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Karl Rove's Reefer Madness-Induced Memory Loss

| Mon Jul. 16, 2007 5:24 PM EDT
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Karl Rove's game sure has improved since he was a young Republican on the make in the early 1970s. The New York Times recently found a letter written by Rove in the Nixon archives in which the 22-year-old Capitol Hill aide outlines his ideas to recruit kids for a sexy-sounding group called "New Federalism Advocates." His big idea: midnight showings of John Wayne movies and Reefer Madness. Like many a former fan of the cult antidrug flick, Rove now pleads memory loss. "God, this is 1973!" he told the Times. "You work the math. I don't remember it all."

Rove also said he's not surprised his old letter was found, explaining, "When you send something to a White House person, it tends to be collected and remain." Yeah, unless that White House person happens to be "Dude, Where's My Email?" Rove.

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Live Earth Germany Loses Big Euros

| Mon Jul. 16, 2007 4:07 PM EDT

mojo-photo-liveearthlogo.JPGI promise I'm not jumping on the Drudge-led Live Earth-bashing "there's no global warming" bandwagon, but this is the story: Billboard.biz reports the German edition of Live Earth on July 7th lost 1.3 million buckaroos. Ticket sales and merchandise added up to about $1.7 million, but costs added up to $2 million, not including the $1 million they paid to the Live Earth organization, for what exactly it's not clear. Access to the Al Gore holographic projection data stream? Anyway, perhaps it was the lineup that kept ticket buyers away (only 29,000 of 45,000 were sold): the big names were Chris Cornell, Snoop Dogg, and DJ Sasha. Weird! Buried at the end of the Billboard story: news that the City of Hamburg is now stuck with the bill. Sorry, Hamburgers: that money we were going to spend on energy-efficient light bulbs, it's, ah, being redirected.

Sick of "Umbrella" Yet? Don't Be

| Mon Jul. 16, 2007 3:50 PM EDT

mojo-photo-rihanna.jpg Barbadian teen superstar Rihanna could be heading for the record books: her summer anthem "Umbrella" just extended its reign at the top of the UK charts to eight weeks. Will it go another week? The last single to spend nine weeks at #1 was, in fact, Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" (see previous post), which was famously "deleted" (i.e., removed from distribution and chart eligibility) in order to prevent Gnarls overload. So, is "Umbrella" in danger of, er, gouging everyone's ears out? Not yet, says The Guardian's Dorian Lynskey, who gives nine reasons why he's still enjoying the "ella, ella, ay, ay, ay:"

1. It's such an improbable R&B summer smash. Neither laidback and fuzzy nor upbeat and exuberant, it's more like a rock power ballad stripped down to drums, voice, and thundercloud synths. Plus - and more on this later - it's about rain, for crying out loud. Who writes a summer song about rain?

He goes on to cite the track's detailed production, Rihanna's voice (and good looks), and even maintains the much-maligned intro rap from Jay-Z is actually a positive, throwing the rest of the track's brilliance into sharper relief, I guess. The track's current seven-week reign in the US means we should also be inching towards "Umbrella" saturation soon, but one of Lynskey's reasons to hold out is peculiarly British: the endless rain that has apparently been pouring down on the UK all summer makes the song seem oddly relevant. Interestingly enough, the rain has been so bad that an Ireland radio station that's been playing my Snow Police mash-up got in touch with me to do a mash-up commission (in an apparent attempt to break the curse of the summer storms): a combo of "Umbrella" with any song about sun, or warmth, or drought, or dryness of any sort. I gave it a try with "Walkin' on Sunshine," but it didn't really work. Sorry, waterlogged Irish kids…

Gnarls Barkley Talks New Album, Barely

| Mon Jul. 16, 2007 3:03 PM EDT

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Danger Mouse (aka Brian Burton) gave an interview to Billboard recently to discuss the upcoming sophomore effort from Gnarls Barkley, but didn't say, or offer, very much. He apparently went back on a promise to play multiple songs from the new album, instead offering to play only one, from his personal iPod, and don't look at it or ask any questions:

"I can play the song now or after the interview," he says. "I'm not going to talk about the song, so it doesn't matter when I play it. And I can't tell you the name of the song, either."

