Kevin Drum Feed | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/Blogs/2009/06/power-coal%3Bwww.aollatinoblog.com/category/moda%3Bwww.aollatinoblog.com/tag/JuezDeLinea/%3Bwww.aollatinoblog.com/tag/JuezDeLinea/%3Bwww.aollatinoblog.com/2008/03/14/salsa-para-enchilada http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en Health Update http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/08/health-update <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Ha ha. Just kidding. It will be several months before we know how effective the new chemo meds are. However, I can tell you that (a) so far I'm suffering no side effects, (b) my routine lab tests are all fine, and (c) I feel pretty good. I'm sleeping OK, my energy level is nearly back to normal, my stomach has finally recovered, and my hair is growing back.</p> <p>And speaking of hair, that's the real purpose of this post. My hair has now grown back to the point that I have a decision to make: keep it as is, or let it grow to its old length? It's not like my old hair was any great shakes, but still, after 55 years you get accustomed to things. On the other hand, the new do does have advantages. Easy upkeep. No worries about wind or hat hair. Cheaper haircuts.</p> <p>Comparison photos are below. Anyway, feel free to vote in comments. Old hair or new?</p> <p><img align="left" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_kevin_head_2004.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 4px 5px 60px;"><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_kevin_head_2015_0.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 4px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sun, 30 Aug 2015 00:52:49 +0000 Kevin Drum 282981 at http://www.motherjones.com Inflation Is Low? Let's Tighten Monetary Policy Anyway. http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/08/inflation-low-lets-tighten-monetary-policy-anyway <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer comments on <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/feds-fischer-good-reason-to-think-u-s-inflation-will-move-higher-1440865560" target="_blank">inflation and monetary policy:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The Federal Reserve&rsquo;s No. 2 official said <strong>there is &ldquo;good reason&rdquo; to think sluggish U.S. inflation will firm and move back toward the U.S. central bank&rsquo;s 2% annual target,</strong> touching on a significant assessment facing the Fed ahead of its September policy meeting.</p> <p>....When the time comes to raise rates, Mr. Fischer said, &ldquo;we will most likely need to proceed cautiously&rdquo; and with inflation low, &ldquo;we can probably remove accommodation at a gradual pace. <strong>Yet, because monetary policy influences real activity with a substantial lag, we should not wait until inflation is back to 2% to begin tightening.</strong>&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>A lot of people think the big problem with Fischer's statement is the first bolded sentence. There's been "good reason" to think inflation will increase for a long time. And yet it hasn't. Why are we supposed to believe that this year's good reason is any better than previous ones?</p> <p>That's fair enough. But I think the real problem is in the second bolded sentence: Fischer is intent on tightening monetary policy well <em>before</em> inflation shows any sign of hitting 2 percent. This illustrates a serious asymmetry in the Fed's decisionmaking. If inflation goes below the 2 percent target, they're willing to wait things out. But if it shows even the slightest sign of maybe, someday going a few basis points above the 2 percent target, then it's time to tighten. The net result of this is that inflation won't average 2 percent. It will swing between 1 and 2 percent, maybe averaging 1.5 percent or so.</p> <p>That's a bad thing, and it's especially bad if, like me, you think our inflation target should be more like 3-4 percent anyway. But that's the way it is.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_pce_2006_1H2015.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 10px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 29 Aug 2015 23:42:34 +0000 Kevin Drum 282996 at http://www.motherjones.com Question of the Day: With Friends Like This.... http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/08/question-day-friends <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_trump_iowa_state_fair.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Last month, Donald Trump said he didn't consider John McCain a war hero because "I like people who weren't captured." <a href="http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/elections/presidential/caucus/2015/08/26/leaked-emails-show-iowan-sharply-criticized-trump-before-joining-his-campaign/32432755/" target="_blank">Who said this afterward?</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Mr. Trump's remarks were insulting to me as a veteran and as a person whose family sacrificed for 25 years as I missed anniversaries, birthdays, holidays, Christmases and Easters....I was offended by a man who sought and gained four student deferments to avoid the draft and who has never served this nation a day &mdash; not a day &mdash; in any fashion or way.</p> <p>....Why should I not be suspicious of an individual who was pro-choice until he decided to run for president? Why should I not be suspicious of a person who advocates for universal healthcare? Why should I not be suspicious of someone who says he hates lobbyists and yet has spread millions of dollars around to Republicans and Democrats to enrich himself? Why should I not be suspicious of someone who cannot come to say that he believes in God, that he has never asked for forgiveness and that communion is simply wine and a cracker.</p> <p>....[Trump] left me with questions about his moral center and his foundational beliefs....His comments reveal no foundation in Christ, which is a big deal.</p> </blockquote> <p>If you answered Sam Clovis, the conservative Iowan who is now Trump's national campaign co-chair, give yourself a gold star! The <em>Des Moines Register</em> says dryly that this raises questions about whether Clovis was motivated to join Trump's campaign "less by ideology and more by the promise of a big paycheck from a business mogul who has said he is willing to spend as much as a billion dollars to get elected."</p> <p>Huh. I guess it does. You really think that might have been in the back of Clovis's mind?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 29 Aug 2015 20:12:38 +0000 Kevin Drum 282991 at http://www.motherjones.com GOP Hauling Out Tired Old Weapons to Sink Iran Deal http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/08/gop-hauling-out-tired-old-weapons-sink-iran-deal <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The <em>Wall Street Journal</em> reports that as the Iran deal looks increasingly impossible for Republicans to defeat, they're thinking of <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/foes-try-new-ways-to-attack-obamas-iran-nuclear-deal-1440802995" target="_blank">new ways to undermine it <em>after</em> it goes into effect:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>As their chances dim, they are preparing to push a rash of new legislation for the fall to increase sanctions on Tehran for its role in supporting terrorist organizations and militant groups active across the Mideast, which could cause Iran to back out of the deal. These politicians also are devising new ways to target the finances of Tehran&rsquo;s elite military unit, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.</p> <p>....The fresh sanctions push has the potential to put the White House and leading Democrats, such as the party&rsquo;s presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton, in a quandary. Those supporters of the deal could later face a tough decision over whether to back increased sanctions against Iran.