Editors' Note: Laura McClure is traveling in Liberia this month on an IRP Gatekeeper Editors trip organized by the International Reporting Project (IRP).

The Liberian lady holding our latest issue is Margreat Malley, one of the market women leaders in the West African Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP).

She—along with Etweda "Sugars" Cooper and the other smart, fearless feminists pictured here—helped bring an end to Liberia's civil war through nonviolent protests and mass sit-ins. (Watch the documentary "Pray the Devil Back to Hell" to learn more about their struggle.)

Etweda "Sugars" CooperEtweda "Sugars" Cooper

Now the Liberian women's movement faces a new challenge: With peace on the ground and Africa's first female president in office, can leaders find a way to engage younger feminists? Malley leads the call and response you'll hear in the recording below, taped in Liberia earlier this month. (Click the little arrow below this paragraph to play the recording.) The words she's singing: "Tomorrow's a brand new day."

Liberian peace activists

Stay tuned for more Africa dispatches.

Obama in 2012

Josh Marshall on Obama's chances in 2012:

People simply don't appreciate how seldom elected presidents get denied reelection. By my count, it's only happened three times in the last century. Carter, the first President Bush and Herbert Hoover. (If you come up with someone I'm missing I'll be terribly embarrassed. But please let me know.)

Actually, Josh is understating things. In general, Americans don't turf out parties from the White House in less than eight years. Hoover and Bush Sr. were both voted out after their party had held the presidency for 12 years.

The only exception to this rule in the past century is Jimmy Carter. There have been a couple of other close calls (Wilson in 1916, Bush Jr. in 2004), but that's it. 1980 is the only year in which a party got thrown out of the White House after only four years.

If the economy is in decent shape, Obama will win reelection. If it sucks, he's vulnerable. That's pretty much the shape of things.

I'm sad to report that Chalmers Johnson died on Saturday. He was a stalwart of TomDispatch, writing for it regularly from its early moments. Without the slightest doubt, he was one of the most remarkable authors I've had the pleasure to edit, no less be friends with. He saw our devolving American world with striking clarity and prescience. He wrote about it with precision, passion, and courage. He never softened a thought or cut a corner. I dedicated my new book to him, writing that he was "the most astute observer of the American way of war I know. He broke the ground and made the difference." I wouldn't change a word. He was a man on a journey from Depression-era Arizona through the Cold War, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and deep into a world in which the foundations of the American empire, too, began to shudder. A scholar of Japan, one-time Cold Warrior, and CIA consultant, in the twenty-first century, he became the most trenchant critic of American militarism around. I first read a book of his—on Communist peasants in North China facing the Japanese "kill-all, burn-all, loot-all" campaigns of the late 1930s—when I was 20. I last read him this week at age 66. I benefited from every word he wrote. His Blowback Trilogy (Blowback, The Sorrows of Empire, and Nemesis.) will be with us for decades to come. His final work, Dismantling the Empire: America's Last Best Hope, is a testament to his enduring power, even as his body was failing him. To my mind, his final question was this: What would the "sole superpower" look like as a bankrupt country? He asked that question. Nobody, I suspect, has the answer. We may find out. "Adios," he invariably said as he signed off on the phone. Adios, Chal.

Chalmers Johnson was also a regular contributor to Mother Jones. You can find an archive of his articles for us here.


I've lost two blog posts today. The first one was because I did something stupid. The second was because MoJo's blog software ate it. I'm tired of this.

So this is a plea for help. Can anyone recommend a good, simple Windows key logger? I don't need anything fancy, and I don't need to monitor other people's computers. Just my own. All I want is something that logs keystrokes to a file so that if I do something dumb, or the power goes out, or Drupal goes crazy, all I have to do is retrieve what I wrote from the log file and reconstruct it.

Any recommendations?

UPDATE: OK, I guess we can skip this. I'm already aware that writing in a different window would solve most of my problems with lost posts. For various reasons I prefer not to do this, but obviously it's an option.

Tab Mania

Dave Roberts tweets:

My great accomplishment yesterday was reducing the number of open tabs in my browser from 168 to 92.

I've read a lot of tab complaints like this over the years, but I've never quite understood them. Once you open up more than 20 or 30 tabs, there's not enough screen space to identify them even with a tiny icon (see below). So they're completely blank. Do people keep opening up tabs anyway, even though they're just tiny slivers that are totally unidentifiable? Or do they use add-ins of some kind that allow you to open lots of tabs but still retain some kind of minimal ID?

Just curious. Somehow I always feel like I'm missing something obvious when I read someone blogging or tweeting about this.

Ben Smith on the TSA backlash:

There's no doubt about who won on this issue: Matt Drudge chose it and drove it, illustrating both his continued power and his great sense of the public mood, and it now seems a matter of time until he gets results. But the moment is also, a smart Democrat notes, representative of how this administration (and to be fair, everyone in public life) continues to wrestle with "populism as narrated by the Drudge Report." There are some echoes of the Shirley Sherrod mess in the panicked, mixed reactions.

