Ben Dreyfuss

Ben Dreyfuss

Engagement Editor

Ben Dreyfuss is the engagement editor at Mother Jones.

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Watch President Obama Deliver Remarks About the Violence In Ferguson, Missouri

| Thu Aug. 14, 2014 1:44 PM EDT

 

President Obama just delivered remarks on the deteriorating situation in Ferguson, Missouri, where Wednesday night St. Louis law enforcement officials fired tear gas on peaceful demonstrators protesting the killing of Michael Brown.

Here are his remarks, transcript courtesy of the Washington Post:

I want to address something that’s been in the news over the last couple of days, and that’s the last situation in Ferguson, Missouri. I know that many Americans have been deeply disturbed by the images we’ve seen in the heartland of our country as police have clashed with people protesting, today I’d like us all to take a step back and think about how we’re going to be moving forward.

This morning, I received a thorough update on the situation from Attorney General Eric Holder, who’s been following and been in communication with his team. I’ve already tasked the Department of Justice and the FBI to independently investigate the death of Michael Brown, along with local officials on the ground. The Department of Justice is also consulting with local authorities about ways that they can maintain public safety without restricting the right of peaceful protest and while avoiding unnecessary escalation. I made clear to the attorney general that we should do what is necessary to help determine exactly what happened and to see that justice is done.

I also just spoke with Governor Jay Nixon of Missouri. I expressed my concern over the violent turn that events have taken on the ground, and underscored that now’s the time for all of us to reflect on what’s happened and to find a way to come together going forward. He is going to be traveling to Ferguson. He is a good man and a fine governor, and I’m confident that working together, he’s going to be able to communicate his desire to make sure that justice is done and his desire to make sure that public safety is maintained in an appropriate way.

Of course, it’s important to remember how this started. We lost a young man, Michael Brown, in heartbreaking and tragic circumstances. He was 18 years old, and his family will never hold Michael in their arms again. And when something like this happens, the local authorities, including the police, have a responsibility to be open and transparent about how they are investigating that death and how they are protecting the people in their communities. There is never an excuse for violence against police or for those who would use this tragedy as a cover for vandalism or looting. There’s also no excuse for police to use excessive force against peaceful protests or to throw protesters in jail for lawfully exercising their First Amendment rights. And here in the United States of America, police should not be bullying or arresting journalists who are just trying to do their jobs and report to the American people on what they see on the ground.

Put simply, we all need to hold ourselves to a high standard, particularly those of us in positions of authority. I know that emotions are raw right now in Ferguson and there are certainly passionate differences about what has happened. There are going to be different accounts of how this tragedy occurred. There are going to be differences in terms of what needs to happen going forward. That’s part of our democracy. But let’s remember that we’re all part of one American family. We are united in common values, and that includes belief in equality under the law, basic respect for public order and the right to peaceful public protest, a reverence for the dignity of every single man, woman and child among us, and the need for accountability when it comes to our government.

So now is the time for healing. Now is the time for peace and calm on the streets of Ferguson. Now is the time for an open and transparent process to see that justice is done. And I’ve asked that the attorney general and the U.S. attorney on the scene continue to work with local officials to move that process forward. They will be reporting to me in the coming days about what’s being done to make sure that happens.

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Sarah Palin Picks Imaginary Fight With Elizabeth Warren, Loses

| Thu Aug. 14, 2014 11:57 AM EDT

Last month at Netroots Nation, Sen. Elizabeth Warren gave a speech outlining what she considers 11 tenets of modern American liberalism. ("We believe in science, and that means that we have a responsibility to protect this Earth...We believe that no one should work full-time and still live in poverty, and that means raising the minimum wage.") You can watch it in full here.

On August 7, Alaska governor-turned reality star Sarah Palin went on her eponymous television channel to offer a conservative rebuttal.

The thing to keep in mind as you watch the following video is that she had three weeks to write these responses. This is not live. This is not a real debate. There is no moderator. Katie Couric and the lamestream media have no hand in this. This is a Sarah Palin joint.

As Robyn Pennacchia points out at Death & Taxes, the real highlight is Palin's word salad in response to Warren's statement that "we believe that fast-food workers deserve a livable wage, and that means that when they take to the picket line, we are proud to fight alongside them."

'We believe?' Wait, I thought fast food joints, hurh. Don’t you guys think that they’re like of the Devil or somethin’ I was. Liberals, you want to send those evil employees who would dare work at a fast food joint then ya just don’t believe in, thought you wanted to, I dunno, send them to Purgatory or somethin’ so they all go VEGAN and, uh, wages and picket lines I dunno they’re not often discussed in Purgatory, are they? I dunno why are you even worried about fast food wages because dha.

You really should watch the whole thing.

Robin Williams Has Died at 63

| Mon Aug. 11, 2014 7:33 PM EDT

Just awful. I'm speechless.

Rest in peace.

James Bonds, Ranked

| Mon Aug. 11, 2014 2:59 PM EDT

According to CBS News, 51 percent of Americans think correctly that Sean Connery was the best James Bond. A misguided 12 percent—presumably millennials confusing the cause of their affection for the '90s— think Pierce Brosnan was the No. 1 007. Third place went to Roger Moore with 11 percent of respondents inexplicably calling the worst Bond ever their favorite. Current Bond Daniel Craig netted the favor of only 8 percent and rounding errors Timothy Dalton and George Lazenby both came in at just 1 percent.

Connery is without question the best, but let's go deeper. Here are all the Bonds ranked, according to me, a person with opinions.

1. Sean Connery

2. Daniel Craig

3. Pierce Brosnan

4. Timothy Dalton

5. George Lazenby

6. Roger Moore

(Note: I didn't included David Niven because the 1967 Casino Royale doesn't count.)

Watch John Oliver Explain How Payday Loans Are Awful

| Mon Aug. 11, 2014 12:31 PM EDT

Payday lenders are awful, horrible scum who prey on the desperation of the working class. Payday loans are awful, horrible deals wherein a borrower gets a small amount of cash at an exceedingly high interest rate and agrees to pay it back in a short amount of time, typically two weeks. If a borrower can't pay it back then they're hit with an avalanche of fees and end up having to borrow more and then its a vicious cycle all the way down. According to the Center for Responsible Lending, the average borrower ends up paying $1,105 to borrow just $305.

On Sunday's Last Week Tonight, John Oliver made these points and more in a way that will make you eventually run your head into a brick wall because you have no more tears left to shed.

Watch:

Tue May. 27, 2014 7:55 PM EDT
Sun May. 11, 2014 4:32 PM EDT
Fri May. 9, 2014 7:07 PM EDT
Fri May. 9, 2014 2:56 PM EDT
Tue Apr. 29, 2014 1:31 PM EDT
Fri Apr. 18, 2014 5:29 PM EDT
Thu Apr. 17, 2014 4:12 PM EDT
Sat Mar. 29, 2014 10:18 AM EDT
Mon Mar. 24, 2014 6:10 PM EDT
Fri Mar. 7, 2014 3:46 PM EST
Thu Mar. 6, 2014 4:10 PM EST
Mon Feb. 3, 2014 2:02 AM EST