MoJo Blogs and Articles | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/rss/blogs_and_articles/files/images/nuke-davy-crockett-600px.jpg/sites/all/modules/patched/service_links/images/digg.png/favicon.ico/favicon.ico http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en Word of the Day: A•poph•a•sis http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/05/word-day-apophasis <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>I have to say that these OED folks are remarkably up to date. Very impressive.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_apophasis_3%0A.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 10px 0px 5px 70px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sun, 29 May 2016 12:59:47 +0000 Kevin Drum 305226 at http://www.motherjones.com Julianna Barwick's Consciousness-Stretching "Will" http://www.motherjones.com/media/2016/05/music-review-will-julianna-barwick <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/XGDSy5Z39o0" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Julianna Barwick<br><em>Will</em><br> Dead Oceans</p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/JB_Will_Album-art_INLINE.jpg"><div class="caption">Pitch Perfect PR</div> </div> <p>Seasoning her elaborate, wordless vocal overdubs with synths, cello, and even a little percussion, the Louisiana-bred, Brooklyn-based Barwick stays in an ethereal zone on <em>Will</em>, but adds enough variety to set this transfixing album apart from its dreamier predecessors. Moods range from hushed and reverent, evoking a visit to an ancient cathedral ("St. Apolonia"), to horror-movie eerie ("Nebula"), to atypically jumpy and uncertain (the almost-danceable "See, Know"), lending a tantalizing sense of possibility to what might be familiar ambient clich&eacute;s in less-skilled hands. After these subtle tweaks, it's easy to imagine Barwick incorporating all manner of unlikely elements into the mix without sacrificing her luminous aura, or covering (i.e., deconstructing) other people's songs on future ventures. In the meantime, <em>Will</em> is a consciousness-stretching, invigorating experience.</p></body></html> Media Music Music Mondays Sun, 29 May 2016 10:00:11 +0000 Jon Young 305011 at http://www.motherjones.com Four Pictures and a Video http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/05/four-pictures-and-video <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><strong>Picture #1:</strong> On the Verizon website, the number of "agents" who are eagerly waiting for you to call is...<a href="https://twitter.com/mixonic/status/736575632226852865" target="_blank">a random number between 1 and 15.</a> The wait time is also a random number.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_verizon_agents_waiting.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 15px 15px;"></p> <p><strong>Picture #2:</strong> Congratulations, particle physicists! You have finally isolated the rare glutino and packaged it for the masses. Who says basic science is useless?</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_glutino_0.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 15px 15px;"></p> <p><strong>Picture #3:</strong> Rejection letter to George Orwell <a href="https://twitter.com/MichaelLCrick/status/736678479505293312" target="_blank">for <em>Animal Farm</em>:</a> "What was needed, (someone might argue), was not more communism but more public-spirited pigs." So I've heard.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_animal_farm_rejection.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 15px 15px;"></p> <p><strong>Picture #4:</strong> It could have been worse. They could have supplied him with Viagra.</p> <blockquote> <blockquote> <blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Georgia AD apologizes for paying Ludacris 65k plus liquor and condoms <a href="https://t.co/36nmvBT1Mn">https://t.co/36nmvBT1Mn</a> <a href="https://t.co/LmpvtetlHl">pic.twitter.com/LmpvtetlHl</a></p> &mdash; The Comeback (@thecomeback) <a href="https://twitter.com/thecomeback/status/736548651460268032">May 28, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></blockquote> </blockquote> </blockquote> <p><strong>And a video: </strong>I'm not sure Hopper ever noticed what was going on.</p> <p><iframe align="middle" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="281" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/N7qN0dqZeT0?start=0" style="margin: 15px 0px 5px 65px;" width="500"></iframe></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sun, 29 May 2016 00:16:55 +0000 Kevin Drum 305231 at http://www.motherjones.com Quote of the Day: "Suck It Up, Cupcake" http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/05/quote-day-suck-it-cupcake <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Oh FFS:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_wapo_palin_apology_lap.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 15px 50px;"></p> <p>Really? Sarah Palin is still front-page news? Seriously? On the other hand, I have to admit that <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2016/05/27/sarah-palin-assails-obama-for-hiroshima-visit/?hpid=hp_hp-top-table-main_pp-palin-758am%3Ahomepage%2Fstory" target="_blank">she's hard to resist:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Palin said Obama&rsquo;s visit suggested that the president believes that &ldquo;the greatest generation was perpetuating the evil of World War II.