2007 - %3, October

Rudy and Authoritarianism

| Mon Oct. 29, 2007 3:55 PM PDT

This New Republic article on the origins of Rudy Giuliani's authoritarian instincts (hint: it developed long before he met the near-fascists he calls his foreign policy advisers), has a passage that strongly suggests America's Mayor is really George Bush Lite. Check it out:

Giuliani's seemingly insatiable appetite for authority was evident, first and foremost, in the way he ran his administration. Obsessed, as always, with loyalty, he demanded that power be centralized in his hands and that he receive credit for any of the administration's achievements. Even the Department of Environmental Protection's daily reports on the water level in the reservoir had to be cleared through Giuliani's press office before being released. He also replaced Dinkins-era officials with loyalists, some of whom had little preparation for their jobs. Tony Carbonetti, the grandson of Harold Giuliani's friend, was put in charge of the Office of Appointments, even though his previous experience consisted mostly of running a bar in Boston. According to Kirtzman, "one agency estimated that, of patronage hires, 60 percent were qualified, 20 percent had no experience, and 20 percent were 'dirtbags.' "

Placing loyalty above merit? Check and check. Unqualified losers that lack qualifications in high-level positions? Check. Altering scientific reports for political ends? Check.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

The Rise and Fall of Lyndon LaRouche

| Mon Oct. 29, 2007 3:05 PM PDT

larouche.jpg If you've always been confused by the Lyndon LaRouche supporters who hand you pamphlets when you coming out of the subway (anyway subway in America, it feels), you should check out Avi Klein's article in the Washington Monthly. Those pamphlets, for many decades, have been the lifeblood of a bizarre movement that has been as ineffective as it has been tenacious.

In the almost forty years since its inception, despite spending hundreds of thousands of dollars a week in operations and annually printing millions of books and magazines, the LaRouche operation has had no significant effect on American politics. It is remarkable in its impotence.
Despite the unrelenting loyalty of his followers, LaRouche has never come remotely close to being elected president. In fact, no LaRouche cadre has been elected to office at any level higher than school board. Nor have his economic theories attained any kind of recognition. The LaRouche-Riemann Method, an economic model that LaRouche calls "the most accurate method of economic forecasting in existence," has gone unnoticed by the social science indexes. Many former members admit to not understanding it.
In one perverse way, of course, the movement did work. For thirty years, Ken Kronberg printed, and all the other members edited and distributed, everything that LaRouche wrote, whether anybody understood it or not. If, in the late hours of the night, LaRouche determined that 50,000 copies of his latest essay on the Treaty of Westphalia needed to be distributed around the country, his followers did their best to oblige.

But no longer. The LaRouche movement is on its last legs. The 2008 election will be the first in 32 years in which LaRouche does not run for president. Share your LaRouche stories in the comments.

NY Times: Rockers Celebrate Brand Awareness

| Mon Oct. 29, 2007 2:24 PM PDT

mojo-photo-gnrcandle.jpgHere on the Riff, we've covered the thorny issue of putting your music in commercials (with commenters coming down pretty evenly split, if I'm reading their incoherent ramblings correctly), but today's Times goes straight for the top: Duff McKagan, formerly of Guns N' Roses, currently of Velvet Revolver, and business school graduate. The Times kind of rubs in that the dude is 43:

Like other rockers easing into middle age or seniorhood, Mr. McKagan is also experimenting with new partnerships in response to a music business in flux. Amid plunging record sales and Internet file sharing, rockers are eagerly plastering their names everywhere. Their "brands" are now found in television commercials, tour sponsorships, and merchandise as diverse as cars, private-label wines and celebrity cruises.

"Seniorhood"? Ouch. The article brings up more aging rockers who have left their youthful anti-commercial ideals behind: The Stones (Budweiser!), Paul McCartney (Starbucks!), Sting (Jaguar!). Why is everybody shilling for The Man? Because nobody's buying records:

All of this has been set in motion by a well-known reality: record sales "fell off a cliff," says Jonathan Daniel, a former musician and now a partner at Crush, a management company that represents such bands as Panic! at The Disco and Fall Out Boy. Shipments of CDs were $9.16 billion in 2006, down 31 percent from their peak of $13.21 billion in 2000, according to the Recording Industry Association of America.

Panic! at the Disco and Fall Out Boy: the Beatles and Stones of our generation.

From Gmail to Global Warming Skeptics (With a Single Click)

| Mon Oct. 29, 2007 1:02 PM PDT

global%20warming.jpgUpon logging into my Gmail account this morning, what should I find in the "sponsored link" spot above my inbox but the following message:

"Global warming is not a crisis! Gore won't debate."

Intrigued, I clicked on the link and found myself at the website of the Heartland Institute, a Chicago-based think tank whose mission is "to discover and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems."

