Kevin Drum Feed | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/Blogs/2012/08 http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en Here's the Transcript of Trump's Meeting With the President of Mexico http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/08/heres-transcript-trumps-meeting-president-mexico <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>I can't reveal my sources, but I have gotten hold of a transcript of Donald Trump's meeting today with Enrique Pe&ntilde;a Nieto. Here it is:</p> <blockquote> <p>EPN: Mr. Trump, Mexico will never pay for a border wall. The idea is insulting and demeaning to the Mexican people and we resent it. You must <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_trump_pena_nieto.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">stop telling the American people this ridiculous fantasy.</p> <p>DJT: That's a nice tie you're wearing. Is it silk? I've always loved silk. Melania does too, and she always makes sure that all our sheets are 100 percent silk. Even Barron's. You can't start too young when it comes to quality, you know. When I get to the White House, I'm going to change out all the sheets in the guest rooms. You should come for a visit. It'll be great. They probably have cotton sheets now because Obama doesn't know quality the way I do. I mean, the guy is obviously in way over his head, don't you agree? He just doesn't understand how to negotiate with a head of state. But you and I are going to get along. We'll be friends. I just know it. Many of my best friends are Hispanic, you know. It's something people don't give me credit for. But that's the press for you. Is it the same here? How does the press treat you? When you do something great, like inviting me for this meeting, do they give you any credit or do they just publish the most horrible lies about you? When I'm president that's going to stop. They shouldn't be able to publish lies and get away with it. They said I wanted to use nuclear weapons on Syria! I mean nuclear, that's where....</p> <p>[2,385 words omitted]</p> <p>So I told him that was impossible, and he said "Not for you, Trump-san!" The Japanese are great kidders. But he was right. We got it done on time and under budget. It was....</p> <p>Aide: Sir, the press is waiting. We need to make our way out to the portico.</p> <p>DJT: And I've got a plane to catch. It's been great talking with you, Enrique. I can call you Enrique, can't I?</p> </blockquote> <p>So you see, both sides have told the truth about this meeting. Pe&ntilde;a Nieto <em>did</em> tell Trump that Mexico wouldn't pay for the wall, and Trump <em>didn't</em> discuss it with him.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 01 Sep 2016 00:04:28 +0000 Kevin Drum 312981 at http://www.motherjones.com Trump Goes to Mexico and Everyone Is Bored http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/08/trump-goes-mexico-and-everyone-bored <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>I'm back from lunch and it's time to catch up on Donald Trump's visit to Mexico. How did it go?</p> <p>Apparently the answer is "meh." After all his big talk about Mexico paying for his wall, Trump didn't bring it up once he got face to face with Enrique Pe&ntilde;a Nieto. I gather he didn't bring up much of anything else either. Even Twitter seemed bored by the whole thing.</p> <p>On the bright side, Trump didn't say anything too barbarous, which is being hailed by Republicans as Trump acting "presidential." The soft bigotry of low expectations comes to the rescue once again.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 31 Aug 2016 21:21:34 +0000 Kevin Drum 312971 at http://www.motherjones.com Here's Why Most Non-Whites Can't Stand Republicans http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/08/heres-why-most-non-whites-cant-stand-republicans <!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/439517/more-cypress-less-facebook" target="_blank">Over at <em>The Corner</em></a>, Roger Clegg highly recommends a piece in <em>Forbes</em> about a new SEC proposal that would require public companies "to include in their proxy statements more meaningful board diversity disclosures on their board members and nominees." This rule would not mandate any diversity goals. It would merely require a disclosure of current board diversity and any future diversity plans, if any. <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/georgeleef/2016/08/30/the-s-e-c-shoves-the-u-s-a-further-into-the-p-c-swamp/#9ebfb7c1a6df" target="_blank">Here's the <em>Forbes</em> piece:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>In May, 1996, Sister Doris Gormley wrote a letter to T.J. Rodgers, the founder and then-CEO of Cypress Semiconductor. She argued that Cypress ought to diversify its board by adding some women.</p> <p>Replying to her, Rodgers wrote, "Choosing a Board of Directors based on race and gender is a lousy way to run a company. Cypress will never do it. Furthermore, we will never be pressured into it, because bowing to well-meaning, special-interest groups is an immoral way to run a company, given all the people it would hurt. We simply cannot allow arbitrary rules to be forced on us by organizations that lack business expertise."