Kevin Drum Feed | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en The Case For Donald Trump Being a Liar Is Overwhelming <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>I've gotten some pushback on <a href="" target="_blank">my post</a> about calling Donald Trump's serial tall tales <em>lying</em>. The main objection is an obvious one: something is only a lie if you tell it knowingly. Trump tells lots of whoppers, but maybe he's just misinformed. Or, in cases like the Jersey City Muslims, <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_trump_shrugging.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">maybe he's convinced himself that he really saw them cheering that day. There's no way to know for sure.</p> <p>This is true: we can't know <em>for sure</em>. But in Trump's case we can be <em>pretty damn sure</em>. After all, this hasn't happened once or twice or three times. It's happened dozens of times on practically a daily basis. He doesn't just tell these stories until somebody corrects him. He blithely keeps on telling them long after he must know they're untrue. And while memory can fail, Trump has, by my count, told at least seven separate stories based on his own memory for which there is either (a) no evidence or (b) directly contradictory evidence.<sup>1</sup> Some of them are for things that had happened only a few days or weeks before.</p> <p>If you're waiting for absolute, watertight, 100 percent proof of a knowing lie, you'll probably never get it. But the case in favor of Trump being a serial liar is overwhelming&mdash;and in the fallen world in which we live, this is how adults have to make judgments about people. Given the evidence at hand, there's simply no reasonable conclusion except one: Donald Trump is a serial liar.</p> <p><sup>1</sup>On my list of <a href="" target="_blank">Trump fabrications,</a> they are numbers 1, 6, 8, 13, 18, 19, and 26.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 25 Nov 2015 03:06:28 +0000 Kevin Drum 290646 at Quote of the Day: Here's What the Republican Primary Has Come To <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Gideon Resnick shows us what the Republican primary <a href="" target="_blank">has come to:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>A Carson campaign official told CBS News on Sunday that the candidate has considered taking a trip to Asia, Africa, or Australia in order to do something &ldquo;eye-opening&rdquo; prior to the Iowa caucus in February....(Australia was likely in the mix because Carson says he spent time working there at Charles Gairdner Hospital in 1983, according to his autobiography <em>Gifted Hands</em>. <strong>The <em>Daily Beast</em> has reached out to the hospital to confirm.</strong>)</p> </blockquote> <p>A leading presidential candidate makes a simple, entirely plausible statement in his autobiography and yet a reporter feels like maybe he ought to make a call to double check it. Just in case. And I can't say that I blame him.</p> <p>(Fine: I'm being snarky. For the record, I believe that Carson really was there.)</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 25 Nov 2015 02:28:37 +0000 Kevin Drum 290641 at The Big Problem With Electric Cars: They're Too Reliable <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Matt Richtel has an intriguing article today in the <em>New York Times</em> about electric cars. The question is: why aren't they selling better? Is it because they have weak performance? Because they can <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_electric_car.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">only go a hundred miles on a charge? Because they're expensive?</p> <p>Those are all issues.<sup>1</sup> But it turns out that people who want to buy an electric car anyway have a hard time <a href="" target="_blank">getting dealerships to sell them one:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Kyle Gray, a BMW salesman, said he was personally enthusiastic about the technology, but...the sales process takes more time because the technology is new, cutting into commissions....Marc Detsch, Nissan&rsquo;s business development manager for electric vehicles said some salespeople just can&rsquo;t rationalize the time it takes to sell the cars. <strong>A salesperson &ldquo;can sell two gas burners in less than it takes to sell a Leaf,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a lot of work for a little pay.&rdquo;</strong></p> <p><strong>He also pointed to the potential loss of service revenue. &ldquo;There&rsquo;s nothing much to go wrong,&rdquo; Mr. Deutsch said of electric cars.</strong> &ldquo;There&rsquo;s no transmission to go bad.&rdquo;....Jared Allen, a spokesman for the National Automobile Dealers Association, said there wasn&rsquo;t sufficient data to prove that electric cars would require less maintenance. But he acknowledged that service was crucial to dealer profits and that dealers didn&rsquo;t want to push consumers into electric cars that might make them less inclined to return for service.</p> </blockquote> <p>I suppose this makes sense. And to all this, you can add the fact that none of these cars can fly. There are so many hurdles to overcome before we make it into the Jetson's future we were all promised.</p> <p><sup>1</sup>We are, of course, talking about the non-Tesla market here.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 24 Nov 2015 22:11:52 +0000 Kevin Drum 290601 at Donald Trump Is a Pathological Liar. It's Time to Stop Tiptoeing Around This. <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Let's take a look at a few headlines about Donald Trump lately:</p> <blockquote> <p><a href="" target="_blank">CNN:</a> Does Donald Trump <strong>transcend</strong> the truth?</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">New York Times:</a> Donald Trump&rsquo;s <strong>shortcuts and salesmanlike stretches</strong></p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">ABC News:</a> Donald Trump gaining strength despite <strong>questionable</strong> comments</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">The Atlantic:</a> Donald Trump's <strong>fact-free</strong> weekend</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Washington Post:</a> Donald Trump is leading an increasingly <strong>fact-free</strong> 2016 campaign</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">NBC News:</a> Amid outcry, Trump continues campaign of <strong>controversy</strong></p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">BBC:</a> Trump <strong>'wrong'</strong> in claiming US Arabs cheered 9/11 attacks</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">CBS New York:</a> Evidence supporting Trump&rsquo;s claim of Jersey City Muslims cheering on 9/11 is <strong>hard to come by</strong></p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Business Insider:</a> Donald Trump declares massive victory on his <strong>widely disputed</strong> claim about 9/11</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Los Angeles Times:</a> When it comes to Syrian refugees and fighting Islamic State, Trump <strong>wings it</strong></p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">USA Today:</a> Trump defends tweet with <strong>faulty</strong> crime stats as 'a retweet'</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Fox News:</a> Trump tweet on black crime sets off <strong>firestorm</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>It's way past time for this stuff. You can call Trump's statements <em>lies</em> or <em>fabrications</em> or even <em>falsehoods</em> if you insist on being delicate about it. But you can't call them questionable or controversial or salesmanlike or disputed or even faulty. The man is a serial, pathological liar. Isn't it about time for the journalistic community to work up the courage to report this with clear eyes?