Blogs | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en Here's How the Sony Hack Is Like 9/11 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>I doubt that I'm the first to say this, but has anyone noticed a striking a similarity between 9/11 and the Sony hack? Not in terms of scope or malevolence, of course, but in terms of&mdash;what's the best word here? Creativity? Bang for the buck?</p> <p>Here's what I mean. The 9/11 attack wasn't especially sophisticated. In fact, it was famously crude and butt cheap. All it took was a few guys who learned rudimentary piloting skills and then carried some box cutters on board four airplanes<sup>1</sup>. The reason it worked is that it was brilliant. Nobody had ever considered that hijackers could take control of a plane without so much as a single cheap handgun, and even if they could, no one had really figured that they could do anything much worse than fly the plane somewhere and maybe engineer a hostage crisis. But al-Qaeda thought different. They understood that (a) box cutters would be good enough to hold pilots and passengers at bay for an hour or two, and (b) this <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_sony_911.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">was long enough to fly their airplanes into a pair of iconic skyscrapers, killing thousands in an extraordinarily gruesome way. They took a crude, simplistic weapon and figured out a way to cause damage that was both tangibly enormous and emotionally outsized.</p> <p>The Sony hack is a far smaller thing, but it shows a lot of the same hallmarks. Despite what press reports say, it wasn't really all that sophisticated. It was, to be sure, a step up from box cutters, but it's not like North Korea tried to hack into a nuclear power plant or the Pentagon. They picked a soft target. In fact, based on press reports, it sounds like even in the vast sea of crappy IT security that we call America, Sony Pictures was unusually lax. Hacking into their network was something that probably dozens of groups around the world could have done if they had thought about it. And like al-Qaeda before them, North Korea thought about it. And they realized that a Sony Pictures hack, done right, could have an outsized emotional impact. Like 9/11, it was a brilliant example of using a relatively crude tool to produce a gigantic payoff.</p> <p>So what happens next? The 9/11 attack was huge, but even for its size it provoked a mammoth overreaction that continues to this day. Will the Sony hack do the same? After the dozens of credit card hacks of the past couple of years corporations are finally getting the news that they need to secure their networks better, and the Sony hack might prompt even more companies to finally get serious about IT security. That would be good. On the other hand, it could also provoke an overreaction that ends up locking down corporate infrastructure so tightly that workplaces turn into digital gulags. That would be dumb.</p> <p>So then. Better corporate IT security: good. Massive overreaction: bad. Let's get things right this time.</p> <p><sup>1</sup>It also required recruiting 19 guys willing to die for a cause. This is definitely uncommon. But it doesn't really change the basic nature of how al-Qaeda managed to pull off such a massive attack.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Crime and Justice International Tech Sat, 20 Dec 2014 20:44:45 +0000 Kevin Drum 267096 at The Projectionists at One of LA's Most Famous Theaters Are Apparently Tired of Being Paid Like Crap <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The ArcLight is one of the most famous theaters in Hollywood. (It looks like a <a href="" target="_blank">golf ball</a>. In my house it is known as the golf ball movie theater.) Every Friday night, arm-linked lovers bustle in to find new big flicks. Last night some <a href="" target="_blank">patrons also found the following Christmas card</a>:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><a href=""><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/B5Ryi-ICEAAH50I.jpg-large_1.jpeg"></a> <div class="caption"><a href="" target="_blank">David Slack</a></div> </div> <p>This comes from TV writer <a href="" target="_blank">David Slack</a> <a href="" target="_blank">who added&nbsp;on Twitter</a>, "I love you, @ArcLightCinemas but I got this outside your theater. Don&rsquo;t be an a-hole. Pay your people better."</p> <p>It's <a href="" target="_blank">tough times for projectionists</a>. It's a high skilled job that for a long time made a reliable career, but over the last decade theaters have increasingly dropped their 35mm projectors in favor of digital setups that don't require the same technical proficiency&nbsp;to operate. ArcLight&nbsp;projectionists are having an especially difficult time. According to the <a href=";homeID=451243" target="_blank">Stage Technicians Unions</a>, which has been <a href="" target="_blank">protesting</a> the theater for <a href=";homeID=450361" target="_blank">months</a>, they&nbsp;make less than half what projectionists at competing theaters in LA make.&nbsp;</p> <p>I reached out to Chris Forman and will update if he gets back to me.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Sat, 20 Dec 2014 19:29:58 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 267086 at Personal Health Update <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>I haven't had any fresh news on the health front lately, so I haven't brought it up on the blog. But I continue to get lots of queries and good wishes, and today I finally have something to report. I'm 8 weeks through my 16-week regimen of chemotherapy, and last week my doctor ordered up sort of a halftime report on how I'm doing. This is an extended set of lab tests, and today she called to tell me the results.</p> <p>Apparently they came out great. Unfortunately, I don't actually remember the names of the protein markers and other things we were looking for, so I have to be a little vague here. Immunoglobulins? Lympho-somethings? In any case, the levels were way, way down, and that's what we were hoping for. This means the chemo is working well so far and the myeloma is hopefully on the run.</p> <p>That's my good news for the day. What's yours?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 20 Dec 2014 01:34:45 +0000 Kevin Drum 267081 at Watch President Obama Call on Female Reporters for Every Single Question During Friday's Presser <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>For his final press conference of 2014, President Obama exclusively called on female reporters. The White House had planned it that way:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>.<a href="">@PressSec</a> statement on questioner list: <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) <a href="">December 19, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>By the eighth and final question, Obama even appeared to <a href=";_r=0" target="_blank">ignore</a> a male reporter's attempt to participate. The result was amazing. <strong>Watch below:</strong></p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p></body></html> MoJo Video Obama Sex and Gender Fri, 19 Dec 2014 21:12:34 +0000 James West 267061 at Elizabeth Warren: Wall Street Just Got Another Giveaway <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Last week, Congress did Wall Street a solid. When lawmakers passed a giant spending bill that funds the government through September, they included a <a href="" target="_blank">provision</a> written by Citigroup lobbyists that allows banks to make more risky trades with taxpayer-insured money. Then, on Thursday, bankers got another giveaway: The Federal Reserve <a href="" target="_blank">announced</a> it would delay for up to two years implementation of a crucial section of the <a href="" target="_blank">Volcker rule</a>&mdash;one of the most important regulations to come out of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform bill. The rule generally forbids the high-risk trading by commercial banks that helped cause the financial crisis. The move by the Fed pushes the deadline for banks to comply past the next presidential election and gives Wall Street lobbyists more time to weaken it.