WTF? ExxonMobil Funds Research - By An Astrophysicist - On Polar Bears And Climate Change

| Mon Oct. 29, 2007 12:22 PM PDT

792px-Polar_Bear_2004-11-15.jpg

The House Committee on Science and Technology is examining ExxonMobil's motives for funding research by an astrophysicist into the impact of climate change on the polar bear population of western Hudson Bay in Canada. New Scientist reports that if polar bears are listed under the Endangered Species Act, steps to protect their habitat could directly hurt ExxonMobil's economic interests:

The researchers, including Willie Soon of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, published their findings as a "viewpoint", which is not peer-reviewed. They conclude that the polar bears are not threatened by climate change (Ecological Complexity, DOI: 10.1016/j.ecocom.2007.03.002). "It's hard to see this article as rigorous, sound science," [subcommittee chair Brad] Miller says. "The public has a right to know why ExxonMobil is funding a scientist whose writing is outside his area of expertise." . . . ExxonMobil denied its funding was motivated by political interests.

Really.

Julia Whitty is Mother Jones' environmental correspondent. You can read from her new book, The Fragile Edge, and other writings, here.

Has Oil Peaked Already?

| Mon Oct. 29, 2007 11:59 AM PDT

1449449901_304d12978c_m.jpg According to the German Energy Watch Group, world oil production peaked in 2006, far earlier than expected. The nonprofit's scientists, working independently of government and industry, analyzed oil production figures and predicted it would fall by 7 percent a year, dropping to half of current levels by 2030. The report also predicts falls in gas, coal and uranium production, and warns that supply shortages could cause meltdowns in human society.

Julia Whitty is Mother Jones' environmental correspondent. You can read from her new book, The Fragile Edge, and other writings, here.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

A New Twist on "Sleeping It Off"?

| Mon Oct. 29, 2007 11:34 AM PDT

Late last night, a fatal car accident forced the closure of the Capital Beltway, the major highway that loops around Washington D.C. According to the Washington Post, when police reopened the roadway a few hours later, they discovered several cars occupied by drunk people who had passed out while waiting for police to clear the accident scene. They were hauled off to jail for driving while intoxicated. Clearly all those "Who's Your Bud?" ads aren't doing the job...

Country Legend Porter Wagoner Dies at 80

| Mon Oct. 29, 2007 11:22 AM PDT

mojo-photo-wagoner.jpgCountry music legend Porter Wagoner died yesterday in Nashville after a brief battle with lung cancer. While his string of hits in the '60s might not be immediately familiar to contemporary audiences, Wagoner's trademark flashy rhinestone suits made him a symbolic country music figure, and his hand in launching Dolly Parton's career proved his own eye for talent.

Wagoner signed to RCA in 1955 and had a syndicated TV show in the '60s and '70s. He hired a 21-year-old Parton as a duet partner in 1967, and the two won the Country Music Association's "Duo of the Year" award in 1970 and 1971. Wagoner's career petered out in the '80s, and he only returned to the studio this year, recording an album for alternative Los Angeles label Anti-. His last show was this summer where he opened for the White Stripes at Madison Square Garden.

MP3: Porter Wagoner – "Committed to Parkview" (from Wagonmaster, 2007)

California Fires Batter Endangered Species

| Mon Oct. 29, 2007 11:17 AM PDT

condor2.jpg

So what happens to species already on the brink when fires, fueled by our changing climate, visit like never before? Nature reports that the San Diego Zoo suffered damage to one of its California condor breeding facilities—though the birds, thankfully, were safely evacuated ahead of the flames. The zoo also lost a planned habitat for endangered mountain yellow-legged frogs—a habitat designated after the frogs' original home was burned in the huge wildfires of 2003. The frogs may now have to be moved to another zoo altogether.

29167_mountain_yellow_legged_frog.jpg

At Camp Pendleton, one of only two known habitats of the endangered Pacific pocket mouse was burned. No one knows yet whether the mice survived.

PocketMouse.jpg

Sadly, these are just the kind of stressors that healthy populations can survive but which wipe out those species already reeling from the blows of over(human)population, habitat loss, pollution, illegal wildlife trade, and border fences.

Julia Whitty is Mother Jones' environmental correspondent. You can read from her new book, The Fragile Edge, and other writings, here.

More Halloween Fun: Flaming Lips Host Flaming Skeleton Parade

| Mon Oct. 29, 2007 11:02 AM PDT

Flaming Lips

I guess the joke would be, "Do you realize/that you have the most beautiful skull?" Or maybe not. The legendary Oklahoman psychedelic-rock combo played host to the "Ghouls Gone Wild" Halloween parade in Oklahoma City over the weekend, managing to recruit 1,000 fans to dress up in spooky skeleton costumes and carry flaming torches in what the band's recruitment e-mail referred to as "a spectacle celebrating the mysterious, the supernatural, and the otherworldly." Kind of like Zaireeka?

The parade, sponsored by the Oklahoma Gazette with the stated purpose of "celebrating creativity and artistry in Oklahoma City," kicked off at 7pm on Saturday night, but not without a bit of a hitch: the specially-designed skull masks the band had ordered for marchers were deemed too vision-impairing to be worn by people carrying, say, flaming torches. "We do not want anyone catching on fire," Lips frontman Wayne Coyne reassured parade-goers in a speech before the parade.

I'd just like to point out that if this parade had happened here in San Francisco, you wouldn't have been able to tell the difference between the costumed participants and the homeless lining the streets, there would have been a fight between anti-war protesters and 9/11 conspiracy theorists, and like seven people would have been shot.