Brownback Blowback

| Tue Jul. 10, 2007 5:27 PM EDT

Senator Sam Brownback, a Republican presidential candidate vying for the Christian evangelical vote in 2008, failed today in his attempt to block the confirmation of Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Janet Neff to federal district court. Judge Neff is not a lesbian, nor has she endorsed gay rights. Her sin was to attend the lesbian commitment ceremony of a longtime neighbor's daughter. The vote was 83-4.

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Weird Weather Watch: Omnibus Edition

| Tue Jul. 10, 2007 5:03 PM EDT

It snowed in Buenos Aires for the first time in 90 years yesterday. (The good news is, it is winter in the southern hemisphere.)

Meanwhile, the East Coast of the United States is sweltering in 90-plus degree heat with high humidity to boot. A similar heat wave last year killed 40.

It's hot out West, too. The heat is fueling a wildfire burning 35,000 acres of forest in the Sierras and another incinerating nearly 10,000 acres in Los Padres National Forest. Another major blaze covers nearly 100 square miles in Nevada. Less rain and more heat across the Southwest are to blame for the region's increasing susceptibility to wildfire.

Wait, I Thought You Invited Oasis

| Tue Jul. 10, 2007 3:20 PM EDT

mojo-photo-blairgallagher.JPG In the wake of Labour's triumph in the 1997 UK general election, few images seemed as symbolic of the shift in regimes as this photograph of Tony Blair with Oasis guitarist and vocalist Noel Gallagher at a music industry reception at 10 Downing Street. Oasis were at the peak of their popularity, and their narrative as a "real band" who hit the big time seemed to match up perfectly with Blair's image as a new kind of politician. But, whoops: it turns out it was all an accident.

British music newspaper NME reports that the just-published diaries of Blair spokesman Alistair Campbell reveal Blair had "no idea" how Gallagher had been invited, and was worried he might "do something crazy," in that way rock 'n' roll stars do. Desperate calls were made to Alan McGee, manager of Oasis' label Creation Records, for assurances Gallagher would behave; McGee promised, but said it was a good thing they hadn't invited lead singer Liam instead.

The Guardian has already reported how "Cool Britannia's" union of Britpop and Labour was a marriage of convenience; this kind of seals that deal, although it does make Oasis seem a bit cooler in retrospect: Noel crashed Tony Blair's party!

Hey, let's watch some Oasis videos after the jump.

Hustler (!!) at the Heart of the Vitter Sex Scandal

| Tue Jul. 10, 2007 3:11 PM EDT

If this story keeps getting more entertaining, we may blog nothing else. Turns out, Hustler was the news organization ("news organization") that discovered Senator Vitter's presence on the DC Madam's phone list. They called Vitter for comment, and Vitter, realizing the game was up, ran to the AP with the admission, so as to preempt the Hustler story. Larry Flint, grand don of all things Hustler, is on an ongoing campaign to expose the hidden sexual misdeeds of the powerful, so there may be more of this glorious nonsense coming down the pipe.

Fredo and the FBI

| Tue Jul. 10, 2007 1:50 PM EDT

The Washington Post has assembled a database of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales being notified - repeatedly - of FBI violations of the law governing the use of national security letters. But here's what Gonzales told the Senate Intelligence committee on April 27, 2005: "There has not been one verified case of civil liberties abuse."

According to the files obtained by the Post, Gonzales had in fact been notified at that point already six times in his short tenure as AG that the FBI had violated department guidelines to the degree that the FBI general counsel determined the violations needed to be reported to the Inspector General and the Intelligence Oversight Board. Here are a couple of examples of notifications Gonzales received (pdf and pdf).

Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse parses the gap between the truth and what Gonzales testified to with what's become a growing collection of unfathomable statements. ( "...When Gonzales testified, he was speaking 'in the context' of reports by the department's inspector general ... that found no misconduct or specific civil liberties abuses related to the Patriot Act").

