Blogs

Iraq War Making the U.S. Safer? Of Course Not

| Wed Sep. 12, 2007 7:34 AM PDT

So General Petraeus says he doesn't know if the war in Iraq is making the United States safer. We can answer that for him: it isn't. Not by a long shot. Here's the proof.

Update: Ah, the inevitable backtrack.

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Lying Former Prostitute Passes Lie Detector Test

| Tue Sep. 11, 2007 8:49 PM PDT

When former prostitute Wendy Yow Ellis claimed that she and Louisiana Congressman David Vitter had had a sexual relationship lasting several months, he accused her of lying. Vitter's name had already been disclosed as part of the client list of the now-famous "DC Madam," and the also now-famous "Canal Street Madam" had named him as one of her establishment's clients, also. At the time that she named Vitter, she said he liked to visit a prostitute named Wendy; however, Ellis claims that she had nothing to do with the Canal Street operation, that her negotiations with Vitter took place in a French Quarter apartment via the New Orleans Escort Service, and she was paid $300 an hour through a pimp named Jonathan.

It is not known whether there was actually another Wendy who worked at the Canal Street establishment (as implied by Canal Street Madam Jeanette Maier) who had sex with Vitter. So far, only Wendy Yow Ellis, sometimes known as Wendy Cortez, has come forward. This rather confusing scenario involving Wendys is complicated even more by the fact that Vitter's wife is named Wendy, also.

At any rate, publisher Larry Flynt paid for Wendy Yow Ellis to take a lie detector test, which she passed, and which Vitter's press secretary has refused to comment on. Flynt has also paid Ellis for details about her sessions with Vitter, which he is publishing in a future issue of Hustler.

Vitter, of course, ran for office with a promise of "protecting the sanctity of marriage." Ellis, who describes Vitter as "a very clean man," says she took the polygraph because people who heard Vitter's denial of their relationship might see her as "a two-bit whore when I'm the one telling the truth."

Powell at 70, No Longer Waking Up Screaming

| Tue Sep. 11, 2007 7:01 PM PDT

In a rather frank interview with GQ, former secretary of state Colin Powell discusses the Iraq War, Barack Obama, and the ways in which fear is getting the better of us as a nation.

When asked how America might go about restoring its image, he responded:

"We should remember what that image was, back after World War II. It was the image of a generous country that sought not to impose its will on other countries or even to impose its values. But it showed the way, and it helped other countries, and it opened its doors to people, visitors and refugees and immigrants.

America could not survive without immigration. Even the undocumented immigrants are contributing to our economy. That's the country my parents came to. That's the image we have to portray to the rest of the world: kind, generous, a nation of nations, touched by every nation, and we touch every nation in return. That's what people still want to believe about us. They still want to come here. We've lost a bit of the image, but we haven't lost the reality yet. And we can fix the image by reflecting a welcoming attitude, and by not taking counsel of our fears and scaring ourselves to death that everybody coming in is going to blow up something. It ain't the case."

A Brief History of the Corporate Anthem

| Tue Sep. 11, 2007 6:32 PM PDT

Perhaps the stress of putting out a new issue is getting to them, but everyone around the Mother Jones offices has been e-mailing each other cheesy corporate theme songs today. You're all kooks! Some of these are more well-known than others, but it seems a shame not to share them with you, dear Riff readers.

First up, the saga of Nixon Peabody. Once there was a law firm who thought celebrating some good press with a specially-commissioned tune was a great idea, and I guess you know the rest:

Style: '80s soul played by a wedding band
Great line: "There's no disputin'/The folks at Fortune Magazine agree!"

Next, feel the power of KPMG. Their theme song, "Vision of Global Strategy" got a blogger in trouble when he linked to it, back in 2001.
Listen here.
Style: Japanese ballad
Great line: "We'll be number one, with effort and fun!"

