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We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for January 2, 2012

Mon Jan. 2, 2012 6:57 AM EST

PFC Christopher Sauber, 24, of Athens, OH pets Sgt. 1st Class Zeke at brigade headquarters located in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan. Zeke is part of the 113th Medical Detachment Combat Stress Control and offers support to soldiers from Task Force Arctic Wolves from Ft. Wainwright, Alaska. Photo by JR Ancheta/ZUMA Press.

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Ron Paul's Top Secret Iowa Youth Camp

| Sun Jan. 1, 2012 12:38 PM EST
Outside the YMCA camp building in Iowa rented out by Ron Paul's campaign.

At a rented YMCA camp lodge outside the town of Boone in central Iowa, young Ron Paul volunteers are preparing for Tuesday's caucuses under a veil of secrecy. When I stopped by on Saturday, after driving down a winding gravel road surrounded by woods and farmland, the place appeared deserted, aside from a couple cars and a white van with a Ron Paul sign in the window. "At Y camp you don't have to make friends, they're given to you," a sign greeted me near the the Pioneer Hybrid Outdoor Education Center where the volunteers work.

In Ron Paul's case, those friends are  hundreds of out-of-state college students who paid their own way to travel to Iowa in support of their libertarian hero. On Wednesday, the New York Times reported that once they arrive at the camp, the volunteers are "under strict orders" to "look, dress, shave, sound and behave in a way that will not jeopardize Mr. Paul’s chances." That means no boozing, no visible tattoos, and no scraggy beards (although I did spot a guy with earrings). Or as one volunteer from Ithaca, New York, told the Times, "What would Ron Paul do?"

The volunteers have also been told "not to speak to journalists or make postings on social media sites about their activities in Iowa," the Times explained. That became immediately clear on Saturday, when I walked into a meeting room where about 20 volunteers prepared campaign flyers. "Are you with the media?" a young woman asked as someone turned off the music. I was ordered to leave the room, and after I was told that I could "absolutely not" take a flyer with me a woman shut the door to the lobby behind me. A young man watched me intently from behind a glass window as he called someone on his phone.

On Global Warming, Gingrich Cites His Own Expertise on Dinosaurs

| Sun Jan. 1, 2012 7:14 AM EST
Then-Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich plays with a dinosaur puppet in Bozeman, Montana in 1998

GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich was challenged by supporters at an event at a Coca Cola bottling plant in Atlantic, Iowa on Saturday, on issues ranging from faith to his consulting work for Freddie Mac to his brief support for cap-and-trade. Gingrich, flanked by his wife, Callista, his daughter Jackie, and a 20-foot-high stack of Mello Yello, told voters that anyone who accuses him of taxing carbon as a means to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is "dishonest" (evidence to the contrary notwithstanding), and then issued a curious explanation for why he doesn't trust the science on global warming: He's a scientist himself, and he knows better.

The carbon-tax question came from a senior citizen who had signed up to give a speech on Gingrich's behalf on caucus night. The man had taken a look at campaign talking points, but his son had additional questions about Gingrich's global warming positions, and so the father came to Gingrich seeking clarity. The former speaker had, after all, cut an ad with Nancy Pelosi calling for the federal government to take action on climate change. After first explaining that "first of all, it hasn't been proven" that global warming is really happening, he rounded out his answer by citing his own analysis.

"I'm an amateur paleontologist, so I've spent a lot of time looking at the earth's temperature over a very long time," Gingrich said. "I'm a lot harder to convince than just by looking at a computer model."

We've chronicled Gingrich's passion for dinosaurs. In addition to keeping a T-Rex skull in his congressional office (loaned from the Smithsonian), he twice debated famed Montana State paleontologist Jack Horner on the feeding habits of the T-Rex, with Gingrich arguing that the king of dinosaurs could not have been a scavenger because "I saw Jurassic Park and he ate a lawyer and it wasn't a dead lawyer." So while not professionally trained, his paleontological analysis clearly does carry a lot of weight.

Rick Perry's Iowa Pitch: I'm Not Rick Santorum

| Sun Jan. 1, 2012 7:09 AM EST
Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R)

Rick Perry gave a polite nod to history when he took the podium at Doughy Joey's Peetza Joynt in Waterloo on Friday. It would've been weird not too. Crowded into the second floor party room, a big old Iowa flag just behind him, Risque gentlemen's club ("cold drinks, hot ladies") across the street and out of sight, the Texas governor took the microphone from his wife, Anita, thanked everyone for stopping by, and put the event, and perhaps his entire campaign, in proper context.

