Political MoJo

More Media Whores Claiming Gov't Persecution (Girls Gone Wild Edition)

| Mon Jan. 22, 2007 10:14 PM EST

Today is quite a day for scummy self promoters claiming they've be wronged by government prosecutors, the media, etc.

First there was Richard Hatch. (No, not this one -- aka Apollo. This one.) And now, that purveyor of good taste, "Girls Gone Wild" mogul Joe Francis, is bitching because he got slapped with heavier than expected fines and penalties for making obscene profits by getting drunk underage girls to take their shirts off for a bunch of late-night dorks too cheap to spring for real porn.

His fine is 200 hours of community service, two years probation, and $500,000. That's on top of 32 hours of CS per month for 30 months and $1.6 million in penalties he got in a related Florida case. That's 1,160 hours of community service in all.

Outside the courthouse, Francis said he was relieved the process was over and that he now felt free to say that he had been unfairly persecuted by the Justice Department. "Of course I've been unfairly targeted by the government," Francis said. "What better target than Joe Francis?"

What better indeed. Let's hope they make him clean stadium urinals or something else suitably nasty.

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CNN Debunks "Madrassa" Smear Against Obama

| Mon Jan. 22, 2007 8:13 PM EST

We've been following the smear campaign against Barack Obama -- read background here and here. In short, a right-wing mag funded by the Moonies circulated a story last week asserting that Hillary's people had dug up and anonymously distributed damaging material on Barack Obama, specifically that he had been educated at a madrassa as a child growing up in Indonesia, that he was raised a Muslim and may still have Muslim sympathies (horror!), and that he was hiding his past from the American public. With all those juicy bits flying around, the hysterics came in short order, fueled by breathless coverage from Fox News.

Well, real journalists have stepped in.

...reporting by CNN in Jakarta, Indonesia and Washington, D.C., shows the allegations that Obama attended a madrassa to be false. CNN dispatched Senior International Correspondent John Vause to Jakarta to investigate.
He visited the Basuki school, which Obama attended from 1969 to 1971.
"This is a public school. We don't focus on religion," Hardi Priyono, deputy headmaster of the Basuki school, told Vause. "In our daily lives, we try to respect religion, but we don't give preferential treatment."
Vause reported he saw boys and girls dressed in neat school uniforms playing outside the school, while teachers were dressed in Western-style clothes.
"I came here to Barack Obama's elementary school in Jakarta looking for what some are calling an Islamic madrassa ... like the ones that teach hate and violence in Pakistan and Afghanistan," Vause said on the "Situation Room" Monday. "I've been to those madrassas in Pakistan ... this school is nothing like that."

Oh, and also:

A spokesman for Clinton, who is also weighing a White House bid, denied that the campaign was the source of the Obama claim.
He called the story "an obvious right-wing hit job."

So that ends that. The next attack should come up within a few days hours.

Rudy Says: "I Think Iraq is a Military Success"

| Mon Jan. 22, 2007 8:02 PM EST

A friend just emailed me with a note from the campaign trail.

Guiliani comment (right now) at a Miami conference I am attending: "I think Iraq is a military success." In context, he goes on to discuss that it has been a peacekeeping failure, blah, blah, blah.
Still, his entire speech has been spent wrapping himself in Ronald Reagan and 9/11. He's comparing our 'aggressive' strategy with terrorists now with Reagan's bold, visionary decision to put cruise missiles in Europe. He's going to be strong on the campaign trail and play well with a lot of segments of the population, but boy is he scary.

Blaming "peacekeeping" is really very clever. It's not exactly wrong, and on a subconscious level it shifts blame from GOP to UN/blue helmet/world's policemen-type wusses.

Plus, I'm sure Rudy will intimate that he'd be the toughest cop on the block. There's just one problem with that ("Guiliani Time" aside). Bernie Kerik. He's Rudy's former chief of police (and member of Guiliani Partners) who totally screwed up policing in Iraq. Here's the relevent entry from our Iraq War Timeline:

The U.S. Justice Department recommends 6,600 police advisers be sent to Iraq. The White House sends one man, former NYC police commissioner Bernie Kerik, who prepares for his job by watching A&E documentaries on Saddam Hussein. Kerik turns out to be an incompetent manager, holding only two staff meetings in his tenure, and leaves amidst failure saying, "I did my own thing."