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 24 Nov 2015 19:35:45 +0000 Kevin Drum 290586 at Who's the Most Humble? We Are! <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_jesus_eat_sinners.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">People For the American Way emails to highlight something from last Friday's pre-Thanksgiving celebration of Christian virtue in Iowa. <a href="" target="_blank">Here is Carly Fiorina:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>"I do think it's worth saying," Fiorina declared, "<strong>that people of faith make better leaders</strong> because faith gives us humility, faith teaches us that no one of us is greater than any other one of us, that each of us are gifted by God. Faith gives us empathy; we know that all of us can fall and every one of us can be redeemed. And faith gives us optimism, it gives us the belief that there is something better, that there is someone bigger than all of us."</p> </blockquote> <p>PFAW is doing the Lord's work here&mdash;so to speak&mdash;but I can't get too worked up about this. It's annoying, but what do you expect at a big gathering of evangelical Christians in Iowa? But then there's this from omnipresent messaging guru Frank Luntz:</p> <blockquote> <p>Luntz then followed up on Fiorina's statement by declaring that "I can back that up statistically," asserting that <strong>"every single positive factor that you can describe is directly correlated to someone's relationship with faith, with God, and all the pathologies that you would criticize are directly related to a rejection of God."</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>You know, I've got nothing against organized religion. It provides an important part of life for a lot of people and does a lot of good charitable work. It also does some harm, but what human organization doesn't?</p> <p><strong>&lt;rant volume=7&gt;</strong></p> <p>But it sure does get tiresome to hear Christians like Fiorina constantly preening about how great they are and then in their next breath boasting about their humility. Fiorina also explicitly suggests that nonbelievers are second-rate leaders and then immediately congratulates believers like herself for their empathy. As for optimism, I have rarely come across a community more convinced that the entire country has become a grim and ghastly abomination than evangelical Christians. Generally speaking, I'd say that evangelical Christians&mdash;the ones who blather in public anyway&mdash;are among the least humble, least empathetic, and least optimistic people in the country.</p> <p>Still, you can just chalk all this up to political hyperbole and let it go. But then Luntz steps in to bring the Science&trade;. It's not just Fiorina's <em>opinion</em> that believers are better than nonbelievers. By God, Luntz can <em>prove</em> that every single bad thing in the world is due to unbelievers. Who needs faith when you have dial tests? So there you have it: Revel in your overwhelming superiority, Christians. What better way to win sympathy for your views?</p> <p><strong>&lt;/rant&gt;</strong></p> <p>Have a nice Thanksgiving, everyone. Eat with a few sinners and publicans this year, OK?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 24 Nov 2015 19:03:43 +0000 Kevin Drum 290581 at Here's a Look at the Memes That Climate Denialists Are Funding These Days <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>How does climate denial work? Who funds it? <a href="" target="_blank">In the <em>Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences</em>,</a> Justin Farrell used network analysis to take a detailed look at a massive corpus of 41,000 texts written between 1993 and 2013 and came up with an unsurprising answer to the second question: ExxonMobil and the Koch family foundations are the 800-pound gorillas here. But it's not just <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_co2_is_good.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">direct contributions from these two that matter. They also act as a signal of approval for everyone else: "Donations from these corporate benefactors signals entry into a powerful network of influence," Farrell says.</p> <p>Perhaps the most intriguing finding, however, is that climate denial is faddish. Certain themes get hot for a while and then get replaced by others. For example, take a look at the chart on the right. Is CO<sub>2</sub> good? Well, sure: without it all of Earth's plants would die and then we'd die too. Duh. But around 2008 we saw a spurt of op-eds and videos telling us that since "CO<sub>2</sub> is life," then more CO<sub>2</sub> must be a good thing, not a bad one. <a href="" target="_blank">Remember those?</a> But what prompted this idiocy? As the chart shows, organizations that received no funding from corporate denialists never adopted this meme. But among organizations that <em>did</em> receive funding, the "CO<sub>2</sub> is life" meme skyrocketed.</p> <p>You can see similar dynamics with other denialist memes, which have all had both fallow and active periods. Interestingly, though, the four memes Farrell studied are all in active periods right now. Hyperactive, even. And those memes all took off at the same time: around 2007-09. This might be related to the public embrace of Al Gore's <em>Inconvenient Truth</em>, or it might be related to the election of a Democratic president. Or both. Farrell's research doesn't tell us. Just for the record, though, here are the four memes he identified. I have taken the liberty of translating them into language we can all understand:</p> <ul><li>The great "global warming pause" based on using 1998 as a baseline.</li> <li>Energy production means more jobs and more growth.</li> <li>CO<sub>2</sub>: You call it pollution, we call it life.</li> <li>Hey, global temperatures go up and down all the time throughout history.</li> </ul><p>According to Farrell's data, all of these memes are still in full flower. This is surprising since I haven't seen the "CO<sub>2</sub> is life" nonsense lately. Maybe it's just gone underground. In any case, now you know where it comes from.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 24 Nov 2015 17:48:23 +0000 Kevin Drum 290566 at How Popular Is Your Senator? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">Martin Longman</a> points us this morning to Morning Consult, which has a fun list of the <a href="" target="_blank">most and least popular senators in America.</a> The most popular senator <em>in his home state</em> is Bernie Sanders; the least popular is either Bob Menendez or Mitch McConnell, depending on whether you go by approval or disapproval ratings. But which <em>states</em> are the most and least satisfied? That turns out to be surprisingly easy to figure out:</p> <ul><li>Vermost is the happiest state. Vermonters really like both Sanders and Patrick Leahy. Maine and Wyoming also do well.</li> <li>Arizona is the grumpiest state. Both John McCain and Jeff Flake have sky-high disapproval levels. Kentucky is also pretty unhappy with its senators.</li> </ul><p>On another note, not a single state that begins with A has a Democratic senator. How about that?