</p> </blockquote> <p>It's possible that Republicans can scrounge up enough Democratic support to overcome a filibuster and force an Obama veto on some of these measures. But I assume they don't really care about that. Obama's coming up on his last year in office and probably doesn't care much if he has to veto a few bills. Rather, as the <em>Journal</em> suggests, this is just normal election-year game-playing. Republicans want to introduce bills that will force Hillary Clinton to take a stand that will hurt her no matter how she responds. Oppose the sanctions and she's a Hezbollah lover. Support the sanctions and she's an AIPAC stooge.</p> <p>There's nothing very original about this. Both parties do it whenever they can, and if Hillary Clinton is even a half-decent politician she'll be able to maneuver her way through without any big problems. As long as Republicans don't threaten to shut down the government over this, it probably won't be a very big deal.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 29 Aug 2015 19:00:18 +0000 Kevin Drum 282986 at http://www.motherjones.com Palin Ponders the Infinite: Does the Lamestream Media Ever Ask Hillary About Her Favorite Bible Verse? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/08/palin-ponders-infinite-does-lamestream-media-ever-ask-hillary-about-her-favorite- <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><iframe align="right" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="258" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/Oeju2SG7UMA" style="margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;" width="400"></iframe>Huh. I almost forgot about the Palin-Trump lollapalooza. But it's all on YouTube, and it was pretty boring. Palin's word salad was subpar and it was just the same-old-same-old from Trump. My favorite part was this bit from Palin:</p> <blockquote> <p>So you get hit with these gotchas, like most conservatives do. For instance, asking what's your favorite Bible verse. And I listen to that going, what? Do they ask Hillary that?</p> </blockquote> <p>Indeed they do! On August 27, 2007, in a nationally televised debate, Tim Russert asked every Democrat on the stage to <a href="http://www.cfr.org/elections/democratic-debate-transcript-new-hampshire/p14313" target="_blank">share their favorite Bible verse:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>RUSSERT: Before we go, there's been a lot of discussion about the Democrats and the issue of faith and values. I want to ask you a simple question.</p> <p>Senator Obama, what is your favorite Bible verse?</p> <p>OBAMA: Well, I think it would have to be the Sermon on the Mount, because it expresses a basic principle that I think we've lost over the last six years.</p> <p>John talked about what we've lost. Part of what we've lost is a sense of empathy towards each other. We have been governed in fear and division, and you know, we talk about the federal deficit, but we don't talk enough about the empathy deficit, a sense that I stand in somebody else's shoes, I see through their eyes. People who are struggling trying to figure out how to pay the gas bill, or try to send their kids to college. We are not thinking about them at the federal level. That's the reason I'm running for president, because I want to restore that.</p> <p>RUSSERT: I want to give everyone a chance in this. You just take 10 seconds.</p> <p><strong>Senator Clinton, favorite Bible verse?</strong></p> <p><strong>CLINTON: The Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I think it's a good rule for politics, too.</strong></p> <p>RUSSERT: Senator Gravel?</p> <p>GRAVEL: The most important thing in life is love. That's what empowers courage, and courage implements the rest of our virtues.</p> <p>RUSSERT: Congressman Kucinich?</p> <p>KUCINICH: I carry that with me at every debate, this prayer from St. Francis, which says, Lord, make me an instrument of your peace, and I believe very strongly that all of us can be instruments of peace. And that's what I try to bring to public life.</p> <p>RUSSERT: Senator Edwards?</p> <p>EDWARDS: It appears many times in the Bible, What you do onto the least of those, you do onto me.</p> <p>RUSSERT: Governor Richardson?</p> <p>RICHARDSON: The Sermon on the Mount, because I believe it's an issue of social justice, equality, brotherly issues reflecting a nation that is deeply torn and needs to be heal and come together.</p> <p>DODD: The Good Samaritan would be a worthwhile sort of description of who we all ought to be in life.</p> <p>RUSSERT: Senator Biden?</p> <p>BIDEN: Christ's warning of the Pharisees. There are many Pharisees, and it's part of what has bankrupted some people's view about religion. And I worry about the Pharisees.</p> </blockquote> <p>Hillary Clinton's choice wasn't very original, I admit, but neither was Obama's. Biden, as usual, provided the most entertaining answer: "I worry about the Pharisees." I guess we all do, Joe. In any case, the lamestream media had no problem asking, and the Democrats all had no problem answering. See? It's not so hard.</p> <p>What's <em>your</em> favorite Bible verse? I'd recommend Mark 12:38 "Beware of the scribes." I think Palin would agree that it's good advice for any era.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 29 Aug 2015 16:37:47 +0000 Kevin Drum 282976 at http://www.motherjones.com Quote of the Day: "Love, Fidelity, Devotion, Sacrifice and Family" http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/08/quote-day-love-fidelity-devotion-sacrifice-and-family <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>This is becoming a favorite prologue to wedding vows <a href="http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-couples-justice-kennedy-20150828-story.html" target="_blank">across the nation:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family. In forming a marital union, <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_same_sex_marriage.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">two people become something greater than once they were.</p> </blockquote> <p>That's from Anthony Kennedy's majority opinion in <em>Obergefell vs. Hodges</em>, which legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. At the time, Antonin Scalia mocked Kennedy's writing for its "straining-to-be-memorable passages," and it turns out he was more right than he knew. Both gay and straight couples around the country have begun incorporating it into their wedding ceremonies:</p> <blockquote> <p>The night the high court's ruling was announced, Sandy Queen of Weddings by Sandy called Craig Lamberton and David Ermisch, whose wedding she was performing in Rockville, Md., the next morning. She suggested including Kennedy's opinion in their ceremony.</p> <p>The couple immediately agreed. "We thought it was perfect," said Lamberton, an administrative officer at USAID. He and Ermisch, a cartographer at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, have been together 15 years.</p> <p>....She isn't the only one. "Honestly, in the 14 years I've been ordained, there has not been a passage that struck a chord as quickly as Justice Kennedy&rsquo;s statement," said the Rev. Pamela Brehm of Berks County, Pa. "Perhaps there may never be another quite so touching."</p> </blockquote> <p>Who knows? This may just be a passing thing. But if it's not, Anthony Kennedy could end up as the most famous Supreme Court justice of the early 21st century, quoted in hundreds of marriage ceremonies every day. Kinda nice.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Interactives Sat, 29 Aug 2015 15:35:58 +0000 Kevin Drum 282971 at http://www.motherjones.com Friday Cat Blogging - 28 August 2015 http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/08/friday-cat-blogging-28-august-2015 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>This is how we roll around here in August: stretched out to maximum length for maximum cooling power. Plus it might lure someone over to give Hilbert a tummy rub. Pretty often it does, in fact.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_hilbert_2015_08_28.