Read more on Kerik here.

Chemotherapy by Numbers

| Mon Jan. 22, 2007 4:10 PM EST

A University of Michigan study has found that women with lower levels of education and/or income tend to get lower levels of something else—chemotherapy. Due to concerns or assumptions over how they will handle the side effects, doctors are three times more likely to give women with less education a reduced dose of chemotherapy.

The study, based on U.S. Census Bureau statistics and individual interviews, also found that women with less household income received less chemotherapy. The lead author of the study, Jennifer Griggs, said that doctors may have concerns over less educated patients' possible misunderstanding the side effects of their treatments.

"It may be that negotiating side effects and continued doses of treatment is easier when there is more shared culture," Griggs continued in a press release.

Doctors calculate chemotherapy doses based on height to weight ratio. Adjustments to the doses based on income or education can jeopardize survival rates for those patients.

"Simply put, this evidence shows that doctors are likely to reduce the chemotherapy levels for these women, even though there is no solid medical basis to do it," said Gary Lyman, M.D., M.P.H., principal investigator and director of the ANC Study Group, a project that studies cancer patients starting chemotherapy that is funded by the pharmaceutical company Amgen.

-- Caroline Dobuzinskis

Survivor's Richard Hatch ISO Bob Woodward...

| Mon Jan. 22, 2007 4:00 PM EST

Can't believe I'm taking 5 minutes from closing the latest issue of the magazine on this but, stop the presses, writing from the Federal Correctional Institute in Morgantown, West Virginia, Survivor winner Richard Hatch demands that journalists take up his cause:

"No investigative journalism has yet confronted the blatant abuses of power, bigotry-driven enmity, nor the numerous pitfalls of our current legal system to which I have been subjected."

And not just for his sake:

"I would no more apologize for my winning tactics on "Survivor" than a football player might apologize for his touchdown. Regardless, the issue of innocent people in jail should be addressed more seriously."


Blog for Choice Day

| Mon Jan. 22, 2007 3:44 PM EST

Today is "Blog for Choice Day"! For a collection of excellent posts from around the blogosphere, see our friends at Feministing.

Update: MissLaura at Daily Kos has a good run-down of the challenges to a woman's right to choose in America today.

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CEOs Scold Bush on Global Warming

| Mon Jan. 22, 2007 3:44 PM EST

You know that Bush is lost in a wilderness of his own making when the CEO's of 10 major corporations set up homing beacons to call him back to reality. As the AP reports:

"We can and must take prompt action to establish a coordinated, economy-wide market-driven approach to climate protection," the executives from a broad range of industries said in a letter to the president.

Why are they doing it? We know these chieftains of major utilities, aluminum and chemical companies, and financial institutions aren't acting out of altruism. Apparently they've realized that even their own tony hides are on the line.

Members of the group, called the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, include chief executives of Alcoa Inc., BP America Inc., DuPont Co., Caterpillar Inc., General Electric Co., and Duke Energy Corp.

At a news conference, the executives said that mandatory reductions of heat-trapping emissions can be imposed without economic harm and would lead to economic opportunities if done economy-wide and with provisions to mitigate costs.

Many of the companies already have voluntarily moved to curb greenhouse pollution, they said. But the executives also said they do not believe voluntary efforts will suffice.

"It must be mandatory, so there is no doubt about our actions," said Jim Rogers, chairman of Duke Energy. "The science of global warming is clear. We know enough to act now. We must act now."

Bush is expected to address global warming in his State of the Union address tomorrow. Though it's doubtful he'll exercise any leadership on the matter, instead staying the course with more calls for voluntary cuts and increased energy independence. That will seal his legacy as the Neville Chamberlain of the 21st century: appeasing the dark side and setting the stage for a new version of global mayhem.