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 24 Nov 2015 16:50:40 +0000 Kevin Drum 290546 at Turkey Shoots Down Russian Jet <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><iframe align="right" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="258" src="" style="margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;" width="400"></iframe>Turkey shot down a Russian jet today. Since Vladimir Putin is a real leader, not the featherweight we have here in America, I'll bet he made it crystal clear what price Turkey would pay for this. <a href="" target="_blank">Let's listen in:</a></p> <blockquote> <p><strong>Certainly, we will analyze what's happening very seriously,</strong> and today's tragic event will have serious consequences for Russian-Turkish relations. We have always treated Turkey as not just a close neighbor, but as a friendly state. I don't know in whose interests today's incident is, <strong>but it's not in our interest.</strong> And instead of immediately establishing the necessary contacting us, the Turkish authorities immediately their NATO partners, as if we downed a Turkish jet.</p> </blockquote> <p>How....very Obama-like. But we'll see what happens. This intervention just keeps getting worse and worse.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 24 Nov 2015 16:18:32 +0000 Kevin Drum 290531 at An Incomplete Catalog of Donald Trump's Never-Ending Fabrications <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>There's a legal term applied to advertising called "puffery." For example, if Coca-Cola says Coke is the best-tasting soda in the world, that's just puffery. They can't prove it, but that's okay, even if polls show that most people prefer Pepsi. Legally, statements like this are evaluated not as strictly factual claims, but as mere ordinary boasting, something that "ordinary consumers do not take seriously."</p> <p>The same concept applies to politics. Presidential candidates always say their tax plans will balance, they'll crush every one of our enemies, and the current incumbent is the worst ever in history. This is just puffery. It's worth pushing back on, but it's not generally a hanging offense.</p> <p>But Donald Trump is different. Sure, his picture is probably in the dictionary next to the word "puffery," but he also&nbsp;tosses out wild howlers with a con man's breezy assurance and tells flat-out lies as a matter of routine. He'll say things one day, and 24 hours later he'll blandly insist he's being malignly misquoted even though it's all on tape. These aren't just exaggerations or spin or cherry picking. They're things that are flatly, incontrovertibly wrong.</p> <p>And that's not all. Trump doesn't do this only in private or only when he's under pressure. Nor does he do it to cover up dubious past deeds. That would at least be normal human weakness. Rather, he does it again and again in front of huge crowds and on national TV, whether he needs to or not. It's just his normal, everyday behavior.</p> <p>We need an official list of this stuff. Like I said: not exaggerations or spin or cherry picking. Things that are just plain wrong. Here's a start:</p> <ol><li>On 9/11, he personally saw <a href="" target="_blank">thousands of Muslims in Jersey City cheering.</a></li> <li>He never said Marco Rubio was <a href="" target="_blank">Mark Zuckerberg's "personal senator."</a></li> <li>There are actually <a href="" target="_blank">93 million people not working</a> and the real unemployment rate is about 40 percent.</li> <li>The Obama administration is <a href="" target="_blank">sending Syrian refugees to red states.</a></li> <li>Climate change is a <a href="" target="_blank">hoax invented by the Chinese.</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank">He opposed the Iraq War</a> and has dozens of news clippings to prove it.</li> <li><a href="" target="_blank">Thirteen Syrian refugees</a> were "caught trying to get into the U.S." (Actually, they just walked up and requested asylum.)</li> <li>He never said the stuff&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Megyn Kelly accused him of saying</a> in the first debate.</li> <li><a href="" target="_blank">He will allow guns</a> at Trump golf resorts.</li> <li><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_politifact_donald_trump_0.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 35px 0px 10px 30px;">People on the terrorism watch are already <a href="" target="_blank">prohibited from buying guns.</a></li> <li>Among white homicide victims, <a href="" target="_blank">81 percent are killed by blacks.</a></li> <li>America has the <a href="" target="_blank">highest tax rate</a> in the world.</li> <li>CNN lied when it reported that a <a href="" target="_blank">speech he gave in South Carolina</a> was one-third empty.</li> <li><a href="" target="_blank">His criticism of Ford</a> prompted the company to move a factory from Mexico to Ohio.</li> <li><a href="" target="_blank">Vaccines cause autism.</a></li> <li>The Obama administration wants to <a href="" target="_blank">admit 250,000 Syrian refugees.</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank">ISIS built a luxury hotel</a> in the Middle East.</li> <li>He was on <em>60 Minutes</em> with Vladimir Putin and <a href="" target="_blank">"got to know him very well."</a></li> <li>He was never interested in <a href="" target="_blank">opening a casino in Florida.</a></li> <li>November 17: The United States only started <a href="" target="_blank">bombing ISIS oil fields</a> "two days ago."</li> <li>His campaign is <a href="" target="_blank">100 percent self-funded.</a></li> <li>Mexico doesn't have <a href="" target="_blank">birthright citizenship.</a></li> <li>The Iran deal forces us to <a href="" target="_blank">"fight with Iran against Israel"</a> if Israel attacks Iran.</li> <li>We still "really don't know" if Barack Obama was <a href="" target="_blank">born in the United States.</a></li> <li>More than <a href="" target="_blank">300,000 veterans have died</a> waiting for VA care.</li> <li>The Bush White House begged him to tone down his <a href="" target="_blank">"vocal" opposition to the Iraq War.</a></li> </ol><p>This is not normal political hucksterism. It's a pathological disregard for the truth. Trump knows that the conventions of print journalism mostly prevent reporters from really calling him out on this stuff, and he also knows that TV reporters won't usually press him too hard because they want him back on their shows. And when he does get called out, he just bluffs his way through. He knows his followers will believe him when he says the fault-finding is just another example of how the liberal media has it out for him. Within a day or three, he's repeated the lie often enough that it's old news and enters the canon of what "everyone knows." Journalists don't even bother with it anymore because they're already trying to play catch-up with his latest whopper.</p> <p>Anyway, this list is meant only as a start. It's what I came up with just by digging through my memory and doing a bit of googling. I'm sure there are plenty of others. Feel free to add them in comments.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum 2016 Elections Top Stories Tue, 24 Nov 2015 06:00:54 +0000 Kevin Drum 290506 at Carson Joins Trump Idiocy About Jersey City, Then Backs Away <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_911_east_jerusalem.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;"><a href="" target="_blank">The latest from la-la land:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson joined GOP rival Donald Trump in claiming that he, too, saw news footage of Muslim-Americans cheering as the World Trade Center towers fell on Sept. 11, 2001&nbsp;&mdash; despite the fact that no such footage has turned up yet. "I saw the film of it, yes," Carson told reporters at a Monday campaign event, adding that it was documented by "newsreels."