Political MoJo

No Child Left Behind? Iraqi Edition

| Wed Mar. 7, 2007 6:56 PM EST

Yesterday's Jordan Times adds another whopper to the myriad of bad news coming out of Iraq. Apparently, few of the estimated 172,000 to 230,000 school-aged Iraq War refugees living Jordan are enrolled in school. Those children, many of whom are from middle class Iraqi families, lack the proper residency status to qualify for public school, and their families lack the finances to enroll their children in private institutions. As a result, over a hundred thousand Iraqi children have been out of school for as many as 4 years now--and that's just counting those in Jordan. Musa Shteiwi, a sociology professor at the University of Jordan notes:

"Violating children's rights to an education can have short- and long-term effects on their chances in life. They could turn to other things like begging, illegal employment and leading delinquent lives," Shteiwi told The Jordan Times.

The sociologist, who is director of the Jordan Centre for Social Research, added that the long term impact on Jordanian society may not be significant if the Iraqis are no longer here in a few years, but a short term impact is imminent and would add to social problems in the Kingdom.

What about the impact on Iraqi society? An estimated 40% of educated middle class Iraqis have fled since the invasion. Who will replace them in a future (free?) Iraq?

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An Online Forum for Sexual Harrassment

| Wed Mar. 7, 2007 6:43 PM EST

UPenn law student Anthony Ciolli and insurance agent Jarret Cohen run a forum that promotes sexual harassment of law students. Women's pictures are posted without their consent, and they refuse to censor anonymous slander and hate speech. The defamation probably cost one woman a job. So if you have personal information about these two, post it right here. Personality quirks, sexual issues, insecurities large and small—get creative. Doesn't have to be true. Hey—It's freedom of speech! Because of the First Amendment, no one has any moral accountability for anything said.

Dear GOP, You are Not the Party of Lincoln

| Wed Mar. 7, 2007 5:33 PM EST

Excellent work from Eric Foner of the Nation (via Alternet) in which Foner smacks down the GOP's recent use of Lincoln quotes on the subject of treason. (Lincoln thought those who don't support the military should be "exiled or hanged," the Right claims, incorrectly.) I've always thought that any invocation of Lincoln by the Republicans was disingenuous history-twisting at its worst. After all, we're talking about the man who perhaps did more for African-Americans than any other American being used as a talking point by a party that viciously fought the civil rights movement and to this day uses minority vote-suppression to win elections in close races. "Party of Lincoln," my rear end. Lincoln technically belonged to the same party as these guys, but that's where the similarities end.

Anyway, Foner looks at Lincoln's congressional record pre-presidency and it turns out he was strongly anti-war. He led Congress in protest of James Polk's war with Mexico, which was sold on false pretenses and was largely "pre-emptive." There is no doubt that Lincoln would have fought harder than most against the war in Iraq.

Raise Your Hand if You Hate Maureen Dowd!

| Wed Mar. 7, 2007 5:28 PM EST

no_dowd.gifEvery once in a while, I find Maureen Dowd funny, but ever since her Britney Spears train wreck in slow motion of a book, I've been seriously turned off.

Now this. Today's Daily Howler compares the Don't-Call-Me-Dowdy one to Ann Coulter. That's right. Coulter outright calls Dems "faggots," but Maureen Dowd almost compulsively describes them with belittling feminizing images. (It should be said that she adds -ie to the names of most Republicans.) Her last column about Gore before the 2000 election was a conversation between him and his bald spot called "I feel pretty…." Dowd's insults are every bit as pointed, but come in "simpering" sheep's clothing. And so, the Daily Howler concludes, Dowd does Dems more damage than the despicable Coulter.

It's Time for Hagel-Huckabee '08, Folks

| Wed Mar. 7, 2007 5:07 PM EST

Matt Yglesias has a typically great takedown of the Big Three Republican contenders, Giuliani, McCain, and Romney, over at the American Prospect. There's nothing new to report, but Yglesias illustrates why they are all basically ineligible for the Republican nomination with economy and some good humor ("Mitt Romney is the most freakishly transparent liar I've ever witnessed."). It's worth a read. I'll highlight one particularly insightful point here:

Given that they're all viewed skeptically by cultural conservatives, the only possible way for any of them to campaign for the nomination is with an escalating race to the right on national security, even though Iraq just led the GOP to disaster last November. Which vulnerable state that Bush won in 2004 is rendered more secure by making the Republican Party less committed to social conservatism but more committed to the Iraq project? Ohio? Virginia? Missouri? Nevada? Iowa? I don't see it. [Emphasis his.]

