2007 - %3, September

"Stop Hillary Clinton" Now the Largest Political Facebook Group

| Tue Sep. 25, 2007 3:06 PM EDT

It's Facebook day here on MoJoBlog! The two posts we've had about it today (here's the first) may be two more than we've ever had.

Here's the occasion for the second post: The candidate-based Facebook group that had the most members for many, many months — "Barack Obama (One Million Strong for Barack)" — has finally been topped. And it's been topped by Hillary Clinton, but not in a good way for the New York senator.

The group "Stop Hillary Clinton (One Million Strong AGAINST Hillary)" has more than 418,000 members, which beats Obama's 355,000 members. And it crushes any pro-Clinton groups, the two biggest of which combine for just under 10,000 members.

So Hillary Fever isn't catching on with the kids. Obama's campaign is very aware of the advantage it has among this demographic, and has made it a crucial part of its Iowa strategy. From an internal Obama campaign memo that Marc Ambinder nabbed:

On a related point, polls consistently under-represent in Iowa, and elsewhere, the strength of Barack's support among younger voters for at least three reasons. In more than one survey, Barack's support among Iowa young voters exceeded the support of all the other candidates combined. First, young voters are dramatically less likely to have caucused or voted regularly in primaries in the past, so pollsters heavily under-represent them. Second, young voters are more mobile and are much less likely to be at home in the early evening and thus less likely to be interviewed in any survey. Third, young voters are much less likely to have a landline phone and much more likely to rely exclusively upon cell phones, which are automatically excluded from phone surveys. So all of these state and national surveys have and will continue to under-represent Barack's core support – in effect, his hidden vote in each of these pivotal early states.

Update: It was Rudy Giuliani's daughter's membership in the Barack Obama Facebook group mentioned above that tipped the media to the fact that she disagrees with her dad's politics.

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Chiquita Banana: Tales of "The Octopus"

| Tue Sep. 25, 2007 2:52 PM EDT

You may have read here (and here) before about U.S. corporations' shady dealings with Colombian paramilitaries. The next issue of Virginia Quarterly Review (edited by Mother Jones' contributing writer Ted Genoways) includes an excellent piece by Philip Robertson on Chiquita's dark history in the Colombian banana business. The new VQR doesn't come out until next week, but you can read an electronic version of Robertson's piece here.

Laura Dern as Katherine Harris?

| Tue Sep. 25, 2007 1:46 PM EDT

Can it be? Variety reports that Laura Dern will don heavy make up and big hair to portray the former Florida Secretary of State in an HBO movie about the 2000 Florida recount debacle. Harris should be flattered by the choice. Gore campaign lawyer David Boies didn't fare so well. He'll be played by Ed Begley Jr., but HBO did show some inside-the-beltway savvy in casting hunky Denis Leary as the Democrats' little known get-out-the-vote genius Michael Whouley. The film is scheduled to air smack in the middle of the presidential campaign next fall.

(H/T Washington City Paper)

Maliki: I Can Be as Batty as the Battiest Middle Eastern Leader!

| Tue Sep. 25, 2007 11:43 AM EDT

This is about as dumb as ol' Mahmoud's claim that there are no gays in Iran.

Civil war has been averted in Iraq and Iranian intervention there has "ceased to exist," Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said yesterday.

From the Post.

Casualties Chart From DOD Shows Iraq Deaths Continue Unabated

| Tue Sep. 25, 2007 11:26 AM EDT

I cannot believe Petraeus was able to go before Congress and completely shift the debate by claiming sectarian violence is down in Iraq, without his phony methodology being revealed or the true number of civilian casualties in Iraq being exposed. This is a chart from the Department of Defense, conveniently released after Petraeus' big moment was over. Click the chart for a larger version.

august07casualtiesiraq300.jpg

If the American people looked at this chart, there is simply no way they would believe the war is getting better and deserves more time.

(H/T Atrios)

Update: The man in charge of counting casualties for the military, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Dan Macomber, tells the Washington Post that these statistics are an inexact science:

"Everybody has their own way of doing it," Macomber said of his sectarian analyses. "If you and I . . . pulled from the same database, and I pulled one day and you pulled the next, we would have totally different numbers."

So someone looking to push an agenda would have a pretty easy time...

That Facebook Kid Is Going to Be Filthy Rich

| Tue Sep. 25, 2007 10:39 AM EDT

Online community and major time-waster Facebook is reportedly considering selling five percent of the company to Microsoft for $300 million to $500 million. That puts the value of Facebook at $10 billion.

Just in case there was any doubt that I'm in the wrong business...

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Top Ten Stuff 'n' Things - 9/24/07

| Tue Sep. 25, 2007 12:15 AM EDT

This week, quirky covers, funky remixes, shadow puppets, and hyperactive remixers, plus if M.I.A. can't be in the Top Ten without a Riff revolt, I'll find someone who sounds like her, dammit!

Japancakes10. Japancakes - "Only Shallow" (from Loveless on Darla)
(mp3 at Pitchfork)
It's an eyebrow-raising gimmick: record all of My Bloody Valentine's classic album in a countrified style. It turns out this Athens, Georgia combo have found a hidden link between country and shoegaze, with the pedal steel guitar a perfect instrument to capture the warping harmonies of the original. Actually, I just love pedal steel guitar. Plus the use of the piano to take on the ambient interlude is inspired.

Partyshank9. Various Artists - Partyshank Mixtape (grab an mp3 at Kidz by Colette)
You get the idea from their publicity photo: Partyshank are a couple of London kids in bright sweatshirts playing with kooky plastic toys, and this hyperactive mix, full of goofball references and sped-up effects, is cartoonish in the best sense. The duo plunders soul, 80s and rave music; anything, really, just as long as it keeps the energy up.