This isn't really a corporate theme song, but I remember it as one of the first "Internet memes," back in the early days of this awesomely entertaining series of tubes. Steve Ballmer of Microsoft was filmed at a developers conference, chanting, well, "developers," over and over, and after it was circulated, people began making their own remixes and mashups. Check out the techno mix:

Style: The Prodigy
Great line: when he says "developers" the 293rd time

Don't forget Price Waterhouse Coopers, who burst onto the corporate theme song scene back in 2001 with their hands-in-the-air anthem, "Your World, Our People."
Listen here
Style: What was that Kenny Rogers/Sheena Easton duet?
Great line: "We don't sell no dogma/All we've got is skill"

Finally, of course, late last year, a Bank of America employee was aiming for a raise and put together a little ditty about B of A's merger with MBNA, set to the tune of U2's "One." It's so excruciating, I've never actually sat through the entire thing; if you ever want me to stop being a criminal, clamp my eyes open Clockwork Orange-style and force me to watch this over and over, I'll be a real horrowshow chelovek.

Style: Bono gone bad
Great line: "We've got Bank One on the run/What's in your wallet, it's not Capital One"

Don't forget the level this came to: in November, comedian David Cross covered "One Bank," with Johnny Marr, formerly of the Smiths, before a Modest Mouse show in New York City.

Corporate anthem websites seem to come and go rather quickly as their hosts get hit with ceast-and-desist orders. Hopefully these fine companies have all found their sense of humor by now, ha-ha. Commenters, any other corporate themes out there make you want to abolish capitalism? Or any ideas for a Mother Jones theme song?

Sales of Kanye West's Gradution Appear to be Ahead of 50 Cent's CURTIS

| Tue Sep. 11, 2007 3:30 PM PDT

50 vs. KanyeMomentum seemed to be building in Kanye's favor over the last few weeks in this, the great hip-hop battle of the millenium, but now we have actual statistics to back it up (albeit a pretty small sample from a completely unknown source). HHNLive.com is reporting today's sales figures at all Best Buy stores in the US show Graduation selling 42,438 copies as of 4pm EST; CURTIS has sold 32,640. Not bad.

iTunes has reflected these numbers as well, with pre-orders for Graduation outselling CURTIS all week. Currently, Graduation is lodged at #1 and #4 (the latter being a deluxe edition) with CURTIS at #5; similarly, on iTunes' singles charts, West's "Stronger" is at #1, with 50 Cent's "AYO Technology" at #5.

One Special Dame: Remembering Anita Roddick

| Tue Sep. 11, 2007 2:49 PM PDT

I first met Anita Roddick at a meeting of the Social Venture Network in the fall of 1991. I say "met," more accurately: I encountered a human thrill ride. I was a newbie at that early gathering of progressive-minded entrepreneurs and, progressive though they were, they were also clubby, and the skepticism about whether nonprofit (and "radical!") Mother Jones belonged in this business club was palpable. I girded myself for some power networking.

Anita, unquestionably the queen of the social venture movement, was standing behind a little table for The Body Shop at the "Product Expo," and I approached to introduce myself. I was still several steps away when she spotted Mother Jones on my name tag and pounced. "Mother Jones! That's the most bloody brilliant magazine!! It's an inspiration! Tell me what you're doing here."

Profane charm, infectious enthusiasm, straight to the heart—in a few seconds Anita had given the new kid on the block instant credibility. It was just the beginning of her generosity to me and to Mother Jones. Anita's wear-it-on-her-sleeve enthusiasm was one part of her effectiveness as a businesswoman and activist—it was hard to resist her energy, not that it would be smart to try.

Her commitment to the causes she cared about ran deep, and a few years and several rollicking collaborations later, she joined the board of Mother Jones' nonprofit parent. There are lots of stories from her years as part of the Mother Jones famly, and in the next few days, I'll share some as part of our tribute to her. Anita's (and husband Gordon's) generosity, connections, and business smarts have helped MoJo through more ups and downs than the Cyclone. In that, we're not alone—today there are dozens of causes acknowledging the significance of the Roddicks' support—but we owe her a special debt. And we intend to pay it back in the only way that she would care about—with "bloody-brilliant," kick-ass journalism.

Jay Harris
President & Publisher

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Albums Out Today and a Word From Critics

| Tue Sep. 11, 2007 2:31 PM PDT

I know that release dates don't mean much these days, what with you kids and your intertubes and bittorrents. But today's a big day for new albums, even if we ignore the 50 Cent/Kanye West/Kenny Chesney showcase showdown. Here's some of the CDs or MP3 collections you can now legally acquire in the United States (listed in order of my personal priorities) as well as representative excerpts from a couple reviews.

