Blogs

Hooray: Rachel Maddow Gets Her Own MSNBC Show

| Tue Aug. 19, 2008 6:37 PM EDT

mojo-photo-maddow.jpgNothing against Dan Abrams. Air America host Rachel Maddow will be taking over Abrams' 9 p.m. slot on MSNBC effective, like, right away: Abrams will sign off Thursday and Maddow will kick off her show September 8. The move has long been rumored since everybody thought she was awesome, and Abrams will stick around in a general manager role. Everybody's happy!

After the jump: More praise for Maddow, and watch her take down Pat Buchanan.

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Welcome Inkblot, Domino, and Kevin Drum

| Tue Aug. 19, 2008 2:42 PM EDT

Remember 2002? There was no war, house prices could never go down, and the Olsen twins had a kids' show. That's when a recovering marketing executive in Orange County opened a Blogspot account, dubbed himself Calpundit, and began posting daily political commentary, often interspersed with his own data-crunching and graphs. He soon drew a following, and within a couple of years was widely known as one of the pioneers of the political blogosphere (and also the inventor of Friday catblogging). That guy, of course, was Kevin Drum, and this Friday, August 22, marks both his sixth anniversary as a blogger and his first day at motherjones.com. For almost as long as he's been blogging, Clara and I have been fans of Kevin's; since we took the helm of Mother Jones, we've been fortunate to have him contribute to the magazine fairly regularly, and we always thought that he'd be a great complement to our growing investigative reporting team. So we're thrilled to welcome him.

Kevin's coming over from Washington Monthly, where he'll be replaced by Steve Benen of the Carpetbagger Report and Hilzoy of Obsidian Wings. He'll have his own blog at motherjones.com while MoJoBlog will remain a group effort powered by the entire MoJo team, including Washington bureau chief David Corn and the prolific Jonathan Stein.

Kevin comes on board as our web team is busy completely overhauling the site. Before the election, you'll see a whole new motherjones.com—a new look, a much improved community commenting system. Kevin's gotten a sneak peek at the design-in-progress and says it "should look great"—which, coming from a guy not known for hyperbole, is pretty close to unbridled enthusiasm.

Click below to hear Kevin talk about his cats, blog trends, and why he's not going to the conventions:

Whut If Barack Wuz a Kitteh?

| Tue Aug. 19, 2008 2:05 PM EDT

drinksaway.jpgThe lead-up to the convention just got a little weirder. Adorable, but weird. Check out Slate's video of "Pol Cats: The Treadmill." It's a "satire" of Hillary and Barack's political aspirations, as illustrated by two felines running on a treadmill. Hillary is a fluffy calico, and Barack is a black cat with tiny white socks. If we wanted to get literal, the Barack cat should be half-white, but hey, they're running on a freakin' treadmill. The video's not hilarious, but it's probably more entertaining (and infinitely cuter) than the slew of post-convention political commercials that's in our future.

(Image courtesy of lolcats4obama.com)

I Have Faith This Number Is Higher for MoJoBlog Readers

| Tue Aug. 19, 2008 10:50 AM EDT

I'm less worried about those news reports of congressional approval ratings being at an all-time low. Apparently, only half of Americans know Democrats control the Congress.

The Emboldening of the American Media

| Tue Aug. 19, 2008 10:41 AM EDT

This AP article is already earning plaudits all over:

His top contenders are said to include Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Less traditional choices mentioned include former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, an abortion-rights supporter, and Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, the Democratic vice presidential prick in 2000 who now is an independent.

Placing John McCain's "Rich" In Context

| Tue Aug. 19, 2008 10:10 AM EDT

I love a well-made chart. And Ezra Klein just so happens to have one.

incomedistribution-thumb-480x320.jpg

As you can see, the chart reflects the answers McCain and Obama gave when asked to define "rich" at the Saddleback forum over the weekend. Obama said $150,000, an income which would put someone in the 94th percentile of American earners, and McCain said $5 million, which is just completely preposterous. As Ezra points out, this is dangerous:

Asking the world's tallest man to set cabinet heights, or the world's strongest man to decide the tension of jar lids, is going to leave you with some pretty tall cabinets and some pretty tightly closed jars. Similarly, asking one of the world's richest men to set your tax policy will end up with a pretty skewed set of policies: Say, a tax plan that gives his wife $370,000 in breaks. Again, nothing weird or malign: Just the naturally skewed perspective of someone who lives on a particular extreme, in this case, the extreme edge of the wealth distribution.