Urp. He also refuses to give a name or possible release date for the new album (the follow-up to last year's surprise hit, the 1.3-million-selling St. Elsewhere). Idolator muses that perhaps he's "cracking a little under the pressure," but this kind of secrecy worked for "Crazy:" mp3s of the track began circulating in late 2005 without a title attached, an acapella of Cee-Lo's vocal was never released or distributed (despite voracious demand from bootleggers eager to pull a Grey Album on Danger Mouse), and it took months for bloggers to track down the original sample. While "Crazy" was a once-in-a-lifetime slice of brilliance, perhaps Burton's tactic of resisting the internet age's mantra of "everything you wanted to know (and even things you didn't want to know) all the time" is an astute strategy for hit-making. We'll see whenever the new album comes out.


KA Paul Says Bush Has Brought Death Upon "Thousands of Orphans and Widows"

| Mon Jul. 16, 2007 2:27 PM EDT

The reverend KA Paul is at it again. The self-proclaimed advocate for the Third World poor, conscience of Third World dictators, and peddler of poorly inspected brands of snake oil, has stepped up his rebellion against his erstwhile patrons in the Republican Right, this time, through the court system in his native India. According to a press release, Paul has filed suit in Bangalore on behalf of thousands of widows and orphans who supposedly died after President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice exerted their influence to cancel a peace mission with former Indian Prime Minister Deva Gowda to Iran, Libya, Sudan, Venezuela and Syria. I'm not sure how Bush was allegedly involved, how orphans allegedly died, and why anyone in India is still talking to Paul, who has been widely exposed as fraud, because the release didn't explain it. Still, I can't help but marvel at how Paul manages to keep getting attention. In October, I reported on his meeting with Rep. Dennis Hastert, in which he claimed to have convinced the embattled Speaker to resign over the Foley sex scandal. Ironically, Paul is now wrapped up in his own sex scandal: he was arrested in Los Angeles in May on suspicion of "lewd and lascivious acts with a minor." What's safe to say is that Paul (whom The New Republic once called "The world's most popular evangelist") will crusade on in his pirate ship as reliably as the political winds will blow him to some modicum of fame. Perhaps that explains his uncanny popularity with some evangelists here in America.

Ron Paul, Darling of the Web Military?

| Mon Jul. 16, 2007 2:16 PM EDT

Check out these numbers. Ron Paul has received more donations money from employees of the Armed Services than any other GOP candidate in the 2008 race. It's really only a two-way race between the Libertarian Paul and the war hero McCain, who may have been hurt by the fact that he wants to keep servicemen and women in Iraq until everyone is dead, American, Iraqi, and otherwise.

Come to think of it, Ron Paul's call for America to stop "policing the world" might have unique appeal to our country's soldiers overseas. Anyway, here are the numbers.

Cand.: TOTAL [ARMY] [NAVY] [AF] [VETERAN]
Paul: 23,465 [6,975] [6,765] [4,650] [5,075]
McCain: 15,825 [6925] [6305] [1795] [800]
Romney: 3,551 [2,051] [0] [1500] [0]
Rudy: 2,320 [1,450] [370] [250] [250]
Hunter: 1000 [0] [1000] [0]
Huckabee: 750 [250] [0] [500]
Tancredo: 350 [350] [0] [0]
Brownback: 71 [71] [0] [0]
Thompson: 0 [0] [0] [0]

Now, from what I can gather, to be included in these stats a donor had to only put the words "Army," "Navy," "veteran," or what have you in their "employer" field when submitting a contribution. So these aren't the most exact numbers. But interesting nonetheless.

Also, looking at Ron Paul's financial numbers reveals that the dude is only spending a tiny, tiny fraction of his cash. Most of his publicity seems to come from internet folks seeking to interview him, in an attempt to explain or perpetuate his demigod status on the web.

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Morning Political Trivia for July 16

| Mon Jul. 16, 2007 2:05 PM EDT

Today's question comes courtesy of The Economist's "Democracy in America" blog. They got it from the Politico's Roger Simon. It's a doozy:

Name the eight U.S. presidents with one-syllable last names.

This is a trivia contest, not a research skills test, so no Googling! We compete every morning here at Mother Jones' DC Bureau. I'll update this post later today and let you know the results (and the correct answer). Remember, If you have a good question, you can always submit it to mojotrivia@gmail.com. I'll credit you if we use your question (please let us know if you got it from another source).

Submit your answers in the comments section, and good luck!