Yup, they're all screwed. That's why I've come to realize that a ticket with Mike Huckabee and Chuck Hagel would pretty much be unstoppable. I'm thinking Hagel for president because he has war experience, much better teeth, and is currently right on the biggest issue, Iraq. I'm thinking Huckabee for vice president because he seems cuddly (he doesn't swear!) and was a preacher for a long time. Also, he wrote a self-help book about losing weight and is named Huckabee, two things that probably disqualify him from the presidency.

By the way, I'm not really joking. In a week, there will be a Newsweek article about these two forming a ticket. Just watch.

U.S. Attorney Update: Domenici Lawyers Up

| Wed Mar. 7, 2007 4:45 PM EST

domenici.jpgIn a move that suggests he's feeling the heat, New Mexico Republican Pete Domenici hired a high-powered lawyer today. Fired attorney David Iglesias said Domenici's chief of staff called him just weeks before the November election and pressured him to be more aggressive in his ethics probe of a Democrat. The senator himself took the phone at one point and asked if Iglesias would produce indictments before the election. (For a full report on yesterday's congressional testimony, click here.)

I'm not sure if it's more comical or terrifying, but Domenici has hired the lawyer who represented Randy "Duke" Cunningham, the former Republican congressman who was found guilty on ethics charges brought by U.S. attorney Carol S. Lam—who was fired shortly thereafter. Comical because Cunningham is in jail; terrifying because the Republican wagons are circled pretty tight and they don't fight fair.

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Air America 2.0 -- Any Different from the First Time Around?

| Wed Mar. 7, 2007 2:00 PM EST

In January, Clara wrote about the plan to sell the financially-troubled Air America to brothers Stephen and Mark Green. That deal was consummated yesterday and Mark Green celebrated the event by posting his vision for the new Air America (a/k/a Air America 2.0) on Huffington Post.

Unfortunately, having read Green's essay, I'm a bit skeptical of the "new" attributes of Air America. They sound an awful lot like the old attributes -- the ones that sent them into Chapter 11. Green asserts in the "Huff Po" that Air America will now:


  • "[Focus] on the radio fundamentals of making a strong line-up even stronger."
  • "[Connect] to other progressive membership organizations to be mutually fortifying."
  • "[Be] a multi-media content company involving other distribution platforms -- Internet, blogging, audio and video streaming, mobile, social networks, and more."
  • I think you can do all three of those things and still not make any money if the idea of progressive radio is a fundamentally flawed one, or if the execution of your core product is shoddy, or if there simply isn't a market for what you are selling. Green also says Air America will "be a business with a sharp point of view. The era of on-the-one-hand-on-the-other-hand liberalism is over" (what, AA didn't take a strong point of view before?) and that "Air America will aggressively cover national politics and policies in ways that will be informative, opinionated and entertaining."

    Well, okay. It sounds a little like, "We're going to do it better this time!" but I'm willing to be optimistic. Air America covering and maybe even breaking news would be cool, and some genuinely funny content would be welcomed. Go for it, boys, and good luck.

    Any readers who have heard Air America in the last few days (or in the next few) should leave their thoughts in the comments. Any material changes?

    Update on U.S. Attorneys Investigation: DOJ Official Denies Allegations Against Him

    | Wed Mar. 7, 2007 1:30 PM EST

    Yesterday, former U.S. Attorney Bud Cummins testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee (read my dispatch from the hearing here) that Mike Elston, the chief of staff to Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty, made a threatening phone call to him. (Cummins was removed to create a spot for former Karl Rove aide Timothy Griffin.) Cummins produced an email for the committee which he had sent to five of the other USAs that had been fired, in which he recounted the phone conversation with Elston. Elston strongly advised Cummins that any further discussion with the press or Congress regarding the attorneys' resignations would be seen as an escalation of the situation and the DOJ would be forced to take action. The email read that the department was threatening to "pull their gloves off and offer public criticisms to defend their actions more fully." This phone call was in response to a Washington Post article in which Cummins was reported saying, "If they [DOJ] are trying to suggest that people have inferior performance to hide whatever their true agenda is, that is wrong. They should retract those statements." It looks like the DOJ didn't like that friendly suggestion. TPMmuckraker reports today that Elston has issued a statement denying the allegations made against him yesterday. Read the whole letter here. Essentially, Elston said, he is "shocked and baffled" by the accusations.