&rdquo;...[The] tea party heroine said Trump would be a president &ldquo;who knows how to win.&rdquo;</p> <p><strong>&ldquo;You mess with our freedom,&rdquo; she said, &ldquo;we&rsquo;ll put a boot in your ass. It&rsquo;s the American way.&rdquo;</strong> At that, the crowd chanted, &ldquo;USA! USA! USA!&rdquo;</p> <p>Palin was the warm-up act at Trump&rsquo;s large rally, speaking on stage before the candidate arrived in San Diego. She took issue with Obama&rsquo;s statement overseas this week that other world leaders have been &ldquo;rattled&rdquo; by the rise of Trump. &ldquo;Rattled, are they now?&rdquo; Palin said....She pointed out that the yellow Gadsden flag flown at tea party rallies depicts a rattlesnake &ldquo;coiled, prepared, ready to strike.&rdquo;</p> <p><strong>&ldquo;So, yeah, rattlin&rsquo; &ndash; it&rsquo;s a good thing,&rdquo;</strong> she said.</p> <p>....Turning to look at the television cameras and journalists on the press riser, Palin lambasted the &ldquo;sheep in the media.&rdquo; &ldquo;Their head is still a-spinnin&rsquo;,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Do you know how thoroughly distrusted you are, mainstream media? ... <strong>He is now we the people&rsquo;s nominee, so suck it up, cupcake!</strong>&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>Oh well. At least it's Saturday. Maybe no one will notice that I caved in and wrote about this.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 28 May 2016 19:26:11 +0000 Kevin Drum 305221 at http://www.motherjones.com Today's Dose of Liberal Heresy: Campaign Finance Reform Isn't That Big a Deal http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/05/todays-liberal-heresy-campaign-finance-reform-not-big-deal <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>I was musing the other day about something or other, and for some reason it occurred to me that there are several subjects near and dear to progressive hearts that I flatly disagree with. I'm not talking about, say, charter schools, where there's a robust, ongoing intra-liberal debate and both sides already have plenty of adherents. Nor am I talking about things like Wall Street regulation, where everyone (including me) thinks we need to do more but we disagree on technical issues (Bernie wants to break up big banks, I want to double capital requirements).</p> <p>I'm thinking instead of things that seem to enjoy something like 90+ percent liberal support&mdash;and which I think are basically a waste of liberal time and energy. So if I write about them, a whole lot of people are going to be pissed off. Something like 90+ percent of my readership, I'd guess. Who needs the grief? After all, for the most part there's usually not much harm in spending time and energy on these things (though there are exceptions).</p> <p>But let's give it a go anyway. Maybe this will be the first entry in a periodic series. Maybe I'll discover that I'm not quite as alone on these issues as I think. Here's my first entry.</p> <h2><strong>Campaign Finance Reform</strong></h2> <p>Liberals love campaign finance reform. <em>Citizens United</em> is our <em>Roe v. Wade</em>, and it's become an even more central issue since Bernie Sanders began his presidential run last year. As near as I can tell, Bernie&mdash;along with most liberals&mdash;thinks it's the key foundational issue of modern progressivism. Until we seriously reduce the amount of money in political campaigns, no real progressive reform is possible.</p> <p>I'm pretty sure this is completely wrong. Here are seven reasons that have persuaded me of this over the years, with the most important reason left to the end:</p> <ol><li><strong>Half a century has produced nothing.</strong> Liberals groups have been putting serious effort into campaign finance reform <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2011/12/american-campaign-finance-scandal-history" target="_blank">for about 40 years now.</a> The only result has been abject failure. Ban union donations, they create PACs. Ban hard money, you get soft money. Ban soft money, you get Super PACs. Etc. None of the reforms have worked, and even before <em>Citizens United</em> the Supreme Court had steadily made effective reform efforts harder and harder. What's even worse, the public still isn't with us. If you ask them vaguely if they think there's too much money in politics, most will say yes. If you ask them if they really care, <a href="http://www.gallup.com/poll/111652/campaign-financing-appears-nonissue-voters.aspx" target="_blank">they shrug.</a> After nearly half a century, maybe it's time to ask why.<br> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Other countries spend less.</strong> Most other rich countries spend a lot less on political campaigns than we do. Are they less in thrall to moneyed interests because of this? Some are, some aren't. I've never seen any convincing evidence that there's much of a correlation.<br> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Billionaires are idiots.