</p> </blockquote> <p>Newsreels? What is this? 1943? But wait. We have breaking news via Twitter <a href="" target="_blank">from Jon Karl of ABC News:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>@RealBenCarson spox Doug Watts: Carson was mistaken when he said he saw film of Muslims celebrating on 9/11 in Jersey City...."He doesn't stand behind his comments [on] New Jersey and American Muslims," Watts told ABC's @KFaulders...."He was rather thinking of the protests going on in the Middle East and some of the demonstrations" there on 9/11.</p> </blockquote> <p>This is nuts. These guys are trying to put the <em>Onion</em> out of business for real. "We have investigated and discovered that East Jerusalem is not on the Hudson River after all." But hell, at least Carson is willing to admit his error. One brownie point for that&mdash;though it does raise some questions about his vaunted memory. Trump will continue to insist forever that he saw it, and his supporters will continue to believe him because you can never trust the mainstream media, can you? They're always covering up for Jersey City's Muslim community.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 23 Nov 2015 23:09:01 +0000 Kevin Drum 290486 at Americans Both Love and Hate Government <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_pew_view_government.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;"><a href="" target="_blank">Pew Research</a> once again shows us that Americans are hopelessly confused. Do they distrust government? You bet! Only 19 percent say they trust the government most or all of the time.</p> <p>Does the government do a good job? Hell n&mdash;wait, what? Majorities think the government is doing a pretty good job in almost all areas&mdash;including keeping the country safe from terrorism. In fact, the only two areas that get a low score are immigration and poverty.</p> <p>So why all the distrust? I haven't read the whole report yet, so I don't know what ideas they have. Maybe I'll do that later tonight. Basically, I just think this shows once again that Americans are schizophrenic. They hate education but love their local schools. They hate Congress but love their local member. They hate the government but....yeah, it's actually doing a decent job. The French may have a problem governing a country with 246 kinds of cheese, but what do you do about Americans? You could always just ban a couple hundred kinds of cheese if you really wanted to, but how do you get Americans to adopt some kind of coherent view of how they want to be governed?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 23 Nov 2015 21:25:10 +0000 Kevin Drum 290426 at Robots Will Take Your Job Someday, But In the Meantime They'll Decide Which Jobs You Can Have <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Are you worried about the robots coming to take your job? You should be! But that's still a ways away for most of us. In the meantime, the robots will be deciding which jobs we're allowed to have. Today, <a href="" target="_blank">the consistently fascinating Lydia DePillis</a> points us to a <a href="" target="_blank">new study</a> that evaluates how well computer algorithms do at hiring new workers. The test bed is a large company with multiple locations. The workers perform relatively rote cognitive work that the authors can't reveal, but it is "similar to jobs such as data entry work, standardized test grading, and call center work."</p> <p>In order to hire better workers, this company rolled out a new test that consists of "an online questionnaire comprising a large battery of questions, including those on technical skills, personality, cognitive skills, fit for the job, and various job <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_job_tenure_testing.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">scenarios." So how did stony-hearted Mr. Robot do?</p> <p>Better than humans, according to the authors. The test rates each applicant as green, yellow, or red, and they found that greens stayed on the job for 12 days longer than yellows, who in turn lasted 17 days longer than reds. This is significant since the average job tenure at this company is 99 days. More to the point, the authors find that more interference from hiring managers leads to worse results. "In our setting it provides the stark recommendation that firms would do better to remove discretion of the average HR manager and instead hire based solely on the test."</p> <p>But maybe hiring managers choose more productive workers? Nope. "In all cases, we find no evidence that managerial exceptions improve output per hour. Instead, we find noisy estimates indicating that worker quality appears to be lower on this dimension as well."</p> <p>Hmmph. I guess it's HR managers who really need to be scared here. Apparently they simply add no value at all for jobs like this. Eventually, though, we're going to start looking at whether these tests systematically discriminate against women or blacks or other protected classes. It would be pretty easy for this to happen either intentionally or unintentionally. Then the robots will either have to get smarter or else, ironically, find themselves out of a job.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 23 Nov 2015 18:38:31 +0000 Kevin Drum 290411 at Marco Rubio Bravely Rules Out Negotiation With ISIS That No One Has Ever Proposed <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Marco Rubio has aired his first TV ad, and I suppose it's no surprise that we've already seen it. The whole thing is his schtick about the fight against ISIS being a civilizational struggle etc. etc. Here it is:</p> <p><iframe align="middle" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="290" src="" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 90px;" width="450"></iframe></p> <p>Once again, Rubio offers up his odd bit about ISIS hating us because we let women drive. But forbidding women to drive is actually one of the few odious things that ISIS doesn't do. It's our great and good friend Saudi Arabia that has a problem with women drivers. I'm pretty sure Rubio has never said a bad word about the Kingdom, so it seems a little odd to obsess about this when he's got such a huge panoply of other horrific stuff to choose from (we don't behead heretics, we don't sanction slavery, and so forth).</p> <p>At the end Rubio gravely intones that "there can be no arrangement or negotiation." Where did that come from? Rubio would just as soon not let anyone know this, but the Obama administration is pretty firmly at war with ISIS. We're bombing them. We're taking territory from them. We're doing out best to wipe out their financial infrastructure. Obama's official policy is to "degrade and destroy" ISIS. Nobody&mdash;literally nobody&mdash;has ever suggested negotiating with them.</p> <p>But I suppose none of that matters. Mostly, this is just Rubio trying his best to use dramatic lighting and a grave tone to avoid looking like he's 22, which is probably his greatest drawback in the presidential race. It's unfair, but with that baby face and breakneck speaking style that sounds like he's still on the college debating team, he just doesn't look old enough to be the leader of the free world. He seems more like a well-regarded up-and-comer, not the guy who already upped and came.</p> <p>Does the ad work? It seems a little to strained to me, but I'm hardly his target audience. We'll see.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 23 Nov 2015 18:15:17 +0000 Kevin Drum 290386 at Hillary Clinton Is Strongly Trusted on National Security <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_national_security_hillary_vs_gop.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">In the wake of the Paris attacks, who do Americans trust most on national security? Thankfully, the answer is not Donald Trump. Surprisingly, the answer appears to be Hillary Clinton. <a href="" target="_blank">According to the latest Washington Post/ABC poll,</a> she beats all the major Republican candidates, and she beats Trump especially heavily.