Folks, sad news. Today marks my last day at Mother Jones. I'll be leaving the magazine after four happy years to attend the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley. It has been an absolute privilege to write for you in this space for the last two and a half years. Even now, I'm still a bit shocked that I was paid to express my thoughts and opinions on the day's headlines, something I had been doing loudly and proudly without pay for years. It's been a blast.

The editors here at the magazine have my eternal gratitude for the opportunities they bestowed upon me. They work extremely hard to put together a serious, compelling, and thought-provoking product (which, by the way, they sell at a very affordable price), and still made time to advise and nurture me. I hope you'll find space in your increasingly cluttered media tableau for a print subscription to the magazine. I'll have one. Maybe we can meet up in the comments section online.

I could wax on for a long time, but instead, I'll do this. If anyone out there in the wide world of MoJo is interested in my unvarnished thoughts on blogs, the media, and their ability to cover policy and politics, just ask for them in the comments section of this post over the next couple days. If we get a good conversation going, you can expect a fair amount of self-reflection and even some self-criticism from me.

Thanks for indulging me, everyone. Take care.

Happy May Day!  The Worker's Paradise of Cattistan welcomes you.  On the left, Domino strikes a heroic socialist post.  On the right, Inkblot relaxes with a concrete bunny while his human serfs provide for his every need.  Come join us, comrades!  You have nothing to lose but your chains.

Nominating Judges

Is Arlen Specter's defection to the Democratic Party bad for the Democrats?  Jay Newton-Small suggests there's one extremely specific way in which it might very well be.  You'll be unsurprised to hear that arcane Senate rules are at the bottom of it.

Souter's Legacy

So who will Obama nominate to replace David Souter?  Ideologically, probably someone who's not all that different.  But it's worth remembering that Souter's real legacy is that he's the one who made Supreme Court appointments the artery-hardened slugfests they are today.  It's not his fault or anything, but he was supposed to be a conservative strict constructionist when George H.W. Bush appointed him, and then, over time, turned out not to be.  In 1992 he voted with the pro-choice contingent in Planned Parenthood v. Casey and after that became a steadily more liberal influence on the court.  The conservative rallying cry following this slow-motion defection became "No more Souters!" and liberals learned the Souter lesson too.  The result: nobody gets nominated anymore unless their judicial temperament is fully and unequivocally cast in stone.  The market for moderates and interesting thinkers is pretty much gone.

And all because of mild mannered David Souter.  Who would have guessed?

What’s news about Chrysler is not that the big auto maker was pushed into bankruptcy or that a small number of greedy mutual and hedge fund operators tried to screw the deal–but that the United Auto Workers Union  has emerged with a 55 percent stake in the new company. Even amidst all the concessions and temporary plant closures, this is a victory of sorts for labor and for this union, which once stood at the forefront of progressive politics in the United States. 

The deal, of course, also has serious downsides for the UAW, which took deep cuts in pay and benefits, especially for new workers, and gained its 55 percent stake by accepting Chrysler equity for half the $10.6 billion obligation that the automaker owes a retiree health-care trust. Harley Shaiken, a labor expert at UC Berkeley, cautioned that if Chrysler fails in the long run, the equity could turn out to be worthless. Shaiken told Bloomberg News today: “The union will have a tough fight in the future to make sure competitiveness results in high-wage jobs rather than coming at their expense.”

Yet the deal was approved by an overwhelming majority of union members. And Obama’s announcement of an agreement that effectively includes union ownership is not just a strike at Wall Street; it could reach far beyond, to hit at the heart of the ruinous policies of our celebrated corporate industrial complex. 

Fun with Photoshop

James Fallows looks at the tableau of Obama muckymucks at yesterday's announcement that Chrysler would be allowed to file bankruptcy and is impressed with the "human dramas suggested by these faces."  It is, he says, "an impromptu work of art."

Today he's taking nominations for which Old Master it reminds him of.  My contribution is below: a crude Photoshop that makes the scene into an Old Master.  Enjoy!

Here's Salon's list of (the weirdo) Souter replacements.

Here's Slate's.

Here's Politico's.

Here are some hints from the NYT.

Yeah, lots of liberal overlap, but we'll all just have to stayed tuned. Obama is nothing if not inscrutable.

Been gleefully looking for Limbaugh-ian ones. Will post when their apoplexy lifts.

Tee hee.

Via Tyler Cowen, an idea from Geoffrey Miller about product branding that's "intriguing but absurd":

For example, companies could sell certain products only to consumers who have a certain minimum or maximum score on one or more of the certain Central Six [personality] traits....Lexus could sell the "Mensa Quartz Medallic" color of the LS 460 only to customers whose validated intelligence scores are high enough for them to join Mensa International (IQ 130+ or the top one in fifty).  The more exclusive "Prometheus Glacier Pearl" color could indicate an IQ above 160 (the top one in thirty thousand) — the qualification for joining the Prometheus Society.

Too late!  This idea is clearly stolen from J.T. M'Intosh's World Out of Mind, putatively a novel about an alien invasion of Earth, but in reality just a vehicle that allows him to lovingly describe a future in which everyone takes a cognitive test in early adulthood and is assigned a color forevermore.  There are the dull witted Browns, the worker bee Purples, the middling bright Reds, all the way through the Oranges, Yellows, and supergenius Whites.  And in case that's not enough for you, each color is further divided into its Circles at the bottom, followed by its Triangles and then its Stars.  The White Stars, needless to say, run the world.  And in M'Intosh's world, you wear your badge at all times or else.

(Yes, those are really the colors he used.  Race theorists should feel free to have a field day, especially since Miller's proposed colors are remarkably similar to M'Intosh's.)

50s science fiction.  You can't beat it.  We will now return to our normal political kvetching.

Naming Names

Ezra Klein says Obama called the bluff of the holdouts who forced Chrysler into Chapter 11: "Not only did the administration let Chrysler fall to the bankruptcy courts, but Obama called the investors out by name."

Really?  That's great news.  I want names!  Sadly, it turns out Obama didn't call out anyone by name at all, saying only that "a group of investment firms and hedge funds decided to hold out for the prospect of an unjustified taxpayer-funded bailout."

Boo.  Hiss.  I want names.  It's pitchfork time.

According to PEW, via CNN, the more religious you are, the more you dig torture:

The more often Americans go to church, the more likely they are to support the torture of suspected terrorists, according to a new survey...More than half of people who attend services at least once a week -- 54 percent -- said the use of torture against suspected terrorists is "often" or "sometimes" justified. Only 42 percent of people who "seldom or never" go to services agreed, according to the analysis released Wednesday by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.
White evangelical Protestants were the religious group most likely to say torture is often or sometimes justified -- more than six in 10 supported it. People unaffiliated with any religious organization were least likely to back it. Only four in 10 of them did.

Itals definitely mine!

Let's hear it for us godless ones!