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 40px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 28 Aug 2015 19:00:11 +0000 Kevin Drum 282931 at http://www.motherjones.com "Political Correctness" Is Mostly Just Code For Not Insulting People http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/08/political-correctness-mostly-just-code-not-insulting-people <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>S.E. Cupp says that Donald Trump's rise can be laid at the feet of liberal political correctness. <a href="http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/political-animal-a/2015_08/tell_us_what_you_really_mean_b057337.php" target="_blank">Ed Kilgore isn't buying:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Is that the source of all this hysteria? Conservative media accounts of random college speech code incidents and the occasional dumb move by a school principal? Something that <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_political_correctness.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">affects maybe a tenth of one percent of the population?</p> </blockquote> <p>Well....maybe. When it's on a 24/7 loop on Rush Limbaugh and Fox News, it probably seems like an epidemic. I can see it raising a lot of hackles. But let's continue:</p> <blockquote> <p>I'm sorry, I don't buy it. The Trump supporters and proto-Trump supporters I know are upset by things like having to listen to Spanish-language messages on customer service lines, not being able to call women "chicks" without someone frowning at them, and having to stop telling racist jokes at work. That's what "political correctness" is code for: having to worry about the sensitivities of people who were invisible or submissive not that very long ago.</p> <p>If Cupp is right and I'm not, then let's all cooperate in convincing Republican politicians and conservative pundits to stop using the term "political correctness" and come right and and tell us what the beef is about. Is it really "trigger warning" requirements at scattered liberal arts colleges? Or is it this whole new world we're in where people have to question old habits? When Ben Carson calls inhibitions about torturing terrorism suspects "political correctness," it's pretty clear he's yet another apostle for the Church of the Day Before Yesterday, when America was never wrong and dissenters kept their mouths shut.</p> </blockquote> <p>I could do with a little less speech policing from all sides, frankly. It gets a little tiresome sometimes. Still, the truth is that Ed is right: for the vast, vast majority of us, it leaves our lives entirely unaffected as long as you can avoid flat-out slurs against women, blacks, gays, Jews, and so forth. Really, that's about 99 percent of it. Is that really so hard?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 28 Aug 2015 18:41:51 +0000 Kevin Drum 282926 at http://www.motherjones.com Man Is the Irrational Animal http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/08/man-irrational-animal <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Mark Kleiman points out that most of us need to hold more or less rational beliefs about our professional lives. "Even people whose stock-in-trade is deception&mdash;con artists, stockbrokers, lobbyists&mdash;have to observe the rules of arithmetic when it comes to totting up the take." <a href="http://www.samefacts.com/2015/08/elections/52349/" target="_blank">But that's only half the story:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Most of the time, though, people aren&rsquo;t at work, and much of what they think and talk about has little if any relevance to practical decisions in their own non-working lives. Freed of the need to think rationally, most people seem to prefer the alternative.</p> </blockquote> <p>Yep. This is why, say, it costs nothing to claim that evolution is nonsense and shouldn't be taught in schools. For the 99.9 percent of us who don't work in fields that require it, evolution doesn't affect our daily lives in any way at all. Believing or not believing is affinity politics and nothing more. This explains how Donald Trump gets away with being a buffoon:</p> <blockquote> <p>The deepest mistake is to regard someone who acts as if he doesn&rsquo;t give a damn whether anything he says is true, or consistent with what he said yesterday, as stupid....As far as I can tell, Donald Trump simply isn&rsquo;t bothered by holding and expressing utterly inconsistent beliefs about immigration, or for that matter denying obvious facts in the face of the crowd that witnessed them. And it doesn&rsquo;t much bother most of his voters, either....And if we deal with it by imagining that Trump, or Trump voters, are &ldquo;stupid,&rdquo; we&rsquo;re going to make some very bad predictions.</p> </blockquote> <p>We forgive a lot in people we like. Liberals forgive Hillary Clinton for her lawyerly and incompetent defense of her email practices. Trump fans forgive the fact that he makes no sense. But forgiveness is a virtue, right? I guess that makes Trump's supporters the most virtuous folks on the planet.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 28 Aug 2015 17:55:00 +0000 Kevin Drum 282921 at http://www.motherjones.com Sarah Palin: No Bible Verses for You! http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/08/sarah-palin-no-bible-verses-you <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Great news! <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/08/sarah-palin-interview-donald-trump" target="_blank">Sarah Palin will be interviewing Donald Trump</a> at 10 p.m. Eastern on her brand new show, <em>On Point</em>, which started Monday and airs on the One America News network. It will be the greatest, classiest, rogue-iest interview ever!</p> <p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_sarah_palin_on_point.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Wait. What's that? You don't get OAN on your cable system? Me neither. Bummer. Maybe it'll be on Palin's Facebook page eventually.</p> <p>What makes this whole thing a little weirder than even the normal Palin weirdness is that she announced her upcoming interview with a standard-issue blast on the lamestream media for asking Trump a gotcha question about his favorite Bible verse. "By the way," she writes, "even with my reading scripture everyday I wouldn't want to answer the guy's question either... it's none of his business; it IS personal." What makes this weird is that Palin has been happy to talk about this before. For example, <a href="http://billygraham.org/story/sarah-palin-draws-strength-from-scripture/" target="_blank">in this interview:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>In dealing with her daily challenges, Palin leans on the Bible verse that says, &ldquo;God hasn&rsquo;t given us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power and might and a sound mind.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>That's 2 Timothy 1:7 (close enough, anyway), and Palin has mentioned it on other occasions too. It really does seem to be one of her favorites. So why is this suddenly so personal that she doesn't think anyone should have to talk about it? Are we now all keeping our favorite Bible verses a deeply held secret?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 28 Aug 2015 17:38:23 +0000 Kevin Drum 282911 at http://www.motherjones.com It Turns Out That Those "Full and Unedited" Planned Parenthood Videos.... Aren't http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/08/it-turns-out-those-full-and-unedited-videosarent <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>I gave up on the Planned Parenthood sting videos a long time ago. It's pretty obvious there was no criminal behavior unmasked, or even any unethical behavior.<sup>1</sup> The claims of the producers never matched the reality of the videos, so I stopped watching when new ones came out.