</p> <p>This poll was done at the beginning of last week, when post-Paris hysteria over ISIS had already begun. But it was before the Republican field went completely loony. Has that reduced her lead a bit or opened it up even further? We'll probably never know for sure. But national security has been one of Donald Trump's biggest calling cards, so it should be of some concern to him that he's nonetheless well behind Clinton. In fact, the only two Republican candidates who are even close are the two most mainstream ones: Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio. When national security takes over the conversation, maybe America isn't quite as hungry for a rank amateur in the Oval Office as some people think?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 23 Nov 2015 16:50:07 +0000 Kevin Drum 290376 at What's the Matter With Kentucky? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_kentucky_map.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Last year I wrote a post about the Democrats' problem with the white working class. You can read the whole thing <a href="" target="_blank">here,</a> but the short version is this: the white working class really hates welfare, and unlike all of us hyperverbal liberal types, they don't view it as some kind of abstract "policy." It's far more personal: "For them, the poor aren't merely a set of statistics or a cause to be championed. They're the folks next door who don't do a lick of work but somehow keep getting government checks paid for by their tax dollars. For a lot of members of the white working class, this is personal in a way it just isn't for the kind of people who read this blog."</p> <p>Like anyone, I enjoy seeing my opinions confirmed, so I was pretty happy a couple of days ago to see a long piece on ProPublica by Alec MacGillis that took on this exact subject. MacGillis did a lot of shoe-leather reporting on this issue, and came to the same conclusion I did. Using Kentucky as his case study, the question he's addressing is why so many poor communities <a href="" target="_blank">vote against the very policies that help them the most:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The people who most rely on the safety-net programs secured by Democrats are, by and large, not voting against their own interests by electing Republicans. <strong>Rather, they are not voting, period.</strong> They have, as voting data, surveys and my own reporting suggest, become profoundly disconnected from the political process.</p> <p><strong>The people in these communities who <em>are</em> voting Republican in larger proportions are those who are a notch or two up the economic ladder</strong> &mdash; the sheriff&rsquo;s deputy, the teacher, the highway worker, the motel clerk, the gas station owner and the coal miner. And their growing allegiance to the Republicans is, in part, a reaction against what they perceive, among those below them on the economic ladder, as a growing dependency on the safety net, the most visible manifestation of downward mobility in their declining towns.</p> <p>....<strong>These voters are consciously opting against a Democratic economic agenda that they see as bad for them and good for other people &mdash; specifically, those undeserving benefit-recipients in their midst.</strong> I&rsquo;ve heard variations on this theme all over the country: people railing against the guy across the street who is collecting disability payments but is well enough to go fishing, the families using their food assistance to indulge in steaks.</p> <p>....With reliance on government benefits so prevalent, it creates constant moments of friction, on very intimate terms, said Jim Cauley, a Democratic political consultant from Pike County....Where opposition to the social safety net has long been fed by the specter of undeserving inner-city African-Americans &mdash; think of Ronald Reagan&rsquo;s notorious &ldquo;welfare queen&rdquo; &mdash; <strong>in places like Pike County it&rsquo;s fueled, more and more, by people&rsquo;s resentment over rising dependency they see among their own neighbors, even their own families.</strong> &ldquo;It&rsquo;s Cousin Bobby &mdash; &lsquo;he&rsquo;s on Oxy and he&rsquo;s on the draw and we&rsquo;re paying for him,&rsquo; &rdquo; Cauley said. &ldquo;If you need help, no one begrudges <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_kentucky_bevin_medicaid.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">you taking the program &mdash; they&rsquo;re good-hearted people. It&rsquo;s when you&rsquo;re able-bodied and making choices not to be able-bodied.&rdquo; The political upshot is plain, Cauley added. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s not the people on the draw that&rsquo;s voting against&rdquo; the Democrats, he said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s everyone else.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>This helps explain a <a href="" target="_blank">much-discussed article in the <em>Lexington Herald-Leader</em></a> a week ago. It concluded that counties with the highest number of Medicaid recipients were also the most reliable voters for Republican Matt Bevin&mdash;despite the fact that Bevin had loudly insisted that he would slash Medicaid if he won the election. It's not that all these Medicaid recipients were voting against their self-interest. They weren't voting one way or the other&mdash;and all the while, their slightly less-poor neighbors were voting to cut them off.</p> <p>This news won't necessarily surprise anyone, and it doesn't really point toward any obvious solutions, either. But it's nevertheless worth a few minutes of your time to read MacGillis's piece. It takes the problem out of the realm of the abstract and puts some meat on its bones. If you want to get a feel for what safety-net politics looks like at ground level, <a href="" target="_blank">click the link.</a></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 23 Nov 2015 15:45:07 +0000 Kevin Drum 290351 at My Morning Advice: Don't Talk About Taking Down Donald Trump. Just Take Him Down. <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_trump_card.jpg" style="margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Here's the latest on GOP panic over the possibility that Donald Trump might actually <a href="" target="_blank">win the Republican nomination:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>A well-connected GOP operative is planning a &ldquo;guerrilla campaign&rdquo; backed by secret donors to &ldquo;defeat and destroy&rdquo; the celebrity businessman&rsquo;s candidacy, according to a memo reviewed by <em>The Wall Street Journal</em>.</p> <p>....The most concerted effort is Trump Card LLC, the self-styled guerrilla campaign being launched by Liz Mair, the former online communications director of the Republican National Committee. &ldquo;In the absence of our efforts, Trump is exceedingly unlikely to implode or be forced out of the race,&rdquo; according to the Trump Card memo. &ldquo;The stark reality is that unless something dramatic and unconventional is done, Trump will be the Republican nominee and Hillary Clinton will become president.&rdquo;</p> <p>....Ms. Mair, who has ties to the libertarian movement and the GOP establishment, said that donors backing Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Mr. Kasich and Mr. Bush are interested, and that some worry that going public could hurt their candidate.</p> <p>Rick Wilson, a Republican media consultant, said in an interview that he is prepared to make ads for the new group. Mr. Wilson isn&rsquo;t involved in fundraising but predicted that a number of Republican donors will start bankrolling an anti-Trump effort.