Mojo - September 2007

"Stop Hillary Clinton" Now the Largest Political Facebook Group

| Tue Sep. 25, 2007 3:06 PM EDT

It's Facebook day here on MoJoBlog! The two posts we've had about it today (here's the first) may be two more than we've ever had.

Here's the occasion for the second post: The candidate-based Facebook group that had the most members for many, many months — "Barack Obama (One Million Strong for Barack)" — has finally been topped. And it's been topped by Hillary Clinton, but not in a good way for the New York senator.

The group "Stop Hillary Clinton (One Million Strong AGAINST Hillary)" has more than 418,000 members, which beats Obama's 355,000 members. And it crushes any pro-Clinton groups, the two biggest of which combine for just under 10,000 members.

So Hillary Fever isn't catching on with the kids. Obama's campaign is very aware of the advantage it has among this demographic, and has made it a crucial part of its Iowa strategy. From an internal Obama campaign memo that Marc Ambinder nabbed:

On a related point, polls consistently under-represent in Iowa, and elsewhere, the strength of Barack's support among younger voters for at least three reasons. In more than one survey, Barack's support among Iowa young voters exceeded the support of all the other candidates combined. First, young voters are dramatically less likely to have caucused or voted regularly in primaries in the past, so pollsters heavily under-represent them. Second, young voters are more mobile and are much less likely to be at home in the early evening and thus less likely to be interviewed in any survey. Third, young voters are much less likely to have a landline phone and much more likely to rely exclusively upon cell phones, which are automatically excluded from phone surveys. So all of these state and national surveys have and will continue to under-represent Barack's core support – in effect, his hidden vote in each of these pivotal early states.

Update: It was Rudy Giuliani's daughter's membership in the Barack Obama Facebook group mentioned above that tipped the media to the fact that she disagrees with her dad's politics.

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Chiquita Banana: Tales of "The Octopus"

| Tue Sep. 25, 2007 2:52 PM EDT

You may have read here (and here) before about U.S. corporations' shady dealings with Colombian paramilitaries. The next issue of Virginia Quarterly Review (edited by Mother Jones' contributing writer Ted Genoways) includes an excellent piece by Philip Robertson on Chiquita's dark history in the Colombian banana business. The new VQR doesn't come out until next week, but you can read an electronic version of Robertson's piece here.

Laura Dern as Katherine Harris?

| Tue Sep. 25, 2007 1:46 PM EDT

Can it be? Variety reports that Laura Dern will don heavy make up and big hair to portray the former Florida Secretary of State in an HBO movie about the 2000 Florida recount debacle. Harris should be flattered by the choice. Gore campaign lawyer David Boies didn't fare so well. He'll be played by Ed Begley Jr., but HBO did show some inside-the-beltway savvy in casting hunky Denis Leary as the Democrats' little known get-out-the-vote genius Michael Whouley. The film is scheduled to air smack in the middle of the presidential campaign next fall.

(H/T Washington City Paper)

Maliki: I Can Be as Batty as the Battiest Middle Eastern Leader!

| Tue Sep. 25, 2007 11:43 AM EDT

This is about as dumb as ol' Mahmoud's claim that there are no gays in Iran.

Civil war has been averted in Iraq and Iranian intervention there has "ceased to exist," Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said yesterday.

From the Post.

Casualties Chart From DOD Shows Iraq Deaths Continue Unabated

| Tue Sep. 25, 2007 11:26 AM EDT

I cannot believe Petraeus was able to go before Congress and completely shift the debate by claiming sectarian violence is down in Iraq, without his phony methodology being revealed or the true number of civilian casualties in Iraq being exposed. This is a chart from the Department of Defense, conveniently released after Petraeus' big moment was over. Click the chart for a larger version.

august07casualtiesiraq300.jpg

If the American people looked at this chart, there is simply no way they would believe the war is getting better and deserves more time.

