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  • Chris Christie Says It Took a Natural Disaster for Him to See He Could be President

    In a Bedford, New Hampshire, warehouse filled with several hundred supporters, Chris Christie on Saturday morning said that four years ago he was asked to run for president—begged to run for president—by associates, politicos, and funders. But, he recounted, he resisted these calls. Why? "I knew, in my heart, I was not ready to run for president," Christie told the crowd. But the Christie boosters back then persisted. Don't worry if you don't have the experience yet, he said they told him, just get into the White House and then figure out what to do. But Christie said to his supporters that was not his way: "The politically popular thing to do when you see an opening is to run for it." But he hung tough and told all these acolytes that he did not yet have the chops to be commander in chief. Then came his big break: Superstorm Sandy.

    In a speech mainly focused on dismissing his rivals as untested and not prepared to be president—he called Trump an "entertainer-in-chief" and mocked one-term senators, such as Marco Rubio, for knowing how to haggle over amendments but not how to manage real-life crises—Christie repeatedly proclaimed that he was a true leader and that he knew he could handle whatever the world throws his way. That's why he would be a great commander in chief. And the reason he realized this now—after his moment of doubt four years ago—is that, as governor, he guided New Jersey through that awful storm.

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  • Jeb Bush on Trump: "He Needs Therapy"

    "A steady hand." Jeb Bush has used that phrase repeatedly throughout the campaign, as he attempts to convince voters that he's the tried and tested choice for president—the anti-Donald Trump. Bush made that case again today, ahead of Saturday's Republican debate, at a crowded town hall meeting in Bedford, New Hampshire. Dressed casually in a black fleece and seeming at ease as he heads toward a primary that could either finish off his sputtering campaign or give it the momentum to fight on, Bush waxed wonkishly on everything from corporate inversions to student debt to mental health policy. But he also sharpened his attacks on Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, the GOP frontrunners who, he argues, can't be trusted to steer the ship of state.

    "I'm not a psychiatrist or a psychologist, but the guy needs therapy," Bush said of Trump. And he derided Cruz for talking "about carpet bombing as though that is a policy."

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  • The Special Hell of Being a New Hampshire Voter

    For New Hampshire voters, there's a certain kind of flinty pride that comes with helping to set the tone of the presidential election. But, in exchange for the privilege of their first-in-the-nation status, Granite Staters must also endure a special kind of hell. I'm talking about the ceaseless robo-calls, the too-chipper canvassers, the legions of journalists taking up all the damn parking spots in downtown Manchester. And the mailers. They start trickling into mailboxes many months before the primaries, and, as the election nears, the deluge grows biblical.

    My in-laws, who live in southern Manchester, are putting me up for a few days while I cover the primaries with my colleagues, and they saved some of their mailers for me. This is about a week or twos' worth. (They are registered Republicans, though occasionally vote Democrat, which is why the bulk of the campaign literature they receive concerns GOP candidates. Their moderate leanings may also explain why they are getting a disproportionate number of mailers for and against New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.)

    Here's one from a group called America Needs Leadership. It's not entirely clear who's behind this outfit, since a group by this name doesn't even show up in the Federal Election Commission's database. What is clear is that this group's backers believe America needs leadership—and those leaders shouldn't include Marco Rubio (or Hillary Clinton). 

    Here's one from pro-Christie super-PAC America Leads—not to be confused with the mysterious America Needs Leadership.

    Notice who's reflected in Hillary's shades in this mailer from pro-Marco Rubio super-PAC Conservative Solutions? (It's Rubio.)

    Here's another Conservative Solutions mailer, this one taking on Rubio rival Ted Cruz.

    This mailer from Jeb Bush's campaign is intended to appeal to Granite State gun owners. The gun-carrying guy in the left-hand corner at first glance appears to be Jeb, but he may actually be just some random guy!

    At least one out of every three mailers seems to come from Right to Rise, the pro-Jeb Bush super-PAC that raised more than $100 million during its first fundraising quarter.

    Another from Right to Rise.

    Spoiler alert: the contents are not urgent.

    And then there's this classy specimen.



  • Oscars So White? Black Panther to the Rescue.