    The misconduct list of the DOJ is totally out of control. One of the most shocking and appalling things revealed yesterday at the senate hearing was the allegation launched at New Mexico's now high-profile former U.S. Attorney David Iglesias. A reason given for his forced resignation was that he was an "absentee landlord." Iglesias is a Navy Reserve Officer and must serve 40 days during the year, something, he claimed he is not only very proud of, but highlighted on his resume when he applied for the position of U.S. Attorney. The irony of this accusation did not slip past Iglesias. He noted that the DOJ is a strong advocate of USERRA, a law that protects reserve officers from discrimination in the workplace. So, shall we add discrimination to the list?

    Stay tuned for more to come, because in the words of Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Schumer, who is leading the senate's investigation, the "plot continues to thicken."

    When Sports and Climate Change Collide

    | Wed Mar. 7, 2007 1:13 PM EST

    Ah, finally an entry for MoJo Sports. Sports Illustrated has a neat article on the impact of global warming on sports.

    Football:

    Searing heat is turning that rite of passage of Texas high school football, the August two-a-day, into a one-at-night, while at the game's highest level the Miami Dolphins, once famous for sweating players into shape, have thrown in the soggy towel and built a climate-controlled practice bubble.

    Skiing:

    One day in November enough snow fell at Colorado's Beaver Creek to cause the cancellation of practice for the men's downhill at a World Cup event. A day later on the other side of the globe, officials at the French resort of Val d'Isère called off another World Cup event on account of too little snow, as well as a forecast of prolonged warm temperatures -- one of seven World Cup events in Europe this season to have all races canceled for the same reason.

    Dog-racing:

    The world's signature dogsled race, Alaska's Iditarod, hasn't begun at its traditional starting point in Wasilla since 2002 because of too little snow there.

    And on and on. The examples abound. There are also thoughts on how to build a green stadium and instances of players who have undertaken green initiatives and teams that have gone carbon neutral. Here's is a neat one:

    Scientists told the NFL that Super Bowl XLI would put one million pounds of carbon dioxide into the air -- not counting air travel to Miami -- so the league planted 3,000 trees around Florida in an attempt to pull at least that much of the greenhouse gas out of the atmosphere.

    Check out the whole thing. Make sure to look for quotes from our very own Bill McKibben, who wrote "Reversal of Fortune" for MoJo's most recent issue, and the sidebar packed full of links on how to "become a greener sports fan." Activism and sports, suh-weet.

    New Rule in High School: Say "Vagina," Get Suspended

    | Wed Mar. 7, 2007 12:58 PM EST

    Spotted on Feministing:

    Saying the word "vagina" during a reading at a John Jay High School open mic session has resulted in suspension for three female students and has sparked a debate about censorship throughout the community.
    School administrators had warned the girls it would be inappropriate to say the word while reading a selection from Eve Ensler's "The Vagina Monologues," but the students were willing to suffer the consequences.

    Jeepers. Here's the news article. Thankfully, students and parents are organizing and speaking out -- they've already got a facebook group (the students) and a letter-writing campaign (the parents). The administrators of the school are saying that the issue isn't censorship, it's insubordination, which is kind of odd because the original ban on saying the word that the girls defied was censorship, no?

    Eve Ensler has volunteered to go to the school and talk about the situation. Her quote to the press: "What is wrong about the word 'vagina,' which is the correct biological term for a body part? It is not slang. It is not dirty or racy. The fact that it was censored is an indication of exactly what is going on in American schools, where girls and boys are not being educated about their bodies in a healthy way. We're pushing everything into the closet. We need open, healthy sex education where girls know and love their bodies."

    For the record, the offending V-word came in the verse: "My short skirt is a liberation flag in the women's army. I declare these streets, any streets, my vagina's country." The girls considered not saying the word, or holding up a sign with the world written on it, but in the end did "not feel they had the liberty to change a work of art."

    Bravo, kids. Turn this whole thing into a wicked college application essay.