This is inevitable, of course. The American political system demands wealth as a condition of entrance. You have to be able to take time off in order to run for office (or even plan/contemplate a run for office), and you usually have to have a network of wealthy friends you can tap as donors and contacts. As a result, most people who make it to national politics are wealthy, and have the "naturally skewed perspective" that Ezra mentions.

I should add that there was hope for John McCain once. In 2001, he was one of two Republicans who opposed Bush's tax cuts, saying, "I'd like to see much more of this tax cut shared by working Americans... I think it still devotes too much of it to the wealthiest Americans." If you've seen his tax policy today, you know he no longer has such qualms.

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God Understands Irony

| Tue Aug. 19, 2008 10:04 AM EDT

A meeting of global warming deniers in Florida has been canceled due to a tropical storm.

The World According to Obama, According to the RNC

| Tue Aug. 19, 2008 9:35 AM EDT

A recent email to supporters from Robert M. "Mike" Duncan, Chairman of the Republican National Committee begins like this:

Do you think the redistribution of wealth by the federal government is one of America's best traditions? How about free child care? Free college tuition? Wage insurance? Nationalizing oil refineries? A global tax paid to the United Nations?

A lot of this is plain made up. The global tax paid to the UN is a reference to the Global Poverty Act, which Obama sponsored. It makes reducing global poverty a goal of American policy, but does not institute a global tax paid to anyone. And Obama has never said anything about nationalizing oil refineries.

As for "free college tuition," here's what the Obama website says:

Obama will make college affordable for all Americans by creating a new American Opportunity Tax Credit. This universal and fully refundable credit will ensure that the first $4,000 of a college education is completely free for most Americans, and will cover two-thirds the cost of tuition at the average public college or university and make community college tuition completely free for most students.

Not exactly what the GOP email would have you believe.

Basically, the GOP is using the most effective attacks, regardless of whether or not they are the most accurate. (Here's another example.) I know this isn't a startling revelation. But when was the last time you saw a Democrat play by the same rules? For example, considering this, a Democratic Party using the Republican playbook would call John McCain corrupt. Repeatedly.

Would it be accurate? Not exactly. The point is whether or not it would work.

Kevin's New Blog Home

| Mon Aug. 18, 2008 9:48 PM EDT

KEVIN'S NEW BLOG HOME....Hi everyone. If you're looking for my upcoming new home at Mother Jones, this is it. There's nothing here yet, but if you bookmark the site now you'll be ahead of the game. Blogging will officially begin here on Friday, August 22.

And just so you know: the design is temporary. Mother Jones is in the middle of a major site redesign, and in a couple of months the blog will look entirely different. So no complaints yet, OK?

Living Green in Denmark

| Mon Aug. 18, 2008 9:40 PM EDT

794px-Ophalingsspil.jpg The inhabitants of the Danish island of Samsø have achieved their target of self-sufficiency in renewable power in only 10 years. Eleven wind turbines now tower over green fields and 10 rise from the North Sea. Rye, wheat and straw are used to heat the one-story buildings. Solar panels have sprouted on roof tiles, reports Planet Ark.

Samsø is home to just 4,000 people. Yet without any construction subsidies, the islanders have invested $84 million of their own money. That's $20,000 per person on average. It's a challenge their government set for the island in 1997, funded largely through local taxes and individual investments. Outside magazine calls it a muscular combination of new technologies, capitalist smarts, and old-school stewardship.

Some residents homes have opted to stay with oil furnaces for heating. Cars are still common. Yet the island has become carbon neutral because the wind turbines offset emissions from cars and oil furnaces.