</p> <p>But Sarah Kliff soldiered on! She not only watched them all, she watched the full, unedited versions. And she discovered something after reading a forensic analysis of the videos from Planned Parenthood: they aren't actually full and unedited. The folks who ran the sting claim that they did nothing more than edit out bathroom breaks, <a href="http://www.vox.com/2015/8/28/9217323/planned-parenthood-tapes-edited" target="_blank">but Kliff isn't buying it:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Take the first example I wrote about here, the meeting with the Texas Planned Parenthood clinic where the tape appears to jump forward a half-hour. In that case, nobody suggests a bathroom break. There's no change in meeting; when the video jumps forward, they're still sitting in the exact same seats.</p> <p>Meanwhile, the longer videos show lots of small-talk footage that isn't especially relevant to the argument over fetal body parts. I know because I watched all of it. There are moments in a car, where directions are being given and all the camera footage is totally blurry, where people stand around in hallways, where they talk about the relationship between caffeine and headaches. Those moments weren't cut from the tape &mdash; and it's hard to know what would make those different from the bathroom breaks and other moments deemed irrelevant to the audience.</p> </blockquote> <p>I guess we need a chant for this. <em>Release the video! We demand to see the bathroom breaks! Explain the timestamps!</em> Or something. As far as I'm concerned, Planned Parenthood has long since been exonerated in this episode, so I don't really need to see anything. But I am curious about just what they decided to leave out.</p> <p><sup>1</sup>Standard caveat: If you think abortion is murder, then everything on the video is unethical and immoral.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 28 Aug 2015 16:52:07 +0000 Kevin Drum 282906 at http://www.motherjones.com Blaming Culture Is a Liberal Thing? Seriously? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/08/blaming-culture-liberal-thing-seriously <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><a href="http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/423221/hypocrisy-culture-kills-crowd-charles-c-w-cooke" target="_blank">Over at <em>National Review</em>,</a> Charles Cooke writes about the gruesome murder of WDBJ reporters Alison Parker and Adam Ward on Wednesday:</p> <blockquote> <p>As I have written over and over again during the last few years, I do not believe that we can learn a great deal from the justifications that are forwarded by public killers....Mine, however, is not the only view out there. <strong>Indeed, there is a sizeable contingent within the United States that takes the question of what murderers purport to believe extremely seriously indeed.</strong> It is because of these people that we had to examine &ldquo;toxic masculinity&rdquo; in the wake of the Isla Vista shooting....[etc.]</p> <p>....Half-joking on Twitter, the <em>Free Beacon&rsquo;s</em> Sonny Bunch reacted to this news by observing that, &ldquo;instead of going on a killing spree, this guy should&rsquo;ve gotten a columnist gig at the <em>Guardian</em>.&rdquo; As with all humor, there is some truth at the root of this barb....For what reason is this <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_jesus_moral_decay.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">guy exempt? Why do we not need to have a &ldquo;national conversation&rdquo; about hypersensitivity?</p> <p><strong>The answer, I imagine, is politics, for this instinct seems only to run one way.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Generally speaking, I agree with Cooke. Crazy people are always going to find something to justify their worldview, and they're going to find it somewhere out in the real world. The fact that any particular crazy person decides to have it in for the IRS or Greenpeace or women who laughed at him in high school doesn't mean a lot. It only becomes meaningful if some particular excuse starts showing up a lot. Beyond that, I even agree that the culture of hypersensitivity has gotten out of hand in some precincts of the left.</p> <p>That said....is Cooke kidding? This instinct only runs one way? After the Columbine massacre in 1999, <a href="http://www.cnn.com/ALLPOLITICS/stories/1999/05/12/gingrich/" target="_blank">Newt Gingrich denounced</a> the "liberal political elite" for "being afraid to talk about the mess you have made, and being afraid to take responsibility for things you have done." Conservatives have been raising Cain about the pernicious effects of Hollywood liberalism, video games, and the decline of religion for decades. Hysteria about the counterculture and liberal moral decay goes back at least to the 60s. I could go on endlessly in this vein, but I don't want to bore you.</p> <p>Complaining about the effects of liberal culture&mdash;whether on shooters specifically, crime more generally, or on all of society&mdash;has been a right-wing mainstay for as long as I've been alive. The left may be catching up, but it still has a ways to go.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 28 Aug 2015 16:11:19 +0000 Kevin Drum 282896 at http://www.motherjones.com The Real Lesson From Emailgate: Maybe the State Department Needs More Secure Email http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/08/maybe-state-department-needs-more-secure-email <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>David Ignatius talked with "a half-dozen knowledgeable lawyers" and concluded that <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-hillary-clinton-e-mail-scandal-that-isnt/2015/08/27/b1cabed8-4cf4-11e5-902f-39e9219e574b_story.html" target="_blank">the Hillary Clinton email affair has been overblown.</a> No big surprise there. Click the link if you want more.</p> <p>But here's the curious part. Part of Clinton's trouble stems from the fact that sensitive information was sent to her via email, which isn't meant for confidential communications. However, as Ignatius points out, this is a nothingburger. Everyone does this, and has for a long time. But why?</p> <blockquote> <p><strong>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s common knowledge that the classified communications system is impossible and isn&rsquo;t used,&rdquo;</strong> said one former high-level Justice Department official. Several former prosecutors said flatly that such sloppy, unauthorized practices, although technically violations of law, wouldn&rsquo;t normally lead to criminal cases.</p> </blockquote> <p>Why is the classified system so cumbersome? Highly secure encryption is easy to implement on off-the-shelf PCs, and surely some kind of software that plugs into email and restricts the flow of messages wouldn't be too hard to implement. So why not build more security into email and ditch the old system? What's the hold-up?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 28 Aug 2015 15:11:35 +0000 Kevin Drum 282886 at http://www.motherjones.com Clarence Thomas Can't Catch a Break http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/08/clarence-thomas-cant-catch-break <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Yesterday <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/28/us/justice-clarence-thomas-rulings-studies.html?_r=0" target="_blank">the <em>New York Times</em> ran a story</a> saying that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas hoisted language from briefs submitted to the court "at unusually high rates." I was curious to see the actual numbers, so I opened up the study itself. <a href="http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2574451" target="_blank">Here's the relevant excerpt from Figure 2:</a></p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_supreme_court_briefs.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 15px;"></p> <p>I dunno. Does that look "unusually high" to you? It looks to me like it's about the same as Sotomayor, and only a bit higher than Ginsburg, Alito and Roberts. It's a little hard to see the news here, especially given this:</p> <blockquote> <p>Since his views on major legal questions can be idiosyncratic and unlikely to command a majority, he is particularly apt to be assigned the inconsequential and technical majority opinions that the justices call dogs. They often involve routine cases involving taxes, bankruptcy, pensions and patents, <strong>in which shared wording, including quotations from statutes and earlier decisions, is particularly common.