</strong> Seriously. The evidence of the last decade or so suggests that billionaires just aren't very effective at using their riches to win elections. This is unsurprising: billionaires are egotists who tend to think that because they got rich doing X, they are also geniuses at Y and Z and on beyond zebra. But they aren't. This stuff is a hobby for them, and mostly they're just wasting their money.<br> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>The small-dollar revolution.</strong> Starting with Howard Dean in 2004, the internet has produced an explosion of small-dollar donations, accounting for over a third of presidential fundraising in 2012 and 2016. This year, for example, Hillary Clinton has so far <a href="https://www.opensecrets.org/pres16/" target="_blank">raised</a> $288 million (including money raised by outside groups). Bernie Sanders has raised $208 million, all of it in small-dollar donations averaging $27. Ironically, at the same time that he's made campaign finance reform a major issue, Bernie has demonstrated that small dollars can power a serious insurgency.<br> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Money really is speech.</strong> Obviously this is an opinion, and a really rare one on my side of the political spectrum. But why <em>should</em> political speech be restricted? My read of the First Amendment suggests that if there's any single kind of speech that should enjoy the highest level of protection, it's political speech.<br> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>We may have maxed out anyway.</strong> There's increasing evidence that in big-time contests (governors + national offices), we've basically reached the point of diminishing returns. At this point, if billionaires spend more money it just won't do much good even if they're smart about it. There are only so many minutes of TV time available and only so many persuadable voters. More important, voters have only so much bandwidth. Eventually they tune out, and it's likely that we've now reached that point.<br><br> In the interests of fairness, I'll acknowledge that I might be wrong about this. It might turn out that there are clever ways to spend even more; billionaires might get smarter; and <em>Citizens United</em> has only just begun to affect spending. Maybe in a couple of decades I'll be eating my words about this.<br> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Campaign spending hasn't gone up much anyway.</strong> I told you I'd leave the most important reason for the end, and this is it. It's easy to be shocked when you hear about skyrocketing billions of dollars being spent on political campaigns, but billions of dollars aren't that much in a country the size of the United States. <a href="https://www.opensecrets.org/pres12/" target="_blank">In 2012,</a> Obama spent $1.1 billion vs. Mitt Romney's $1.2 billion. That's about 1 percent of total ad spending in the US. Hell, <a href="http://adage.com/article/digital/sprint-t-mobile-spend-big-pursuit-verizon-t/242953/" target="_blank">in the cell phone biz alone,</a> AT&amp;T spent $1.3 billion vs. Verizon's $1.2 billion. If you want to look at campaign spending, you really need to size it to the growth in GDP over the past half century or so.</li> </ol><p>So here it is. These two charts show our skyrocketing spending on presidential campaigns as a percent of GDP. Data for the chart on the left <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2012/02/historic-price-cost-presidential-elections" target="_blank">comes from <em>Mother Jones</em>.</a> The chart on the right <a href="http://www.opensecrets.org/overview/cost.php?display=T&amp;infl=N" target="_blank">comes from the Center for Responsive Politics.</a> Total presidential spending is up about 18 percent since 2000. I supposed I'd like to see this reduced as much as the next guy, but it's hard to see it as the core corrupter of American politics. It's a symptom, but it's really not the underlying disease. There really are problems with the influence of the rich on American politics, but campaigns are probably the place where it matters least, not most.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_presidential_election_1960_2012_0.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 5px 1px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 28 May 2016 19:04:43 +0000 Kevin Drum 305216 at http://www.motherjones.com Mass Transit Ridership Is Down. How Can We Fix This? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/05/mass-transit-ridership-down-how-can-we-fix <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Tyler Cowen point us to Wendell Cox, who says that&nbsp; aside from New York City, <a href="http://www.newgeography.com/content/005255-new-yorks-incredible-subway" target="_blank">mass transit ridership in the US is looking grim:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>If New York City Subway ridership had remained at its 2005 level, overall transit ridership would have decreased from 9.8 billion in 2005 to 9.6 billion in 2015. The modern <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_la_metro_ridership_2006_2015_0.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 25px 0px 15px 30px;">record of 10.7 billion rides would never have been approached.