I know I'm totally off the reservation on this, which is a little weird since I'm usually a bit of a privacy crank. But I think liberals have been badly rolled on this. We're usually better about letting ourselves get sucked into the Drudge vortex.

From Tyler Cowen, on whether the TSA's new full body scanners are worth it:

Keep in mind there are significant negative externalities from exploding airplanes.

Don't you just love reading economist bloggers? In any case, there's more at the link, and Tyler suggests that if Americans really want to get outraged over something air related, they should get outraged over the "lack of markets in allocating scarce resources," and "airlines which ruthlessly screw you over, repeatedly, and lie to you and mistreat you." Roger that.

The Republican Party seems intent on doing all it can to ensure gridlock in the next Congress, with little expectation for major Democratic legislation to pass the Republican-controlled House. But increasingly, it looks like the GOP may be able to inflict the most damage on the Democratic agenda outside of Washington. The GOP made major 2010 gains in the state legislatures, some of which may move swiftly to enact significant fiscal and social reforms while partisan warfare overtakes Capitol Hill.

Before the midterms, 27 state legislatures were under Democratic control, while 14 were under GOP control, and eight states were split. Now, the Washington Post notes, the GOP has control over more state legislatures than the party has since 1952: "Republicans control 26 state legislatures, Democrats 17, and five have split control… It is the first time since the 1800s that Republicans will control the full legislatures in Alabama and North Carolina. Republicans will lead the Minnesota Senate for the first time ever."

In others, GOP state legislators may have simply benefitted from the down-ballot effect of being on the ticket with the national GOP. Either way, states with total Republican control now have far greater leeway to set and enact their agenda, particularly as compared to their Washington counterparts. The Post explains how the shift could empower GOP-controlled states to act on issues that stayed off the radar during the elections:

Social issues barely rated in this year's economy-centric midterm elections…But major GOP gains in state legislatures across the country - where policy on social issues is often set - left cultural conservatives newly empowered. Opponents of same-sex marriage, for instance, now see an opportunity to block or even reverse recent gains by gay rights advocates … [the National Organization for Marriage] The group focused particularly on Maine, New Hampshire, Minnesota and Iowa, four states grappling with the same-sex marriage issue.

Anti-choice advocates and legislatures have also vowed to make inroads on abortion through state-level programs and the new federal health law. In Wisconsin, the entire state flipped from blue to red: the governor's office and the state legislature, as well as one Senate seat. Wisconsin's GOP Governor-elect has now vowed to "oppose the state's expansion earlier this year of a program that provides free birth control to low-income people and youth as young as 15." Elsewhere, abortion advocates are pushing for states with newly empowered Republicans to bar private insurance companies from covering abortions as part of their health plan, following the lead of five other GOP-controlled states. In some states, groups like the National Organization for Marriage gave millions to GOP state candidates to help put them into office.

Socially liberal advocates—along with some state Republicans themselves—deny that GOP-controlled states will be eager to act on such social issues, given the prevailing concerns about jobs and the economy. Groups like pro-Republican, pro-gay GOProud, along with some tea party activists, have urged the national GOP to keep social issues off the agenda. But even so, there are many areas where fiscal and social issues intersect, and social conservatives may have an opportunity to put their imprimatur on the state level, at least. The fiscal crises that continue to grip state budgets have pushed conservative state legislatures across the country to put a huge host of programs on the chopping block, and funding for hot-button items like free contraceptives could be the first to go.

Gregg Gillis, better known by his DJ alias Girl Talk, has been a long-time favorite of hipsters and hip-hop enthusiasts. In performance, he hunches over his laptop, sweating and rocking rhythmically. By the end of his set, he’s invariably shirtless and surrounded by fans who are equally sweaty from all their booty popping, arm waving, and moshing. Girl Talk's distinctive style relies on the irreverent juxtaposition of pop sweethearts and public enemies—or new dogs and OGs—and the resulting mixes are are fresher than the sum of their parts. For example, his brand new CD, All Day, pits "Party in the USA" against "Robbin' Hoodz" to create a softer M.O.P. and a bad-ass version of Miley Cyrus. The album, now available for download, has thus far earned excellent accolades. We recently asked Gillis to reveal a few of his personal faves.

Mother Jones: What's your favorite release this year?

Girl Talk: Rick Ross' Teflon Don—it's heavy in many different ways.

Sasha Frere-Jones, The New Yorker's prolific pop-music critic, is about to get busier. Last week, the news broke that he had signed on as the new culture editor of The Daily, News Corporation's soon-to-debut iPad newspaper. For now, Frere-Jones, a musician in his own right and current member of the bands Piñata and Calvinist, continues to write—on race in American pop music and the end of hip-hop, among other volatile subjects—and to document his surroundings in photos he calls "barely photography." We caught up with Frere-Jones to quiz him about his current music faves and the perks of being one of the world's Top 30 critics.   

Mother Jones: What's your favorite new or upcoming release?