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>So at most, Thomas uses language from briefs only slightly more than several other justices, and that's probably because he gets assigned the kinds of cases where it's common to do that. Is there even a story here at all?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 28 Aug 2015 14:47:00 +0000 Kevin Drum 282881 at http://www.motherjones.com Either 35, 36, or 39 Percent of Psychology Results Can't Be Replicated http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/08/either-35-36-or-39-percent-psychology-results-cant-be-replicated <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2015/08/27/trouble-in-science-massive-effort-to-reproduce-100-experimental-results-succeeds-only-36-times/" target="_blank">The <em>Washington Post</em></a> informs me today that in a new study, only 39 out of 100 published psychology studies could be replicated:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_psychology_replication_wapo.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 15px 50px;"></p> <p>I wonder if I can replicate that headline? Let's try the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/28/science/many-social-science-findings-not-as-strong-as-claimed-study-says.html" target="_blank"><em>New York Times</em>:</a></p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_psychology_replication_nyt.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 15px 50px;"></p> <p>Huh. They say 35 out of 100. What's going on? Maybe <a href="https://www.sciencenews.org/article/psychology-results-evaporate-upon-further-review" target="_blank"><em>Science News</em></a> can tell me:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_psychology_replication_science_news.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 15px 50px;"></p> <p>Now it's 35 out of 97. So what <em>is</em> the answer?</p> <p><a href="http://www.sciencemag.org/content/349/6251/aac4716" target="_blank">Based on the study itself,</a> it appears that <em>Science News</em> has it right. It's 35 out of 97. Using a different measure of replication, however, the answer is that 39 percent of the studies could be replicated, which might explain the <em>Post's</em> 39 out of 100. And it turns out that the study actually looked at 100 results, but only 97 of them had positive findings in the first place and were therefore worth trying to replicate. But if, for some reason, you decided that all 100 original studies should be counted, you'd get the <em>Times'</em> 35 out of 100.</p> <p>So there you go. Depending on who you read, it's either 35, 36, or 39 percent. Welcome to the business of science reporting.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 28 Aug 2015 05:04:52 +0000 Kevin Drum 282876 at http://www.motherjones.com Joe Biden Isn't Sure He Has the "Emotional Fuel" to Run for President http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/08/joe-biden-note-sure-he-has-emotional-fuel-run-president <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>This is the first hard evidence we have that Joe Biden is <a href="http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2015/08/biden-may-not-have-emotional-fuel-for-2016-run.html" target="_blank">seriously thinking about a presidential run:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>On Wednesday he made his first public comments on his potential 2016 run &mdash; though not intentionally. CNN posted audio recorded during what was supposed to be a private conference call for Democratic National Committee members in which the vice-president confirmed that he's actively considering entering the campaign....<strong>"We're dealing at home with ... whether or not there is the emotional fuel at this time to run," Biden responded.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>I've got nothing but sympathy for what Biden is going through right now, but the fact remains: If you're not sure you have the fuel for a grueling presidential campaign, then you don't.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum 2016 Elections Top Stories Joe Biden Fri, 28 Aug 2015 03:10:37 +0000 Kevin Drum 282871 at http://www.motherjones.com Donald Trump: The Bible Is Great, But, Um, Let's Not Get Into Specifics http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/08/donald-trump-bible-great-um-lets-not-get-specifics <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>As a blogger, it's hard not to love Donald Trump. Here's the latest, <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/videos/2015-08-26/donald-trump-the-full-with-all-due-respect-interview" target="_blank">in an interview with Mark Halperin and John Heilemann:</a></p> <blockquote> <p><strong>I'm wondering what one or two of your most favorite Bible verses are and why.</strong></p> <p>Well, I wouldn't want to get into it because to me that's very personal. You know, when I talk about the Bible it's very personal. So I don't want to get into verses, I don't want to get into&mdash;the Bible means a lot to me, but I don't want to get into specifics.</p> <p><strong>Even to cite a verse that you like?</strong></p> <p>No, I don't want to do that.</p> <p><strong>Are you an Old Testament guy or a New Testament guy?</strong></p> <p>Uh, probably....equal. I think it's just an incredible....the whole Bible is an incredible....I joke....very much so. They always hold up <em>The Art of the Deal</em>, I say it's my second favorite book of all time. But, <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_god_sistine_chapel.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">uh, I just think the Bible is just something very special.</p> </blockquote> <p>OK, it's not only Trump I love. Props also to Heilemann for asking Trump if he's an OT guy or an NT guy. Who talks about the Bible that way?</p> <p>We've seen this schtick from Trump before, of course. He's stunningly ignorant, and routinely refuses to answer whenever someone asks about a factual detail more than an inch below the surface. Needless to say, he refuses because he doesn't know, but he always pretends it's for some other reason. "I don't want to insult anyone by naming names," he'll say, as if this isn't his entire stock in trade. Or, in this case, "It's personal," as if he's a guy who leads a deep personal life that he never talks about.</p> <p>The interesting thing is that this schtick also shows how lazy he is. It's been evident for several days that someone was eventually going to ask him for his favorite Bible verse, but he couldn't be bothered to bone up even a little bit in order to have one on tap. Ditto for everything else. Even when he says something that's going to raise obvious questions the next day, he never bothers to learn anything about the subject. I guess he figures he's got people for that.</p> <p>Of course, there is an advantage to handling things this way. By shutting down the Bible talk completely, he guarantees he'll never have to talk about it again. I mean, today it's Bible verses, tomorrow somebody might want him to name the Ten Commandments. And since it's pretty obvious that he hasn't cracked open the Bible in decades, that could get hairy pretty fast. Better to shut it down right away.</p> <p><strong>POSTSCRIPT:</strong> So which <em>is</em> Trump? OT or NT? I expect that he admires the OT God more. <em>That's</em> a deity who knows what he wants and doesn't put up with any PC nonsense about it. Plus they built a lot of stuff in the Old Testament: towers, walls, arks, temples, etc. That would appeal to Trump. On the other hand, the New Testament has all those annoying lessons about the meek inheriting the earth, rich men and needles, turning the other cheek, and a bunch of other advice that Trump has no time for.</p> <p>So: Old Testament. Definitely Old Testament.