</p> </blockquote> <p>Despite spending billions of dollars on new rail lines in LA, mass transit in Southern California <a href="http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-ridership-slump-20160127-story.html" target="_blank">certainly fits this bill:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the region's largest carrier, lost more than 10% of its boardings from 2006 to 2015, a decline that appears to be accelerating....In Orange County, bus ridership plummeted 30% in the last seven years....Southern California certainly isn't alone. Public transportation use in many U.S. cities, including Chicago and Washington, D.C., has slumped in the last few years.</p> </blockquote> <p>But all is not lost. If you take a longer look at Los Angeles transit, it turns out there are things you can do to increase ridership. It's complicated, though, so you'll need to read carefully:</p> <blockquote> <p>Thirty years ago, [Metro] handled almost 500 million annual bus boardings in Los Angeles County. In the decade that followed...<strong>Metro raised fares and cut bus service hours. <em>[Ridership during this period declined from 497 million to 362 million. &ndash;ed.]</em></strong></p> <p>In 1994, an organization that represented bus riders sued Metro in federal court....<strong>Metro agreed to stop raising fares for 10 years and relieve overcrowding by adding more than 1 million hours of bus service. Ridership soared.</strong> Metro buses and trains recorded about 492 million boardings in 2006, the most since 1985.</p> <p>But from 2009 to 2011, several years after federal oversight ended and during the Great Recession, <strong>the agency raised fares and cut bus service by 900,000 hours. By the end of 2015, ridership had fallen 10% from 2006,</strong> with the steepest declines coming in the last two years.</p> </blockquote> <p>Hmmm. There's an answer in there somewhere. We just need to tease it out. Here's an annotated version of the full chart that I excerpted above. Maybe that will help.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_la_metro_ridership_1985_2015_0.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 5px 12px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 28 May 2016 15:05:58 +0000 Kevin Drum 305211 at http://www.motherjones.com These Gripping Images From Legendary Photographers Were Supposed to Be Thrown Away http://www.motherjones.com/media/2016/05/rejected-fsa-photos-book <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The Farm Security Administration, created as part of the New Deal, helped farmers whose livelihoods were decimated by the dust storms and economic collapse gripping the United States. As part of that mission, a group of photographers documented the devastation and helped promote the government program. That team, which included some of the best photographers is the country, shot thousands of images, many of which became iconic photographs.</p> <p>But there were many images the public wasn't supposed to see. Photographer Bill McDowell assembled a collection of these killed images in <a href="https://daylightbooks.org/products/ground" target="_blank"><em>Ground: A Reprise of Photographs From the Farm Security Administration</em></a> (<a href="https://daylightbooks.org/" target="_blank">Daylight Books</a>). The book contains repurposed outtakes from such photo heavyweights as Walker Evans (including images from his work on <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Let_Us_Now_Praise_Famous_Men" target="_blank"><em>Let Us Now Praise Famous Men</em></a>), Carl Maydans, Marion Post Wolcott, Arthur Rothstein, Russell Lee, and others.</p> <p>Roy Stryker was the man charged with selecting and overseeing the FSA photographers. All the images went to Stryker's office in Washington, DC, where his team cataloged and edited the photos, which were then eventually archived in the <a href="http://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/fsa/" target="_blank">Library of Congress</a>.</p> <p>He had a harsh method for marking undesired images. During the editing process, the team would literally punch a hole in the negative. The tool left a black, round scar on the image, so they could never be printed.</p> <p>It is not unlike editing photos from the back of your digital camera, deleting everything but the handful of shots you think you might actually use.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/01%208a22121a%20farmer%20no%20face%20crop.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Mr. Tronson, farmer near Wheelock, North Dakota, 1937</strong> Russell Lee/Library of Congress, from <em>"Ground."</em></div> </div> <p>In this case, however, these discarded images gained a new life. Photos once meant to be a very straight documentation of the United States now take on life as post-modern art pieces. More than just offering a glimpse at outtakes and giving insight to Stryker's editing process, the photos stand on their own in this collection.</p> <p>In many photos, Stryker's punch-out looms over the picture like an ominous, black sun. In others, it completely obliterates a face or disrupts an otherwise serene landscape with a threatening black hole. The empty circle takes center stage in all the images. It is not subtle. McDowell's sequencing of the photos includes close-up crops of many images where the punch-out hole becomes the subject of the photo.