2007 - %3, November

Push Polls Add Mud to New Hampshire GOP Primary

| Mon Nov. 19, 2007 11:59 AM EST

Did you know that Mitt Romney spent the years of the Vietnam War trying to persuade the French to give up wine and convert to Mormonism? If you live in New Hampshire, you probably do now. The New Hampshire attorney general is investigating reports that someone has launched an illegal "push poll" in the state, using phone calls to spread negative information about Romney without identifying the campaign or entity behind the calls. The fake "poll," which raised issues about Romney's Mormonism, also included positive questions about John McCain, making it appear as though the calls came from the McCain camp and thus, that McCain was engaging in dirty politics.

McCain, who was the victim of push polls in his race against George W. Bush in 2000 in South Carolina, has adamantly disavowed any role in the calls. So has Rudy Giuliani, who would stand to be the biggest beneficiary of the mudslinging between Romney and McCain. However, the calls in New Hampshire were made by a Utah-based operation called Western Wats, which has previously been linked to the Tarrance Group, a GOP polling firm that works for Giuliani. The push poll certainly makes for a nice distraction from say, the Kerik indictment, but of course, that's just a coincidence.

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Police Reservists Bring the War Home

| Mon Nov. 19, 2007 11:38 AM EST

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have taken an unprecedented number of National Guard reservists and put them into active combat overseas. Many of those reservists were police officers before they were deployed. Now that some of them are finally coming home, they are have a difficult time making the transition from street combat to beat patrols in their old jobs, reports USA Today.

In March, for instance, an Austin, Texas police officer who had recently returned from Iraq fired his gun into the parking lot of a crowded shopping center while chasing an unarmed suspect. A bullet from his gun hit a parked van, narrowly missing two children who were sitting inside. The officer was reportedly suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder that had gone undiagnosed.

The Austin episode was one of a string of close calls police departments have observed among officers recently returning from Iraq. A few big-city police departments are creating "re-entry" programs for returned vets to help prevent such incidents in the future, but most aren't, meaning that some of the cops coming back from the Middle East may be ticking time-bombs. So much for the Iraq war making Americans safer at home...

Sexual Hypocrisy Complaint: "Fox News Porn"

| Mon Nov. 19, 2007 11:33 AM EST

Robert Greenwald, the man behind the film "Outfoxed," has produced a montage of some of the sexually explicit footage that Fox News has shown while promoting a "family values" agenda:

If you didn't know that Fox News uses sex to get you to keep watching, you haven't been paying attention. I'm reminded of a great Slate slide show by Jack Shafer about "TV's Aryan Sisterhood." The last slide is a discussion of "what people inside the industry call 'Fox lips.'":

They are worn by Fox's Laurie Dhue, Fox's Gretchen Carlson, and MSNBC's Rita Cosby, three top blondes. Achieved in the makeup room in a procedure that sounds one step this side of cosmetic surgery, I'm told that powder, pencil, and paint can turn even the weakest mouth into a juicy vagina dentata.

Now that's family values.

Via Larry Lessig.

DC Bureau Chief David Corn on WPR Right Now

| Mon Nov. 19, 2007 11:29 AM EST

Listen to Mother Jones' Washington Bureau Chief David Corn on Wisconsin Public Radio right now here!

Update: The segment with David is over, but you can listen to an archived version later today on the website for the Kathleen Dunn show.

There Are No Popularly Elected Presidents in American History. Just Candidates Mike Huckabee Chose Not to Beat

| Sun Nov. 18, 2007 9:35 PM EST

Hi folks. I want to interrupt your weekends for just a moment to bring you the greatest political advertisement of all time.

Better than this. Heck, better than this. And, uh, if you don't know what is going on, google "Chuck Norris Facts." Or go here. Oh, and FYI — The reason why we didn't find WMDs in Iraq? Chuck Norris lives in Oklahoma.

The Amir Taheri Story

| Sun Nov. 18, 2007 7:26 PM EST

Amir Taheri is one of the strangest ingredients in America's media soup. There may not be anyone else who simply makes things up as regularly as he does, with so few consequences.

If you're already familiar with Taheri's accomplishments, you might want to skip to #5 below, which details his latest misdeeds. Otherwise, start at the beginning.

