Blogs

Second Muslim Ever Elected to Congress - For 56 Days

| Wed Mar. 12, 2008 11:26 AM EDT

andre-carson.jpg On Tuesday, Indiana's 7th Congressional District elected 33-year-old Andre Carson to the House of Representatives in a special election. Carson, a Muslim and a former cop, replaces his late grandmother, Julia Carson, the first African-American and the first woman to represent Indianapolis in Congress. Julia died in December of last year.

Carson is the second Muslim to ever serve in Congress. The first, Minnesota Representative Keith Ellison, was elected in 2006 and came under attack because of his faith. One can only hope that as more and more Muslims enter Congress, the openly discriminatory members ("In the next century we will have many more Muslims in the United States if we do not adopt strict immigration policies," said Virginia Rep. Virgil Goode, a Republican) will realize that Islam doesn't automatically turn people into monsters.

Carson won't have long to make an impact, however. There is a Democratic primary on May 6 to determine who will run for election in November. If Carson is to serve into 2009, he'll have to win three elections in the span of nine months.

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A Million Man March Against STDs?

| Wed Mar. 12, 2008 9:54 AM EDT
According to a new CDC study, 1 in 4 American teens has an STD. Specifically, reports CNN, they have one of these: "human papillomavirus, or HPV, which can cause cervical cancer and affected 18 percent of girls studied; chlamydia, which affected 4 percent; trichomoniasis, 2.5 percent; and herpes simplex virus, 2 percent."

As unsettling as this news is, it's downright mindbending that black girls' infection rates are more than double those for whites and Mexican Americans; nearly half had at least one STD. It's hard to figure out how to grapple with these numbers; they implicate religious repression, ingrained patriarchy, lack of basic sex ed, pathetic AIDS awareness, nihilism, and childhoods interrupted much too soon. Not just by the STD, but also by the poorly thought out sex that likely caused it.

Nearly half of black teenaged girls has an STD. My daughter will be a teen in only nine years, my son in only six. This is the reality they'll be facing?

Obama Wins Mississippi, and It's All About Race

| Tue Mar. 11, 2008 10:10 PM EDT

MSNBC has projected two things: (1) Obama has won tonight's Mississippi primary and (2) Obama's pledged delegate lead will be 160 at the end of the night. Hillary Clinton will have to win 64% of all remaining pledged delegates in order to finish with the pledged delegate lead. That is, shall we say, highly unlikely.

The Clinton campaign plan, best I can see it, is to downplay Mississippi, play up Pennsylvania and win it, and then take the remainder of the states (potentially including do-overs in Michigan and Florida) by severely tarnishing Obama's luster. Narrow the popular vote to almost nothing, then convince superdelegates that are undecided or that support Obama to choose Clinton because she has won the second half of the primary race. Is that a strategy that is likely to win? No, but it's the best they got.

Exit polling from Mississippi says race was a huge factor.*

Surrogate Problems Continued: How to Make a Bad Situation Worse

| Tue Mar. 11, 2008 9:28 PM EDT

Mrs. Ferraro, I respect the role you played in American history, but you are most definitely on the list of people from both campaigns that just need to stop talking.

After saying that Obama is only a hair's breadth from the Democratic nomination because he's black, Ferraro had this to say about her critics:

"Any time anybody does anything that in any way pulls this campaign down and says let's address reality and the problems we're facing in this world, you're accused of being racist, so you have to shut up," Ferraro said. "Racism works in two different directions. I really think they're attacking me because I'm white. How's that?"

Then she kept it going on Fox News:

Enough, enough! Go raise as much money as you possibly can for Hillary Clinton. Go campaign in some corner of Pennsylvania. But stop turning what should be a national debate over two strong candidates both looking to make history into an unhinged essentialist pissing match over whether racism or sexism is worse!

Dean Baker On Fed Bank Bailout

| Tue Mar. 11, 2008 8:23 PM EDT

In a must-read, Dean Baker explains here how the Federal Reserve may have just handed over hundreds of billions of government money to America's biggest banks. He also examines the reasons this is a bad idea, both the obvious and the non-obvious.

Senate Phase II Report To Be Whitewash?

| Tue Mar. 11, 2008 7:58 PM EDT

According to the Los Angeles Times, the Senate Intelligence Committee is finally wrapping up its report on whether government statements on Iraq were supported by the underlying intelligence. The committee promised to do this over four years ago.