</p> <p>Here's an example of an original, unpunched image along with an edited version from the same shoot. A detail of this photo is above.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/tronson-dip.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Mr. Tronson, a farmer near Wheelock, North Dakota</strong> Russell Lee/Library of Congress</div> </div> <p>Those versed in the world of photography (and even those not) likely know at least a few FSA photos well. This book mines that treasure trove a bit more deeply, offering a fresh take on a subject that has been studied by archivists, researchers, and historians for decades. It's a wonderful, artfully edited book.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/03%208a01522a%20high%20vista%20RGB.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Untitled, Tennessee, 1936. </strong>Carl Maydans/Library of Congress</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/43%208a01340a%20spring%20planting.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Getting fields ready for spring planting in North Carolina, 1936 </strong>Carl Maydans/Library of Congress</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/78%208a16572a%20shahn%20levee%20wrkers4%20LA%20%2735%2020%22.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Levee workers, Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, 1935 </strong>Ben Shahn/Library of Congress</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/74%208a21891a%20man%20picking%20blues%2020%22.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Blueberry picker near Little Fork, Minnesota, 1937. </strong>Russell Lee/Library of Congress</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/07%208a04038a%20cows%20scratches%20large.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Untitled, Nebraska, 1938 </strong>John Vachon/Library of Congress</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/60%208a44565aEvans%20AL%20%2736%20melons%2020%22.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Untitled, Alabama, 1936 </strong>Walker Evans/Libary of Congress</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/71%208a07564a%20men%20laughing%2020%22.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Resettlement officials, Maryland, 1935 </strong>Arthur Rothstein/Library of Congress</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/72%208a03675a%20man%20walking%20in%20dirt%2020%22.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Untitled, Kansas, 1938 </strong>John Vachon/Library of Congress</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/81%208a03121a%20man%20plowing%20distant%2020%22.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Five bedroom house, Meridian (Magnolia) Homesteads, Mississippi, 1935 </strong>Arthur Rothstein/Library of Congress</div> </div></body></html> Media Full Width Photo Essays Books Media photography Sat, 28 May 2016 10:00:10 +0000 Mark Murrmann 304476 at http://www.motherjones.com A Brief, Checkered History of Prom in America http://www.motherjones.com/media/2016/04/brief-history-prom <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Do you remember how you were asked to your high school prom? (Or how you asked?) Maybe it was some cheesy romantic gesture. Or maybe it was a very informal conversation that took place near your locker between classes. Either way, it probably wasn't documented and <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6BtI4E0iIzU" target="_blank">put online to become a viral hit</a>. America's prom tradition, instead of fizzling over the years, has only grown more sacred with time. From April to June, prom season reigns in high schools nationwide as juniors and seniors pair up, beautify, and ask older siblings to snag them some bottom-shelf booze to pass around at the after-party. But before party buses, $400 dresses, and hotel ballrooms were a thing, prom was just an annual dance that took place in the school gym under the watchful eye of teacher chaperones. With the season upon us, we decided to take a look back at the history of this peculiar institution.</p> <p><strong>1920s</strong>: The "democratic debutante ball" makes its high school debut. In theory, any student can attend a "promenade"&mdash;but teens of color are excluded thanks to Jim Crow and unequal access to education.</p> <p><strong>1930s:</strong> With the Depression in full swing, some Chicago principals cancel prom to ensure poor students aren't "psychologically wounded."</p> <p><strong>1950s:</strong> During the postwar boom, one advice book offers a warning: "Girls who [try] to usurp the right of boys to choose their own dates will ruin a good dating career."</p> <p><strong>1960s:</strong> Despite the repeal of Jim Crow, white-only proms persist in the South.</p> <p><strong>1969:</strong> <a href="http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20088691,00.html" target="_blank">Jessica McClintock</a> takes over dressmaker Gunne Sax and becomes America's prom-dress queen, draping two decades of high school girls in "leg o' mutton" styles&mdash;marked by <a href="http://blog.fidmmuseum.org/museum/2012/02/1970s-gunne-sax-dresses.html" target="_blank">puffy sleeves and corset bodices</a>.