    Unlike many of his peers at Marvel, Black Panther screenwriter Joe Robert Cole didn't grow up a comic-book superfan, but he did have a soft spot for superheroes and a passion for storytelling. Fresh out of college at the University of California-Berkeley, Cole got his first gig writing for ATL, a 2006 film starring rapper TI and based loosely on the romance between producer Dallas Austin and singer T'Boz of the R&B group TLC. He went on to write and direct 2011's Amber Lake, an eerie indie film about three half-sisters who turn on one another when questioned by the police about their father's mysterious death. Most recently, he wrote an episode of FX's acclaimed series American Crime Story: The People v. OJ Simpson.

    Now, Cole, a product of Marvel's two-year in-house writing program, is hard at work on the studio's latest megaflick-to-be. The movie's comic-book counterpart ran several volumes from the late '70s to 2010, replacing the unfortunately titled 1960s comic Jungle Action, which featured the Black Panther, the genre's first black superhero. The story revolves around warrior king T'Challa (Black Panther), who hails from the technologically advanced, fictional African kingdom of Wakanda—which has never been colonized, unlike the other countries on the continent.

    The latest iteration of the Black Panther comic book, written by Ta-Nehisi Coates, is due to launch in April. Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station, Creed) has signed on to direct the movie, which is slated for release in July 2018. Playing T'Challa will be Chadwick Boseman, who makes his big-screen debut as Black Panther in this summer's Captain America: Civil War. Boseman also portrayed Jackie Robinson and James Brown in their respective biopics, and he plays the legal heavyweight Thurgood Marshall in the upcoming Marshall. I caught up with Cole, the Black Panther screenwriter, to talk about diversity in Tinseltown, and why we desperately need black superheroes.

    Mother Jones: What were you doing before you started writing scripts?

    Joe Robert Cole: I figured out I wanted to tell stories in college. I'm an only child who moved around a lot growing up, and I really feel like it prepared me to be a storyteller—to make up stories and pretend to be every hero from every movie and TV show as a kid. So it was a natural progression.

    MJ: You've only written and directed one film, plus a little bit for TV. Were you surprised when you were approached to do Black Panther?

    JC: No. Having gone through the [Marvel] writer program, I knew Black Panther was in the pipeline and I knew they were big fans of my writing. But I had to compete with the other writers who were put up for it—no one hands out jobs.

    Joe Robert Cole IMDB

    MJ: What does it mean to you to be writing a black superhero?

    JC: Black Panther is a historic opportunity to be a part of something important and special, particularly at a time when African Americans are affirming their identities while dealing with vilification and dehumanization. The image of a black hero on this scale is just really exciting. When I was a kid, I would change superheroes' names: Instead of James Bond, I was James Black. Instead of Batman, I was Blackman. And I have a three-year-old son. My son will be five when Black Panther comes out. That puts it all into perspective for me.

    MJ: Ta-Nehisi writes that he sees T'Challa's blackness as an opportunity to explore some of the history of the African continent and the myths that are unknowns in the Western consciousness—unlike, say, the Greek myths. What kinds of themes do you want to explore in the film?

    JC: We're in the process of figuring many of those things out. I think approaching the movie from a perspective that is rooted in the cultures of the continent is important.

    MJ: In the comic books, Black Panther fought off a colonizer in Wakanda. He fought the Klan. He fought against apartheid in South Africa. Bringing the Panther into the present day, I'm curious how the recent activism around the treatment of black people by police might inform your story or your development of T'Challa as a character.

    JC: Personally—and Ryan [Coogler] and Nate Moore, the executive producer—we all are cognizant of what's going on in the world, in black communities, and in our country. We are aware of the importance of that, and the platform this movie provides us with. But I can't give you the specifics.

    MJ: Is Ta-Nehisi involved in the thought process for the movie?

    JC: No. I'm a huge fan. It's great that he's writing the comic. But they're separate entities.

    MJ: You're African American but your character is African. In what ways do you expect that you will and won't relate to him?

    JC: That's a really good question. I write characters focusing on them as human beings, and then you wrap them within a culture. So I think I can connect with him as a person with brown skin who's viewed differently by the world. In terms of his culture, we're thinking about where we are locating Wakanda within the continent, and what the people and history of that region are like. It's a process of investigation to help inform the story at this point. But we are going to be engaged with consultants who are experts on the continent and on African history and politics.