</p> <p>"Less than a week after Wall Street slipped a bailout provision written by Citigroup into the government spending bill, the Fed has given the big banks another victory," Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said in a statement Friday.</p> <p>"It's really hard to see an excuse for this," says Marcus Stanley, the financial policy director at Americans for Financial Reform, an advocacy group.</p> <p>The Volcker rule ensures that financial institutions don't engage in something called proprietary trading, which is when a bank trades for its own benefit as opposed to for the benefit of its customers. Banks were supposed to comply with the Volcker rule by July 21, 2014. Last year, when banking watchdogs finalized the rule, the Fed granted banks a year-long extension. The Fed's Thursday announcement gives banks <em>another</em> year to get rid of certain investments&mdash;including those in private equity firms and hedge funds. The central bank also noted Thursday that it plans to push out the deadline again next year, by another 12 months. That brings the new compliance deadline to July 2017, far past the 2016 election. If the new president is a Republican, he could fill his administration with Wall Street insiders opposed to the rule, making it even easier for lobbyists to gut it.</p> <p>Before the Volcker rule was finalized last year, the financial industry fought like mad to weaken it. The regulation could slash the total annual profits of the eight largest US banks by up to&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">$10 billion</a>, according to an estimate by Standard &amp; Poor's. Banking reform advocates were fairly happy with way the final reg turned out. But now the financial industry has extra time to take a few more whacks at rule before banks actually have to obey it. "Wall Street&rsquo;s loophole lawyers and other hired guns will&hellip; continue to hit at the rule as if it were a pi&ntilde;ata," Dennis Kelleher, the president of the financial reform advocacy group Better Markets, <a href="" target="_blank">said</a> when regulators completed the rule in 2013.</p> <p>The Dodd-Frank law already contains a provision allowing banks that will have difficulty getting rid of particular investments before the initial compliance deadline to request an extension from banking regulators. The Fed's announcement yesterday amounts to an unnecessary "blanket" extension, Stanley says. "It's hogwash."</p></body></html> MoJo Economy Regulatory Affairs Fri, 19 Dec 2014 20:54:29 +0000 Erika Eichelberger 267016 at Friday Cat Blogging - 19 December 2014 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>I have to run, but before I do here's what passes for an action shot of the dynamic duo. It's about the best I can do these days. As you might guess, they're entranced with something we're waving around just outside the frame. Maybe a pencil? I'm not sure. But with cats, the cheapest cat toys are always the best.</p> <p>(Seriously. Hopper's favorite, by far, is an empty toilet paper tube. She just goes nuts over them.)</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_hilbert_2014_12_19_0.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 60px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 19 Dec 2014 19:55:06 +0000 Kevin Drum 267051 at Obama: Sony "Made a Mistake" Stopping the Release of "The Interview" <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>On Friday, President Barack Obama called Sony's decision to cancel the release of "The Interview" a "mistake."</p> <p>"We cannot have a society in which a dictator in some place can start imposing censorship in the United States," he<a href="" target="_blank"> told</a> reporters at his final press conference of the year. "Imagine if producers and distributors and others start engaging in self-censorship because they don&rsquo;t want to offend the sensibilities of someone who&rsquo;s sensibilities probably need to be offended."</p> <p>"I wish they'd spoken to me first," he added. "I would have told them: Do not get into the pattern in which you are intimidated."</p> <p>Earlier on Friday, the <a href="" target="_blank">FBI</a> officially linked the North Korean government to the cyber attack on Sony. In the press conference, Obama indicated the US government was considering how to respond.</p> <p>When asked for specifics, he said, "We've been working up a range of options. They will be presented to me and I will make a decision based on what I think is proportional and appropriate to the nature of this crime."</p> <iframe src="" width="630" height="354" scrolling="no" frameborder="0"></iframe></body></html> MoJo Video Media Obama Fri, 19 Dec 2014 19:40:58 +0000 Inae Oh 267046 at More Good News For Obamacare: Employer Health Coverage Hasn't Crashed <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_kaiser_employer_health_insurance_covered_0.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">The share of the population with employer health insurance has been slowly eroding for years. <a href="" target="_blank">The chart on the right</a> tells the story: total coverage rates have dropped from 70 percent to 62 percent since 2001. The trend is pretty clear: the number of workers covered by employer insurance has been dropping about half a percentage point per year for more than a decade.</p> <p>So has Obamacare accelerated this trend? There have long been fears that it might: once the exchanges were up and running, employers might decide that it was cheaper to ditch their own insurance and just pay their workers extra to buy coverage on the open market. But a new study says <a href="" target="_blank">that hasn't happened:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>We found essentially no change in offer rates throughout the study period. Overall, the rates stayed steady, at around 82 percent. Offer rates in small firms also held steady, at around 61 percent....We found no change in take-up rates overall, or by income or firm size, between June 2013 and September 2014.</p> <p>....<strong>As with offer and take-up rates of employer-sponsored insurance, there were no significant differences in coverage rates for the insurance overall or for any subgroup.</strong> The rates stayed roughly constant at about 71 percent across all workers, about 50 percent among workers in small firms, and about 82 percent among workers in large <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_employer_coverage_before_after_obamacare.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">firms. The rates also remained constant among low- and high-income workers in either small or large firms.</p> </blockquote> <p>Note that the percentages themselves differ between the Kaiser numbers and the study numbers thanks to differences in methodology. And there are, of course, plenty of reasons we might see only small changes in employer coverage. The economy has improved. Inertia might be keeping things in check for a while. Perhaps as Obamacare becomes settled law and its benefits become more widely known, more employers will drop their own coverage.</p> <p>Those are all possibilities. For now, though, it looks as though fears of employers dumping health coverage were unfounded. It's yet more good news for Obamacare.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Health Care Fri, 19 Dec 2014 18:50:55 +0000 Kevin Drum 267031 at Americans Are More Concerned About Racism Than at Anytime Since Rodney King <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/qocpg9wuae2lakl2em3ceg_0.png"><div class="caption">Gallup</div> </div> <p>A new poll conducted by Gallup found that <a href="" target="_blank">13 percent</a>&nbsp;of Americans believe racism is the country's most important problem,&nbsp;up from just 1 percent in November. It's the highest that number has been since the Rodney King verdict in 1992.