It's hard to imagine that the department Gonzales leads is comfortable with his record of misleading testimony to Congress and statements to the American public. Almost anticipating today's Post's revelations, Justice Department attorney John Koppel outlined his frustration in a cry of outrage that ran in the Denver Post over the weekend:

More Vitter Hypocrisy - Time to Resign

| Tue Jul. 10, 2007 1:30 PM EDT

Apparently, confirmed adulterer/hypocrite David Vitter thinks that being unfaithful to one's spouse is grounds for resignation from public office. When Bill Livingston stepped down from the Speaker's role in the mid '90s because of the disclosure of his various extramarital affairs, Vitter said, "I think Livingston's stepping down makes a very powerful argument that Clinton should resign as well and move beyond this mess."

Vitter's situation isn't quite the mess that Clinton's was, but then, Clinton didn't actually pay for sex like Vitter did. You make the call.

Bonus question: If the DC Madam is being prosecuted for running a prostitution ring, and there is evidence that Vitter was one of her clients, should he be prosecuted too? Or is it simply too hard to prove he actually had sex with one of the Madam's call girls?

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Senator David Vitter - Hurricane of Sex and Hypocrisy

| Tue Jul. 10, 2007 10:38 AM EDT

We might feel bad about blogging a plain old sex scandal — I criticized FOX News for sucking at the teat of the Anna Nicole story — but when a sex story comes buried under mountains of hypocrisy, that's more than any blogger can resist.

First the basics: the infamous "DC madam" is a Heidi Fleiss clone who sent call girls to DC's elite. Now that she's being charged with racketeering (not a particularly successful racket, by the way, netting her $2 million in 13 years), she's on a helter-skelter campaign to generate media attention and make money while she can — and sink a few semi-famous people along the way.

She put a list of clients' phone numbers on her website yesterday and Senator David Vitter's number was on it. Vitter (R-LA), who is best known for misleading the public in the immediate aftermath of Katrina and then criticizing the feds response to the disaster, immediately owned up. "This was a very serious sin in my past for which I am, of course, completely responsible," he said in a statement to the press. He added that he has already made peace with his wife and his God.

But let's get to the hypocrisy, shall we? In 2004, when Vitter was a congressman running for a seat in the Senate, Vitter campaigned with a promise of "protecting the sanctity of marriage." He went on to become a co-author of the "Federal Marriage Act" that sought to prohibit courts from interpreting same-sex marriage laws, and said of marriage, "I don't believe there's any issue that's more important than this one."

Thought we were done? Nope. Vitter once compared same-sex marriage to hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The first line of his official biography reads, "David Vitter is dedicated to making life better for his young family and all Louisiana families."

But then, hypocrisy runs across Vitter's "young family." After extramarital affairs by Louisiana rep and now-you-see-him-now-you-don't Speaker of the House Bill Livingston were revealed, Vitter's wife was asked how she would react if her husband had been caught in an affair, like Livingston and Bill Clinton. "I'm a lot more like Lorena Bobbitt than Hillary [Clinton]," she said. "If he does something like that, I'm walking away with one thing, and it's not alimony, trust me."

Whoa! David Vitter's wife is awesome, even though she doesn't stand by her word. Actually, maybe she does and we just don't know about it. That would mean Vitter has paid for this more dearly than any of us know...

Oh, and PS — Vitter is the Southern Regional Chair of Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign. Man, Rudy is having a tough time down south. Considering the man's own sordid past, I guess it comes as no surprise that they aren't terribly serious about vetting people at his campaign.

Top Ten Stuff 'n' Things - 7/09/07

| Tue Jul. 10, 2007 12:39 AM EDT

I know what a disappointment I am to you. With a ridonkulous name like "Party Ben," you're all expecting the DJ version of Duffman, delivering 10-packs of stoopid-fresh jams with for your beer-hat headphones, but then my Top Tens turn out to be full of mopey, depressing space-rock. Sorry. Well, finally, this week, songs you could potentially refer to as "party tunes" actually dominate the Top Ten, with a ratio of, maybe, 7-to-3? ...Depending on what your definition of "party" is, come to think of it.

