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Hillary's Fundraising Numbers

| Tue Oct. 2, 2007 12:59 PM EDT

I brought you Obama's numbers yesterday, so here are Hillary's.

In comparison to Obama's 93,000 new donors this third quarter of 2007, Clinton had 100,000.

In comparison to Obama's $20 million raised, Clinton raised $27 million. (Just FYI, John Edwards raised $7 million. Richardson raised $5.2 million.)

Clinton's the frontrunner, all right. Overall, she's raised $90 million to Obama's $80 million. What on earth are they going to do with all that money?

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New Poll Shows War Opposition

| Tue Oct. 2, 2007 12:44 PM EDT

There's a new Washington Post/ABC poll on Iraq.

The question: Do you think Congress should approve $190 billion to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan over the next year or reduce the amount?

The response:
- Approve all money: 26%
- Reduce somewhat: 23%
- Reduce sharply: 43%
- Approve no money: 3%

It's clear that a majority of Americans oppose constantly handing more money over to George W. Bush to prosecute his wars.

Fred Thompson Thinks Saddam had WMD, Would be Regional Dictator if Not Deposed

| Tue Oct. 2, 2007 11:46 AM EDT

Maybe Fred Thompson thinks he needs to get his crazy on in order to garner attention in the GOP primary race. That's the only explanation for the comments he just made in Iowa about Saddam Hussein:

"Saddam Hussein, today, had we not gone in, would be sitting on this power keg and be in control of the whole thing," Thompson predicted. "He would have been the new dictator of that entire region in my estimation. He is, was, a dangerous irrational man who, by this time, would have been well on his way to having the nuclear capability himself."

This is nonsense and shows a stunning lack of understanding of the power relationships that ruled the Middle East from the first Gulf War until 2003. Saddam Hussein (1) was balanced by Iran, (2) had a pretty pathetic armed forces throughout the '90s and '00s, and (3) never signaled an interest in increased territorial hegemony after the first Gulf War.

Also, this is just ridiculous:

"We can't forget the fact that although at a particular point in time we never found any WMD down there, he clearly had had WMD," Thompson said. "He clearly had had the beginnings of a nuclear program, and in my estimation his intent never did change."

Saddam didn't have WMD in any serious sense. He may have had low-grade chemical and biological weapons programs, much of which were just left over from before the first Gulf War, but if we were to invade every country in the world that had that sort of weapons program, we'd be fighting across the globe. Here's what the Iraq Survey Group, a 1,400-member international team organized by the Pentagon and the CIA to find WMDs, had to say about Saddam's weapons programs in 2004: "While a small number of old, abandoned chemical munitions have been discovered, ISG judges that Iraq unilaterally destroyed its undeclared chemical weapons stockpile in 1991. There are no credible indications that Baghdad resumed production of chemical munitions thereafter."

Read a freakin' newspaper, Fred. Or a book. Or the internet. Or anything.

Doctors Discover Americans Are Uninsured

| Tue Oct. 2, 2007 11:16 AM EDT

Over the past month, the American Medical Association (AMA) has blanketed the D.C. public transit system with a massive advertising campaign to raise the profile of the 1 in 7 Americans who lack health insurance. The three-year, multimillion-dollar campaign is also underway in early primary states like Iowa and South Carolina.

It's nice to see the doctors' lobby using its tremendous political muscle to focus attention on the uninsured rather than, say, injured people who sue them (the AMA has devoted millions of dollars to "medical malpractice reform" over the past few years). But the new campaign seems a little disingenuous. After all, were it not for the AMA, we might have had universal coverage 50 years ago. Way back in 1948, the AMA spent millions on PR to defeat government-run universal health care when it was close to passage in Congress by stoking fears of Communists and socialized medicine. The group even fought the creation of Medicare, which it now lobbies hard to protect. And, it was the AMA and many of its partners in this new effort (like the insurance companies) that worked to kill off HillaryCare in the 1990s.

Not surprisingly, the AMA's "solution" to the health care crisis is based mostly on tax credits that would allow people to buy private insurance rather than a bigger role for government. But hey, at least they've finally stopped ranting about socialized medicine!