    MJ: In the comic, Wakanda is one of the planet's most technologically advanced nations. How do portray that level of technology without "Westernizing" the country's culture?

    JC: That's one of the many questions that excite me. I think you try to extrapolate from the early civilizations and cultures of the continent, kind of looking for unique ways they set themselves apart from Western civilizations, and then pursue those avenues technologically and see where that takes you.

    MJ: Let's talk a bit about diversity in Hollywood. There's pretty clear gender discrimination in TV and film. What has been your own experience vis-a-vis people of color, and black people especially?

    JC: Historically, opportunity has been afforded to a limited pool of people, excluding people of color and women. That doesn't diminish the talent or hard work of the people within that pool, but it does narrow the field of stories that have been told, and of the creative ideas and perspectives out there. And this problem compounds itself by limiting the number of people in the pipeline to attain the experience to do larger movies or get jobs so they can familiarize themselves with a studio head and get the opportunity to deliver and impress—or maybe direct a smaller movie. It will take a considerable amount of time to rectify. It's very difficult because it starts at the top.

    MJ: It sounds like Marvel's writing program helped you get a foot in the door.

    JC: It familiarized Marvel with my work and with me as a person. Being able to interact with [studio president] Kevin Feige and have him know who I am and know me as a person, and be able to then sit down and have a conversation about story with someone who's familiar and comfortable is invaluable.

    MJ: Do you see a role for yourself in creating more roles for people of color? As Viola Davis points out, there aren't many.

    JC: I've had a conversation with her about this, actually. Yes, absolutely. I had two smaller scripts that I had written with full black casts. And people loved the scripts, but nobody would fund them. Those roles and stories are out there. But unless you have the money to finance movies on your own, you're beholden to others, and that is a very big limiting factor.

    MJ: Why do you think the money people shy away from a black cast? Do they see it as too niche?

    JC: Well, TV does a better job. In film, the justification has been that movies focused on stories or featuring people of color don't make money. But with the success of Straight Outta Compton and Creed, and shows like Empire and How to Get Away With Murder, I think that's becoming a harder argument for companies and studios to make—to the point where it is viewed more of an excuse than reality at times.

    MJ: At the extreme, you have movies like 2014's Exodus: Gods and Kings with all white leads. Last year we had Stonewall, about the 1969 Stonewall Riots—the producers cast a handsome white guy as the lead when the leader of the riots was a black trans woman. This month, Gods of Egypt comes out—with all white leads. Why, in this day and age, do casting directors continue to cast white actors to play characters of color?

    JC: Not enough diverse voices in the room. The individuals who made those movies may not have malicious intent—they just don't know. There wasn't that person going, "This isn't acceptable. This is disrespectful. This isn't accurate." I wish I had been in the room. I would have put Chancellor Williams' The Destruction of Black Civilization on the table. [Laughs.] "Read this book and then let's discuss it." Because then we can figure out a happy medium.

    MJ: Do you think that's also related to the fear that a diverse cast will turn off some moviegoers?

    JC: Yes, of course. When you start talking about movies of that size, they're trying to sell globally to foreign markets. So there is an economic question that can't be ignored, and that's a fair discussion to have. But maybe it's not the time to make that movie if you can't depict people accurately.

    MJ: Is there any reason to fear that some people might dismiss Black Panther as something for black audiences?

    JC: I don't think so. There is a huge fan base for the Black Panther comic and for Marvel as a whole. And I think there is great anticipation across the board for the movie. I think that's how Marvel is approaching it and I know that's how I'm approaching it. I imagine Ryan feels the same way.

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  • These 12 Presidential Campaign Posters Are Totally Museum-Worthy

    The campaign poster is typically more science than art. The final product, after rigorous vetting by focus groups and campaign bureaucrats, may send a clear political message, but it's rarely worth hanging on your wall—let alone at the MoMA. But there are some striking exceptions, most of them from just a few campaigns.

