dana liebelson

Dana Liebelson

Reporter

Dana Liebelson is a reporter in Mother Jones' Washington bureau. Her work also appears in Marie Claire and The Week. In her free time, she plays electric violin and bass in a punk band.

Get my RSS |

How the Romney Video Went Viral

| Tue Sep. 18, 2012 6:00 AM EDT

On Monday, Mother Jones published now-infamous videos of a private fundraiser for Mitt Romney. By day's end several new memes would be born, Bloomberg would predict that "today, Mitt Romney lost the election," and Romney would hold a hasty late-night presser to respond. Here's a roundup of media highlights:

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Are Most Revolving-Door Lobbyists Breaking the Law?

| Fri Sep. 7, 2012 6:01 AM EDT

A new study picked up by Politico and National Journal this week contained findings that would make any DC journalist drool: About 57 percent of lobbyists who move through the revolving door from Capitol Hill into the private sector fail to adequately report their former government employment as mandated by the Lobbying Disclosure Act.

While that figure suggests that there's some serious K Street law-breaking going on, it doesn't tell the whole story. The study, published by Tim LaPira of James Madison University and H.F. Thomas III of the University of Texas at Austin, overlooked lobbyists who are filing their paperwork correctly, just not on forms the researchers reviewed.

One such lobbyist is William L. Ball, a former Secretary of the Navy under Ronald Reagan who worked for several years as a lobbyist for the Loeffler Group. I stumbled upon Ball when trying to find an example of a lobbyist in the wrong. The Center for Responsive Politics, which collects data on lobbyists, told me that Ball repeatedly failed to indicate his former government employment. But when I contacted Ball, he "respectfully" disagreed and sent me copies of his lobbying disclosure forms, which were filled out correctly.

VIDEO: Elizabeth Warren's "You Built That With Help" Speech

| Wed Sep. 5, 2012 9:22 PM EDT

A motto of this year's GOP convention was "We Built It." But remember when Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren reminded voters about how America really gets built? "There is nobody in this country that got rich on their own," she declared, in a clip that became a viral sensation. Watch:

VIDEO: The 5 Most Comically Bad Anti-Gay Ads, Ever

| Wed Sep. 5, 2012 1:17 PM EDT

There are political ads that attack candidates. There are ads that attack candidates' policies. There are even ads that attack candidates' health problems. But beneath that subterranean level is another class of ads: those that throw lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender voters under the bus. And regardless of how you feel about gay marriage, these kinds of ads hit rock bottom for an entirely different reason. They flunk acting, screenwriting, stage direction, and costume design 101. Here are five of the worst offenders:

1. "That's Not the Change I Voted For"

          

Sponsor: Campaign for American Values PAC (2012)

The Fail: The ominous jars of animal crackers, the old-timey "I just lost my job in a Lucille Ball comedy" music, the furrowed brows, the mysteriously awkward sentence cadences, and the completely false premise that these people actually voted for President Obama in 2008. 

2. "I'm Confused"

          

Sponsor: National Organization for Marriage (2009)

The Fail: Using small children to spout political views, excess blush, the fact that something or someone (the director?) has managed to inspire real, tangible terror in the smallest children, and saying "Our kids will be taught a new way of thinking!" like it's a bad thing.

3. "Boys Beware"

          

Sponsor: The Inglewood, California, Police Department and School District (1961) 

The Fail: Comparing homosexuality to smallpox, equating it with pedophilia, general fear-mongering, creepy facial hair, and the fact that our main character (Jimmy) vanishes at the end of the film, never to be seen or heard from again. 

4. "War on Religion"

          

Sponsor: Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas) (2011)

The Fail: Since when can't kids openly celebrate Christmas? And what does this have to do with Don't Ask Don't Tell? Also, someone has to say it: The rough-and-ready governor's Carhartt-style wardrobe is straight off the set of Brokeback Mountain.

5. "A Storm is Coming"

          

Sponsor: National Organization for Marriage (2009) 

Fail: What NOM had in quantity, it lacked in quality: special effects stolen from a Final Cut Pro tutorial, people photoshopped in front of said special effects, costumes from the J. Crew bargain bin, fake-sounding foreign accents, and a complete and total inversion of logic. Oh, and spiky-hair lady: How does gay marriage affect the way you live, anyway?

On the plus side, though, that NOM effort led to this great Futurama spoof ad:

6. BONUS: "Vote NO on robosexual marriage"

Fri Nov. 22, 2013 1:26 PM EST
Fri Nov. 1, 2013 11:31 AM EDT
Wed Jun. 18, 2014 6:00 AM EDT