</p> </blockquote> <p>Look, folks: the first rule of fight club is that you don't talk about fight club. What's the point of publicly announcing this strategy? It's good for the ego, I suppose, but all it does is alert Trump and ruin any jolt of surprise you might get from your campaign. Now reporters are all ready for it, and when it happens they'll just dissect it dispassionately instead of (hopefully) being dazzled. It's like the idiots in the Hillary Clinton campaign who decided to alert the world that they planned a campaign to make Hillary look more human. Nice going.</p> <p>As with most liberals, I'm of two minds about all this. On the one hand, Republicans deserve every bit of what they're getting. For years they've been actively encouraging the enraged, racially-charged grievance culture that Trump represents, and it's hard to feel sorry for them now that it's biting them in the ass. Besides, if Trump <em>does</em> win the nomination, he's almost certain to lose, and that's fine with me. Republicans deserve another few years out in the cold.</p> <p>On the other hand, life is strange, and "almost certain" is not "certain." What's more, we're now at the point where Trump is no longer a joke. Another year of his unapologetic racism and xenophobia could do serious damage to the country&mdash;and especially to the targets of his malignant rants. It's long past time to dump him on the nearest ash heap of history.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 23 Nov 2015 14:35:06 +0000 Kevin Drum 290346 at Donald Trump's Hatemongering Moves on to African Americans <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_trump_whites_killed_blacks.jpg" style="margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Having already played the hate card against Mexicans and Muslims&mdash;and getting crackerjack results&mdash;Donald Trump has apparently decided to <a href="" target="_blank">move on to African Americans.</a> I don't know what the "Crime Statistics Bureau" in San Francisco is, and I don't think I want to know, but one of the most well-established facts about murder in the United States is that it's pretty racially segregated. Whites kill whites, blacks kill blacks, etc. But today Trump decided to tweet the CSB graphic on the right, for no readily apparent reason. And wouldn't you know it: it contains a wee racial error. It claims that most whites are killed by blacks, <a href="" target="_blank">but in 2014,</a> which is the latest full-year homicide data available from the FBI, 82 percent of whites were killed by other whites and only 15 percent were killed by blacks.</p> <p>Trump's tweeted graphic swaps the the numbers for the offender's race&mdash;but only for white victims. For black victims, the numbers in the graphic are roughly correct. This makes it look like blacks kill everyone. And just in case these numbers are too subtle for you, it includes a stereotypical black thug to make sure you get the picture. Donald Trump has found his audience, and he knows what they want. So he's giving it to them.</p> <p><strong>UPDATE:</strong> Come on, folks. This graphic is not <a href="" target="_blank">"controversial"</a> and it's not <a href="" target="_blank">"questionable."</a> It's wrong. Period. The numbers for white victims are swapped in a grossly obvious way intended to make a racist point. FFS.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sun, 22 Nov 2015 20:54:47 +0000 Kevin Drum 290341 at Father Coughlin Is Alive and Well in Today's GOP <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Let's see. Over the past few days and weeks, Donald Trump has said:</p> <ul><li>The Obama administration is deliberately sending Syrian refugees <a href="" target="_blank">only to red states</a> as an act of political retribution.</li> <li>Obama wants to take in <a href="" target="_blank">200,000 Syrian refugees,</a> despite being told repeatedly that he's off by a factor of ten or twenty.</li> <li>If you're a Christian refugee from Syria, the Obama <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_gop_nomination_2015_11_22.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">administration <a href="" target="_blank">won't let you in.</a> Obama only wants Muslim refugees.</li> <li>We should have tight surveillance on mosques and might need to <a href="" target="_blank">close some down.</a></li> <li>We may have to think about <a href="" target="_blank">creating a government registry of all Muslims.</a></li> <li>On 9/11, there were thousands of people in Arab sections of Jersey City <a href="" target="_blank">cheering when the World Trade Center went down.</a></li> </ul><p>More generally, Trump has said that we're going to have to do things that were "unthinkable" a year ago. Considering the list of things he apparently believes are perfectly thinkable right now, that sends chills down your spine. And yet, this man continues to lead the GOP race and appears to be gaining momentum from his Father Coughlinesque brand of xenophobia and fearmongering.</p> <p>How does this happen? A big part of it is because other high-profile Republicans are too cowardly to fight back. <a href="" target="_blank">Nearly every Republican governor</a> has jumped on the vile, big-talking bandwagon of refusing to allow any Syrian refugees to settle in their states. <a href="" target="_blank">Every Republican presidential candidate</a> favors a ban on accepting further Muslim Syrian refugees. <a href="" target="_blank">Jeb Bush</a> thinks we should only accept Christian refugees from Syria. <a href="" target="_blank">Ted Cruz</a> isn't a fan of "government registries" but otherwise thinks Trump is great. Straight-talking <a href="" target="_blank">Chris Christie</a> dodges when he's asked if <em>existing</em> Syrian refugees should be kicked out of New Jersey. <a href="" target="_blank">Marco Rubio</a> dodges when he's asked if we might have to close down mosques.</p> <p>Overall, with the <a href="" target="_blank">semi-honorable exception of Jeb Bush,</a> no Republican candidate has been willing to seriously push back on either Trump's old Mexican demagoguery or his shiny new Muslim demagoguery. All this despite the fact that Mexican immigration is down and the United States hasn't suffered a significant attack from overseas terrorists in over a decade. All it took to wake this latent hysteria was some terrorist activity in other countries. God help us.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sun, 22 Nov 2015 16:44:32 +0000 Kevin Drum 290336 at How Good a Dealmaker Is Donald Trump, Anyway? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Here is Donald Trump on who he listens to regarding <a href="" target="_blank">economic issues:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Honestly, I feel that I have such a vast feeling for it that I really&mdash;you know, Milton Friedman was good&mdash;but I don&rsquo;t really listen to anybody. I just put it in and I have a feeling for, it&rsquo;s almost common sense, it&rsquo;s a business instinct.</p> </blockquote> <p>Translation: Milton Friedman is the only conservative economist he can think of. And he probably wouldn't listen to the guy if he were still alive anyway. <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_trump_tower.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">Why mess with his killer instincts?</p> <p>Which raises two questions. First: How good a developer is Donald Trump? Seriously. My sense is that he's about a 5 on a scale of 1-10. He's had some successes, he's had some failures, and he seems to have found a decent&mdash;<a href="" target="_blank">but hardly dazzling</a>&mdash;niche in golf resorts. Overall, he started with a lot of money and has since grown his business at roughly the rate of the economy. Not bad, but nothing to crow about.