</p> <p>The sharp rise follows national outrage and a wave of protests that swept the nation in response to the failure by two separate grand juries to indict two white officers who killed two black men, <a href="" target="_blank">Eric Garner</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">Michael Brown.</a></p> <p>According to the data published Friday, nonwhites are more than twice as likely as whites to call race relations/racism the country's most important problem:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/cdwhcccrpum3jhtjnja_5a.png"><div class="caption">Gallup</div> </div> <p>The latest poll echoes recent studies revealing similar sentiments, including <a href="" target="_blank">worsening</a> race relations and a growing distrust of law enforcement officers among Americans.&nbsp;As for the latter, however, Gallup found in a poll published earlier this week that while trust in police by nonwhites has <a href="" target="_blank">plummeted by 22 percent,</a> whites' views on the issue have barely changed.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/vozxveeicuwrc2qjvtkprg_0.png"><div class="caption">Gallup</div> </div> <p>As for the most important problem facing the nation, that's still the <a href="" target="_blank">government</a>, which leads racism by 2 points.</p> <p class="p1"><em>Correction: The original version of this story misstated the last time so many Americans viewed racism as the nation's biggest problem; it was after the Rodney King verdict, not his death.</em></p></body></html> MoJo Charts Crime and Justice Race and Ethnicity Fri, 19 Dec 2014 18:35:15 +0000 Inae Oh 267021 at Are Republicans Really Ready to Embrace Net Neutrality? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Well, this is unexpected. Democrats are generally in favor of net neutrality, the principle that all websites should be treated equally by internet service providers. Companies can't pay extra for faster service and ISPs can't slow down or block sites they don't <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/images/Blog_Net_Neutrality_Shirt.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">like. Naturally, since Democrats are in favor of this, Republicans are opposed. <a href="" target="_blank">But maybe not all <em>that</em> opposed:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Republicans in Congress appear likely to introduce legislation next month aimed at preventing Internet providers from speeding up some Web sites over others....<strong>Industry officials said they are discussing details of the proposal with several Republican lawmakers,</strong> whom they declined to name. The officials also said the proposal is being backed by several large telecommunications companies, which they also declined to name.</p> <p>One important piece of the proposed legislation would establish a new way for the FCC to regulate broadband providers by creating a separate provision of the Communications Act known as "Title X," the people said. Title X would enshrine elements of the tough net neutrality principles called for by President Obama last month. For example, it would give FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler the authority to prevent broadband companies from blocking or slowing traffic to Web sites, or charging content companies such as Netflix for faster access to their subscribers &mdash; a tactic known as "paid prioritization."</p> <p>....<strong>"Consensus on this issue is really not that far apart,"</strong> said an industry official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks were ongoing. "There's common understanding that rules are needed to protect consumers."</p> </blockquote> <p>Huh. I wonder if this is for real? The reported price for supporting this legislation is relatively small: the FCC would be prohibited from regulating the internet as a common carrier under Title II, something that even net neutrality supporters agree is problematic. The problem is that although Title II would indeed enshrine net neutrality, it comes with a ton of baggage that was designed for telephone networks and doesn't really translate well to the internet. This would require a lot of "regulatory forbearance" from the FCC, which is almost certain to end up being pretty messy. A new net-centric Title X, if it truly implements net neutrality, would be a much better solution. It would also be immune to court challenges.</p> <p>One possibility for such a law would be a modified version of net neutrality. My sense has always been that the real goal of net neutrality supporters is to make sure that internet providers don't provide fast lanes for companies willing to pay more, and don't slow down or block companies they dislike (perhaps because the companies provide services they compete with). At the same time, everyone acknowledges that video requires a lot of bandwidth, and internet providers legitimately need incentives to build out their networks to handle the growing data demands of video. So why not have content-neutral rules that set tariffs based on the type of service provided? Video providers might have to pay more than, say, Joe's Cafe, but all video providers would pay the same rate based on how much traffic they dump on the net. That rate would be subject to regulatory approval to prevent abuse.</p> <p>I dunno. Maybe that's too complicated. Maybe it's too hard to figure out traffic levels in a consistent way, and too hard to figure out how much video makes you a video provider. Maybe rules like this are too easy to game. In the end, it could be that the best bet is to simply agree on strong net neutrality, and then let ISPs charge their customers for bandwidth. If you watch a ton of Netflix, you're going to pay more. If you just check email once a day, you'll get a cheap plan.</p> <p>In any case, it's interesting that President Obama's announcement of support for strong net neutrality has really had an effect. It apparently motivated the FCC to get more serious about Title II regulation, and this in turn has motivated the industry to concede the net neutrality fight as long as they can win congressional approval of a more reasonable set of rules. The devil is in the details, of course, and I have no doubt that industry lobbyists will do their best to craft rules favorable to themselves. Luckily, there's a limit to how far they can go since it will almost certainly require Democratic support to pass a bill.</p> <p>Anyway, this is all just rumors and reports of rumors at this point. Stay tuned to see if it actually pans out.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Congress Regulatory Affairs Tech Fri, 19 Dec 2014 17:32:25 +0000 Kevin Drum 267026 at We Should Respond to North Korea. But What If We Can't? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Over at the all-new <em>New Republic</em>,&nbsp;Yishai Schwartz sounds the usual old-school <em>New Republic</em> war drums toward North Korea. "The only way to prevent future attacks," <a href="" target="_blank">he says,</a> "is for foreign governments to know that attacks against U.S. targets&mdash;cyber or kinetic&mdash;will bring fierce, yet proportionally appropriate, responses." And time is already running out. We should be doing this now now now.</p> <p>Right. So what's the deal, Obama? Why all the dithering in the face of this attack? Are you just&mdash;oh wait. Maybe there's more to this. <a href="" target="_blank">Here's the <em>Wall Street Journal</em>:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Responding presents its own set of challenges, with options that people familiar with the discussions say are either implausible or ineffective. North Korea's only connections to the Internet run through China, and some former officials say the U.S. should urge Beijing to get its neighbor to cut it out&hellip;But the U.S. already is in a standoff with China over accusations of bilateral hacking, making any aid in this crisis unlikely, the intelligence official said.