Top Ten Stuff 'n' Things 10/01/07

| Tue Oct. 2, 2007 12:52 AM EDT

Bruce10. Bruce Springsteen – "Girls in Their Summer Clothes" (from Magic, out 10/02 on Columbia) (Listen to excerpts and compare to the Magnetic Fields at Vulture here)
Don't get me wrong, I think Bruce is great (especially Nebraska, since I'm from that state, go Huskers). But when I heard people were accusing Mr. Springsteen of stealing from my fave New York cabaret/experimental popsters The Magnetic Fields, I had to investigate. Turns out, yes, he's definitely doing a Stephen Merritt, and it's eerie, and actually pretty good. Over a simple violin melody and strummed guitar, Mr. Born-in-the-USA gets dramatic: listen to him hit that note on the line, "lovers they walk byyyyy." The day Merritt and Springsteen duet, no price is too high for that ticket.

Klaxons9. Klaxons, Live at the Fillmore, Friday 9/28/07
I do not get this whole "new rave" thing that people throw at Klaxons. They're not even rave at all! There's a keyboard in like three of their songs! But people insisted on bringing glowsticks to this show and whipping them around on strings like I remember from 1993. Not that I did that even then. There was even a crazy guy dressed up like a dalmation-man or something, with giant-soled shoes. Anyway, the band. They were pretty good (despite the half-empty venue), but much more in the spirit of punk rock than rave: edgy, raw, intense… okay maybe it was kind of rave-y. Bleep bleep!

mojo-photo-dub4.jpg8. Various Artists – DJ Dub-4 – "September '07 Mix" (grab an mp3 at mashit)
More genre-melting DJ mixes, this time focusing on "Kuduro," an Angolan dance music, mixed with more typical dancehall and breaks. The generally foreign-language lyrics make this a slightly edgier set than most, but with the syncopated bass drum keeping things from getting too mental, it's more easy to listen to than you'd think.

Matt7. Matt Hite – "Me & You & Yazoo" (Cassie vs. Yaz vs. The Art of Noise) (grab an mp3 here)
Oh, the cutthroat world of mashuppery! I've been wanting to put something together with "Situation" for a while and then fellow-SFer Matt beats me to it with this near-perfect combo. I'm not familiar with the Cassie song, but I can't imagine it's any better than this: a silky-smooth mashup that's both funkier and easier to listen to than the Yaz classic.

mojo-photo-ironandwinesmall.JPG6. Iron and Wine – "White Tooth Man"
(from The Shepherd's Dog on Sub Pop)
It's hard to pick my favorite song on this album, but right now the weird Fleetwood Mac-via-India vibe of this track is grabbing me. Is there a vaguely political bent under the trippy music? There's lyrics like these: "We all got sick on a strip club meal / While the statehouse was fryin' all the witches again." Hmm.

Pakistan's Sham Elections...Again

| Mon Oct. 1, 2007 9:15 PM EDT

Once again, Pakistan is preparing for an election that is suspect, where General Musharraf will seek another five-year term.

The presidential "election," which will take place on October 6, 2007, will be far from fair and free: Pakistan's presidents are selected by an electoral college which is made up of the national and provincial assemblies. Yet the current parliament is a result of the rigged 2002 "elections." The current parliament's term is up come November, making the October date timely for Musharraf.

Musharraf's bid for re-election was approved on Friday by the Supreme Court, which threw out petitions contesting the constitutional legality of Musharraf seeking a re-election while keeping his military uniform on. Upon hearing the verdict, Pakistani lawyers in the courtroom angrily bellowed, "Shame, shame!" and "Go Musharraf, go!" Musharraf claims that if he "wins" (which he most certainly will), he'll take off his uniform before the presidential inauguration. Let's not bet on it.

Last weekend, prior to the verdict, Musharraf started locking up opposition members (which some say number in the thousands) in an effort to thwart protests that seized the day when Musharraf filed his nomination. These detentions prompted the normally reticent US Embassy in Islamabad to issue a press release stating:

The reports of arrests of the leadership of several major Pakistani political parties are extremely disturbing and confusing for the friends of Pakistan. We wish to express our serious concern about these developments. These detainees should be released as soon as possible.

Chief Justice Muhammad Iftikhar Chaudhry ordered the government to free hundreds of activists on Thursday. Then on Saturday lawyers, journalists, and activists observed a "black day" to protest Musharraf's bid. The Islamabad police cracked down on the protesters, injuring roughly 83 people. (The chief of police and two senior officials have since been suspended.)