</p> <p>And second: why is it that we seem to have heard nothing about Trump from other developers? They'd have the best read on how good he really is, after all. If he were truly brilliant, I figure he would have been soliciting testimonials all over the place. I haven't seen any. But if he's a second-rater with a big mouth, I figure we would have heard that too. But I haven't. I haven't really heard anything. Do developers not like to talk smack about each other because they never know where their next deal might come from? Do they just generally shun publicity? Do they genuinely not know much about Trump because he doesn't really do much business these days aside from golf courses, branding deals, and TV shows?</p> <p>What's the deal here? Trump must have a reputation within the New York developer community. So what is it?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sun, 22 Nov 2015 06:12:35 +0000 Kevin Drum 290331 at Yes, Donald Trump Agreed That We Should Have a National Registry of Muslims <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>I was arguing on Twitter with Mickey Kaus last night about the Trump Muslim registry story, and today he's touting a Byron York piece about how the <a href="" target="_blank">"Trump database story was built on a foundation of nothing."</a> But that's not fair. The whole thing started when Yahoo's Hunter Walker asked Trump about Syrian refugees. York asked Walker for audio of the interview, which he provided. <a href="" target="_blank">Here's the relevant excerpt:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>WALKER: France declared this state of emergency where they closed the borders and they established some degree of warrantless searches. I know how you feel about the borders, but do you think there is some kind of state of emergency here, and do we need warrantless searches of Muslims?</p> <p>TRUMP: Well, we're going to have to do things that we never did before. [Blah blah blah] But we have to err on the side of security for our people and our nation.</p> <p>WALKER: And in terms of doing this, to pull off the kind of tracking we need, do you think we might need to register Muslims in some type of database, or note their religion on their ID?</p> <p>TRUMP: Well, we're going to have to look at a lot of things very closely....</p> </blockquote> <p><a href="" target="_blank">When I first read Walker's story,</a> I concluded that he had been on a fishing expedition. I still think that, but this transcript actually softens my objections. The first question is reasonably motivated by the French response to the Paris attacks, and Trump makes it clear that he's willing to go pretty far to deal with the ISIS threat. So Walker takes the bait and goes further. Trump then tap dances and never really addresses the question about registries.</p> <p>So far, though, the most you can do is criticize Trump for not immediately denouncing the registry proposal. But he's now on notice. Headlines began appearing about this, and it was a big topic of discussion on Thursday. After the Yahoo story hit, Trump could no longer pretend to be taken by surprise if someone asked again about registering Muslims.<iframe align="right" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="258" src="" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;" width="400"></iframe> And sure enough, MSNBC's Vaughn Hillyard did. Here's the transcript:</p> <blockquote> <p><strong>Hillyard: Should there be a database or system that tracks Muslims in this country?</strong></p> <p><strong>Trump: There should be a lot of systems.</strong> Beyond databases. I mean, we should have a lot of systems. And today you can do it.</p> <p>[Some talk about Trump's wall on the Mexican border ensues.]</p> <p>Trump: We have to stop people from coming in to our country illegally.</p> <p><strong>Hillyard: But specifically, how do you actually get them registered into a database?</strong></p> <p><strong>Trump: It would be just good management....</strong></p> <p><strong>Hillyard: Do you go to mosques and sign these people up?</strong></p> <p><strong>Trump: Different places. You sign &lsquo;em up at different,</strong> but it&rsquo;s all about management. Our country has no management.</p> <p>Hillyard: Would they have to legally be in this database, would they be&ndash;</p> <p>Trump: They have to be &mdash; they have to be &mdash; let me just tell you: People can come to the country, but they have to come legally. Thank you very much.</p> </blockquote> <p>This is pretty plain. Sure, Trump is at a ropeline and he's distracted. But he knows the registry issue is a live question, and Hillyard is very clear about what he's asking. There's some confusion in the middle about whether Trump is talking about a Muslim registry or a wall on the Mexican border, but there's no confusion at all when Hillyard asks "Do you go to mosques and sign people up?" And York himself agrees:</p> <blockquote> <p><strong>Trump's offhand decision to tell MSNBC he would implement a database was an enormously stupid thing to do.</strong> And by Friday afternoon, Trump tweeted, "I didn't suggest a database -- a reporter did. We must defeat Islamic terrorism &amp; have surveillance, including a watch list, to protect America."</p> <p>But the damage had been done. In the end, the responsibility is always the candidate's to be on guard for attempts, by journalists or rival campaign operatives, to entice him into saying damaging things.</p> </blockquote> <p>So was the Muslim registry story built on a foundation of nothing? Sure, in a way. But reporters ask hypothetical questions all the time. This is hardly a startling new technique. What's more, Trump has built his <em>entire campaign</em> on saying things outrageous enough to get lots of media attention. But now he's complaining that a reporter gave him a chance to say something outrageous and it generated a lot of media attention? Give me a break.</p> <p>As York says, Trump has since <a href="" target="_blank">backtracked on Twitter:</a> "I didn't suggest a database-a reporter did." True enough. But Trump pretty obviously agreed. This wasn't a gotcha or a cleverly loaded question. It was obvious what both reporters were talking about. The first time he tap danced. The second time he agreed. Trump is a grown man who's accustomed to dealing with the press. There was nothing unfair about this. He may have backtracked now, but he thought it sounded like a fine idea until the blowback became a little too intense.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 21 Nov 2015 18:33:02 +0000 Kevin Drum 290326 at How Big a Deal is the SAFE Act? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">Dante Atkins on the SAFE Act:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The bill requires the specific signatures of three high-ranking officials to personally approve refugees into the United States, a burden that both Republicans and the White House believe would all but cease the flow of refugees into the United States because it is believed that said officials would be too fearful of the career implications should one of the detainees turn out to become even a mere criminal, much less a terrorist.</p> </blockquote> <p>I have to say, this bill has me confused. After looking into it, I wrote a post <a href="" target="_blank">a couple of days ago</a> suggesting that it was mostly symbolic. The vetting process didn't change, it just needed to be documented and "certified" by the White House. Beyond that, some top officials would get half a dozen refugee approvals every day for their autopen to sign. Big deal. The only real effect would be a short pause while the certification was drafted and signed off.