    Amid the Vietnam War, the battle for civil rights, and the waves of student rebellion, the 1968 anti-war candidate Eugene McCarthy (not to be confused with the anti-Communist GOP Sen. Joe McCarthy) and 1972 candidate George McGovern inspired countless famous and not-so-famous artists to churn out a visual feast of bold and experimental posters. Historian Hal Elliott Wert has collected the best examples from this tumultuous era and assembled them in a new book, George McGovern and the Democratic Insurgents. McCarthy and McGovern both met their maker at the polls, however, and the subsequent years gave us a mere sprinkling of noteworthy posters.

    The next great outpouring of campaign art didn't come until some 40 years later, with the nomination of Barack Obama. "It is possible…that the great American political poster, like so much print media, is a thing of the past," Wert writes. "If that is the case, the treasure trove of campaign posters created during the 2008 campaign will become known as a magnificent last hurrah in a history that began in the 1840s and continued for nearly 170 years."

    Most campaign posters from the last half-century are buried in landfills somewhere. But thanks to Wert and a few other campaign art connoisseurs, we can step back from the current tweet-fueled presidential race and revisit the artful ghosts of elections past. (For another side of that history, listen to Whistlestop, John Dickerson's great podcast.)

    Here are some examples from the new book. We'll kick off with McCarthy, who began speaking out against American involvement in Vietnam as early as 1966. Two years later, he ran as the peace candidate in the Democratic primary against President Lyndon Johnson. And although he lost the nomination, McCarthy won the race for innovative posters. This one is considered among the best of the 1960s:

    George McGovern & the Democratic Insurgents

    The 1968 race also included Black Panther spokesman Eldridge Cleaver, whom the radical leftist Peace and Freedom Party selected as its presidential nominee. Cleaver attracted few votes, but he became a symbol of African American rebellion—indeed, he was wounded in a shootout following an April 1968 ambush on a police station in Oakland, California. (At the other end of that year's ballot was segregationist George Wallace, representing the American Independent Party.) This Cleaver for President poster may not cut it in an art museum, but it doubtless deserves a place in a history museum.

    George McGovern & the Democratic Insurgents

    In 1972, Rep. Shirley Chisholm became the first black woman to run as a major party presidential candidate. The Brooklyn congresswoman, who described herself as "unbought and unbossed," won the New Jersey Democratic primary but lost the nomination to George McGovern. She survived three assassination attempts during that campaign. This memorable poster, created by activist ex-nun Mary Corita Kent, is inscribed with a Langston Hughes poem.

    Mary Corita Kent/George McGovern & the Democratic Insurgents

    By 1972, the year the accomplished pro-peace Sen. George McGovern became the Democratic nominee, the party was deeply fractured. "The civil rights movement was in turmoil, the counterculture was rapidly disintegrating, and the antiwar movement was in shambles," Wert writes. Against all odds, McGovern secured the nomination and the left rejoiced. An explosion of bold images followed, including Robin McGovern, which circulated as a poster and button. Artists may have adored McGovern, but he lost to Richard Nixon by a landslide in the general election. Journalist and author Hunter S. Thompson, speaking with McGovern later about what could have led to such a decisive loss, asked, "Do you think you ran a '68 campaign in '72?" McGovern admitted that perhaps that was the case. Americans had simply moved too center-right in reaction to the turmoil of the 1960s.

    Senator George McGovern Collection, Dakota Wesleyan University Archives, Dakota Wesleyan University, Mitchell, South Dakota

    After McGovern's defeat, creative campaign posters went on a general hiatus. But every race had a few gems. In 1984, Democrat Geraldine Ferraro became the first woman named as a major party VP candidate. This poster, playing off the famous French painting (minus the boobs) depicts her as Lady Liberty leading the charge for the Equal Rights Amendment. Ultimately, she and nominee Walter Mondale lost to Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush—almost as badly as McGovern lost to Nixon in 1972.

    Kip Overton/George McGovern & the Democratic Insurgents

    Running against Mondale in the 1984 primaries was the Rev. Jesse Jackson, the first viable black candidate. (Chisholm's candidacy was so ahead of her time that even she admitted she had no chance.) Artist Jack Hammer created this colorful image to represent Jackson's platform of inclusiveness—the so-called rainbow coalition. (Click here to read our piece on Jackson's efforts to diversify Silicon Valley.) Though he ran again in 1988 and did well in the primaries, winning almost 30 percent of the total votes, he was outdone by Michael Dukakis, who garnered about 42 percent.