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 27 Aug 2015 21:30:04 +0000 Kevin Drum 282861 at http://www.motherjones.com How Much Is 1.6 Months of Life Worth? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/08/how-much-16-months-life-worth <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/08/27/cancer-drugs-arent-just-really-expensive-theyre-a-bad-value/" target="_blank">From Carolyn Johnson at Wonkblog:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>With some cancer drug prices soaring past $10,000 a month....</p> </blockquote> <p>Hey, that's me! A friendly FedEx delivery person just delivered this month's $10,000 supply to me an hour ago. So, what's up?</p> <blockquote> <p>With some cancer drug prices soaring past $10,000 a month, doctors have begun to ask one nagging question: Do drug prices correctly reflect the value they bring to patients by extending or improving their lives?</p> <p>A study published Thursday in <em>JAMA Oncology</em> aims to answer that question by examining necitumumab, an experimental lung cancer drug....in a clinical trial, researchers found that <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_drug_cost.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">adding the drug to chemotherapy extended life by 1.6 months, on average.</p> <p>....In order to estimate what the price of this drug "should" be based on its value to patients, the research team modeled various scenarios....one additional year in perfect health in the U.S. is worth somewhere between $50,000 and $200,000....Based on their calculations, the drug should cost from $563 to $1,309 for a three-week cycle.</p> <p>....There are many variables that go into the price of a drug, but mounting evidence suggests that the value it brings to patients is not the biggest factor. <strong>"How they price the drug is they price it at whatever the market is willing to bear," said Benjamn Djulbegovic, </strong>an oncologist at the University of South Florida.</p> </blockquote> <p>Well, sure, but this raises the question of <em>why</em> the market is willing to bear such high prices. Why would an insurance company approve a large expenditure for a drug that has only a tiny benefit?</p> <p>There's a lot that goes into this. Obviously some people benefit from necitumumab by a lot more than 1.6 months&mdash;and there's no way to tell beforehand who will and who won't. And it costs a lot to develop these drugs. And patients put a lot of pressure on insurers to cover anything that might help. And, in the end, insurance companies don't have a ton of incentive to push back: if drug prices go up, they increase their premiums. It doesn't really affect their bottom line much.</p> <p>There's also the size of the total market to consider. The chemo drug I'm currently taking, for example, is only used for two conditions. There's just not a whole lot of us using it. In cases like that, a drug is going to be pretty expensive.</p> <p>But here's something I'm curious about: who puts more pressure on insurance companies to cover expensive drugs, patients or doctors? My doctor, for example, was totally gung-ho about my current med. I was much less so after I read some of the clinical studies online. Why? Because most chemo drugs have unpleasant side effects (though mine has turned out OK so far), which means that, like many patients, I'm reluctant to take them unless the benefit is pretty clear cut. Doctors, on the other hand, just want to do whatever they can to help, and have no particular incentive to hold back. So maybe it's doctors who need to be in the forefront of pushing back on expensive drugs. They're the ones in the doctor-patient relationship who know the most, after all.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 27 Aug 2015 19:04:33 +0000 Kevin Drum 282821 at http://www.motherjones.com Saul Bellow Was 30 Years Ahead of Me http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/08/saul-bellow-was-30-years-ahead-me <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Here's a fascinating little August tidbit, via Jeet Heer on Twitter. It's an excerpt from <em>The Dean's December</em>, by Saul Bellow, published in 1981. Albert Corde, an academic, is talking to a scientist (obviously modeled on the seminal lead researcher Clair Patterson) about the "real explanation of what goes on in the slums":</p> <blockquote> <p>"And the explanation? What is the real explanation?"</p> <p>"Millions of tons of intractable lead residues poisoning the children of the poor. They're the most exposed....<strong>Crime and social disorganization in inner city populations can all be traced to the <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_brain_lead.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">effects of lead.</strong> It comes down to the nerves, to brain damage."</p> <p>....Direct material causes? Of course. Who could deny them? But what was odd was that no other causes were conceived of. "So it's lead, nothing but old lead?" he said.</p> <p>"I would ask you to study the evidence."</p> <p>And that was what Corde now began to do, reading through stapled documents, examining graphs....What was the message?....A truly accurate method of detecting tiny amounts of lead led to the discovery that the cycle of lead in the earth had been strongly perturbed. The conclusion: Chronic lead insult now affects all mankind....<strong>Mental disturbances resulting from lead poison are reflected in terrorism, barbarism, crime, cultural degradation.</strong></p> <p>....Tetraethyl fumes alone could do it&mdash;engine exhaust&mdash;and infants eating flaking lead paint in the slums <strong>became criminal morons.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>What's interesting is the mention of crime. Lead was a well-known neurotoxin by 1981, strongly implicated in educational problems and loss of IQ. So it's no big surprise that it might pop up as a prop in a novel. But nobody was yet linking it to the rise of violent crime. That would wait for another 20 years. And a truly credible case for the link between lead and crime <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/01/lead-crime-link-gasoline" target="_blank">wouldn't appear for yet another decade,</a> when the necessary data became available and technology had advanced enough to produce convincing brain studies. Neither of those was available in the 1980s.</p> <p>Nonetheless, the germ of the idea was there. In a way, that's not surprising: I've always felt that, given what we know about what lead does to the childhood brain, its link to violent crime should never have been hard to accept. It would actually be surprising if childhood lead exposure <em>didn't</em> have an effect on violent crime.</p> <p>Anyway, that's it. Your literary connection of the day to one of my favorite topics.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 27 Aug 2015 17:50:25 +0000 Kevin Drum 282811 at http://www.motherjones.com Nerds and Hacks Unite! You Have Nothing to Lose Except Your Chains. http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/08/nerds-and-hacks-unite-you-have-nothing-lose-except-your-chains <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>David Roberts has a long post at Vox about tech nerds and their disdain for politics. He highlights one particular tech nerd who describes both major parties as "a bunch of dumb people saying dumb things," <a href="http://www.vox.com/2015/8/27/9214015/tech-nerds-politics" target="_blank">and jumps off from there:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>There are two broad narratives about politics that can be glimpsed between the lines here. Both are, in the argot of the day, problematic.</p> <p>The first, which is extremely common in the nerd community, is a distaste for government and politics....a sense that government is big, bloated, slow-moving, and inefficient, that politicians are dimwits and panderers, and that real progress comes from private innovation, not government mandates. None of which is facially unreasonable.