, where Lam, along with 3 other prosecutors testified, Dianne Feinstein produced a letter from the DOJ which praised Lam's performance. Well, so why then, was she fired? At last Tuesday's hearing, Republican Senator Jeff Sessions claimed she was asked to resign because she did not prosecute enough gun cases. Um...doubtful. Stay tuned!

Republican Reaction Must Get Stronger Before Gonzales Resigns

| Wed Mar. 14, 2007 1:04 PM EDT

Luckily for Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, the Senate is leaving him alone today as it plunges into the Iraq war debate. From Mexico City, Bush signaled lukewarm support for Gonzalez, saying he is "not happy" about the US Attorney mess, but adding, "I do have confidence in AG Al Gonzales." While Gonzales should have more involved in the whole affair, said Bush, the firings were "entirely appropriate." Gonzalez himself tried to wiggle clear and keep his job by saying he accepts responsibility for the mess. Yesterday he uttered the famous phrase "mistakes were made.''

At mid day the Republican leadership in the Senate was holding firm on the Attorney General, refusing to join the growing number of Democrats who want his resignation. Gonzalez himself told CNN it was up to the President whether he stays or goes. Bush, as everyone knows, is extremely stubborn and up to a few months ago wouldn't budge on hardly anything. But his administration is visibly shaken. With Libby down, and Rove a prime Democratic target because of the U.S. Attorneys scandal, it's always possible he will break. The damage control has to start somewhere and Gonzalez might well walk the plank for the president.

While editorial pages across the country are calling for Gonzales to resign, senior Senate Republicans either had nothing to say, or in the case of Arlen Specter, the ranking member on the Judiciary Committee, urged restraint. On the Senate floor yesterday he asked for more hearings. He wants Harriet Miers to testify before Congress, and had this to say: "There's been a request for witnesses from the Administration, from the White House. Well, why condemn the parties, why condemn the Department until we have found out what the facts are? My view, as I expressed last Thursday at the Executive Session, has been to tone down the rhetoric." Another important Republican member of the Judiciary Committee, Lindsay Graham of South Carolina, said this: "This was a poorly handled matter, and it happened on his watch... you can go to anyone who is a U.S. attorney, say, 'Thank you for your service, your time's up and we want someone new.' And no one can say a word about it. This idea of trying to make up reasons that people didn't perform well, to me, that are at least questionable allegations, is just unseemly."

Among Republicans, Senator John Ensign of Nevada was among the most outspoken. Yesterday he declared, "The Department of Justice completely mishandled the dismissal of Dan Bogden as Nevada's United States Attorney. I appreciate the Attorney General's coming forward today to take responsibility for the mistakes that were made, to find out what went wrong and to address these problems immediately."

Late Update: "Sen. John Sununu of New Hampshire on Wednesday became the first Republican in Congress to call for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' dismissal." From the AP.

-- James Ridgeway