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" height="375" src="/files/carriepromgif.gif" width="375"><div class="caption"><strong>Sissy Spacek will forever be remembered as the telekinetic teen outcast in the movie <em>Carrie</em>, who gets drenched in pig's blood at prom. </strong>MGM/Red Bank Films<br> &nbsp;</div> </div> <p><strong>1974:</strong> In Stephen King's <em>Carrie</em>, a telekinetic outcast terrorizes her classmates at the prom. Sissy Spacek stars in the 1976 film.</p> <p><strong>1975:</strong> First daughter Susan Ford hosts prom at the White House. "I was told that we had to choose a band that didn't have any kind of drug charge," <a href="http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2015/05/susan-ford-1975-white-house-prom" target="_blank">one organizer recalled later</a>. "It was pretty hard."</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" height="678" src="/files/5373.jpg.jpg" width="500"><div class="caption"><strong>Susan Ford's White House prom. </strong>Joseph H. Bailey/NGS/White House Historical Association<br> &nbsp;</div> </div> <p><strong>1979: </strong>Police in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, show up to protect the first openly gay couple in prom history. "Many students came over and congratulated us," <a href="https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1734&amp;dat=19790524&amp;id=xJkbAAAAIBAJ&amp;sjid=mlEEAAAAIBAJ&amp;pg=7145,1131630&amp;hl=en" target="_blank">one of the boys said</a>, despite threats to "tar and chicken feather" the pair.</p> <p><strong>1980:</strong> A Rhode Island senior <a href="https://www.aclu.org/files/FilesPDFs/fricke.pdf" target="_blank">sues his school</a> after his principal rejects his request to bring a male prom date. A federal judge sides with the boy.</p> <p><strong>1980s: </strong>Hollywood goes gaga for prom flicks, with <em>Valley Girl</em> (1983), <em>Footloose</em> (1984), <em>Back to the Future</em> (1985), and <em>Pretty in Pink</em> (1986).</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/TWO.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Jon Cryer and Molly Ringwald in 1986's<em> Pretty In Pink</em> (left). Nicholas Cage and Deborah Foreman in 1983's <em>Valley Girl</em> (right). </strong>Paramount Pictures, Valley 9000/Atlantic Releasing<br> &nbsp;</div> </div> <p><strong>1994:</strong> A biracial student in Wedowee, Alabama, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1994/06/22/us/alabama-student-settles-lawsuit-over-principal-s-racial-remark.html" target="_blank">sues her principal and school board</a> after they threatened to cancel prom to keep interracial couples from attending.</p> <p><strong>1997:</strong> Actor Morgan Freeman <a href="http://www.promnightinmississippi.com/the-film" target="_blank">offers to cover the cost</a> of a prom in Charleston, Mississippi, so long as all races can attend. No such luck. The city's proms remain segregated for 11 more years.</p> <p><strong>2009:</strong> Students at Fairfax High in Los Angeles pass over eight girls to select a gay senior boy as prom queen. "Tears were almost falling down my face," a jubilant Sergio Garcia tells <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=7699907&amp;page=1" target="_blank">ABC News.</a></p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/meangirlsprom_2_0.gif"><div class="caption"><strong>Amy Poehler, as the obsessive mother of popular girl Regina George (Rachel McAdams) in the 2004 hit <em>Mean Girls,</em> snaps a shot of her daughter. </strong>Paramount</div> </div> <p><strong>2013:</strong> A group of girls from Georgia's Wilcox County High holds an all-inclusive prom, eschewing the segregated affairs. The school makes it official in 2014. "The adults should have done this many, many moons ago," <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/27/us/in-rural-georgia-students-step-up-to-offer-integrated-prom.html?_r=0" target="_blank">notes the mother</a> of one of the girls.</p> <p><strong>2016: </strong><a href="https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/promposal/" target="_blank">#promposal</a> is the hot Instagram meme: One student gets a cop to pull a girl over and hand her a "ticket"&mdash;his prom invite. Another takes his girlfriend to a gun range, with "yes" and "no" targets set to go.</p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-version="7" style=" background:#FFF; border:0; border-radius:3px; box-shadow:0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width:658px; padding:0; width:99.375%; width:-webkit-calc(100% - 2px); width:calc(100% - 2px);"> <div style="padding:8px;"> <div style=" background:#F8F8F8; line-height:0; margin-top:40px; padding:39.7222222222% 0; text-align:center; width:100%;"> <div style=" background:url(data:image/png;base64,iVBORw0KGgoAAAANSUhEUgAAACwAAAAsCAMAAAApWqozAAAABGdBTUEAALGPC/xhBQAAAAFzUkdCAK7OHOkAAAAMUExURczMzPf399fX1+bm5mzY9AMAAADiSURBVDjLvZXbEsMgCES5/P8/t9FuRVCRmU73JWlzosgSIIZURCjo/ad+EQJJB4Hv8BFt+IDpQoCx1wjOSBFhh2XssxEIYn3ulI/6MNReE07UIWJEv8UEOWDS88LY97kqyTliJKKtuYBbruAyVh5wOHiXmpi5we58Ek028czwyuQdLKPG1Bkb4NnM+VeAnfHqn1k4+GPT6uGQcvu2h2OVuIf/gWUFyy8OWEpdyZSa3aVCqpVoVvzZZ2VTnn2wU8qzVjDDetO90GSy9mVLqtgYSy231MxrY6I2gGqjrTY0L8fxCxfCBbhWrsYYAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC); display:block; height:44px; margin:0 auto -44px; position:relative; top:-22px; width:44px;">&nbsp;</div> </div> <p