    Jack Hammer/George McGovern & the Democratic Insurgents

    Dukakis' 1988 bid was renowned artist Roy Lichtenstein's first foray into presidential campaign posters—although Time magazine had previously commissioned him to do a Robert Kennedy cover during Kennedy's 1968 run. Dukakis won the Democratic nomination, but Lichtenstein's blessing wasn't enough to save him from defeat at the hands of George H. W. Bush. The artist would later create an image of the Oval Office to benefit the Democratic National Committee during the successful 1992 Clinton/Gore campaign.

    © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein/George McGovern & the Democratic Insurgents

    During his 1996 reelection effort, President Bill Clinton—always a man of the people—traveled to the Chicago Democratic convention in classic whistle-stop style—by train from West Virginia via Michigan. This art deco poster announced his arrival in the Great Lake State. It also captured his dazzling, contemporary campaign.

    George McGovern & the Democratic Insurgents

    This modern poster for George W. Bush's reelection bid exuded an elegant corporate simplicity. Bumper stickers with the silver "dubya" flooded the nation. At a time when terrorism and the Iraq War weighed heavily on voters' minds, Bush used both television and print ads to tout himself as a steady leader during difficult times.

    George McGovern & the Democratic Insurgents

    Hillary Clinton didn't do much to win over the art crowd in 2008, and her campaign made little use of posters to secure the nomination. But her website did sell several eye-popping heavy stock posters to her fans. This one was created by Tony Puryear, a Los Angeles writer and artist.

    Tony Puryear/George McGovern & the Democratic Insurgents

    Obama—then soon to be the nation's first black president—inspired an artistic wave rivaling that of the McCarthy-McGovern era. Wert writes that Obama broke the so-called McGovern rule: "that cool innovative posters guaranteed a loss." Obama not only had the support of artists; he had an adept marketing team that tightly controlled his image. Team Obama also created the iconic "O" logo and commissioned Shepard Fairey's Hope poster—which would get the artist in trouble over photo copyright issues. In this lesser-known print, artist Ron English superimposed a map of the Midwest onto a hybrid image of Obama and Lincoln. The result: "Abraham Obama."

    Ron English/George McGovern & the Democratic Insurgents

    By 2012, the Obama art boom had largely petered out, but if Bernie Sanders proves a serious contender, all bets could be off. Apparently, a few artists even have an unlikely thing for Ted Cruz—although you won't find 'em in the book...

    Artist unknown.

  • Samantha Bee Is Crashing Late-Night Comedy's Sausage Fest

    Back in September, while at a pumpkin patch with her kids, Samantha Bee caught a glimpse of the late-night TV boys' club in all its glory.

    She saw a tweet with a photo from an October Vanity Fair story lauding the new era of late-night comedy. The spread featured household names—Colbert, Fallon, Conan, Kimmel, Oliver—as well as lesser-known hosts like James Corden and Larry Wilmore. Trevor Noah, who hadn't yet debuted at The Daily Show, was also there. There weren't, however, any women.

    "It was like a troll job, for sure," Bee now says. "and they were trolling the public." So she instantly released a troll job of her own: a photoshopped image of her face on a centaur's body shooting lasers out of her eyes. "BETTER," Bee quipped on Twitter.

    Now, four months later, Bee is set to break into the fraternity: Her new show, Full Frontal With Samantha Bee, debuts Monday at 8 p.m. EST on TBS. And forget the typical dude-sitting-behind-a-desk late-night aesthetic—Full Frontal will feature a standing Bee riffing in front of a line of TV screens and throwing to on-location segments, covering everything from Syrian refugees in Jordan to the treatment of female US veterans.

    We caught up with Bee leading up to the February 8 premiere to discuss satire and feminism, diversity in the workplace, and the rise of Donald Trump.

    Mother Jones: You joined a predominantly male team at The Daily Show from a four-woman comedy troupe in Toronto. How did you manage that transition?

    Samantha Bee: It wasn't a gender concern for me. It was like, "Oh, I've just gone from having a relatively relaxing life and doing comedy at my own pace to suddenly sitting in a room with people whose work I've admired for years and years." I definitely felt out of my league at first. Building a show once a month is vastly different from making a show happen every day with high-quality comedy. The pace was very fast, so your ideas get a hard "no" very fast. I just had to get used to that. I just had to get used to that pace. I didn't know how to edit myself. You need to learn how to kill your joke babies right away if they don't work, and that was a great lesson. I became a great editor of my own material. You've gotta have a lot of ideas, and it's gotta happen fast.