I don't know anything about it beyond the article, but the reporting strongly suggests the Senate Intelligence Committee has failed to ask hard questions. Beyond the fact it's taken them this long to do it, there are two obvious problems:

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Lyrical Analysis Proves New Portishead Album a Tad Mopey

| Tue Mar. 11, 2008 6:08 PM EDT

mojo-photo-portisheadthirdcover.jpgBristol, UK-based trip-hop combo Portishead are known for two of the bleakest albums of the late '90s, Dummy and Portishead, whose claustrophobic, atonal soundscapes drew from jazz, soundtracks and cabaret. The music's chill was matched by singer Beth Gibbons' angst-ridden lyrics—witness 1997's "Only You," that kicks off the fun with the line "We suffer every day." Well, good morning to you too Beth. So, the band have been "on hiatus" for nearly ten years, but their comeback album Third has just leaked onto the intertubes. One wonders: have the intervening years lightened them up at all?

To be blunt: oh, hell no. On the contrary, they seem to have spent their time off in an underground factory/torture chamber in Antarctica, returning to the surface only to be betrayed by objects of affection and promptly sent back down to their cold, echoey prison. Lyrics sheets aren't yet available, so I poured a stiff drink and listened to the whole album, taking notes, and checking in with a counselor every few minutes. After the jump, a chart of all significant words that make more than one appearance.

Do You Live in a Wal-Mart State or a Starbucks State?

| Tue Mar. 11, 2008 4:50 PM EDT

starbucks.jpg

By way of Columbia University via the all-things-rural blog Daily Yonder come these interesting (albeit unsurprising) maps showing Wal-Mart and Starbuck density, state by state. (The darker the state, the higher the number of stores per capita.) Not too many surprises here. As you can see, the Southeast has the highest concentration of Wal-Marts, while Starbucks are dense on the West Coast. Also unsurprising is the red state/blue state correlation. As Daily Yonder points out:

Blue states don't have many Wal-Marts (except for New Hampshire). Red states don't have many Starbucks (except for Colorado).

But is it really a fair comparison? Sure, both are giant chains, but one sells coffee and the other sells, uh, everything. The Northeasterner in me thinks it'd be a whole lot more interesting to compare Starbucks to its regional arch-nemesis, Dunkin' Donuts.

Anti-Iran War Centcom Commander Resigns

| Tue Mar. 11, 2008 4:24 PM EDT

Admiral William "Fox" Fallon, the U.S. Centcom commander who has spoken up several times at Congressional hearings and to the press the past year to suggest a military confrontation with Iran would be ill advised, has resigned, Defense Secretary Robert Gates has just announced. Fallon was the subject of a flattering Esquire profile by military analyst Thomas P.M. Barnett this month - a piece that highlighted tensions between Fallon and the White House over his outspoken statements. Earlier today, NBC's Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski reported:

The Pentagon sharks are circling CENTCOM Commander Adm. William "Fox" Fallon for a magazine interview in which he appears to openly criticize President Bush on the administration's Iran policy. The very public comments raised speculation Fallon would either volunteer or be forced to resign. ...
Asked on Monday whether Defense Secretary Robert Gates still has full confidence in Fallon, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell would only say that Fallon "still enjoys a working – a good working relationship with the Secretary of Defense."
Although reporters did not specifically ask about a possible Fallon resignation, Morrell freely offered, "Admiral Fallon serves at the pleasure of the president." That's not exactly a ringing endorsement, but far from a political death knell.

Now we know that it was.

"As I say, the notion that this decision portends anything in terms of change in Iran policy is, to quote myself, 'ridiculous,' " Gates said.

Nevertheless, it is quite a signal for the White House to send to aides and in particular to the military to keep their thoughts on policy to themselves -- a concern voiced by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. "I am concerned that the resignation of Admiral William J. Fallon, commander of all U.S. forces in the Middle East and a military leader with more than three decades of command experience, is yet another example that independence and the frank, open airing of experts' views are not welcomed in this Administration," Reid said in a statement.

Can anybody say "Eric Shinseki?"

Is it 3 a.m. at Klan Headquarters?

| Tue Mar. 11, 2008 2:50 PM EDT

Orlando Patterson argues in today's New York Times that there's a racial subtext to Clinton's 3 a.m. ad. I didn't see it before and I'm not so sure I do now. But I don't dismiss Patterson—one of my intellectual guide stars—lightly.

More after the jump...