</p> <p>The second is the conception of politics as a contest of two mirror-image political philosophies, with mirror-image extremes and a common center, which <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_jobs_wozniak.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">is where sensible, independent-minded people congregate.</p> </blockquote> <p>There's about 4,400 more words than this, so click the link if you want to immerse yourself.</p> <p>But I have a little different take on all this. The truth is that politics and tech are the same thing: inventing a product that appeals to people and then marketing the hell out of it. Back in the dark ages, this was a little more obvious. Steve Wozniak invented, Steve Jobs sold. It was so common for tech companies to be started by two people, one engineer and one salesman, that it was practically a cliche.</p> <p>The modern tech community has lost a bit of that. Oh, they all chatter about social media and going viral and so forth. As long as the marketing is actually just some excuse for talking about cool new tech, they're happy to immerse themselves in it. But actually <em>selling</em> their product? Meh. The truly great ideas rise to the top without any of that <em>Mad Men</em> crap. Anyway, the marketing department will handle the dull routine of advertising and....well, whatever it is they do.</p> <p>Politics, by contrast, leans the other way. Inventing new stuff helps, but the real art is in selling your ideas to the public and convincing your fellow politicians to back you. It's all messy and annoying, especially if you're not very socially adept, but it's the way human beings get things done.</p> <p>Well, it's <em>one</em> of the ways. Because Roberts only tells half the story. As much as most tech nerds disdain the messy humanness of politics, it's equally true that most politicians disdain the eye-rolling naivete of tech nerds. You wanna get something done, kid? Watch the master at work.</p> <p>In politics, you have the wonks and the hacks&mdash;and it's the hacks who rule. In tech, you have the nerds and the salesmen&mdash;and it's the nerds who rule. There are always exceptions, but that's the general shape of the river.</p> <p>But guess what? The most successful nerds have always been the ones who are also willing to figure out what makes people tick. And the most successful politicians have been the ones who are willing to marry themselves to policy solutions that fit their time and place. That doesn't mean that nerds have to slap backs (Bill Gates never did) or that successful politicians have to immerse themselves in white papers (Ronald Reagan never did), but wonks and hacks and nerds and salesmen all need each other. The political hacks and the tech nerds need to get together and get messy. And more important: <em>they have to genuinely respect each other.</em> When that happens, you have a very, very powerful combination. So get to work.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 27 Aug 2015 16:22:30 +0000 Kevin Drum 282801 at http://www.motherjones.com TGIAS: Finally, August Is Almost Over http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/08/tgias-finally-august-almost-over <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>August is almost over. Huzzah! Kids are back in school, the weather will soon turn balmy, and we only have to pay attention to Donald Trump for a few more days. In September we'll have more important stuff to obsess over. Right?</p> <p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_lion_silly_season.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Well, we can hope. In the meantime, <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/08/27/the-most-damning-part-of-donald-trumps-political-rise/" target="_blank">Dan Drezner has a question:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>For this entire calendar year, I&rsquo;ve heard how the current crop of GOP presidential candidates &ldquo;showcase[s] the party&rsquo;s deep bench of talent&rdquo;....And, to be fair, this seemed to be a fair analysis. There are no fewer than nine sitting and former governors of big states in the field....And yet, after all the declarations, we&rsquo;re at a political moment when Trump is clobbering all of these talented politicians in the polls &mdash; and doing so by honing the lessons he learned from reality television.</p> <p>....So here&rsquo;s my question: What does it say about the deep GOP bench that none of them have managed to outperform a guy who has no comparative political advantage except celebrity and a willingness to insult anyone who crosses his path?</p> </blockquote> <p>I've had the same thought myself. Nor is this a partisan question: the Democrats have such a weak bench this year that there's literally only one truly plausible candidate in the entire field. And this isn't because Hillary Clinton is so widely beloved: there's just no one else around who seems to have the usual bona fides to run for president. Hell, even the sitting vice president, usually a shoo-in to run, has a public persona that's a little too goofy to make him a strong candidate.</p> <p>In other words, there are hardly any decent candidates in the entire country. What the hell is going on?</p> <p>But Drezner actually prompts another question that's been rattling around in my brain: Is there anyone out there who could be the Democratic equivalent of Donald Trump? There was some inane blather earlier this month comparing him to Bernie Sanders, but that was always pretty preposterous. Sanders is a serious, longtime politician. He may be too extreme for you, but he's not a buffoon.</p> <p>More specifically: Is it even <em>possible</em> that someone like Trump&mdash;no political experience, buffoonish, populist, boorish&mdash;could ever make a big impact in a Democratic primary? It's never happened before, but then, it's never happened quite this way in the Republican primary either. It makes me wonder. What if Trump had held on to his lifelong liberal beliefs instead of "evolving" so he could compete as a Republican? What would be the fate of a liberal Donald Trump? Would a big chunk of the liberal base embrace him?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 27 Aug 2015 15:39:45 +0000 Kevin Drum 282796 at http://www.motherjones.com US Economy Growing Faster Than We Thought http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/08/us-economy-growing-faster-we-thought <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-gdp-expands-at-3-7-pace-in-second-quarter-1440678866" target="_blank">This is welcome news:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The U.S. economy expanded at a brisker pace than initially thought in the second quarter as businesses ramped up spending, a hopeful sign for an economy that has been repeatedly buffeted by bad weather, domestic political standoffs and overseas turmoil.</p> <p>Gross domestic product, the broadest sum of goods and services produced across the economy, <strong>expanded at a 3.7% seasonally adjusted annual rate in the second quarter of 2015,</strong> the Commerce Department said Thursday, up from the initial estimate of 2.3% growth.</p> </blockquote> <p>Average growth in the entire first half of the year was still fairly sluggish, thanks to a miserable first quarter, but today's news might be evidence of some decent acceleration in the economy. Given all the bad news of the past month or so, this comes as a bit of a relief.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 27 Aug 2015 14:49:45 +0000 Kevin Drum 282791 at http://www.motherjones.com Here's Why No One Cares About Modern Philosophy http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/08/heres-why-no-one-cares-about-modern-philosophy <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Via someone on the right (I don't remember who, sorry) I learned of a minor tempest over at Vox.com. One of their editors asked a Swedish philosopher, Torbjorn Tannsjo, to write a piece defending the "repugnant conclusion," <a href="http://leiterreports.typepad.com/files/you-should-have-kids-00000003.pdf" target="_blank">which Tannsjo describes thusly:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>My argument is simple. Most people live lives that are, on net, happy. For them to never exist, then, would be to deny them that happiness. And because I think we have a moral duty to maximize the amount of <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_overpopulation.