style=" margin:8px 0 0 0; padding:0 4px;"><a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/BDErSn3Np5v/" style=" color:#000; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:normal; line-height:17px; text-decoration:none; word-wrap:break-word;" target="_blank">I've got good aim</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>Others are more creative in design:</p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-version="7" style=" background:#FFF; border:0; border-radius:3px; box-shadow:0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width:658px; padding:0; width:99.375%; width:-webkit-calc(100% - 2px); width:calc(100% - 2px);"> <div style="padding:8px;"> <div style=" background:#F8F8F8; line-height:0; margin-top:40px; padding:39.5468589083% 0; text-align:center; width:100%;"> <div style=" background:url(data:image/png;base64,iVBORw0KGgoAAAANSUhEUgAAACwAAAAsCAMAAAApWqozAAAABGdBTUEAALGPC/xhBQAAAAFzUkdCAK7OHOkAAAAMUExURczMzPf399fX1+bm5mzY9AMAAADiSURBVDjLvZXbEsMgCES5/P8/t9FuRVCRmU73JWlzosgSIIZURCjo/ad+EQJJB4Hv8BFt+IDpQoCx1wjOSBFhh2XssxEIYn3ulI/6MNReE07UIWJEv8UEOWDS88LY97kqyTliJKKtuYBbruAyVh5wOHiXmpi5we58Ek028czwyuQdLKPG1Bkb4NnM+VeAnfHqn1k4+GPT6uGQcvu2h2OVuIf/gWUFyy8OWEpdyZSa3aVCqpVoVvzZZ2VTnn2wU8qzVjDDetO90GSy9mVLqtgYSy231MxrY6I2gGqjrTY0L8fxCxfCBbhWrsYYAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC); display:block; height:44px; margin:0 auto -44px; position:relative; top:-22px; width:44px;">&nbsp;</div> </div> <p style=" margin:8px 0 0 0; padding:0 4px;"><a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/BFSTm9DvpXb/" style=" color:#000; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:normal; line-height:17px; text-decoration:none; word-wrap:break-word;" target="_blank">Thank you for the most legendary promposal in the 607&acirc;&#157;&curren;&iuml;&cedil;&#143;</a></p> <p style=" color:#c9c8cd; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px; margin-bottom:0; margin-top:8px; overflow:hidden; padding:8px 0 7px; text-align:center; text-overflow:ellipsis; white-space:nowrap;">A photo posted by Shayna Will (@shayna_will) on <time datetime="2016-05-11T23:50:53+00:00" style=" font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px;">May 11, 2016 at 4:50pm PDT</time></p> </div> </blockquote> <script async defer src="//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js"></script><p>&nbsp;</p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-version="7" style=" background:#FFF; border:0; border-radius:3px; box-shadow:0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width:658px; padding:0; width:99.375%; width:-webkit-calc(100% - 2px); width:calc(100% - 2px);"> <div style="padding:8px;"> <div style=" background:#F8F8F8; line-height:0; margin-top:40px; padding:50.0% 0; text-align:center; width:100%;"> <div style=" background:url(data:image/png;base64,iVBORw0KGgoAAAANSUhEUgAAACwAAAAsCAMAAAApWqozAAAABGdBTUEAALGPC/xhBQAAAAFzUkdCAK7OHOkAAAAMUExURczMzPf399fX1+bm5mzY9AMAAADiSURBVDjLvZXbEsMgCES5/P8/t9FuRVCRmU73JWlzosgSIIZURCjo/ad+EQJJB4Hv8BFt+IDpQoCx1wjOSBFhh2XssxEIYn3ulI/6MNReE07UIWJEv8UEOWDS88LY97kqyTliJKKtuYBbruAyVh5wOHiXmpi5we58Ek028czwyuQdLKPG1Bkb4NnM+VeAnfHqn1k4+GPT6uGQcvu2h2OVuIf/gWUFyy8OWEpdyZSa3aVCqpVoVvzZZ2VTnn2wU8qzVjDDetO90GSy9mVLqtgYSy231MxrY6I2gGqjrTY0L8fxCxfCBbhWrsYYAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC); display:block; height:44px; margin:0 auto -44px; position:relative; top:-22px; width:44px;">&nbsp;</div> </div> <p style=" margin:8px 0 0 0; padding:0 4px;"><a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/BCWsaYvQqq3/" style=" color:#000; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:normal; line-height:17px; text-decoration:none; word-wrap:break-word;" target="_blank">I guess being pulled over isn't always a bad thing </a></p> </div> </blockquote></body></html> Media Education Film and TV Top Stories Sat, 28 May 2016 10:00:09 +0000 Grace Wilson 302091 at http://www.motherjones.com Here’s Why the Airport Security Line is a Nightmare http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/05/traveling-TSA-memorial-day-airport-security <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>On an uncharacteristically chilly Saturday earlier this month, travelers found themselves standing in line for more than two hours to get through security Chicago's O'Hare airport. A staggering <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-tsa-security-chief-20160524-story.html" target="_blank">450 American Airlines travelers missed their flights</a>. Dozens spent the night in the airport, and the incident brought national attention to increasingly long wait times.</p> <p>Last Wednesday, called to Congress to account for <a href="https://homeland.house.gov/hearing/long-lines-short-patience-local-perspectives/" target="_blank">the longer security lines</a>, Transportation Security Administration Administrator Peter V. Neffenger <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/tsa-chief-takes-another-crack-at-explaining-long-airport-security-lines/2016/05/25/b9c95534-2270-11e6-aa84-42391ba52c91_story.html" target="_blank">told the House Homeland Security Committee that record travel</a>, understaffed checkpoints, and some policy changes aiming to reduce risk of terrorist attacks means that the problem will continue into the summer. House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) told the committee that TSA is in a "crisis."