Political MoJo

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.

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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

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.

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... 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.'"

Report Links Homelessness To Federal Spending Priorities

| Wed Nov. 15, 2006 9:24 PM EST

According to a report released by the Western Regional Advocacy Project, "massive homelessness" has been created in the U.S. over the last twenty-five years because of cutbacks in federal affordable-housing programs. In the last decade, HUD has spent no money at all directly on construction of new public housing. Instead, the government has focused on the Hope VI grant program, which transforms distressed public housing into mixed-income communities.

Also during the last decade, HUD has demolished, sold or re-developed 100,000 housing units. As a result, the report says, there are fewer subsidized dwellings available. Over 4 million families live in HUD-subsidized housing, and between 2 and 3.5 million are homeless in any given year.

This study is of particular interest in New Orleans, whose public housing has been steadily decreasing for years, and because of the damage done by Hurricane Katrina. There has also been a recent controversy in Jefferson Parish, which is just outside New Orleans, involving Parish Councilman Chris Roberts, who maintains that "With the number of jobs out there, nobody should be on public housing unless you're ignorant or lazy."

Roberts and the Jefferson Parish Council have made it clear that they do not want displaced public housing residents from New Orleans moving to Jefferson Parish. The rationale is that low-income housing causes crime. As da po' blog points out, people who relied on public housing in the city before Katrina cannot afford to come back, a lot of working poor rely on public housing, and low-income housing does not cause crime. "You can't eliminate crime by eliminating low-income housing. Try fair education and workers' rights to achieve that end." da po' blog also points out that most of the people not wanted by Jefferson Parish just happen to be African American.

South Africa: Gay is OK

| Wed Nov. 15, 2006 9:01 PM EST

Yesterday South Africa became the fifth country to permit gay marriage, joining the liberal likes of Belgium, the Netherlands, Canada and socialist-ruled Spain. The South African Parliament amended the country's marriage laws yesterday in response to a December 2005 Supreme Court ruling that found that denying same-sex couples the right to marry violated of the country's liberal constitution.

Conservatives in South Africa didn't like the court ruling any more than conservatives in this country liked Massachusetts' trail-blazing decision. The conservative African Christian Democratic Party interpreted the December ruling to require only that the legislature debate the issue. Errol Naidoo, a spokesman for His People Christian Church, played the Bush of the situation, calling the ruling a weapon of mass destruction against heterosexual marriage. He accused the high court of "surrender[ing] the future of this nation to the unreasonable demands of a sexually confused minority."

But unlike African-American groups in this country, who prickle at the suggestion that discrimination against gays and lesbians is comparable to racial discrimination, the African National Congress embraced the issue. The majority party pushed hard to allow marriage, rather than just domestic partnership despite the resistance of some of its members. Vytjie Mentor, the ANC's parliamentary caucus chairman, said ''How do you give someone permission to discriminate in the name of the ANC?'' Kenneth Meshoe, a member of the ACDP, saw it differently. He called Tuesday the "saddest day in our 12 years of democracy" and warned that South Africa "was provoking God's anger."

Some prominent members of the ANC until recently denied the existence of the AIDS epidemic ravaging the continent, essentially endorsing condomless sex and marital infidelity. But in the ANC's defense, the new law stands in stark contrast to laws in other African nations that punish consensual homosexual sex more harshly than they do rape. It's also far more progressive than U.S. laws: Twenty-two states now prohibit gay marriage with both a statute and a constitutional amendment.