</p> <p>To people who actually run business enterprises, getting sound advice from the board is important. It can help them avoid costly mistakes. But that requires deep knowledge of the specific business field. <strong>Companies have every incentive to find such people, which has nothing at all to do with the happenstance of their ancestry or sex.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>If Republicans are wondering why blacks, women, Hispanics, Asians, and pretty much every non-white-male group in America seems to hate them, this is why. If you want to oppose diversity mandates, that's one thing. There are ways to do it. But to blithely claim that the whole idea is nonsense because no board of directors in America would <em>ever</em> choose a board member for any reason other than pure merit? This is just willful blindness. Every black, female, Hispanic, and Asian person in the country has been a victim of this faux meritocracy argument and knows perfectly well that it's rubbish.</p> <p>All that is bad enough. But then to get high-fived for it by <em>National Review</em> and the <em>Wall Street Journal</em> and Fox News? It rubs non-white faces in the fact that conservatives not only don't want to make any real efforts to break up the white men's club, but that they'll go out of their way to deny that it even exists. So they vote for Democrats. At least the Dems don't flatly insult them with obvious baloney.</p> <p>For reference, compare this to Lauren Rivera's conclusions after sitting in on post-interview discussions of candidates for a professional services firm (<a href="http://www.vox.com/2016/8/31/12694276/unconscious-bias-hiring" target="_blank">via Leniece Brissett</a> at <em>Vox</em>). <a href="https://hbr.org/2016/07/we-just-cant-handle-diversity" target="_blank">Here's a summary in the <em>Harvard Business Review</em>:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Black and Hispanic men were often seen as lacking polish and moved to the reject pile, even when they were strong in other areas, whereas white men who lacked polish were deemed coachable and kept in the running. A similar pattern emerged among men who appeared shy, nervous, or understated: Nonwhites were rejected for being unassertive, but in whites, modesty was seen as a virtue. Among candidates who made minor mistakes in math, women were rejected for not having the right skills, and men were given a pass&mdash;interviewers assumed they were having an "off" day.</p> </blockquote> <p>Different kinds of people, it turns out, were evaluated very differently:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_rivera_interview_discussions.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 15px 0px 15px 10px;"></p> <p>I don't doubt that most corporate board members <em>think</em> they consider nothing but pure merit. But they plainly don't. The CEO wants board members who will support him. Another board member wants to repay a favor. Another recommends someone who sits on another board with him. The others want people who will "fit in." And in between all that, yes, there will be a few chosen for their particular expertise.</p> <p>If Republicans care even a tiny bit about ever appealing to non-whites, the very least they need to do is acknowledge that non-whites face particular problems and biases that are often subtle, often unconscious, and haven't disappeared yet. Even if they never support doing anything about it, they have to <em>at least</em> acknowledge this. If today's anti-diversity harangues are any indication, they're nowhere near that yet.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 31 Aug 2016 18:19:49 +0000 Kevin Drum 312926 at http://www.motherjones.com Obamacare's Latest Problem is Real, But Not Fatal http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/08/obamacares-latest-problem-real-not-fatal <!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 funny thing. Conservatives have spent the past five years pointing to a long litany of alleged problems with Obamacare and gleefully predicting that each of them would lead to its downfall. They never did, either because the problems weren't even problems, or because <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_obamacare_grim_reaper.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">they were pretty small beer and didn't really have any effect. Nonetheless, every month or two brought yet another harbinger of doom for Obamacare.</p> <p>So you'd think they'd be over the moon at the moment, now that Obamacare really does appear to be facing a serious problem. Even liberals are worried about large insurers like Aetna and United Healthcare abandoning the exchanges, leaving some regions with only a single monopoly insurer. But conservatives aren't really saying much about this. It's kind of odd.