</p> <p>Engaging in a counter-hack could also backfire, U.S. cyberpolicy experts said, in part because the U.S. is able to spy on North Korea by maintaining a foothold on some of its computer systems. A retaliatory cyberstrike could wind up damaging Washington's ability to spy on Pyongyang, a former intelligence official said. Another former U.S. official said policy makers remain squeamish about deploying cyberweapons against foreign targets.</p> <p>&hellip;North Korea is already an isolated nation, so there isn't much more economic pressure the U.S. can bring to bear on them either, these people said. Even publicly naming them as the suspected culprit presents diplomatic challenges, potentially causing problems for Japan, where Sony is based.</p> </blockquote> <p>I'd like to do something to stomp on North Korea too. Hell, 20 million North Koreans would be better off if we just invaded the damn place and put them all under NATO military rule. It's one of the few places on Earth you can say that about. However, I'm sensible enough to realize that things aren't that easy, and there's not much point in demanding "action" just because the situation is so hellish and frustrating.</p> <p>Ditto in this case. A US response would certainly be appropriate. And honestly, it's not as if there's really anyone taking the other side of that argument. But given the nature of the DPRK, a meaningful response would also be really hard. America just doesn't have a whole lot of leverage against a place like that. What's more, if we do respond, it's at least even odds that it will be done in some way that will never be made public.</p> <p>So let's cool our jets. Armchair posturing might make us feel better, but this isn't a partisan chew toy, and it's not a matter of the current administration being insufficiently hawkish. It's a matter of figuring out if there's even a <em>way</em> to respond effectively. Like it or not, it might turn out that there isn't.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum International Military Top Stories Fri, 19 Dec 2014 16:01:11 +0000 Kevin Drum 267011 at Watch Stephen Colbert End Final Episode with an Epic Celebrity-Soaked Sing-Along <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Stephen Colbert <a href="" target="_blank">bid farewell </a>to "The Colbert Report" with a joyous sing-along of "We'll Meet Again," which saw cameos from nearly every friend of the show you could imagine, from Jon Stewart, James Franco, Samantha Power, Patrick Stewart, Bill de Blasio, George Lucas, Big&nbsp;Bird, and many more. The inimitable Randy Newman played piano.</p> <p>It was a spectacular moment that concluded with our beloved host riding off into the night in Santa's sleigh, a unicorned Abraham Lincoln and non-unicorned Alex Trebek in tow.</p> <div style="background-color:#000000;width:640px;"> <div style="padding:4px;"><iframe frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"></iframe></div> </div> <p>Earlier on, Colbert managed to actually cheat death by defeating the Grim Reaper in a rousing, violent game of chess. "I just killed death. I'm immortal!" Here's to hoping there's more to come from our favorite right-wing blowhard:</p> <div style="background-color:#000000;width:640px;"> <div style="padding:4px;"><iframe frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"></iframe></div> </div></body></html> Mixed Media Video Media Fri, 19 Dec 2014 13:11:01 +0000 Inae Oh 267006 at 10 Movies About Freedom of Expression Hollywood Should Rewatch ASAP <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>On Wednesday, the powers that be at Sony officially pulled the plug on <em>The Interview</em>, after hackers behind the company's unprecedented hacking scandal threatened to unleash a <a href="" target="_blank">September 11th-like terrorism scheme</a> if the film was released as scheduled.</p> <p><em>The Interview</em> was supposed to be a dumb movie starring James Franco and Seth Rogen, in which the two conclude their adventures in North Korea by <a href="" target="_blank">blowing up</a> the country's man-child leader, Kim Jong-Un. This was supposed to be a movie no one was particularly interested in discussing, because it frankly sounded terrible. It should have marched on to its dumb release on Christmas Day, but alas, Sony capitulated to what were&nbsp;most likely <a href="" target="_blank">empty</a> threats. Paramount went even further by barring theaters from showing <a href="" target="_blank">"Team America.</a>"</p> <p>If movies have&nbsp;taught us anything over the years, it is that when someone tells you not to express yourself creatively, you tell them to fuck off, and dance your little heart out. Standing up to the forces of artistic oppression and censorship&nbsp;is the main lesson of literally every single film Hollywood has ever made.</p> <p>With that in mind, here are 10 movies Hollywood should rewatch:</p> <p><strong><em>1. Footloose</em></strong></p> <p><strong>Threat</strong>: Don't dance.</p> <p><strong>Resolution</strong>: Fuck 'em. Dance.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/giphy.gif" style="height: 354px; width: 636px;"></div> <p><strong style="line-height: 2em;"><em>2. Pleasantville</em></strong></p> <p><strong>Threat</strong>: Don't paint.</p> <p><strong>Resolution</strong>: Fuck 'em. Paint.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/200.gif" style="height: 391px; width: 630px;"></div> <p><em style="line-height: 2em;"><strong>3. Hamlet 2</strong></em></p> <p><strong>Threat</strong>: Don&rsquo;t do an awful play.</p> <p><strong>Resolution</strong>: Fuck 'em. Do your awful play in an old abandoned warehouse.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/anigif_enhanced-buzz-15382-1395076434-8.gif" style="height: 328px; width: 630px;"></div> <p><em style="line-height: 2em;"><strong>4. Shakespeare In Love</strong></em></p> <p><strong>Threat</strong>: Don't let a girl act.</p> <p><strong>Resolution</strong>: Fuck Colin Firth. Let Gwyneth act.&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/giphy_0.gif" style="height: 540px; width: 630px;"></div> <p><em style="line-height: 2em;"><strong>5. Mr. Holland's Opus</strong></em></p> <p><strong>Threat</strong>: Don't play rock &amp; roll.</p> <p><strong>Resolution</strong>: Sit on it, William H. Macy. Rock out.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/opus.gif" style="height: 239px; width: 630px;"></div> <p><em><strong>6. The People versus Larry Flynt </strong></em></p> <p><strong>Threat</strong>: Don't sell pornography and joke about Reverend Jerry Falwell having sex with his mother.</p> <p><strong>Resolution</strong>: Make as much pornography as you want. Joke extra hard about Reverend Jerry Falwell having sex with his mother.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/tumblr_mnifuj5Aua1qk8jpko5_250.gif" style="width: 600px;"></div> <p><em style="line-height: 2em;"><strong>7. Pump up the Volume&nbsp;</strong></em></p> <p><strong>Threat</strong>: Don't do a radio show where you tell truth to power.</p> <p><strong>Resolution</strong>: Pump up the volume.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/tumblr_mvc506dTYr1r0k2r8o5_250.gif" style="height: 411px; width: 630px;"></div> <p><em><strong>8. Pirate Radio </strong></em></p> <p><strong>Threat</strong>: Don't play dirty rock &amp; roll on the radio.</p> <p><strong>Resolution</strong>: Who's going to stop us? You? You and what Navy? Oh, the Royal Navy, I see.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/tumblr_m457igKW7y1qavb8jo1_500.gif" style="height: 263px; width: 630px;"></div> <p><em><strong>9. Cradle Will Rock</strong></em></p> <p><strong>Threat:</strong> Don't put on a leftist musical.