Sam Brodey

Sam Brodey

Online Editorial Fellow

Sam Brodey is an online editorial fellow at Mother Jones in San Francisco. Before coming to the magazine, he worked at Slate and PolicyMic while an undergrad at the University of Pennsylvania. Follow him on Twitter at @s_brodez or drop him a line at sbrodey [at] motherjones [dot] com.

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Elizabeth Warren Was on Fire This Weekend. Here Were Her 5 Best Lines.

| Mon Oct. 20, 2014 5:21 PM EDT

It's good to be Elizabeth Warren. The senior senator from Massachusetts spent her weekend campaigning for Democrats in Minnesota, Colorado, and Iowa, and by all accounts, she tore it up, and got more than a few calls to run for president. (Breaking: she still insists she isn't going to.) These were some of her biggest red-meat lines from the campaign trail:

1. "The game is rigged, and the Republicans rigged it. We can whine, we can whimper or we can fight back, and we’re here to fight back. We know what we’re fighting for and what we’re up against. We’ve got our voices, or votes and our willingness to fight. This is about democracy, about your future, and about the kind of country we want to build.”

2. "[W]ho does this government work for?…Does it work just for the millionaires, just for the billionaires, just for those who have armies of lobbyists and lawyers or does it work for the people? That’s the question in this race.”

3. "Republicans believe this country should work for those who are rich, those who are powerful, those who can hire armies of lobbyists and lawyers."

4. When conservatives came to power in the 1980s, the first thing they did was "fire the cops on Wall Street. They called it deregulation. But what it really meant was have at 'em boys. They were saying in effect to the biggest financial institutions: Any way you can trick or trap or fool anybody into signing anything, man, you can just rake in the profits."

5. "They ought to be wearing a T-shirt [that says]...'I got mine. The rest of you are on your own.' We can hang back, we can whine about what the Republicans have done…or we can fight back. Me, I’m fighting back!"

Contrast Warren's rock star treatment with the President's reception this weekend: he spoke at a campaign event in Maryland, and attendees filed out as soon as he started speaking. Obama is being kept at arms' length in close races—Warren, on the other hand, will head to New Hampshire this weekend to campaign for Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, who's running against Warren's old nemesis, Scott Brown.

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Watch This California Republican Candidate Pretend to Save a Drowning Kid

| Tue Oct. 14, 2014 4:21 PM EDT

Neel Kashkari, the Republican candidate for California governor, is out with a new ad attacking incumbent Gov. Jerry Brown's record on education. He has chosen to represent Brown's alleged "betrayal" of the Golden State's kids with a tasteful visual metaphor: a child drowning in a swimming pool.

With three weeks to go until election day, Kashkari is running far behind Brown. Most polls have found him trailing by at least 20 points for months against the generally popular Democratic governor. It's hardly Kashkari's first desperate-ish PR move: in the spring, he ran an ad in which he smashed a toy train in half with an ax to represent his opposition to California's bullet train project.

In July, a camera crew trailed him for a week as he attempted to live on $40 as a homeless person. And in August, Kashkari made a campaign issue out of a ruling that the nosebleed-causing emissions from the Southern California Sriracha hot-sauce factory were a "public nuisance."

But Kashkari's latest spot makes Texas gubernatorial hopeful Wendy Davis' controversial "wheelchair" ad look downright subtle. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the ad was produced by Something Else Strategies, which has made spots this election cycle for Republican Senate candidates like Iowa's Jodi "I grew up castrating hogs" Ernst.

What the Hell Is Going On in North Korea? Here Are the 5 Best Rumors About Kim Jong-Un

| Fri Oct. 10, 2014 3:50 PM EDT
Kim Jong-Un with his wife, Ri Sol Ju, in 2012

North Korea's Kim Jong-Un—known as "Supreme Leader," or "Fatty the Third," depending on where you are—has been conspicuously absent over the past month. At a July event, he was seen walking with a limp, and he hasn't made a public appearance since September 3rd. That's unusual for Kim, who made 25 public appearances in July alone. North Korean State media was forced to admit he'd been suffering from "discomfort."

Most observers figured Kim was sidelined with gout, which might as well be a Kim family tradition. Today, Kim was expected to make a comeback for a deeply important annual event—the anniversary of the founding of North Korea's Workers' Party. He was, shockingly, a no-show. No one ever knows what's really happening in North Korea, but the rumor mill, abuzz for weeks, has gone wild with speculation. Here's some of the craziest rumors the world's come up with to explain Kim's extended absence:

1. Kim is being phased out as leader of North Korea. Some version of this is fast becoming a popular take on the situation. The Daily Beast's Gordon C. Chang posited that Kim may have been "politically weak" this whole time and kept around as a pawn because of the cult of personality surrounding his family. Chang suggests that a shadowy group of army officials—led by Gen. Hwang Pyong So—could be moving to take power, rendering Kim nothing more than a figurehead.

2. There was a straight-up coup, and Kim fled. In a more extreme version of Rumor 1, some are saying that Kim did indeed exercise total control, and that a coup was staged to get rid of him. People are even saying his wife was executed. Super-credible "Pyongyang watchers" point to tightened security in the capital, an odd shuffle of party leaders and dissatisfaction with Kim's violent rule to back this one up. So who'd want to take him out? The army is a candidate, as is Kim's powerful but little-known younger sister, who could've made a play. If you're wondering how seriously to take these rumors, consider that some people thought a particular general—Vice Marshal Jo Myong-Rok—overthrew Kim. That guy is dead.

3. Kim was addicted to cheese. Judging from state media coverage, Kim has steadily put on weight since taking power. His alleged cheese addiction—he's rumored to have sent out officials to procure rare, expensive cheese in Europe—may be the culprit. An Indian newspaper reported that cheese-induced gout didn't strike Kim: apparently, his ankles broke because he got too fat. So, he may be recovering in a hospital, or cheese rehab.

4. Kim got too excited in a military drill and injured himself. A British tabloid alleged, among other things, that Kim walked with a limp after involving himself in a military drill. After "crawling" and "rolling around," he's said to have "injured his ankle and knee... because he is overweight."

5. Kim is fine! North Korean officials insist there's no problem—health-related or otherwise. "We must firmly establish the monolithic leadership system of Kim Jong Un," North Korea's state-run newspaper said. Guess that settles it.

Wed Sep. 10, 2014 3:32 PM EDT