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">happiness in the world, that means that we all have an obligation to make the world as populated as can be.</p> </blockquote> <p>There are a number of caveats in the piece, but that's basically it. <a href="http://www.vox.com/2015/8/26/9212591/why-vox-didnt-run-a-piece-endorsing-the-repugnant-conclusion" target="_blank">Vox ended up rejecting it,</a> partly because they decided not to launch a planned new section for "unusual, provocative arguments," and partly because they were squeamish about the implications of a piece which argued that "birth control and abortion are, under most circumstances, immoral."</p> <p>Brian Leiter, a professor of law and philosophy at the University of Chicago, <a href="http://leiterreports.typepad.com/blog/2015/08/so-much-for-trying-to-bring-philosophy-to-the-public.html" target="_blank">was appalled:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>If you solicit a piece from a philosopher, knowing what their work is about (as was clearly the case here), you have an obligation to publish it, subject to reasonable editing. What you can't do, if you are an even remotely serious operation (and not an echo chamber), is reject it because someone not paying attention might think the argument supports a conclusion they find icky.</p> </blockquote> <p>I'll confess to some puzzlement about this affair. Leiter is right that Vox editors must have known exactly what Tannsjo was going to write. That was clear from the start. So why did they get cold feet after seeing the finished product? On the other hand, Leiter is dead wrong that any publication has an obligation to publish every piece it solicits.<sup>1</sup> That doesn't pass the laugh test, whether the writer is a philosopher or not. Stuff gets rejected all the time for a million different reasons, potential offensiveness among them.</p> <p>But here's the part I really don't get: Why on earth would anyone take Tannsjo's argument seriously in the first place? The entire thing hinges on the premise that we all have a moral duty to maximize the absolute amount of felt happiness in the universe. If you don't believe that, there's nothing left of his essay.</p> <p>But virtually no one <em>does</em> believe that. And since&nbsp;Tannsjo never even tries to justify his premise, that makes his entire piece kind of pointless. It would have taken me about five minutes to reject it.</p> <p>I dunno. Too many modern philosophers seem to revel in taking broadly uncontroversial sentiments&mdash;in this case, that we have an obligation to future generations&mdash;and then spinning out supposedly shocking conclusions that might hold if (a) you literally care only about this one thing, and (b) you take it to its absurd, ultimate limit.<sup>2</sup> But aside from dorm room bull sessions, why bother? That just isn't the human condition. We care about lots of things; they often conflict; and we always have to end up balancing them in some acceptable way. Nothing in the real world ever gets taken to its ultimate logical conclusion all by itself.</p> <p>I suppose this kind of thing might be interesting in the same way that any abstract logic puzzle is interesting, but it's not hard to see why most people would just consider it tedious blather. If this is at all representative of what Vox got when it started looking around for unusual, provocative arguments, I don't blame them for deep sixing the whole idea.</p> <p><sup>1</sup>Depending on the publication and the type of article, they might owe you a kill fee for the work you put into it. But that's all.</p> <p><sup>2</sup>Well, that and ever more baroque versions of the trolley problem.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 27 Aug 2015 01:48:29 +0000 Kevin Drum 282771 at http://www.motherjones.com Chart of the Day: World Trade Is Down 2% This Year http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/08/chart-day-world-trade-down-2-year <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Here is your chart to ponder today. It shows the <a href="http://cpb.nl/en/number/cpb-world-trade-monitor-june-2015" target="_blank">total level of world trade:</a></p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_world_trade_level_june_2015.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 40px;"></p> <p>You can see the huge dip during the 2008-09 recession, followed by a steady recovery. Until this year, that is. During the past six months, world trade has declined by about 2 percent.</p> <p>Most of this loss was made up in June, but monthly figures are volatile and June could be just a temporary artifact. Time will tell. Most likely, this is yet another indication of a weak global economy, one that's going to get even weaker if China's recent troubles portend a genuine recession.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 26 Aug 2015 20:51:25 +0000 Kevin Drum 282756 at http://www.motherjones.com Hillary's Email: Still No There There http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/08/hillarys-email-still-no-there-there <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The AP's Ken Dilanian reports on the use of <a href="http://bigstory.ap.org/article/1a67b7bfbe9c44628abd35236f12723c/state-department-officials-routinely-sent-secrets-over" target="_blank">email in the State Department:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The transmission of now-classified information across Hillary Rodham Clinton's private email is consistent with a State Department culture in which <strong>diplomats routinely sent secret material on unsecured email during the past two administrations,</strong> according to documents reviewed by The Associated Press.</p> <p>....In five emails that date to Condoleezza Rice's tenure as secretary of state during the George W. Bush administration, large chunks are censored on the grounds that they contain classified national security or foreign government information....<strong>In a December 2006 email,</strong> diplomat John J. Hillmeyer appears to have pasted the text of a confidential cable from Beijing about China's dealings with Iran and other sensitive matters.</p> <p>....<strong>Such slippage of classified information into regular email is "very common, actually,"</strong> said Leslie McAdoo, a lawyer who frequently represents government officials and contractors in disputes over security clearances and classified information.</p> <p>What makes Clinton's case different is that she exclusively sent and received emails through a home server in lieu of the State Department's unclassified email system. <strong>Neither would have been secure from hackers or foreign intelligence agencies, so it would be equally problematic whether classified information was carried over the government system or a private server, experts say.</strong> In fact, the State Department's unclassified email system has been penetrated by hackers believed linked to Russian intelligence.</p> <p>....Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon said State Department officials were permitted at the time to use personal email accounts for official business, and that the department was aware of Clinton's private server....<strong>There is no indication that any information in Clinton emails was marked classified at the time it was sent.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Whatevs. Let's spend millions of dollars and hundreds of hours of congressional committee time investigating this anyway. Maybe we'll finally find that Whitewater confession we've been looking for so long.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum 2016 Elections Hillary Clinton Top Stories Wed, 26 Aug 2015 19:12:05 +0000 Kevin Drum 282736 at http://www.motherjones.com