</p> <p><strong>Resolution:</strong> Find another theater. Put on your leftist musical.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="473" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><strong><em>10. Dirty Dancing </em></strong></p> <p><strong>Threat</strong>: Don't dance in a sensual way with the guests.</p> <p><strong>Resolution:</strong> Fuck 'em. Cue Patrick Swayze: "Sorry about the disruption, folks, but I always do the last dance of the season. This year somebody told me not to. So I'm gonna do my kind of dancin' with a great partner, who's not only a terrific dancer. Somebody who's taught me that there are people willing to stand up for other people no matter what it costs them. Somebody who's taught me about the kind of person I wanna be. Miss Frances Houseman."&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/giphy%20%281%29_0.gif" style="height: 284px; width: 630px;"></div> <p>Stop putting baby in a corner, Hollywood.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> Mixed Media Video Film and TV Fri, 19 Dec 2014 11:00:08 +0000 Inae Oh and Ben Dreyfuss 266961 at 8 Weird Things You Can Buy for the Republican or Democrat In Your Life This Holiday Season <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>With five shopping days left until Christmas&mdash;and four for Hanukkah, slacker&mdash;you might be feeling pressure to come through with some great gifts for friends and family. Not to worry: the Republican and Democratic parties are here to help! From decorative lapel-wear to straight-talkin' tees, the parties' respective online stores are offering a festive array of gift selections this holiday season. Here are some real winners, sure to please the partisan in your life. In no particular order:</p> <p><strong>1. Limited Edition American Eagle Brooch</strong></p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/brooch_0.jpg"><div class="caption">National Republican Congressional Committee</div> </div> <p>From the National Republican Congressional Committee comes this <a href=";utm_medium=website&amp;utm_campaign=brooch_website_store_s" target="_blank">"exquisite piece."</a> For the low price of $72&mdash;or $200 for three!&mdash;you can show off your American pride while helping "preserve our Conservative House Majority."<br> &nbsp;</p> <p><strong>2. ACTION Mugs</strong></p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/actionmugs_0.jpg"><div class="caption">Organizing for Action</div> </div> <p>Take an executive action and order these mugs. Delicious-looking hot cocoa, shortbread cookies, and cozy blanket do not appear to be included.<br> &nbsp;</p> <p><strong>3. George W. Bush Quote Mousepad</strong></p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/gwb.jpg"><div class="caption">National Republican Congressional Committee</div> </div> <p>For that someone who could use a bit of W. wisdom with each click they make. <a href="" target="_blank">At $15</a>, it's a steal from the NRCC&mdash;and it could appreciate in value with any additional Bush presidencies.<br> &nbsp;</p> <p><strong>4. I Am Organizing For Action, Long-Sleeve-T Edition</strong></p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/orgforaction_0.jpg"><div class="caption"></div> </div> <p>There's no better way to communicate that you're organizing for action than this handsome, olive long-sleeve tee that says, "I am organizing for action." For $20, it's a solid choice for that community organizer you know with a flair for subtlety.<br> &nbsp;</p> <p><strong>5. George H.W. Bush Autograph Socks</strong></p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/bushsocks.jpg"><div class="caption">Republican National Committee</div> </div> <p>From the color combo to the presidential signature, these socks are just beautiful. They were supposedly designed for H.W. himself&mdash;widely known to be a <a href="" target="_blank">sock man</a>&mdash;and <a href="" target="_blank">for $41</a> (get it?!), this is the ideal gift for the boat-shoe-wearing College Republican in your life.<br> &nbsp;</p> <p><strong>6. Very Blue Shirt</strong></p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/democrat_0.jpg"><div class="caption"></div> </div> </div> <p>Great gift! Unless you have trouble distinguishing between identical shades of blue, or if you have <a href="" target="_blank">issues with the Democrats' logo rebrand</a>. But it's $30, and the <a href="" target="_blank">DNC says it can "withstand sports,"</a> so it's still an OK buy. It'll really complement that sweet arm tat.<br> &nbsp;</p> <p><strong>7. Anti-Tea Party Travel Mug</strong></p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/democratthing_0.jpg"><div class="caption"></div> </div> <p>There's nothing quite like a good travel mug with a strong opinion. At $30, this is a <a href="" target="_blank">certified "great gift."</a> The mug has even <a href="" target="_blank">pissed off the Daily Caller</a>&mdash;a priceless value-add.<br> &nbsp;</p> <p><strong>8. "Official" Cheney GOP Cowboy Hat</strong></p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/dickhat.jpg"><div class="caption">Republican National Committee</div> </div> <p>The clear winner this holiday season: this limited-edition hat from the RNC, engraved with Dick's signature, and lined with a gold Republican Party seal. For a cool $72, you can <a href="" target="_blank">"help elect our next Republican president"</a> while channeling America's favorite Republican vice president. It'll be sure to add that stylish touch to your enhanced cattle-rustlin' techniques.</p> <p><em>Disclaimer: Obviously, you should not buy any of these things. Nobody wants to talk politics at Christmas. Don't make <a href="" target="_blank">Mom get into this</a></em><a href="" target="_blank">. </a></p></body></html> MoJo Top Stories Fri, 19 Dec 2014 11:00:06 +0000 Sam Brodey 266756 at One Little Survey Question Explains All of Politics <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Jonathan Bernstein points to a new Kaiser survey that examines opposition to the individual mandate in Obamacare. <a href="" target="_blank">Here's what they found:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>It remains among the least popular aspects of the law&nbsp;&mdash; with just a 35 percent approval rating. But when people are told that the mandate doesn&rsquo;t affect most Americans because they already have coverage through an employer, support jumps to 62 percent.</p> </blockquote> <p>It only takes a modest bit of reading between the lines to figure out what's really going on here: when people find out that the mandate doesn't apply to them personally, lots of them are suddenly OK with it. In case politics has always mystified you, that's it in a nutshell. Now you know.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Health Care Fri, 19 Dec 2014 03:59:57 +0000 Kevin Drum 267001 at Nebraska and Oklahoma Sue to Overturn Legal Weed in Colorado <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The attorneys general of Nebraska and Oklahoma petitioned the US Supreme Court on Thursday to overturn pot legalization in Colorado, arguing that its legal weed has been spilling across their borders and fueling crime.</p> <p>"The state of Colorado has created a dangerous gap in the federal drug control system," the <a href="" target="_blank">suit alleges</a>. "Marijuana flows from this gap into neighboring states, undermining Plaintiff states' own marijuana bans, draining their treasuries, and placing stress on their criminal justice systems."</p> <p>The Department of Justice pledged last year not to interfere with pot legalization in Colorado and Washington, but only if the states met a list of conditions, including preventing legally purchased marijuana from being diverted to states where it's illegal. Nebraska and Oklahoma are now arguing that the Supreme Court should compel the DOJ to act.