"This is where it all began," Perry said. This being Waterloo, where Perry made his first visit to Iowa as a candidate on the Sunday after the August Ames Straw Poll. He was the guest of honor at the Black Hawk County GOP fundraiser, and when it was over he'd jumped to the top of the field as a cocky, angry, government-slashing, Texas miracle worker, out to make Washington, DC "as inconsequential in your life as possible." He was the anti-Obama. This time around in Waterloo, he's pitching himself as the anti-Santorum.

12 Hangover Songs to Kick Off 2012

| Sun Jan. 1, 2012 7:05 AM EST

They say that the way you spend your New Year's Eve is a sign of how you'll spend the rest of the year. We can only hope the same doesn't hold true for New Year's Day, when you're forced to face not only the consequences of the previous night's escapades but the yawning expanse of January drudgery. But they also say that misery loves company, so we've rounded up some songs to help you get through the morning after. (Extra perk: All the Sunday-morning-themed songs—and there are four of them—are accurate this year.)

  1. Johnny Bond, "Sick, Sober, and Sorry": Crooning cowboy Johnny Bond says he's full of regret after a night of drinking too much, but he sure doesn't sound it in this cheery 1951 country tune that pretty much sums up the hangover experience: "Well now, I'm sick, sober and sorry/Broke, disgusted and sad/Sick, sober and sorry/But look at the fun I had."

     
  2. Lee Hazlewood, "The Night Before": In this spooky, bleary recollection of a whiskey-fueled evening of dancing, Hazlewood's plaintive psych-country tune tells of waking up Sunday morning to empty bottles, a tearstained pillow, and the sound of a woman's departing footsteps, leading him to wish he could just "turn back the clock" and undo all the deeds of the eponymous night before.

     
  3. The Beatles, "The Night Before": Despite sharing a name with Hazlewood's song, this 1965 Beatles track is a different beast. But don't let the uptempo beat, warbling guitars, and catchy harmonies fool you—this tale of the morning after a one-night stand is also one of woe:"Love was in your eyes the night before/Now today I find/You have changed your mind/Treat me like you did the night before." This may not technically be a paean to drinking too much, but as a testament to the aftermath of a big night out, it qualifies. (Plus, I'm guessing many in the crowd who wake up aching Sunday morning will find the story it tells all too familiar.) 

     
  4. Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson, "Sunday Morning Coming Down": This chipper country song's a classic of the hangover genre—perhaps the classic. Written by Kris Kristofferson and originally performed by Ray Stevens, this version features Kristofferson and Johnny Cash, each of whom recorded their own solo versions as well. Cash was certainly no stranger to come-downs, Sunday morning or otherwise, so when he sings "I woke up Sunday morning/With no way to hold my head that didn't hurt/And the beer I had for breakfast wasn't bad/So I had one more for dessert," you might not want to follow his lead.

     
  5. The Weeknd, "Coming Down": The Weeknd's version of coming down sounds a lot more harrowing than Cash's and Kristofferson's. His 2011 album House of Balloons features one song after another about debauched, drugged-out, borderline depraved partying that you just know isn't going to end well—and sure enough, towards the end of the album, Abel Tesfaye's left singing to his girl that "the party's finished and I want you to know/I'm/all alone/I'm feeling everything before I got up" atop an eerie, woozy background. The party may be over, but probably not for long.

     
  6. Ma Rainey, "Booze and Blues": As my jazz guitarist-sister put it, in this 1924 song, a blueswoman extraordinaire bemoans an extraordinary hangover. After a night of boozing, blues pioneer Ma Rainey gets woken up by the cops, carted off to the courthouse, separated from her man, and sent to jail for sixty days, presumably only to repeat the whole thing again soon enough. The song ends with Rainey lamenting, "I spend every dime on liquor/Got to have the booze to go with these blues." Bet that puts your hangover in perspective.

     
  7. Modest Mouse, "The Good Times Are Killing Me": The music backing this track is buoyant, but beneath the bright, easy guitar and upbeat tempo, the lyrics are as gloomy as you'd expect from the Portland-based indie band, reminding you why this 2005 song belongs on an album called Good News for People Who Love Bad News: "Fed up with all that LSD/Need more sleep than coke or methamphetamines/Late nights with warm, warm whiskey/I guess the good times they were all just killing me."