    MJ: You started at The Daily Show in 2003, after the start of the Iraq War. As a Canadian, how prepared did you feel commenting on American politics?

    SB: We follow US politics quite closely in Canada. It was definitely something I was interested and motivated to follow. It was a part of my life keeping up with international stuff and keeping up with what was happening in the United States. I didn't feel prepared. I didn't know anything about American history, really. [Laughs.] I mean, not in an immersive way. So in no way did I feel prepared for how it would be. It's that imposter syndrome when you sit around thinking, "Why would they hire me? Oh my God, when are they going to figure out that I shouldn't be here?" I guess that they never figured it out. I got pretty lucky.

    MJ: How do you think this current US election cycle would play out in Canada?

    SB: Canadians, in general, are pretty awestruck by the kinds of character studies you get to do during a US election cycle. It's been true for any election cycle I've been a part of, for sure. It's such a circus, and it goes on forever. It's a long, long process, whereas in Canada, there's a set period of time within which to campaign and that's all you have. You don't have the kinds of funding. Canadians definitely watch it with their jaws on the floor. It's inconceivable to any Canadian that Donald Trump would even be spoken of in the same breath as the office of the presidency. Inconceivable. As a dual citizen of the two nations, I'm still awestruck by it. [Laughs.]. I think we all are. I'm not able to go there yet. Not quite.

    MJ: What do you miss most about your time at The Daily Show?

    SB: Well, I miss Jon, for sure. But when I left, I left with having had such a full and complete experience that I don't really miss it. I look back on those years with nothing but fondness. I enjoy making and building a new experience for myself, but anyone who I left there, I could still just call them. When it was finished for me, it was finished.

    MJ: What are you happy to be done with?

    SB: I will be excited to do a show one night a week. That's perfect for me. Doing a scripted show is hard, hard work. It's hard, physical, but we're going to get there soon. It's almost athletic. It's mentally athletic. It's physically athletic. It really breaks you down. That I will not miss. And also, I'm looking forward to being a host who's just directing things.

    MJ: What does it mean to become the only female late-night host on television?

    SB: It's really exciting for me. I think I would be doing this even if I wasn't the only female in that space. There's room for lots of voices. There's certainly room for more female voices. It's just the way it works out that my show is hitting the airwaves before anyone else. I think there will be more after me, so it definitely means a lot to me. But it's not the only thing that means a lot to me. Just having the ability to fully express myself and fully drive a show is really the most exciting part of me. And I like all those guys tremendously. It's just hard to imagine. When you think about the women who have come before me in that space, it's such a small number of people. It's really unthinkably small. I just don't know why. I really don't know why.

    MJ: What, if anything, have you drawn from other women in the industry?

    SB: I don't think about it too much. Maybe that's a bad thing, but for me, I can't focus on what other people did. It's better for me to drive forward. What I'm really trying to do is create a show that I would want to watch. That's all I'm trying to do: Build a show that I think would be entertaining, and make a tiny little package with a bow on it and present it to people and hope that they like it too. I'm not taking on board too many thoughts of other people's shows or traditions or anything like that. I can't. I wrote a book, but I didn't read other people's books when I wrote my own book.

    MJ: What was the big takeaway from that man-centric Vanity Fair photo spread?

    SB: I think those guys are great, by the way. It's not personal. It's just that when you look at the photo, you really capture the fact that there are like a crazy number of male hosts in suits. [Laughs.] It's not even a ratio. It's an imbalance. The teeter-totter just toppled over. There's nobody on the other side. I think everyone is just so tired of it. It's one thing to know it, but that just created the perfect visual portrait of what it means to only have [male] late-night hosts. People just had an emotional reaction to it, and so did I. We were all in it together.

    MJ: In a recent New York magazine story, the writer describes you as an "unapologetic feminist." Is it important to you to bring that perspective to your work?