But there are no worries for Musharraf and his allies. Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz claims that this electoral process will put Pakistan on the path of democracy, and Pakistan's friend in need- the US- says that the Supreme Court's verdict was "based on the Constitution and existing laws of Pakistan. We do not want to make any sort of assessments." What was omitted was that the Constitution and "existing laws" of Pakistan have been tweaked by the General in order to allow him to hold both the army chief and presidential posts concurrently.

— Neha Inamdar

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Burma: The UN Might Just Be Useful

| Mon Oct. 1, 2007 8:40 PM EDT

Burma is eerily quiet.

Thursday's protests were by far the most eventful yet— an estimated 70,000 people were on the streets demanding democracy. Soldiers fired tear gas and shots on crowds, the government says the death toll is ten; but some estimates put it as high as 200.

So what does the military do in an effort to contain further pro-democracy protests? It blocks the Internet. Since press freedom in Burma is fiercely curtailed, bloggers have played a critical role in showcasing the mayhem. The military government also launched raids on monasteries, beat and arrested at least 1,000 people, locked up tens of thousands of monks within the monasteries, and sealed off five "key" monasteries.

In spite of that, protests have continued- albeit their momentum slowed. Reports the Times, now that the monks have been locked up, the "demonstrations seemed to have lost their focus, and soldiers are quick to pounce on any groups that emerged onto the streets."

Demonstrations have cropped up across Asia, in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines. ASEAN has issued a statement about their "revulsion" towards how "the demonstrations in Myanmar are being suppressed by violent force and that there has been a number of fatalities." India, which has armed the Burmese military regime, has generally remained silent. The UN sent UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari, who arrived Saturday and is due to meet the Burmese senior general on Tuesday. Dana Perino says that "The United States is pleased that U.N. Special Envoy Gambari was able to see Aung San Suu Kyi. Mr. Gambari remains in Burma in order to see the top junta leader, Than Shwe."

At least the UN has some use for the U.S.

— Neha Inamdar

The Fake Web Site As Promotional Tool

| Mon Oct. 1, 2007 8:24 PM EDT

Buy n Large

In this day and age, with cynical tweens skimming past ads on their Tivos, it's tougher than ever to come up with advertising that actually reaches the target consumer. Not surprisingly, movies and TV shows are at the forefront of a kind of viral internet promotion that's almost an extension of the creative work itself: the fake Web site for a fictional organization. ABC's "Lost" was one of the first to try this out, creating a site for The Hanso Foundation as part of the show's mythology; the site's calming turquoise palette and new age-y music struck a perfectly creepy tone.

Now, two upcoming films have created fake company sites, with varying degrees of creative success: first of all, the highly-anticipated "Cloverfield" project (from "Lost" producer J. J. Abrams) which may or may not be a new Godzilla movie, has spawned a website for the Tagruato Corporation, a deep-sea drilling concern whose subsidiaries include, bafflingly, the Slusho! drink company, or as they put it, "Slusho! brand happy drink is a icy cool beverage… [that] contains a "special ingredient" that customers can't get enough of." Hmm, what could this have to do with Godzilla? Even though the movie's hand-held trailer (watch it below) was pretty awesome, I'm not obsessed enough with this to really understand what's going on here.

Trailer for "Cloverfield" ("1-18-08")

A little more entertaining for the casual fan is Pixar's fake site for its upcoming robot movie, "WALL-E". The film is set some time in the future, and a single corporation apparently builds and owns just about everything. The company is called, awesomely, "Buy n Large," and its Web site is hours of fun. From the perfectly-calibrated corporate-speak ("…by visiting the Buy n Large web site you instantaneously relinquish all claims against the Buy n Large corporation…") to the "World News" stories about floating cities and ads for the mood-altering drug "Xanadou" ("effortlessly feel like you've just purchased that once-in-a-lifetime item!"), the site is both a stand-alone parody of corporate America and an intriguing teaser for the movie. There's a couple places you might want to call David Foster Wallace ("Buy n Large to brand direction 'North'") but the story on "Pix-Vue" Animation Studio's new "4-D" film is priceless. And I totally need that laundry robot and the 1,000,000-zettabyte hard drive, like, right now. Considering the movie looks like another cutesy romp with big-eyed creatures on some sort of quest, this site might be the best part of the whole deal.