</p> <p>Maybe it's because they're all too freaked out by Donald Trump. I don't know. Still, there are some who are noticing the problem and predicting the eventual demise of Obamacare. <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2016-08-31/why-obamacare-can-t-be-what-its-supporters-want" target="_blank">Here's Megan McArdle:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Unfortunately, while basically everyone in the country thought that the U.S. health care system was as messed up as a party-school group house on graduation day, most people actually liked whatever coverage they had. That created a political bind: No reform could pass if it seemed to shrink any of [the existing] major markets in any significant way. Expanding everything would cost a boatload of money and make taxpayers freak out, so the architects of Obamacare finessed this problem with a combination of:</p> <blockquote> <ul><li>Opaque rules.</li> <li>Disingenuously optimistic promises such as, &ldquo;If you like your plan you can keep it.&rdquo;</li> <li>Weak versions of unpopular measures needed to make the law work, such as paltry penalties for failing to buy health insurance.</li> <li>Not touching the wildly inefficient profusion of programs.</li> </ul></blockquote> <p>All that stuff is what has left Obamacare where it is. The dishonesty was exposed. The weak versions of European measures failed to encourage the behavior changes needed to make the system work. And the fact that every other program was left in existence, largely untouched, created new ways for patients and consumers to game the rules to get maximum reimbursements for minimum expenditure.</p> </blockquote> <p>None of these are actually operational problems with Obamacare except for the third one. But here's the thing: last year was the first time people actually got hit in the face with the prospect of a penalty for not having insurance. And McArdle is right: it was too small to motivate people to change their behavior&mdash;especially all those young healthy folks that insurers want. $325 for a single adult just wasn't enough.</p> <p>But this year the penalty was $695. Next year, it will be either $695 (plus a bit for inflation) or 2.5 percent of your income. For someone making, say, $30,000, that's $750.</p> <p>Is that enough? Hard to say. If your income is low, it's more than the cost of insurance, so you might as well just get the insurance. If your income is a little higher, then it's true that you can save money by just paying the penalty. But the net cost of insurance is probably only about $1,000 more than the penalty. Once this starts to sink in, a lot of young folks are probably going to conclude that for a hundred bucks a month they might as well sign up.</p> <p>It will be a few years before we know for sure. In the meantime, it's clear that insurers screwed up pretty badly in their initial estimates of how much it would cost to insure the typical Obamacare pool. They shoulda listened to the CBO. Still, here's the thing I don't get: the obvious response to insurers losing money is twofold. First, some insurers will abandon the market. Second, the surviving insurers will probably raise their prices. This is how competitive markets work. It's messy and inconvenient, but in the end it all settles down.</p> <p>The only thing that would prevent this is some kind of death spiral, as rising prices cause even more healthy people to stop buying insurance and instead just pay the penalty. This isn't impossible. But prices won't rise at all for low-income buyers, and are capped at 9.5 percent of income for most others. So there's a limit to just how far this can go, even in theory.</p> <p>Maybe I'm letting partisan views blind me to the scope of this problem. But I think this is a problem that Obamacare will survive. Prices will go up over the next couple of years. My guess is a rise of around 20-25 percent or so. As the penalties sink in, more young people will sign up. The most efficient insurers will remain in the market and become profitable. And yes, there will probably be individual counties here and there that have only one insurer, or even no insurers in a handful of cases.</p> <p>In other words, it won't be health care nirvana. But it will work. The end is still not nigh.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 31 Aug 2016 17:04:59 +0000 Kevin Drum 312916 at http://www.motherjones.com California Considers a "Brock Turner" Bill. Should Progressives Support It? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/08/california-considers-brock-turner-bill-should-progressives-support-it <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The California legislature has passed a bill that would increase the penalties for raping an unconscious victim. Eric Levitz applauds the motivation for the bill, but takes issue with the overall message it sends. You should really read the whole thing, <a href="http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/08/incarceration-is-not-the-best-way-to-fight-rape-culture.html" target="_blank">but here's an excerpt:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>If we accept the premise of California&rsquo;s law &mdash; that combating rape culture requires imposing longer prison terms on rapists &mdash; then <strong>progressives will be forced to choose between their commitments to <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_california_prison_overcrowding.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">achieving gender equality and ending mass incarceration.