    SB: I don't think about whether it's feminist or not feminist. I think about what the issues are going to be. I always have been a feminist. That's how I grew up. We never really thought about it. It's just the reality. I think my daughters are feminists. We don't have to theorize about it too much. It just is. That's how I feel. Somebody was asking me that question the other day, and I was like, "You know, would you not think that you can watch The Late Show because it's hosted by a man? Would you wonder, would you sit and go, "Ugh, this is going to be all about man issues? Like, is there anything for me to watch in this show hosted by a man?" It's strange to me that people would think that this show would be just strictly isolated to women's issues. Like obviously, there are issues that I feel passionate about and want to be a part of it, but we can all handle it. Men and women can handle it as people.

    MJ: Do you think there's a difference between what makes men laugh and what makes women laugh?

    SB: I don't. I really don't think there's a difference. I don't think there's a difference at all in the things that we laugh at.

    MJ: Why not?

    SB: Because there's no difference for me. I don't laugh at jokes for women. My experience is different, I guess. But a good joke is a good joke. I'm picky about my jokes. I'm very critical about my jokes, and the material just has to win the day. You can do a themed piece on anything, but if the jokes don't win the day, what's the point? I have a really tough sense of humor, but I don't have a gendered experience of laughing at things. People bring their own experience to the table, but I don't think of it that way at all.

    MJ: Your show—the writers' room, the cast, the segments—is notably diverse. Why was that an emphasis for you?

    SB: There's so much lip flap devoted to creating diversity in the workplace, especially in the entertainment industry. I think we can all see that. We can see the direct realization of that. It's just a fact. When you're given the gift of being able to do your own thing, you can create the kind of workplace you want to create. I think we all benefit from hearing everybody's stories. It makes our world better. It includes more voices. It includes more people's stories. It makes life worth living, you know what I mean? I'm not interested in living in a bubble where I'm only entertaining people just like me, or I'm only singing to my own versions of myself. I love myself, but I think you can do better. [Laughs.]

    Part of how you do better at diversity is you just hire people who are diverse. You make a point of it. You have to do it. It's not going to change if people don't actually just do it. You can do it, and it takes a little extra time. It takes more thought, and that's what we are trying to do. I don't even think we did a perfect job. I don't think there is a perfect job, but we are absolutely putting our money where our mouths are.

  • Marco Rubio Disses George W. Bush

    Marco Rubio is on the move.

    That's what his supporters in New Hampshire eagerly tell reporters at Rubio campaign events, after the Republican senator from Florida placed third in the Iowa caucuses. As proof, they point to the increased number of camera crews trailing Rubio, who's making a bid to claim ownership of the so-called establishment lane in the GOP contest.

    Indeed, among the media masses assembled in New Hampshire Rubio is topic No. 1. How far can he surge? Can he win? Donald Trump—remember him?—has become almost an after-thought. And at a town hall meeting at Hood Middle School in Derry on Friday evening, Rubio exuded confidence and energy before a crowd of about 400. He stuck mainly to his stump speech, with its blend of partisan anger (a power-mad Barack Obama has nearly brought the United States to total ruin) and generational hope (only a young, forward-looking leader can make this century the greatest one yet for the United States).

    And it played well. The audience members listened attentively as Rubio proclaimed, "I know why you're here." He later added: "You understand... that this election is different... it's a referendum on what kind of country do you want America to be in the 21st century." They cheered when Rubio bashed Obama (claiming he purposefully has divided the nation) and promised to rip up the Iran nuclear deal on his first day as president. He also pledged to end Obamacare, to save the supposedly imperiled Second Amendment, to smother Common Core, and to get tough (somehow) on immigration. They also applauded loudly when he vowed that he would unite the nation.

    "I will be a president for all Americans," he exclaimed. Few, it seemed, noticed the conflict between his hard-edged assaults and his pledge to heal a divided nation.

    Talking to several Rubio backers in attendance, I got the sense that they really fancied the idea of Rubio. Asked why they were supporting him, each cited Rubio's "positive vision." As a follow-up, I asked these Rubio-ites to describe that vision. Each said a version of this: to make America better. So, Rubio has figured out a way to tap into Republicans dislike (or hatred) of Obama and Hillary Clinton — the crowd roared with delight when Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Rubio endorser, introduced Rep. Trey Gowdy, who heads the House committee on Benghazi, and mentioned the B-word —while also coming across, at least to GOPers, as not a mean guy. (And the GOP pack already has mean guys in the lead.)