</p> <p>Evidence has been mounting that Colorado can't contain all of its weed. In June, <em>USA Today</em> <a href="" target="_blank">highlighted</a> the flow of its marijuana into small towns across Nebraska. Since 2011, the paper reported, felony drug arrests in Chappell, Nebraska, a town just seven miles north of the Colorado border, have jumped 400 percent.</p> <p>But marijuana reformers argue that governments can't contain illegally purchased weed either, and that a few growing pains on the path to a more sensible drug policy are inevitable. "These guys are on the wrong side of history," Mason Tvert, communications director for the pro-legalization Marijuana Policy Project, said in a statement. "They will be remembered similarly to how we think of state officials who fought to maintain alcohol prohibition years after other states ended it."</p> <p>Nebraska attorney general Jon Brunning has actually become too eager to support the alcohol industry, Tvert adds. Between 2008 and 2012, beer, wine, and alcohol interests donated $86,000 to Brunning. In 2012, he advocated for a lower tax rate for sweetened malt beverages such as hard lemonade. "It appears he is fighting to protect their turf," Tvert says. "He should explain why he thinks Colorado adults should not be able to use marijuana instead."<br> &nbsp;</p></body></html> MoJo Civil Liberties marijuana Fri, 19 Dec 2014 01:23:29 +0000 Josh Harkinson 266996 at Mystery Chart of the Day: What's Up With All the Skinny Economists? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The chart on the right is <a href="" target="_blank">excerpted from the <em>Wall Street Journal</em>.</a> It shows which occupations have the lowest obesity rates, and most of it makes sense. There are folks who do a lot of physical labor (janitors, <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_obesity_occupation.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">maids, cooks, etc.). There are health professionals who are probably hyper-aware of the risks of obesity. There are athletes and actors who have to stay in shape as part of their jobs.</p> <p>And then, at the very bottom, there are economists, scientists, and psychologists. What's up with that? Why would these folks be unusually slender? I can't even come up with a plausible hypothesis, aside from the possibility that these professions attract rabid obsessives who are so devoted to their jobs that they don't care about food. Aside from that, I got nothing. Put your best guess in comments.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Health Thu, 18 Dec 2014 22:22:49 +0000 Kevin Drum 266976 at Rick Perry Is One Lucky Dude <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">From James Pethokoukis:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The energy sector gives, and the energy sector takes. The stunning drop in oil prices looks like bad news for the &ldquo;Texas Miracle.&rdquo; (Texas is responsible for 40% of all US oil production &mdash; vs. 25% five years ago &mdash; and all of the net US job growth since 2007.) This from JPMorgan economist Michael Feroli: &ldquo;As we weigh the evidence, we think Texas will, at the least, have a rough 2015 ahead, and is at risk of slipping into a regional recession.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>Man, Rick Perry is one lucky guy, isn't he? It's true that the "Texas Miracle" <a href="" target="_blank">may not be quite the miracle Perry would like us to believe.</a> As the chart below shows in a nutshell, the Texas unemployment rate has fared only slightly better than the average of all its surrounding states.</p> <p>Still, Texas has certainly had strong absolute job growth. However, this is mostly due to (a) population growth; (b) the shale oil boom; and (c) surprisingly strict mortgage loan regulations combined with loose land use rules, which allowed Texas to escape the worst of the housing bubble. Perry had nothing to do with any of this. And now that oil is collapsing and might bring the miracle to a sudden end, Perry is leaving office and can avoid all blame for what happens next.</p> <p>One lucky guy indeed.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_texas_area_unemployment.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 17px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum 2016 Elections Economy Thu, 18 Dec 2014 19:00:42 +0000 Kevin Drum 266946 at Yeah, Democrats Are Pretty Pro-Corporate Too <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">A couple of days ago</a> I poured cold water on the idea that tea partiers might join up with the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party to form some kind of populist anti-corporate coalition. "Every once in a while they'll get themselves exercised over some trivial issue of 'crony capitalism' like reauthorizing the Export-Import bank," I said, but the truth is that the tea partiers have no real devotion to anti-corporatism. They just want to cut taxes and slash welfare.</p> <p>Over at <em>National Review</em>, Veronique de Rugy tries to make the case that ExIm is more important than I'm giving it credit for, but I'm not buying it. Sorry. It's just a shiny object of the moment that's both small and costs virtually nothing. On the other hand, I'm entirely willing to buy de Rugy's suggestion that <a href="" target="_blank">Democrats aren't especially anti-corporate either:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Please. They talk the talk, but when it&rsquo;s time to vote, they rarely walk the walk. In the end, not unlike a number of Republicans, Democrats rarely miss an opportunity to support big businesses. They support the Department of Energy&rsquo;s 1705 loans, which mostly go to wealthy energy companies, and they never fail to join Republicans in saving other corporate energy subsidies; they support the reauthorization of OPIC, which mostly benefits large corporations; they support farm subsidies, which mostly benefit large agro-businesses at the expenses of small farms; they support Obamacare, which among other things amounts to a huge giveaway to the insurance industry; they support auto and bank bailouts; and for all their complaints about Wall Street, they managed to write a law, Dodd-Frank, that in some ways protects the big financial institutions that they claim to despise.</p> </blockquote> <p>I'd quibble with some of this. Obamacare is indeed good for the insurance industry, but it's not <em>that</em> good. And anyway, this is mostly due to the fact that the structure of American health care is historically dependent on private insurance, and it's just not possible to completely overhaul that overnight. In this case, Democrats caved in to special interests as much because they had to as because they wanted to.</p> <p>Still, it's true that most Democrats are pretty cozy with corporate America. There's a smallish anti-corporate wing of the party, but it rarely has much influence because (a) it's usually outnumbered in the Democratic caucus and (b) there's essentially no anti-corporate wing of the Republican Party to team up with. Being pro-corporate is one of the few bipartisan issues left in Congress. There are lots of fights over small stuff, but it's mostly just window dressing that hides widespread agreement over the big stuff.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Congress Corporations Thu, 18 Dec 2014 17:39:15 +0000 Kevin Drum 266931 at Is Vladimir Putin Ready to Make a Deal? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_putin_press_conference_2014.