</strong></p> <p>....The primary reason for America&rsquo;s exceptional incarceration rate is that its voters are more comfortable with condemning their fellow citizens to cages for long periods of time than are those in other democracies....The most harmful thing about California&rsquo;s bill may be the way it encourages this culture of incarceration.</p> <p>If one focuses narrowly on the law&rsquo;s immediate effects, a reasonable case can be made for its virtues: A three-year minimum sentence for raping an unconscious person is not wildly out of step with global standards....And, anyway, California&rsquo;s bill contains a provision allowing judges to exercise discretion in &ldquo;unusual cases where the interests of justice would best be served if the person is granted probation.&rdquo;</p> <p>On the other hand, it is unlikely that many judges would take on the political liability of exercising such discretion. <strong>And the specter of a minimum three-year jail sentence has the potential to intimidate innocent defendants into plea agreements &mdash; a phenomena that is more likely to disadvantage the most-vulnerable members of our society, who can least afford to mount a compelling defense.</strong></p> <p>....Nonetheless, the problem with California&rsquo;s law lies less in its immediate, legal implications than in its cultural and political ones. <strong>To end mass incarceration, progressives will need to persuade their fellow citizens that we can reduce penalties for violent crime without reducing our concern for its victims....In calling for Judge Persky&rsquo;s repeal, the movement fostered social and political stigma against the exercise of judicial leniency.</strong> People who look like Brock Turner will not be the ones most affected by such stigmas.</p> <p>....If there were strong evidence that longer prison sentences make a critical difference in deterring violent crime, then California&rsquo;s law might still be worthwhile. But there isn&rsquo;t. According to the 2014 findings of the National Research Council, applying a mandatory minimum to a given offense does not reduce its prevalence.</p> </blockquote> <p>Progressives have recently taken the position that America operates a prison-industrial complex that vastly oversentences its millions of victims. This cruel and unfair system needs to be dialed way back&mdash;unless the crime in question happens to be one that progressives are especially concerned about. In those cases, we should show no mercy.</p> <p>There's nothing logically contradictory about this. It's possible that we <em>do</em> vastly oversentence for most crimes but undersentence a few particular crimes. Nonetheless, this is something more people should stop to ponder. Do we believe that locking up criminals for long periods of time is an effective deterrent, or don't we? Do we believe in mandatory minimums, or don't we? If we don't, why are certain crimes an exception?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 31 Aug 2016 15:44:22 +0000 Kevin Drum 312901 at http://www.motherjones.com Is Donald Trump Walking Into a Mexican Trap? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/08/donald-trump-walking-mexican-trap <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Josh Marshall offers up a common reaction toward Donald Trump's meeting <a href="http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/can-trump-be-this-stupid-not-a-trick-question" target="_blank">with Mexico's president later today:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>President Nieto definitely does not want Donald Trump to become President. He probably assumes he won't become president, simply by reading the polls....Toadying to Trump would be extremely bad politics; standing up to him, good politics. Put those factors together and Pe&ntilde;a Nieto has massive and overlapping reasons to want to embarrass Trump.</p> </blockquote> <p>This is all true. It basically seems like the usual sort of half-assed publicity stunt we've come to expect from Trump. But consider this: it's possible that both sides in this meeting would benefit from a "disaster." As Marshall says, Pe&ntilde;a Nieto has every reason to play the tough guy and earn Trump's wrath. Everyone in Mexico hates Trump, so standing up to him, or even embarrassing him, would be a political win.</p> <p>But the same might be true of Trump. His base would certainly go wild at the prospect of Trump having a beef with the president of Mexico. The last thing they want is a cordial get together that suggests some kind of future rapprochement. And if Trump plays it right, a meeting that could be spun as an insult to America might even help him with swing voters.</p> <p>Then again, maybe Trump desperately wants Pe&ntilde;a Nieto's respect, and wants this meeting to demonstrate that he's not just a bomb thrower who can't be trusted with international relations.</p> <p>Really, who knows? But it will definitely win a news cycle for him.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 31 Aug 2016 06:07:31 +0000 Kevin Drum 312896 at http://www.motherjones.com Trump to Meet With President of Mexico on Wednesday http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/08/trump-meet-president-mexico-wednesday <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>File this one under "Huh?":</p> <blockquote> <blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">I have accepted the invitation of President Enrique Pena Nieto, of Mexico, and look very much forward to meeting him tomorrow.