    At the same time, Rubio proffers vague policy prescriptions of the usual conservative fare—advance free enterprise! cut taxes!—yet is seen by his fans as a visionary and man of the future. This is all a pretty neat trick, and a good reminder that presentation is 90 percent of politics. Or maybe more.

    Rubio tossed out one line that did warrant unpacking. Early in the speech, the 46-year-old self-exiled senator irately declared, "This generation of leadership is the most selfish generation of leadership we've ever had in DC." This seemed to be another dig at Obama. But Rubio went on to assert that for 15 to 20 years, this gang of lousy leaders has "done nothing about the national debt."

    Twenty years? That would mean that the "most selfish generation" included the entire George W. Bush presidency. The folks in the crowd nodded, as Rubio issued this denunciation. Did they realize he was indicting the last Republican administration? And coincidentally—or not—this dig was a harsh assault on the brother of his mentor-turned-rival Jeb Bush.

    Rubio is pushing generational change as a primary reason for his presidential bid. (After all, in his campaign speeches, he does not spend much time detailing his previous accomplishments.) And he's willing to indict the Bush crew to make this point. As Rubio rises, this is more salt in Jeb Bush's wounds—and another indication that Rubio is quite good at making an attack seem positive.

  • Is Man-Made Noise Messing Up the Oceans?

    We may imagine the bottom of the deep blue sea as a peaceful, quiet place—certainly compared with the blaring horns and chit-chattering radios of rush-hour traffic. But the ocean is filled with the sounds of undulating waves, marine animals calling out to one another, and, increasingly, the ceaseless din of human commercial activity. Over the past 60 years, our contribution to the undersea cacophony has doubled every decade, and much of that noise is generated close to the shore. Roughly 40 percent of the world's population lives within 100 kilometers—or 62 miles—of the coast.

    A new study in the journal Nature finds that all the racket from our ships and construction activities penetrates deep beneath the surface, not merely messing with the communications of undersea mammals but changing the very nature of life at the bottom. The researchers found that bottom-dwellers such as small clams and lobsters, which are crucial to the underwater ecosystem, alter their behavior when exposed to man-made noise. To put it simply, they don't move around as much.

    Here's why it matters: These creatures are responsible for churning up sediment when they burrow into the seabed, thus increasing oxygen levels and distributing nutrients. Their waning activity, the study's authors say, may impact seabed productivity, sediment biodiversity, and even fisheries production. "There has been much discussion over the last decade of the extent to which whales, dolphins and fish stocks, might be disturbed by the sounds from shipping, wind farms, and their construction," co-author Tim Leighton, an expert in underwater acoustics at the University of Southampton in England, noted in a statement accompanying the paper. "However, one set of ocean denizens has until now been ignored…These are the bottom feeders, such as crabs, shellfish and invertebrates similar to the ones in our study, which are crucial to healthy and commercially successful oceans because they form the bottom of the food chain."

    And these kinds of creatures, unlike fish and dolphins, can't simply relocate to escape the noise. To maintain healthy oceans, we humans might simply have to keep it down.

  • Hillary Clinton's Flint Strategy

     This story originally appeared on The New Republic and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

    Ever since Flint's water crisis became a national story at the beginning of the year, Hillary Clinton has done everything in her power to own the issue in the Democratic primary, to Bernie Sanders's detriment.

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  • Why Have New Hampshire Democrats Gone Gaga for Bernie Sanders?

    The latest polls in New Hampshire place Bernie Sanders ahead of Hillary Clinton by as much as 31 percent. And that prompts a technical question from political scientists: WTF?

    That is, why is Sanders, the democratic socialist senator from neighboring Vermont, who only months ago joined the Democratic Party after decades as an independent, clobbering the front-runner? The facile answers tossed about are that Sanders is from a next-door state and, thus, has a home-field advantage, and that many of those flinty New Hampshire residents like to vote as contrarians and don't mind sticking a sharp maple tree branch into the eye of the establishment. Here's the problem: These explanations for Bernie-mania don't make complete sense and are at odds with the voting history of the Granite State.

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