White House Purges Courts Of Independent Prosecutors

| Mon Jan. 22, 2007 3:36 PM EST

In his January 19 New York Times column (here, if you have access), Paul Krugman does a good job of crystalizing the recent goings-on at the White House in its purge of independent prosecutors. One by one, federal prosecutors are being relieved of their jobs in what Attorney General Alberto Gonzales describes as "a personnel matter." More like a personal matter: The kinds of prosecutors that are being heaved out (like San Diego's Carol Lam, who successfuly prosecuted Duke Cunningham) are the kind of attorneys who seek to bring justice for the people, and that appears to be making the Bush administration very uncomfortable.

According to Krugman, the White House has gotten rid of as few as four and as many as seven prosecutors (Gonzales is having trouble with the math) since the middle of December. As a rule, once a federal prosecutor is appointed, she serves for the remainder of the president's term. Now that Democrats are in control in Congress, one might feel relief that none of Bush's new appointees will be confirmed. Enter Sen. Arlen Specter.

When Specter was still chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he slipped a little gift for Bush into the revised Patriot Act bills--a proviso that eliminates the requirement that federal judicial appointees have only 120 days to be confirmed, and then replacements are named by federal district courts. One need only remember the chilling scene of Michael Moore's driving an ice cream truck around the Capitol grounds and reading the Patriot Act through a loudspeaker to understand how easy it is to slip just about anything into a lengthy bill.

So now it does not matter whether the Senate confirms Bush's new nominations--we are all stuck with them. I'm sure that Tom Maciulis and his media colleages do not care, but I do. If there is no one left to prosecute the corrupt and treasonous people at the top of our government, they have an absolute license to do whatever they wish.

Prominent Republicans Warner and Boehner Take Action Against the Surge

| Mon Jan. 22, 2007 3:21 PM EST

Opposition to the president's surge is building on the eve of his State of the Union. The senior senator from Virginia, John Warner, who is the former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a respected voice on military affairs, has completely reversed his support of the president's policy, going from being a steadfast backer to introducing a Senate resolution against the surge. The resolution is rumored to be a kinder, gentler version of the one introduced roughly a week ago by heavy-duty war critics Biden, Levin, and Hagel.

In the other house of Congress, House Minority Leader John Boehner, Republican of Ohio, will lead a effort by key House Republicans to get the White House to report to Congress every 30 days on the progress made by the Iraqi government. It's kind of amazing that this sort of oversight has not existed until now.

Saving the Planet a Real Bargain

| Mon Jan. 22, 2007 8:37 AM EST

With the Pelosi Congress blazing climate change denial is quickly going out of style, which makes sky-is-falling economics the next-best stalling tactic. The way ExxonMobil and its political stalwarts frame it, you'd think a cap-and-trade on greenhouse gasses is going to send us into the next great depression—one where we will look up wistfully at over-priced windmills with the downtrodden expression from a Dorothea Lange dust-bowl photograph.

Admittedly, averting climate change won't be cheap, but what is? (check out iconoclastic Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz' predictions on the final dollars and cents costs of our escapades in Iraq). The two proposed bills (the McCain-Lieberman Climate Stewardship Act and the much more timid proposal offered by Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), which would only reduce carbon-intensity as a percentage of GDP, but would not necessarily reduce total emissions) are in fact more of a bargain that one may realize. As for content, neither bill calls for the kind of emission reductions likely necessary to avert the cataclysmic global warming tipping points Mother Jones contributing-writer Julia Whitty warns about, but an imperfect bill would be a good start towards showing the world that we don't have our head completely in the sand. (Pew knocks out a superb comparison of the two bills).

On whether a climate bill will break the bank, economists at the Federal Energy Information Administration--who have produced arguably the most objective bean counting on the subject—don't seem to think so. They project a shockingly small negative impact on the economy from either choice of legislation. Bingaman's proposal would put a 29 billion dollar dent in our inflation adjusted GDP by 2025. McCain's would hit the pocketbook a bit harder at $89 billion. Put that into perspective by checking out a clever recent New York Times' graphic showing war-time spending against some other possible uses for making our world a better place.

-Koshlan Mayer-Blackwell