mojo-photo-genesis.JPG 10. Mad Martigan - "That's All Grandpa" (Neil Young vs. Genesis) (mp3 from his site here)
Who says all mashups have to be a cheesy 80s track with a current rap hit over the top? (Urp, me, I guess). Anyway, the French producer admits this might be "for old people," but the oddly melancholy feeling the obscure Young track gives the Genesis vocal is entirely fresh.

mojo-cover-spoongagaga.jpg9. Spoon - "Rhthm and Soul" (from Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, out tomorrow on Merge) (stream the whole album here)
Go over to the Merge jukebox site there, and under the list of song titles, you'll see the sentence "This record is a Hit!" in goofy type. They're probably being silly, but with seemingly unprecedented blog hype, that may actually be right. Songs like "Soul" aren't immediately accessible in a pop-radio sense, but the brilliantly crafted piano-heavy rock on display here feels timeless.

mojo-photo-djfashen.JPG8. DJ Fashen - "Dangerous Jane" (Yin Yang Twins vs. Jefferson Starship) (on his MySpace page)
While I'm skeptical of anyone who's part of the whole DJ-to-the-stars posse with DJ AM and Steve Aoki, Fashen actually seems to have some chops, and this mashup is awesome. The almost-forgotten classic from good old Jefferson Starship brings out the urgency in the Yin Yang Twins' warning, which itself lifts a line from Hall & Oates: "Watch out boy, she'll chew you up."

mojo-cover-merdujapon.JPG7. Air - "Mer du Japon" (Teenagers remix)
(from the Mer du Japon EP on Virgin)
"Japon" was a piano-laden highlight from the otherwise underwhelming Pocket Symphony; on this remix, Teenagers gives the track a driving beat reminiscent of Royksopp's "Remind Me" and allows the melody space to breathe.

mojo-cover-tivstip.JPG6. T.I. feat. Wyclef Jean - "You Know What It Is" (from T.I. vs. T.I.P. on Atlantic)
Produced by Fugee Jean with a deceptively minimal beat that packs an aggressive, insistent punch (along with a couple sirens for good measure), Georgian rapper T.I. delivers his lines with a casual effortlessness, managing to cover what seems like a whole octave just in the title phrase.

Sexually Explicit Lyrics OK with Tipper When Global Warming's Involved

| Mon Jul. 9, 2007 9:15 PM EDT

Live Earth got so much coverage today that I swore I wasn't going to chime in. But there's one thing I couldn't let go unsaid.

Right by Al Gore's side during the event was his wife Tipper, clapping and cheering away for the performers, one of which was Madonna.

This is the same Tipper Gore who in 1985 founded the Parental Music Resource Center specifically to target musicians like Madonna for having explicit lyrics in their songs! Madonna's "Dress You Up" was on Tipper's "filthy fifteen" list of songs that she felt should be monitored and rated by the record industry. It's because of the work of Tipper and the PMRC that the record industry eventually started slapping "Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics" stickers on CDs. It appears that she has since removed herself so far from the censorship debate that she's even appeared onstage with the Grateful Dead to raise cash for Al.

So, what? Music censorship is only important if the globe's warming is not at stake?

I'm not the only one to remember the PMRC. Mark Hemingway, reporting on the event, points out that the Foo Fighters strummed their way through a cover of Prince's "Darling Nikki," a song about a girl masturbating in a hotel lobby with a magazine, that got Tipper all riled up in the first place.

Bush Claims Executive Privilege re: U.S. Attorney Firings

| Mon Jul. 9, 2007 9:00 PM EDT

The president refused today to hand over subpoenaed documents related to the U.S. attorney firings, or to allow the subpoenaed testimony of former White House counsel Harriet Miers and former political affairs advisor Sara Taylor. Bush claimed that doing so would violate his executive privilege to obtain candid advice from his administration. Every president since World War II has eventually complied with congressional subpoenas, although Nixon and Clinton went to court and lost before acquiescing. There is little constitutional precedent establishing how far the privilege really extends, and Congress is standing firm in its demands, so a showdown is in the making.

Bush's exact words were: This violates my legislexecutive—what is it again, Dick? My executive prilivege—just leave me the hell alone, okay, y'all? Damn! I'm the decider! (Note: This last part may or may not actually have occurred.)