</p> <p>So what is going on with TSA? Well, a lot.</p> <p>For starters: Perhaps you've heard that TSA is short staffed in part due to security coverage at presidential campaign events. Actually, TSA has been staffing presidential campaigns since 2004. The agency insists that the additional work does not impact the staffing at airports, because the officers working these events would have been off-duty otherwise. And it doesn't effect the TSA budget, because the United States Secret Service pays for the screeners' time at campaign events. (The airport nearest to a campaign event provides this support.)</p> <p>The staffing provided for Donald Trump's events, though, have far exceeded that of any other candidate. As of March, 770 TSA officers had been provided to Trump events, 544 went to Sanders events, and 207 worked Clinton events. When asked how the agency determines the appropriate number of officials needed for any event, a TSA spokesman said, "We provide the number we feel is appropriate."</p> <p>So what about the agencies budget woes?</p> <p>According to a TSA spokesman, money plays a big factor in the TSA's struggle to shorten wait times and increase efficiency. From fiscal year 2012 to 2013, the agency's budget fell from $7.8 billion to $7.2 billion.</p> <p>But, from 2013 to late 2014, now-former TSA head of security Kelly Hoggan received under-the-radar bonuses that came to more than $90,000. This week, Hoggan was relieved of his duties in part, the agency said, because of these bonuses.</p> <p>In an interview with <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/huge-bonuses-and-forced-transfers-were-downfall-of-top-tsa-official-kelly-hogan/2016/05/26/09bc6c88-2272-11e6-aa84-42391ba52c91_story.html" target="_blank"><em>The Washington Post</em></a>, TSA Administrator Peter V. Neffenger called the bonuses that supplemented Hoggan's $181,500 salary "completely unjustifiable." (Hoggan also recently faced accusations of retribution toward employees who spoke out about mismanagement.)</p> <p>Additionally, a TSA spokesman says the agency's staffing budget has declined annually from 2012 to 2015, and the agency is at its lowest staffing level in five years.</p> <p>TSA attributes the long wait lines partly to budget cuts and tightened security procedures that have led to a shortage of screeners. Jeh Johnson, Department of Homeland Security secretary, <a href="http://www.npr.org/2016/05/24/479274234/secretary-johnson-on-efforts-to-cut-airport-security-wait-times" target="_blank">told NPR</a> that despite the challenges, Congress recently held off on cutting another 1,600 positions, and TSA is expediting the addition of 800 new positions. They're expected to be in place next month. Johnson said TSA is converting more part-time workers to full time and bringing in more drug-sniffing dogs.</p> <p>Johnson also added that carry-on luggage is a major contributor to wait times, and he encouraged passengers to check their bags&mdash;and to arrive at the airport with plenty of time to spare.</p> <p>Democratic Senators Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut wrote <a href="http://www.markey.senate.gov/news/press-releases/markey-blumenthal-to-airlines-stop-charging_bag-fees-this-summer-" target="_blank">a letter to a dozen major airlines</a> calling on them to aid in reducing wait times by waiving checked baggage fees.</p> <p>&ldquo;Without charges for checking their bags, passengers will be far less likely to carry them on, which snarls screening checkpoints and slows the inspection process,&rdquo; they wrote.</p> <p>Markey and Blumenthal echoed Johnson's call for more passengers to sign up for TSA's pre-check program, which has an average wait time of five minutes or less.</p> <p>Despite the pressure to reduce wait times, Johnson insisted that TSA will not "shortcut [passengers'] safety." (His caution is understandable, given that in April, TSA agents discovered a <a href="http://blog.tsa.gov/2016/04/tsa-week-in-review-record-breaking-73.html" target="_blank">record number of guns</a> and other weapons in passengers' carry-on luggage.)</p></body></html> Politics Economy Fri, 27 May 2016 22:34:40 +0000 Becca Andrews 305006 at http://www.motherjones.com Friday Cat Blogging - 27 May 2016 http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/05/friday-cat-blogging-27-may-2016 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>I was going to link to <a href="http://www.vox.com/2016/5/27/11794970/donald-trump-energy-gullibility" target="_blank">Dave Roberts' post</a> about Donald Trump's big energy speech yesterday, but then I couldn't think of anything to say about it. Before I knew it, catblogging time had arrived. So you're on your own. Click the link and draw your own conclusions.</p> <p>Or just skip it and instead admire Hilbert and Hopper peering out from under the rocking chair. For the record, they write all their own speeches.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_hilbert_hopper_2016_05_27.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 15px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 27 May 2016 19:04:04 +0000 Kevin Drum 305196 at http://www.motherjones.com