Nick Baumann

Nick Baumann

Senior Editor

Nick is based in our DC bureau, where he covers national politics and civil liberties issues. Nick has also written for The Economist, The Atlantic, the Washington Monthly, and Commonweal. Email tips and insights to nbaumann [at] motherjones [dot] com. You can also follow him on Facebook.

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Nawt from Dawt

| Tue Oct. 23, 2007 11:37 AM EDT

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Slate's Patrick Radden Keefe links to a post reminding us that, no matter how good Ben Affleck's new movie Gone Baby Gone may be, the man is simply Nawt from Dawt. Keefe's review is worth a read, too, especially for this anecdote:

Even for our finest actors, the Boston accent is Everest: an irresistible, but insurmountable, challenge. . .This may seem like a minor matter to you. But for those of us who grew up possessing, or shedding, a Boston accent, it's a deal breaker. Consider, if you will, the embarrassing hilarity that tends to ensue when my dear father, unapologetic owner of a medium-thick Boston brogue, returns an off bottle of wine at a restaurant because "I know the taste of cork. And this tastes like cork."

Cork, indeed. Go Sawks!

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Terror on the High Seas and the Future of Media

| Wed Oct. 17, 2007 4:18 PM EDT

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Here's the update you've all been waiting for. New York media/celebrity gossip blog Gawker passes on a report that pirate attacks (yes) are up 14 percent this year. (Yes, pirates still exist. Now they have power boats and machine guns instead of corsairs and cannons. Yes, Mother Jones has covered pirates in the past. Basically, modern pirates are kind of like Dennis Kucinich: They might need to be taken more seriously, but they're just too amusing to really think critically about.) Anyway, is Nick Denton's Gawker the future of media? Old-media New York magazine investigates.

The Onion Gets It Right Again

| Wed Oct. 17, 2007 2:24 PM EDT

They got Iraq right. Now another bold prediction:


Poll: Bullshit Is Most Important Issue For 2008 Voters

Stay tuned to MoJo Blog and MotherJones.com for lots of non-bullshit news and analysis about subjects (Blackwater, Iraq, race, health care, actual policy controversies) that aren't nearly as important as John Edward's haircut or Hillary Clinton's gender.

CNN Idiocy Watch, Day 1757: Rubber Duckies of DEATH

| Wed Oct. 17, 2007 12:01 PM EDT

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And I quote: "Still ahead here in the Situation Room: a chemical in lots of household products that could harm all of us. It could harm your reproductive system as well. One state is so worried it's issuing a sweeping new ban... Stay with us, you're in the Situation Room."

They played the story a full 28 minutes later.

A little more info from CNN's correspondent on the "deadly chemical":

"THE AGENTS ARE CALLED 'PHTHALATES,' WOLF... SOUNDS OBSCURE... BUT IT'S VIRTUALLY IMPOSSIBLE NOT TO HAVE COME IN CONTACT WITH THEM SOMETIME IN YOUR LIFE."

"THE QUESTION IS: ARE THEY AS DANGEROUS AS SOME PEOPLE BELIEVE?"

Apparently it's in rubber duckies. Unfortunately, by the time they played this Very Important Story (28 minutes after the teaser), thousands of Americans had died from a chemical in nail polish and rubber duckies. Tragic. Damn You, Wolf Blitzer! BLOOD IS ON YOUR HANDS.

Breaking News: Next on CNN—Could a major cable news company be responsible for the deaths of thousands of rubber-ducky-loving-toddlers? Find out right after these messages from our pharmaceutical-company sponsors! But don't go away—You could die!

This issue's "Practical Values" column has more on Phthalates.

There's also this:


Greed: Why You Pay A Higher Tax Rate Than Buffett

| Mon Oct. 15, 2007 2:34 PM EDT

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The incomparable Mark Shields (any News Hour fans out there?) quotes Mr. Warren Buffett:

In my office, I have 18 or so people there, and I ask them to compute line 63, which is their tax, and then add payroll taxes, and compare it to line 43, which is their taxable income. And these people who make anywhere from $50,000 to $750,000 a year ... and the lowest person in the office pays a higher rate than I do. I paid 17.7 percent last year, counting payroll taxes. ... The [employees'] average was twice mine. [Private equity managers] say they fix up companies and they get paid for doing that. On balance, they're paying a 15 percent tax rate on that and no payroll taxes, and somebody that fixes up the restroom is paying 15.3 percent in payroll taxes, just to start with. [The janitor who works] for peanuts pays a higher tax rate than people who fix up companies [for] hundreds of millions of dollars annually in income [emphasis added].

That's right: on average, Warren Buffett's employees pay twice as much of their income in taxes as he does. That means you probably pay a higher percentage of your income in taxes than the second-richest person in the world. Thank God the new Democratic Congress is ignoring the fact that the industry gave "77 percent of its $8.2 million in donations to Democratic candidates" and cracking down on unfairly regressive taxation anyway. Oh, wait:

In Washington, D.C. last week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's office confirmed that the Senate will take no action this year on closing the tax loophole that saves private equity and other private investment fund managers an estimated $12 billion a year.

So what does all that money buy besides huge yachts? Well, it looks like there's a sale on politicians! Get them while the getting is good!

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