Simian Mobile DiscoSimian Mobile Disco - Attack Decay Sustain Release
"Mercifully brief" - Stylus
"Exciting" - Village Voice


Go! TeamThe Go! Team - Proof of Youth
"Brisk" - Billboard
"Brash" - BBC


Animal CollectiveAnimal Collective - Strawberry Jam
"Utopian" - Pitchfork
"Hallucinatory" - NY Times


WileyWiley - Playtime is Over
"Thrilling" - BBC
"Intricate" - Pitchfork


Film SchoolFilm School - Hideout
"Wonderfully off-kilter" - NME
"Moody" - Spin


Hot Hot HeatHot Hot Heat - Happiness Ltd
"Soaring" - Canadian Press
"Expansive" - Entertainment Weekly

Gay Rights: Not Important Enough for the American Edition of Newsweek

| Tue Sep. 11, 2007 1:33 PM PDT

I love comparing what goes in the American editions of the newsweeklies to what goes in the international editions.

In the American edition of Newsweek this week, there is a Hillary Clinton cover story described thusly on TAPPED: "This piece is a long, tepid regurgitation of Clinton's career with little new insight."

On the cover of the international edition, a story called "Legal in Unlikely Places: Now mature in the west, gay power is growing worldwide, even in the land of machismo." The story isn't in the American edition at all.

I'll let TAPPED provide the final analysis:

Seems that both social and legal acceptance of homosexuality is rapidly increasing in some unexpected parts of the world. South Africa legalized civil unions in November 2006, making them the first developing nation to do so, and former Catholic strongholds like Latin America are also warming to civil unions. They've been legalized in Mexico City and Buenos Aires, and in Colombia, a bill is working its way through the National Congress that would grant full rights to health insurance, inheritance and social-security benefits to gay and lesbian couples.
Money quote: "The Catholic Church was facing a credibility crisis," says [a] longtime Mexico City-based gay-rights activist... "So many of its leaders... knew that if they fiercely opposed the gay-union law, the news media would eat them alive."
Unlike in the U.S., where ... this article doesn't even appear in Newsweek.

Tuesday: Confusing Music News Day

| Tue Sep. 11, 2007 1:20 PM PDT

Coldplay

  • Coldplay have announced some song titles and a, uh, length limit on their upcoming fourth studio album. Yes, this is the "Hispanic" one. Songs being considered include "Lost!" and "Yes!," (shouldn't that be "¡Lost!" and "¡Yes!"?) as well as "Poppy Fields," "Leftrightleftrightleft," and "Cemeteries of London." The band, posting on their website, wrote that the album will last no longer than 42 minutes: "Expect a short, concise record with no fat and at least two top-division songs." No fat? But that's where the flavor is!
  • The White Stripes have canceled their appearance at Austin City Limits on Friday, citing a "nervous breakdown" on the part of drummer Meg White. Aren't publicists just supposed to call this "exhaustion"?
  • Rapper Ja Rule reacts to the upcoming congressional hearings on offensive lyrics in hip-hop by encouraging everyone to look at the real problem: gays on MTV. He tells Complex.com "let's talk about all these f***ing shows that they have on MTV that is promoting homosexuality, that my kids can't watch this s***. Dating shows that's showing two guys or two girls in mid afternoon. If that's not f***ing up America, I don't know what is."
  • Keyboardist Joe Zawinul, who played with Miles Davis and in his own band Weather Report, died today in his hometown of Vienna. Zawinul was voted "best keyboardist" 30 times by Down Beat magazine. He was 75.
  • Good News from Ground Zero

    | Tue Sep. 11, 2007 1:16 PM PDT

    On the sixth anniversary of the September 11th attacks, Grist has an interesting post about Manhattan's financial district. The community's struggle to rebound has given rise to something the area hasn't seen in a long time: a residential neighborhood.

    The Twin Towers were not a good addition to the financial district from a livability point of view; one of the main goals of the reconstruction there has been to "recreate the grid"; that is, the various smaller blocks that used to be there, the kind that make up the vibrant street life that Jane Jacobs first discussed in her classic book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities.

    Grist's Jon Rynn points out that this project probably wouldn't have been possible without billions of dollars in federal aid. But now that the ball is rolling the community is beginning to take care of itself.

    Wouldn't it be nice if the same thing happened in other places?