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">In his yearly press conference, Vladimir Putin appeared to be trying to <a href=";action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;module=second-column-region&amp;region=top-news&amp;WT.nav=top-news" target="_blank">cool down the rhetoric over Ukraine:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Mr. Putin recognized the efforts of President Petro O. Poroshenko of Ukraine in ending the conflict in the southeast of that country, but he suggested that others in Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, may be trying to prolong the conflict....&ldquo;We hear a lot of militant statements; I believe President Poroshenko is seeking a settlement, but there is a need for practical action,&rdquo; Mr. Putin added. &ldquo;There is a need to observe the Minsk agreements&rdquo; calling for a cease-fire and a withdrawal of forces.</p> <p>Russia has toned down its talk on the Ukraine crisis in the past month, and some of its most incendiary language, like &ldquo;junta&rdquo; and &ldquo;Novorossiya,&rdquo; a blanket term used for the separatist territories, is no longer used on state-run television news. Mr. Putin also notably omitted those terms, which he had used in other public appearances, on Thursday.</p> </blockquote> <p>So does this mean Putin is adopting a more conciliatory attitude toward the West? <a href="" target="_blank">You be the judge:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>In general, he blamed &ldquo;external factors, first and foremost&rdquo; for creating Russia&rsquo;s situation &mdash; accusing the West of intentionally trying to weaken Russia. &ldquo;No matter what we do they are always against us,&rdquo; Putin said, one of a series of observations directed at how he said the West has been treating Russia.</p> <p>Putin attributed Western sanctions that have targeted Russia&rsquo;s defense, oil and gas and banking sectors for about &ldquo;25 percent&rdquo; of Russia&rsquo;s current difficulties.</p> <p>But Putin stood firm over the actions that brought on the Western backlash, including Russia&rsquo;s annexation of the Crimea peninsula after pro-Moscow rebels in eastern Ukraine began an uprising earlier this year....&ldquo;Taking Texas from Mexico is fair, but whatever we are doing is not fair?&rdquo; he said, in comments seemingly directed at the United States.</p> <p>Putin also suggested that the West was demanding too many concessions from Russia, including further nuclear disarmament. Likening Russia to a bear &mdash; a longtime symbol of the country &mdash; he chided the West for insisting the Russian bear &ldquo;just eat honey instead of hunting animals.&rdquo;</p> <p>&ldquo;They are trying to chain the bear. And when they manage to chain the bear, they will take out his fangs and claws,&rdquo; Putin said. &ldquo;This is how nuclear deterrence is working at the moment.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>For what it's worth, I'd say Putin is probably right about sanctions being responsible for around 25 percent of Russia's economic problems. As for his guess that those problems will last two years before Russia returns to growth? That might not be far off either, though I suspect growth will be pretty slow for longer than that.</p> <p>It's hard to render a real judgment about Putin's intentions without being fluent in Russian and watching the press conference in real time, but based on press reports I'd say Putin's anti-Western comments were milder than they could have been. My guess is that events in Ukraine really haven't worked out the way he hoped, and he'd be willing to go ahead and disengage if he could do so without admitting that he's conceding anything. The anti-Western bluster is just part of that. (Though it's also partly genuine: Putin really does believe, with some justification, that the West wants to hem in Russia.)</p> <p>Oddly, then, I'd take all this as a mildly positive sign. The rhetoric seemed fairly pro forma; Putin obviously knows that sanctions are hurting him; and there were no serious provocations over Ukraine. I'll bet there's a deal to be made with Putin as long as it's done quietly.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum International Thu, 18 Dec 2014 16:53:59 +0000 Kevin Drum 266926 at The First Person Jeb Bush Followed on Twitter Was Karl Rove <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Former Florida Republican Gov. Jeb Bush is running for president. (<a href="" target="_blank">Maybe</a>.) But just how much does he have in common with his brother, George W.? His Twitter page might offer a clue. The <a href="" target="_blank">first human</a> Jeb followed on Twitter was none other than his brother's former deputy chief of staff&mdash;Fox News analyst Karl Rove. So is the <a href="" target="_blank">Oracle of Ohio</a> going to be back in the fold come 2016? We can only hold our breath. Or perhaps Jeb just likes Rove's engaging Twitter personality. (Full disclosure: the first person I followed on Twitter was <a href="" target="_blank">Chuck Grassley</a>.)</p></body></html> MoJo Elections Jeb Bush Thu, 18 Dec 2014 16:23:10 +0000 Tim Murphy 266921 at Listen to the Real Stephen Colbert Explain How He Maintained His Flawless Character for 9 Years <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src=";color=ff5500" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p>The curtain comes down on <em>The Colbert Report</em> Thursday night after a spectacular nine-year run on Comedy Central. But a big question remains: How on Earth did Colbert stay in character for so long?</p> <p>"Stephen Colbert," the character, is indisputably a brilliant creation. I watched every week because "Stephen Colbert" attacked right-wing media by embodying its most outlandish traits; the more sincere he was, the more searing and audacious the satire. He was sophisticated and simple at the same time. He gave viewers an amazing gift: temporary relief from the political divide by skewering idiocy at its source. (My colleague Inae Oh has compiled some of his best segments <a href="" target="_blank">today</a>).</p> <p>It was a wildly impressive formula, in part for the stamina it required from Stephen Colbert, the comic. As fellow performer Jimmy Fallon <a href="" target="_blank">told</a> the<em> New York Times</em> this week: "I was one of those who said, 'He'll do it for six months and then he'll move on.'&hellip;It's gets old. But not this. He's a genius."</p> <p>That's what makes the above podcast, <em>Working, With David Plotz</em>, so fascinating: It's Colbert, in his own words, out of character, describing his daily routine of getting into character; a real craftsman. It also reveals the vulnerable human performer within; a real artist.</p> <p>Broadcaster and media critic Brooke Gladstone <a href="" target="_blank">said back in April</a> that Colbert "seems to be a modest man, too modest perhaps, to see that by lightly shedding the cap of his creation, he's depriving us all of a national treasure."</p> <p>Long live Colbert.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Podcasts Media Thu, 18 Dec 2014 16:03:51 +0000 James West 266911 at Rape Is Way Down Over the Past Two Decades — But So Is All Violent Crime <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Keith Humphreys passes along some <a href=";utm_medium=feed&amp;utm_campaign=Feed%3A+RealityBasedCommunity+%28The+RBC%29" target="_blank">positive news about rape:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Twenty years ago, the National Crime Victimization Survey was redesigned to do a better job detecting sexual assault....In the space of one generation, the raw number of rapes has dropped by 45% and the population-adjusted rate of rape has dropped 55%.</p> <p>I started my career working with and advocating for rape victims, and no one needs to convince me that the only acceptable goal for society is to have no rapes at all. But that doesn&rsquo;t change the fact that we have experienced an astonishingly positive change that should lead us to (1) <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_ncvs_crime_1993_2013.