Blogs

Whut If Barack Wuz a Kitteh?

| Tue Aug. 19, 2008 3:05 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)

Advertise on MotherJones.com

I Have Faith This Number Is Higher for MoJoBlog Readers

| Tue Aug. 19, 2008 11:50 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 11:41 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 11:10 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.

God Understands Irony

| Tue Aug. 19, 2008 11:04 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 10:35 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.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Kevin's New Blog Home

| Mon Aug. 18, 2008 10:48 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 10:40 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.

Primary Sources: The 1940 Census on "White"

| Mon Aug. 18, 2008 8:49 PM EDT

From AP comes the news that by 2042 whites will no longer be the majority ethnic group in the United States:

By 2050, whites will make up 46 percent of the population and blacks will make up 15 percent, a relatively small increase from today. Hispanics, who make up about 15 percent of the population today, will account for 30 percent in 2050, according to the new projections. Asians, which make up about 5 percent of the population, are projected to increase to 9 percent by 2050.

What does this mean? Historically, not a damn thing.

According to the current census a white person is:

A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa. It includes people who indicate their race as "White" or report entries such as Irish, German, Italian, Lebanese, Near Easterner, Arab, or Polish.

This means that someone whose parents were born in Morocco, who looks like this, would be white. Someone with parents from Argentina, who might look like this, would not be.

But it hasn't always been that way. Race is an arbitrary classification. The first census, in 1790, broke the population into exactly three racial groups: "free whites," "other persons," and "slaves."

By the 1910 census Americans were instructed to:

Write "W" for white; "B" for black; "Mu" for mulatto; "Ch" for Chinese; "Jp" for Japanese; "In" for Indian. For all persons not falling within one of these classes, write "Ot" (for other), and write on the left-hand margin of the schedule the race of the person so indicated. For census purposes, the term "black" (B) includes all persons who are evidently full-blooded negroes, while the term "mulatto" (Mu) includes all other persons having some proportion or perceptible trace of negro blood.

The 1940 census demanded that Americans sort their identity according to the following Byzantine racial classification system:

Your New Favorite Band: Glasvegas

| Mon Aug. 18, 2008 8:46 PM EDT

mojo-photo-glasvegas.jpgLike with most things, I'm a little late to the party on this one. This Scottish quartet came in 4th in the BBC's "Sound of 2008" poll, and NME ranked the first version of their single "Daddy's Gone" as their #2 song of 2007. Well, Alan McGee was way ahead of everybody: the Creation Records svengali who discovered Oasis spotted them in 2006. But there's still time to get on board before the backlash!

If you're wondering, here's what they sound like to me: imagine the Jesus & Mary Chain got off the drugs (mostly) and did some songs with Billy Bragg. There's a homey, folksy, eternal quality to their music, but the fuzzy almost-rockabilly sound lines them right up with hipsters like The Raveonettes. But while those two live out their '50s cinematic fantasies in their lyrics, Glasvegas sing about what they know, with a brutal plainness that Hemingway might have admired. "Daddy's Gone" offers no resolution, just emotion: "To see your son on Saturdays/What way is that to live your life?" New single "Geraldine" floats in on a Brian Eno-style whisper of guitar noise, and the stadium-size chords are definitely reminiscent of U2. But lead singer James Allan has a thick Scottish brogue that seems to double the syllables: "My name is Geraldine, I-eem yee-er sow-cial woer-er-kerrr!" Now that, my friends, is an accent.

The band are planning a quick tour of the East Coast in September and October, and while they just signed to Columbia, apparently the debut album won't be out until 2009. Oh well. Watch some videos after the jump.