</p> <p>Since then, though, every single story I've read about this bill describes it on a spectrum from "tightening" requirements to virtually shutting down the flow of refugees from Syria entirely. None of them ever provide any details, though. They talk about background checks, but the FBI already does background checks on refugees from Syria and Iraq. They talk about tougher procedures, but there are no new procedures in the bill. The actual vetting process itself is left up to the executive branch.</p> <p>And yet, the White House is dead set against this bill, which it probably wouldn't be if it was mostly just symbolic. So I remain puzzled. What's the real deal with this bill? Is it really likely that, say, the Director of National Intelligence would simply refuse to ever sign off on a refugee approval? Hell, the DNI already signs off on hundreds of things with more potential for blowback than that.</p> <p>I dunno. It's all very strange.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 21 Nov 2015 17:24:31 +0000 Kevin Drum 290321 at Friday Cat Blogging - 20 November 2015 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>This has sure been a crappy week, and Hilbert and Hopper agree. As you can see, they decided to flee upstairs to the bedroom and adopt disapproving looks. Those are for Donald Trump. They are hoping that us human types can do more than just glower, so let's get to it.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_hilbert_hopper_2015_11_20_0.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 65px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 20 Nov 2015 19:50:05 +0000 Kevin Drum 290271 at Charter Schools: Great in Cities, Ho-Hum in Suburbs? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Evaluating charter schools is tricky. Maybe highly motivated parents send their kids to charters and others don't. The solution is to identify schools that are oversubscribed and track students who won and lost the lottery to get in. That way you get a random set of parents on both sides. But maybe charters kick out bad students after they've attended for a year or two. The solution is to tag lottery winners as charter kids forever. They count against the charter's performance regardless of where they end up later. Fine, but maybe oversubscribed charters are different in some way. What about less popular charters where you can't do any of this lottery-based research?</p> <p>Susan Dynarski, an education professor at the University of Michigan, acknowledges all of this, but says we can <a href="" target="_blank">draw some conclusions anyway:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>A consistent pattern has emerged from this research. <strong>In urban areas, where students are overwhelmingly low-achieving, poor and nonwhite, charter schools tend to do better than other public schools in improving student achievement. By contrast, outside of urban areas, where students tend to be white and middle class, charters do no better and sometimes do worse than other public schools.</strong></p> <p>This pattern &mdash; positive results in low-income city neighborhoods, zero to negative results in relatively affluent suburbs &mdash; holds in lottery studies in Massachusetts as well in a national study of charter schools funded by the Education Department.</p> </blockquote> <p>Interesting. But if this is really the case, why?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 20 Nov 2015 19:15:33 +0000 Kevin Drum 290261 at Jeb Bush Opposed to Manipulating People's Fears Over Syrian Refugees <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Jeb Bush comments on Donald Trump's plan to <a href="" target="_blank">create a Muslim registry in the United States:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Trump's solutions are "just wrong," Jeb Bush said Friday...."It&rsquo;s not a question of toughness. It&rsquo;s manipulating people's angst and their fears. That&rsquo;s not strength. That&rsquo;s weakness," Bush said in an interview on CNBC's "Squawk Box."</p> </blockquote> <p>Good for Bush, though it's a low bar to oppose a national registry for everyone of a specific religion. I don't think Bush will be the only one to choke on that notion. Still, he was clear about his opposition, and clear about why it's wrong.</p> <p>It's too bad he's taken this long. He could have been a voice for sanity from the start and set himself apart from the crowd. At this point, though, it would just make him look tentative and indecisive. He lost a chance to do the right thing and possibly get a big payoff from it.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 20 Nov 2015 17:09:14 +0000 Kevin Drum 290246 at Obamacare's Growing Pains Are About What You'd Expect in a Newly Competitive Market <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Yesterday United Healthcare announced that they would be exiting the Obamacare exchanges after 2016. They were losing too much money and figured it was time to call it quits.</p> <p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_united_healthcare_logo.jpg" style="margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">What does this mean? Here are a few bullet points:</p> <ul><li>UH is a relatively small part of Obamacare, accounting for about 5 percent of exchange members.</li> <li>However, its presence is bigger in some states than others.</li> <li>Overall, then, this is only moderately bad news for Obamacare as a program. In some places, however, it's very bad news. And obviously, for the people affected who have to switch plans in 2017, it's a huge pain in the ass.</li> </ul><p>Beyond this, the news depends on why UH is doing so badly:</p> <ul><li>It could be that UH simply isn't competitive. If that's the case, it's nothing more than the expected result of marketplace competition. If other companies are more efficient or offer better products, you're in trouble.</li> <li>However, it's also possible that UH's exit exposes some fundamental problems with Obamacare. UH claims&mdash;without offering any real evidence&mdash;that people are signing up when they get sick and then dropping out. This is unsustainable in any insurance market, and if people really have found loopholes that allow this on a large scale, it's bad news for Obamacare. It would be especially bad news since Republicans are rooting for Obamacare to fail and will refuse to allow any changes that might make it work better.</li> </ul><p>Generally speaking, I think that what we've been seeing recently is a fairly predictable consequence of setting up a competitive market: there's going to be a lot of churn at the beginning, as companies figure out what works best. Some, like UH and the ill-fated co-ops, will drop out. Others will discover they were too optimistic and will raise rates. Others will gain market share at their expense because they're better run or made better actuarial projections. In a few years, this will all settle down and we'll finally have a pretty good idea of just how well Obamacare works and how much it costs.</p> <p>We could have avoided this kind of thing by creating a simpler, more universal program, but that just wasn't politically possible. Creating a competitive marketplace was the only way to get Obamacare passed. Unfortunately, competition has both pluses and minuses. In theory, it should provide lower prices and better value in the long run. But it might take a while to get there.</p> <p>More detail is available from <a href="" target="_blank">John Cohn</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">Megan McArdle</a>.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 20 Nov 2015 16:33:08 +0000 Kevin Drum 290231 at