     
  8. The Hold Steady, "Killer Parties": Partying is killing the Hold Steady, too—though honestly, they couldn't tell you for sure. Craig Finn rues a rough night over the crush of sad guitars on this mournful 2004 track: "Killer parties almost killed me/If she says we partied then I'm pretty sure we partied/I really don't remember/I remember we departed from our bodies/We woke up in Ybor City." You may wish you could depart from your body right now, but count your blessings—at least you're not in Ybor City.

     
  9. Tom Waits, "Anywhere I Lay My Head": Speaking of waking up in unexpected places: Tom Waits' "Anywhere I Lay My Head" could be a lullabye for the inebriated. Sure, this song isn't explicitly about a hangover, and yeah, Tom Waits always sounds kinda hungover, but still, when you hear Waits growl the opening lines "My head is spinning round/My heart is in my shoes/I went and sent the Thames on fire/Now I must come back down" over elegaic horns, it's hard not to picture him reflecting back on a night of raging as you imagine only Tom Waits can.

     
  10. The Chemical Brothers and Beth Orton, "Where Do I Begin": British folkie Beth Orton sounds dazed as she wakes up on—you guessed it—Sunday morning, unable to even "focus on [her] coffee cup" or figure out "whose bed [she's] in." From there, it's just a short leap to the kind of existential questioning surely familiar to anyone who's woken up feeling out of it after staying a little too long at the party. Orton asks, "Where do I start/Where do I begin?" in this soothingly melancholy song—at least until the beats kick in around the 3:18 mark.

          (Unfortunately, the hangover-themed music video above cuts out halfway through the song—for the whole thing, play this one:)

     
  11. The Smiths, "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now": Only a couple of the lines in this Smiths whiner are about booze per se, but the song is all about regretting decisions that sounded like a good idea at the time—namely, drinking oneself into a haze and landing a job. If you're reading this at work right now, you may be able to empathize.

     
  12. Bloc Party, "Sunday": The British band's take on the hangover song starts out like most, with singer Kele Okereke recalling the "heavy night" before and feeling like "we've come back from the dead." But unlike a lot of hangover songs, this one's got a happy ending—he still loves you in the morning, even "when you're still hungover," even "when you're still strung out." Hey, he says, we deserve to party a little! So if your own heavy night left you filled with self-hatred, listen to this tender morning-after tune and remember: you're still worthy of love! Maybe even Kele Okereke's, if you're insanely lucky.
  13. Click here for more music features from Mother Jones.

 

10 Green New Year's Resolutions for 2012

| Sun Jan. 1, 2012 7:00 AM EST
Will you ride your bike to work more often in 2012?

Happy 2012! Now that the champagne toasts are made and the ball dropped, it's time to start thinking ahead: What's your green resolution for this year? We asked you to submit yours, from big (solar panels on the house!) to small (not driving to the supermarket that's embarrassingly close to home). Here are 10 of our favorites:

 

 

 

  1. "Going red meat free. I am not quite ready to take the next step into full-on vegetarianism just yet, but this is a big start. The beef industry, while very important to my state (Kansas) is a lead producer of waste, greenhouse gases, and more. Plus, the stuff they put IN beef these days is really not good for the human body. As a cancer survivor at 32, I'd really like to avoid having to go through it again." —Christina A.
     
  2. "Ride bicycle or walk to work more often (commute is 4.2 miles)." —Daniel B.
     
  3. "Last year, my chickens ate my garden, so we will be building a chicken coop instead of letting them free, although they did a great job: I did not see one grasshopper or earwig all summer." —Melissa S.

  4. "Convince husband to try Meatless Mondays." —Miranda S.
     
  5. "Buying paper books hurts the environment and my wallet. This year, I'm going to hit my local library. I can even borrow e-books from it." —Elizabeth R.
     
  6. "Buying everything except food and TP second-hand." —Wendy W.

  7. "I want to reduce the amount of food I waste by buying smaller quantities and finding creative ways to use ingredients I already have on hand." —Ilana G.

  8. "Hook up the rain barrel that has been in my garage since I moved a year ago." —Tasia M.
     
  9. "Saving money early in the year so I can do u-pick berries and such over the summer and freeze massive quantities for use in the winter. " —Megan H.
     
  10. "Moving to a town with a high walkability score & shared commuting options for work! My car will be happily neglected." —Abby A.