The First Radio One DJ: Yeah, Baby, Yeah

| Mon Oct. 1, 2007 6:14 PM EDT

Tony Blackburn

I know some of my recent posts have been a bit anglophilic, but anyone interested in the history of radio (or the swingin' 60s) will enjoy this. BBC Radio One is celebrating its 40-year anniversary, and while I've already mentioned my annoyance at their lily-white "legends" schedule, the shows themselves have been fascinating: Fatboy Slim's reminiscences included the story about getting sued by his heroes in The Clash when he pilfered the "Guns of Brixton" bassline for his first #1 hit, "Dub Be Good To Me" (under the name Beats International). Remember that one?

Good times. Anyway, today's Daily Mail features a personal history from Radio One's first morning show host, Tony Blackburn, detailing his experiences as a DJ whose celebrity eclipsed many of the stars whose records he was playing:

The opportunities to let this go to your head were manifold. There was an endless stream of record pluggers eager to wine and dine you, invitations galore, flattery from all sides - and a generous supply of women ready to throw themselves at you. Even at the height of my fame, though, I was well aware that my Mr Nice image - complete with catchy jingles and corny jokes - wasn't going down well with everyone. At the Radio One Roadshows, there would be a bit of ribbing from the more drunken elements of the crowd - and it was never very pleasant to hear the occasional chorus of "Tony Blackburn is a w*****" from a few blokes at the back.

I guess he means "wanker" there. Or, um, "wookie"? Anyway, Blackburn's commercial style was anathema to John Peel, Radio One's champion of the underground, and the two were enemies from the start:

Our strained relationship was a perfect metaphor for what was happening in the pop world. John was on the side of the long-haired, the drop-outs, the students - all those who regarded the three-minute pop single as a blot on the face of culture. I was the happy-go-lucky dispenser of the kind of song that an audience only had to hear once before rushing out to buy it. Fortunately, I've never given two hoots about street cred. If I'm being perfectly honest, I'd say that seeing Bobby Vee perform was far more enjoyable than watching The Beatles in their prime.

Bobby who? While Blackburn still seems to carry some resentment for not being as canonized as the late John Peel (and I have to admit I'd probably take Peely's side in the argument), on the whole he looks back at his wild times with a bemused "how did this happen to me" attitude. It's kind of like reading about a flesh-and-blood Austin Powers.


SNL Samples Aphex Twin Without Asking?

| Mon Oct. 1, 2007 4:33 PM EDT

The Drukqs Don't Work
While I was out and about and missed "Saturday Night Live"'s season premier, there were a couple items of note; first, Kanye's odd musical appearance (more on that here), and second, the "Iran So Far" digital short. This is Andy Samberg's deal, once again proving that just as he continues to be nearly unwatchable as a live performer on the show, he knocks every one of these pre-recorded pieces out of the park. It's a fair trade-off. This "Iran" piece riffed on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's recent remark at Columbia that there are no gays in Iran, with Samberg professing his love for the Iranian president, and in a most definitely gay way. With cameos by Maroon 5's Adam Levine and Jake Gyllenhaal, the track could go on to be another internet hit like "Lazy Sunday," but NBC seems to be holding back. Copies of the clip have been removed from YouTube, but you can't watch it on NBC's site either; clicking on the video brings up an error. What could be the problem?

Well, it turns out Samberg might have gotten a little too sample-happy. It turns out that the delicate piano melody that forms the basis of the tune was taken directly from an Aphex Twin song, "Avril 14th," off the 2001 album drukqs, and it appears they didn't have clearance for it. Oops. You can just imagine the stern talking-to Lorne Michaels probably gave Samberg this morning. "Andy, I just got a very angry phone call from Warp Records, would you know anything about that?" "Sorrrryyy..." The Daily Swarm is reporting that an "SNL source" says they're working on getting all the right clearances, and hopefully then you'll be able to watch it without guilt on NBC's site. But until then, I found a link they haven't shut down yet. I have to say, I get a little verklempt hearing the cheers after the line, "I know you said there's no gays in Iran, but you're in New York now baby."