Athlete8. Athlete - "In Between 2 States" (from Beyond the Neighborhood, out 9/25 on EMI)
(mp3 at DriveByMedia)
The London combo had been lumped into the Coldplay-wannabe crowd since their 2006 hit single, "Wires;" who knew they could give Boards of Canada a run for their money. This short but sweet sample from their new album features a distorted drum machine and airy electric piano chords, but when the guitars come in, the track achieves an epic scope.

Santogold7. Santogold - "Creator"
(mp3 at Nialler9)
Okay, she's a buddy of M.I.A., she kind of looks like M.I.A., and this was produced by M.I.A.'s producer Switch. Well, so what; even if this sounded just like M.I.A., the world could use more M.I.A.'s. But, this Brooklyn-based singer is a little more intense and definitely more American, although the backing track sounds like grime from outer space.

Les Savy Fav6. Les Savy Fav - "What Wolves Would Do" (from Let's Stay Friends on Frenchkiss)
(listen to the whole album at their Virb page)
This New York band hasn't released a new album in 6 years, and while they've always been in the dictionary under "angular," this track softens the new wave-y guitar with soft harmonies, kind of like Bloc Party after they did a little more living and maybe hung out with TV on the Radio for a while. Worth it if only for the "ahoooooo" howls in the chorus.

Good News From a Drier Amazon

| Mon Sep. 24, 2007 8:23 PM EDT

Sometimes things unfold better than we imagine. Apparently drought-stricken regions of the Amazon forest grew particularly vigorously during the 2005 drought, according to new research from the University of Arizona. A prominent global climate model predicted the Amazon forest would "brown down" after just a month of drought and eventually collapse as the drought progressed—one of John Schellnhuber's scary tipping points.

Detailed, long-term observations from two NASA satellites (one mapping the greenness of vegetation, one measuring rainfall) gave the researchers seven to nine years of observations. They compared "normal" years to the 2005 drought, and found that intact areas of Amazonia that received below-normal rainfall in 2005 had above-average greenness.

Apparently the drought did not accelerate global warming, as feared. In fact, during the 2005 drought, Amazonia's trees flourished in the sunnier-than-average weather, most likely by tapping water deep in the forest soil. By continuing to grow, they consumed more carbon dioxide, drawing down atmospheric levels, and in theory, at least, producing a negative feedback loop that might have actually slowed global warming.

Lest Limbaugh Rush bolster his feeble argument against climate change, these new data do not undermine the science of global warming. Rather they caution that we can't afford to substitute opinion for observation. Our planetary systems are hugely complex, our grasp of them fragile, even as Earth struggles to maintain equilibrium. Unlike the naysayers out there, I still see nature as our ally. JULIA WHITTY

U.S. Always Outsourcing, More Contractors Than U.S. Troops in Iraq

| Mon Sep. 24, 2007 6:53 PM EDT

Americans are known for outsourcing everything. So, why not the Iraq war too? Currently, contractors in Iraq number more than 180,000, according to the Associated Press. 137,000 of them are working for the Department of Defense, and thousands more have been separately contracted by the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development. Their number is greater than the 163,000 U.S. military personnel in Iraq now.

As journalist Jeremy Scahill writes, "In essence, the Bush administration has created a shadow army that can be used to wage wars unpopular with the American public but extremely profitable for a few unaccountable private companies."

And this "shadow army" is accountable to no one, thanks to the immunity granted by U.S. authorities following the invasion in 2003, which essentially prohibits Iraqi courts from prosecuting contractors. This action prompted politicians on both sides of the aisle to introduce bills which would place U.S. security contractors under U.S. federal criminal codes. But in the meantime, contractors continue to rake in billions of dollars in Iraq and surely, when we withdraw, they'll make bank off that as well.

—Neha Inamdar

"Heroes" Season Two Premieres Tonight - Party at My House

| Mon Sep. 24, 2007 6:25 PM EDT

Heroes
The saga of NBC's breakout hit "Heroes" is oddly inspiring. Remember back in the Fall of '06, everyone was excited about this new show, "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip." It's Sorkin Does SNL! What could go wrong? Like millions of TV viewers, I tuned in for "Studio 60," and then just left the TV on, discovering a kind of cheesy "X-Men" ripoff with an eye-rollingly bland and weirdly jingoistic title. And, like millions of viewers, by the third week, I'd stopped even turning on the TV til 9pm, completely exasperated by "Studio 60" and enthralled with "Heroes." I'm a sci-fi junky, for sure, especially if the World Hangs in the Balance, but "Heroes" had unusual charms for a network TV show: first of all, its ethnic diversity was unparalleled for prime-time, with multiple interracial romantic relationships, and significant portions of the show taking place in Japanese with English subtitles. After a while, I began to get the sneaking suspicion that the producers had chosen the title "Heroes" as a kind of cover—behind the vaguely 9/11-y protection of that word, the show was free to push the envelope.

Not that its first season was without troubles. The cast's diversity didn't extend to the gays, and what appeared to be a gay character seemed to suddenly re-enter the closet; plus, an extended subplot about a mother's "bad side" got kind of annoying. Its finale was also underwhelming, with the flying politician sacrificing himself to save New York City in a cheap "oops sorry I've been evil this whole time but now I'm real sorry" plot twist. But for sheer inventiveness, the series reached some amazing heights, most notably an episode set five years in the future, full of head-spinning unexplained situations and dystopian terror. Plus, hello: George Takei!!

Tonight, we pick up where we left off: Hiro's stuck, inexplicably, in feudal Japan, baddy Sylar survived, and a new bigger baddy is apparently on the way. "Heroes" is no "Buffy" (despite its superhero cheerleader subplot) and who knows if the series can survive the transition from ignored underdog to great white hope of a sinking network. But tonight at 9, I'll be tuned in.