Messaging Opportunity for the Left on Immigration

| Wed Aug. 20, 2008 11:46 AM EDT

American gold medalist Henry Cejudo, the son of an illegal immigrant, is a perfect example of why the DREAM Act is a worthy piece of legislation.

Advertise on

Wealth, or the Lack Thereof: One More Note About Biden

| Wed Aug. 20, 2008 10:45 AM EDT

Joe Biden, a leading contender for VP if you believe the buzz, was the least wealthy member of the last Senate and is likely near the bottom in this Senate.

Now, there is nothing inherently ennobling about being poor (I'd be a better man if there were), and there is nothing inherently corrupting about being rich. But the fact that Biden has been in the Senate for 35 years and hasn't seen his personal fortune blossom means that he hasn't used his position, and all the connections and insider knowledge that come with it, as a cash register. It's an easy thing to do without ever overstepping legal boundaries.

Biden has chosen not to. I think that speaks to his priorities and why, fundamentally, he is in Washington.

"Celebrity" Attack on the Airwaves in Yet Another Form

| Wed Aug. 20, 2008 9:54 AM EDT

McCain has a new radio ad out that says, "Celebrities like to spend their millions. Barack Obama is no different. Only it's your money he wants to spend."

I think it's safe to say that the Obama campaign hasn't hammered any message as hard as McCain has hammered this "celebrity" attack. Which is funny, because you'd think "McCain is four more years of Bush" would be easier to make stick, and more effective to boot.

And, for what it's worth, it looks like I was wrong about the "celebrity" attack. I thought it was too transparently silly to be usable. These new poll numbers, which show McCain leading by five, indicate otherwise.

Obama Explains What He Wants in a VP

| Tue Aug. 19, 2008 10:09 PM EDT

Via Ambinder:

Let me tell you first what I won't do. I won't hand over my energy policy to my vice president, without knowing necessarily what he's doing. I wont have my vice president engineering my foreign policy for me. The buck will stop with me, because I will be the president. My vice president, also by the way my vice president also will be a member of the executive branch, he won't be one of these 4th branches of government where he thinks he's above the law. But here's what I do want from my vice president, I want somebody who has integrity, who's in politics for the right reasons, I want somebody who is independent. Somebody who is able to say to me, 'you know what, Mr. President, I think you're wrong on this and here's why' and will give me (applause) who will help me think through major issues and consult with me, would be a key advisor. I want somebody who is capable of being president and who I would trust to be president. That's the first criteria for vice president. And the final thing is I want a [vice] president who shares with me a passion to make the lives of the American people better than they are right now. I want someone who is not in it just because they want to have their name up in lights or end up being president. I want somebody who is mad right now, that people are losing their jobs. And is mad right now that people have seen their incomes decline, and want to rebuild the middle class in this country. That's the kind of person that I want; somebody who in their gut knows where they came from and believes that we have to grow this country from the bottom up.

Begin speculating... NOW!

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.

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 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 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—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:

Advertise on

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

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.


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.