— Nick Baumann

Update

The eight presidents with one-syllable last names are: Bush 41, Bush 43, Ford, Grant, Hayes, Pierce, Polk, and Taft. Jonathan Stein and Editor Clara Jeffery tied with 5/8, while Bruce Falconer and Dan Schulman had 4/8. Commenter Paul fared significantly better, getting 7/8 on his first shot, with commenter TarGator correcting his only mistake. Thanks for playing...we'll post another one tomorrow.

Drug War: U.S. Reporters Targeted by Mexican Cartels

| Mon Jul. 16, 2007 2:00 PM EDT

Last summer, while in the early stages of researching several stories related to the U.S.-Mexico border and the drug trade, I called up Mother Jones' contributing writer Charles Bowden to get his take on things. Having spent much of his life living in the American southwest and writing about these subjects (see his most recent Mother Jones piece here), Bowden knows better than most the risks associated with reporting the drug war. As he explained, the border is a place where people simply disappear, usually by the hundreds each year. Very few are ever found, even if authorities bother to look, which they often don't. As an American, he said, I could expect to have *some* protection: cartel assassins often hesitate to go after reporters from north of the border, but not always. (See this piece from the Virginia Quarterly Review about the murder of freelancer Brad Will, the only U.S. journalist to have been assassinated since the recent surge in Mexico's drug violence.) Bowden suggested that I avoid hotels on the Mexican side, that I vary my schedule each day, and that I drive an alternate route whenever possible. The underlying message was clear: take precautions and, to the extent possible, make yourself hard to kill.

Well, since last summer, things seem to have grown even worse. Sunday's Washington Post reported on the San Antonio Express-News' decision to withdraw its drug trade reporter from Mexico after learning of an assassination threat. According to the Post:

Sources have told several Texas newspapers that hit men from Los Zetas, a group of former Mexican military officers who operate as the Gulf cartel's assassins, may have been hired to cross into the United States and execute American reporters. Word of the threat shattered the widely held perception here that foreign journalists are somehow shielded from violent retribution in a nation that is now second only to Iraq in deaths of journalists...

Court Squashes One of Biggest Tax Fraud Cases in History

| Mon Jul. 16, 2007 1:46 PM EDT

The AP reports that a judge has dropped charges against 13 former KPMG employees in what had been one of the largest criminal tax cases in U.S. history.

U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan said the dismissal was necessary because the government coerced KPMG to limit and then cut off its payment of the onetime employees' legal fees....
The case resulted after the government investigated what it described as a tax shelter fraud that helped the wealthy escape $2.5 billion in U.S. taxes.
Kaplan said the Department of Justice "deliberately or callously" prevented many of the defendants from getting funds for their defense, blocking them from hiring the lawyers of their choice.

A spokeswoman for federal prosecutors, Yusill Scribner, told the AP the government "had no comment."

A lawyer reader comments that the DOJ botched the case by overreaching in trying to an unusual degree to deny the defendants the ability to pay their lawyers. "This is a tactic the Justice Department started using under Ashcroft in white collar cases. It has been roundly criticized by civil libertarians, unions, defense counsel and many, many, federal judges. The policy was announced in the infamous Thompson memo, named after the Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division who issued it. It was so controversial that Justice recently announced it was withdrawing the memo. Too late for the largest criminal tax fraud case in history.

D.C. Seeks to Fight for Its 30-Year-Old Gun Ban in the High Court

| Mon Jul. 16, 2007 1:30 PM EDT

This past March, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Parker v. District of Columbia, which dissolved the strictest gun regulations on the books of any state or district in the nation—the district's gun ban—using a broad interpretation of the Second Amendment, marking the first time this interpretation has been used to overturn state gun regs.

When the federal appeals court, just a few months later, denied Washington's request for the case to be heard before the full-judge panel (the case was originally heard before a three-judge panel), all anyone could talk about was how the case was headed to the nation's highest court. At Mother Jones, we wondered what D.C.'s Mayor, Adrian Fenty, would do. He could appeal to the Supreme Court and risk a victory for Parker that would have far-reaching implications for state gun laws across the nation or he could accept the ruling and face the music at home. Well, Fenty has made his decision. Today, a news release from the Mayor's office announced that the District of Columbia will petition the Supreme Court to review the decision made by its appeals court.

For more information on Parker and the man behind the case, see this Mother Jones interview with Cato Institute senior fellow and constitutional lawyer Dr. Robert Levy.