(H/T Atrios)

Update: The man in charge of counting casualties for the military, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Dan Macomber, tells the Washington Post that these statistics are an inexact science:

"Everybody has their own way of doing it," Macomber said of his sectarian analyses. "If you and I . . . pulled from the same database, and I pulled one day and you pulled the next, we would have totally different numbers."

So someone looking to push an agenda would have a pretty easy time...

That Facebook Kid Is Going to Be Filthy Rich

| Tue Sep. 25, 2007 10:39 AM EDT

Online community and major time-waster Facebook is reportedly considering selling five percent of the company to Microsoft for $300 million to $500 million. That puts the value of Facebook at $10 billion.

Just in case there was any doubt that I'm in the wrong business...

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U.S. Always Outsourcing, More Contractors Than U.S. Troops in Iraq

| Mon Sep. 24, 2007 6:53 PM EDT

Americans are known for outsourcing everything. So, why not the Iraq war too? Currently, contractors in Iraq number more than 180,000, according to the Associated Press. 137,000 of them are working for the Department of Defense, and thousands more have been separately contracted by the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development. Their number is greater than the 163,000 U.S. military personnel in Iraq now.

As journalist Jeremy Scahill writes, "In essence, the Bush administration has created a shadow army that can be used to wage wars unpopular with the American public but extremely profitable for a few unaccountable private companies."

And this "shadow army" is accountable to no one, thanks to the immunity granted by U.S. authorities following the invasion in 2003, which essentially prohibits Iraqi courts from prosecuting contractors. This action prompted politicians on both sides of the aisle to introduce bills which would place U.S. security contractors under U.S. federal criminal codes. But in the meantime, contractors continue to rake in billions of dollars in Iraq and surely, when we withdraw, they'll make bank off that as well.

—Neha Inamdar

Fujimori Handed Over to Peru

| Mon Sep. 24, 2007 6:07 PM EDT

Last Friday, Chile's Supreme Court ruled to extradite former Peruvian dictator Alberto Fujimori to face charges of corruption, and more importantly, human rights violations in Peru. Within a day of the decision, authorities packed Fujimori into a helicopter and flew him to the airport, from where he was shuttled off to Lima. This is pretty stunning considering every indication from Chile's high court could have predicted exactly the opposite and that it is not unlike a South American court to let one of its leaders get away with, well, murder. But Chile's unprecedented ruling might just change the game.

News reports indicate that Chile's full Supreme Court lost its nerve after initially deciding to reject Fujimori's extradition, but what's really important here is that for the first time in modern history a domestic court of a sovereign nation has returned a dictator to face the people he abused. I definitely didn't see this one coming.

—Rafael Valero

Ahmadinejad Claims Gays Do Not Exist in Iran

| Mon Sep. 24, 2007 5:15 PM EDT

This is why you let guys like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speak. They eventually make asses of themselves. From the Iranian president's highly disputed appearance at Columbia:

Actually, um, there are gays in Iran. Think Progress quotes 365gay.com: "Some international gay rights groups believe that more than 4,000 lesbians and gay men have been executed since the Ayatollahs seized power in 1979." And here's video proof.

DLC Prez Wins Romney Ad-Making Contest

| Mon Sep. 24, 2007 3:39 PM EDT

Democratic Leadership Council President and Slate blogger Bruce Reed answered the call last week when the Romney for President campaign launched a "create your own ad" contest. Team Mitt promised to buy air time for the ad with the most "love" and page views. Reed apparently couldn't resist. He used the campaign's official materials (provided by the contest), cut and pasted, and— voila!—created "Way!," a funny riff on how Mitt dissuaded son Tagg from becoming a Democrat.

The Romney people were not amused and have banned Reed's creation from the contest (which got all of 137 entries, according to Reed). Nonetheless, Reed's creation has generated vastly more love than anything the Mitt supporters have come up with. See it for yourself here:
jumpcut movie:"Way!"