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">Figure out how it was achieved so that we can build on it <strong>(personally, I credit the feminist movement, but there may be other variables)</strong> and (2) Never give up hope that we can push back dramatically against even the most horrific social problems.</p> </blockquote> <p>I have to call foul on this. The starting point for this statistic is 1992, the absolute peak of the violent crime wave in America that started during the 60s and continued rising for a generation. Since that peak, <em>all</em> violent crime <a href="" target="_blank">as measured by the NCVS</a> has declined by well over half. The decline in rape is simply part of this overall trend, not a bright spot in an otherwise grim crime picture.</p> <p>In fact, it's just the opposite: the decline in the reported rape rate has <em>lagged</em> the overall drop in reported violent crime. It's plausible that the feminist movement has something to do with this, since it's encouraged more women to report rapes and pushed the criminal justice system into taking rape more seriously. But the raw decline in rape itself? That's almost certainly due not to feminism, but to the same factors that have been responsible for the stunning decline in all violent crime over the past two decades. My hypothesis about this is <a href="" target="_blank">pretty well known,</a> so I won't repeat it here. But whatever it is, it's something pretty broad-based.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Crime and Justice Thu, 18 Dec 2014 15:51:58 +0000 Kevin Drum 266916 at Bid Farewell to "The Colbert Report" with Some of the Show's Most Genius Moments <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Tonight, Stephen Colbert will close the curtain on the&nbsp;ludicrous, yet wholly enjoyable persona he created as the conservative host of "The Colbert Report."&nbsp;</p> <p>As the nation prepares to say goodbye, <em>Mother Jones</em>&nbsp;pays tribute to everyone's favorite right-wing blowhard&nbsp;with a round-up of&nbsp;some of our favorite&nbsp;moments from the show's stellar nine year run.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>1. In which Colbert takes on Mitt Romney's infamous 47 percent video by throwing shrimp at poor people:&nbsp;</strong><span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif;">"We job creators know there is no such thing as a free lunch. Lunch is $50,000 a plate!"</span></p> <div style="background-color:#000000;width:640px;"> <div style="padding:4px;"><iframe frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"></iframe></div> </div> <p><strong style="line-height: 2em;">2. In which Colbert becomes a migrant worker for a day:&nbsp;</strong><span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 2em;">"</span><span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif;">Are there any beans that are in the shade?"</span></p> <div style="background-color:#000000;width:640px;"> <div style="padding:4px;"><iframe frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"></iframe></div> </div> <p><strong>3. In which Colbert cites our study on&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">income disparity</a>&nbsp;to propose the rich starting their own country, America&nbsp;Plus:&nbsp;</strong><span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif;">"We already live in gated communities, I say we just connect them all with really long driveways. To visit, you just need a green card!"</span></p> <div style="background-color:#000000;width:640px;"> <div style="padding:4px;"><iframe frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"></iframe></div> </div> <p><span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif;"><strong>4. In which Colbert repeatedly&nbsp;stabs his Karl Rove substitute,&nbsp;"Ham Rove,"&nbsp;with a large knife,&nbsp;a segment that prompted the political operative to&nbsp;question Colbert's mental state:</strong> "Ham Rove, my salted and trusted advisor."</span></p> <div style="background-color:#000000;width:640px;"> <div style="padding:4px;"><iframe frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"></iframe></div> </div> <p><strong>5. In which Colbert and Buddy Cole take on Russia's anti-gay laws through the lens of the U.S. speed skating team:</strong> "Is speed skating a choice or were you born a speed skater?"</p> <div style="background-color:#000000;width:640px;"> <div style="padding:4px;"><iframe frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"></iframe></div> </div> <p><strong>6. In which Colbert hypnotically dances with Bryan Cranston, Jeff Bridges, and even Henry Kissinger to "Get Lucky": "</strong>This is Colbchella goddammit!"</p> <div style="background-color:#000000;width:640px;"> <div style="padding:4px;"><iframe frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"></iframe></div> </div> <p><strong>7. In which Colbert breaks character to pay a moving tribute to his mother, Lorna Colbert:</strong> "If you also like me, that's because of my mom."&nbsp;</p> <div style="background-color:#000000;width:640px;"> <div style="padding:4px;"><iframe frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"></iframe></div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> Mixed Media Video Media Thu, 18 Dec 2014 11:17:05 +0000 Inae Oh 266791 at How a 20-Minute Conversation Can Convince People With Anti-Gay Views to Change Their Mind <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>A recent study suggests that a single conversation between a gay person and a same-sex marriage opponent may have the power to change the&nbsp;person's mind on the issue.&nbsp;</p> <p>The study, published last week in the journal <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Science</em></a>, analyzed data collected by the <a href="" target="_blank">Los Angeles LGBT Center</a> after it sent pro-gay marriage canvassers to areas of southern California that had voted overwhelmingly in favor of Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in California in 2008 until the Supreme Court overturned it in 2013. Starting in 2009, canvassers&mdash;both gay and straight&mdash;engaged in over 12,000 brief one-on-one conversations with those precincts' registered voters about either gay marriage or, with a placebo group, recycling. The survey found that respondents who had discussed gay marriage showed less prejudice towards gay people following their chat with the canvasser than those who had discussed recycling.</p> <p>But these conversations weren't equally effective across the board: At a certain point in the initial conversation, the gay canvassers had been instructed to reveal that they were gay and hoping to get married, but that the law prohibited it, whereas the straight canvassers spoke of a "friend" or "relative."</p> <p>Only the gay canvassers' effectiveness proved enduring.</p> <p>"Those who discussed same-sex marriage with straight canvassers," write the study's authors, Michael J. LaCour and Donald P. Green, "quickly reverted to their pretreatment baseline opinions, and 90% of the initial treatment effect dissipated a month after the conversation with canvassers."</p> <p>Meanwhile, the respondents who spoke to gay canvassers remained just as enlightened nine months later.</p> <p>"The data show that in 20 minutes, the Los Angeles LGBT Center&rsquo;s volunteer canvassers accomplished what would have otherwise taken five years at the current rate of social change," the center's David Fleischer said in a <a href="" target="_blank">statement.</a>&nbsp;"How did we do it? Our team had heartfelt, reciprocal and vulnerable conversations on the doorsteps of those who opposed marriage for same-sex couples, and volunteers who were LGBT came out during their conversations."</p> <p>Researchers are hopeful their persuasion methods can produce similar results in&nbsp;reducing&nbsp;prejudices on other social issues as well.&nbsp;</p></body></html> Blue Marble Gay Rights Science Thu, 18 Dec 2014 11:00:06 +0000 Inae Oh 266631 at