1. Taheri, who was once editor of a strongly pro-Shah Iranian newspaper during the seventies, left the country after the revolution. Strongly opposed to Iran's current government, he wrote a 1989 book called Nest of Spies: America's Journey to Disaster in Iran. Shaul Bakhash, a specialist in mideast history at George Mason University, reviewed the book for the New Republic and discovered important sections had been fabricated.

2. In 2006, Taheri claimed the Iranian parliament had passed a law requiring Jews and other minorities to wear special badges in public. The story was picked up all over the world, most prominently by the New York Post, the Drudge Report, and Canada's National Post. It turned out to be false.

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Agnostics for Jesus: Why My Kids Won't Be Seeing The Golden Compass. Yet.

| Sun Nov. 18, 2007 5:21 AM EST

I usually speed-delete emails from particular relatives of mine who are still steeped in urban legends (women be warned: there's a rapist under your car!) and the Southern Baptist beliefs we were raised in, with all their fire, brimstone, and intolerance for non-believers. I'm so over God that their emails bore, rather than infuriate, me by now. For some reason, though, I opened this one and learned that the previews I'd been seeing for the big budget "fantasy/quest" movie The Golden Compass were really for a movie about kids killing a senile God so "everyone can do as they please." I'd planned for months to take them when it opened next month but not now. No way this apostate wants her kids seeing that.

Unbeknownst to me, British author and atheist Phillip Pullman wrote a best-selling trilogy of books, His Dark Materials, explicitly in response to the religiosity of The Chronicles of Narnia," in which God is an imposter, angels are sexually ambiguous and the Church kidnaps, tortures and assassinates to achieve its goals, one of which is stealing children's souls." In the face of the usual backlash, the movie has been toned down and the books' anti-religiosity beclouded and muffled into mere spectacle. Reasonably fearing that uninformed parents will enjoy the bowdlerized movie, buy their unsuspecting children the books upon which it was based, and infect their own young with atheism, the believers are in an uproar. Leaving aside the entirely valid notion of why it's ok for the religious to try to convert others but not the other way around, unless you're consciously raising your kids to be atheists or agnostics, why put them through the emotional anguish of dissing, let alone killing, God? Today's kids have enough on their plates what with roofie-laced toys from China and the sky-high divorce rate. Why give them Santa, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny but give them the straight skinny on God?

Buzzy Krongard Quits Blackwater Board

| Fri Nov. 16, 2007 10:44 PM EST

Amazing what publicity can do. Buzzy Krongard, brother of the embattled State Department Inspector General, has resigned from Blackwater Worldwide's board of advisors. Full story here.

RZA Draws His Wu-Tang Sword in Movie Soundtracks

| Fri Nov. 16, 2007 10:20 PM EST

ghost-dog_4.jpg


The RZA is a genius at putting music to fight scenes, and even better at putting the sounds of fight scenes to music. To complement this Wired interview with Bobby Digital himself, here's a Riff rundown of the Wu-Tang Clan co-founder's best cinematic work.

1. Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999)
This Jim Jarmusch mob/samurai drama is a hybrid of Japanese, African American and Italian American cultures. Who better to compose the soundtrack than the man who first synthesized East Asian martial arts culture and New York hip-hop on the Clan's 1993 debut, Enter The Wu-Tang? RZA sets an eerie tone for the movie, with dark and heavy bass lines and samples that propel the movie's narrative forward. During fight scenes, the mellow music matches Ghost Dog's cool, thoughtful demeanor. Works as a stand-alone album as well as a soundtrack.

More Newspaper Woes

| Fri Nov. 16, 2007 9:33 PM EST

USA Today, the largest U.S. newspaper by circulation and Gannett Co.'s flagship publication, announced this week its plan to cut 45 newsroom jobs, or about 9 percent of the editorial staff, because of declining revenue.

And, there's more bad news. The Denver-based MediaNews Group, which operates Detroit's two daily newspapers, announced last month that it would offer buyout packages to employees with a goal of cutting 110 positions. Houston Chronicle honchos announced at the end of October plans to cut about 5 percent of the paper's work force through layoffs and the elimination of open positions. Check here for a Mother Jones report that explains what's really breaking America's newspapers.