</p> &mdash; Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) <a href="https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/770811688966770689">August 31, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></blockquote> </blockquote> <p>Seriously? It's not that I think Trump would ever make up something like this, but....</p> <blockquote> <blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="es">El Se&ntilde;or <a href="https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump">@realDonaldTrump</a> ha aceptado esta invitaci&oacute;n y se reunir&aacute; ma&ntilde;ana en privado con el Presidente <a href="https://twitter.com/EPN">@EPN</a>.</p> &mdash; Presidencia M&eacute;xico (@PresidenciaMX) <a href="https://twitter.com/PresidenciaMX/status/770812865158651904">August 31, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></blockquote> </blockquote> <p>Well, OK then. This should go well, don't you think? Sort of like this:</p> <blockquote> <p>DJT: So you'll pay for the wall, right?<br> EPN: No.<br> DJT: How about just the half that faces Mexico?<br> EPN: No.<br> DJT: You're a tough cookie. OK, then, I'll get Deutsche Bank to finance the wall, and Mexico will join the loan syndication. You'll make out like banditos. I mean bandits.<br> EPN: No.<br> DJT: Hmmm. What if I throw in a free stay at the Trump National golf club?<br> EPN: No.<br> DJT: I've met my match. You're the toughest negotiator I've ever faced off with. I've always said I admired the Mexican people. Let's go have a taco bowl.</p> </blockquote> <p>It'll be great. Just Donald and and Pe&ntilde;a Nieto in a quiet, private meeting. We'll finally find out what happens when someone who's not a moron negotiates for the United States.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 31 Aug 2016 03:05:43 +0000 Kevin Drum 312891 at http://www.motherjones.com Yet More Hillary Email News: "Breathtaking... Reprehensible... Outrageous" Blah Blah Blah http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/08/yet-more-hillary-email-news-breathtakingreprehensibleastoundingoutrageous-blah-bl <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Once again, Andrew McCarthy is about <a href="http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/439534/multiple-outrages-clinton-obama-benghazi-obstruction" target="_blank">ready to implode:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>It has now come to light that Hillary Clinton <strong>attempted to destroy</strong> about 30 emails related to the 2012 Benghazi massacre....<strong>clearly trying to shield them</strong> from discovery by defense lawyers in the prosecution of the lone terrorist the Obama administration has thus far charged....The depth of Mrs. Clinton&rsquo;s misconduct [] is <strong>breathtaking</strong>....ought to be <strong>impeached</strong>....Nearly as <strong>reprehensible</strong>....Just as <strong>astounding</strong>....This is a political case, and the most politicized administration in history has just <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_hillary_clinton_hearing.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">essentially <strong>asked a judge to play ball</strong>....Does anybody care how <strong>outrageous</strong> this is?</p> </blockquote> <p>Goodness. What is this all about? McCarthy is right that this isn't getting much media attention, but it's not quite being ignored. Let's hear from someone <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/fbi-recovered-30-potentially-new-clinton-emails-related-to-2012-benghazi-attacks/2016/08/30/150bcf1a-6ed1-11e6-8533-6b0b0ded0253_story.html" target="_blank">still in possession of their faculties:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton <strong>may have</strong> sent or received <strong>as many as 30</strong> previously undisclosed emails while secretary of state about the 2012 Benghazi attack, government lawyers said Tuesday....<strong>It is not yet known how many of those documents may be duplicates</strong> of 343 emails already made public by the State Department or contain <strong>stray references</strong> to the Sept. 11, 2012, attack in Libya that killed ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three others, government attorneys said. The emails were recovered by the FBI in its year-long investigation of Clinton&rsquo;s private email setup as secretary from 2009 to 2013.</p> </blockquote> <p>We already know the FBI recovered about 15,000 emails from Hillary Clinton's email server, so this is hardly a bombshell. So far, though, we know nothing about those emails. Are they duplicates of emails that have already been disclosed? Are they personal emails? Are they just stray bits and bytes on a hard drive that hadn't been defragged recently? We have no idea. The only thing we <em>do</em> know is that FBI director James Comey explicitly said that he didn't think Clinton or her lawyers intentionally deleted any emails in order to conceal them. In fact, the recovery of the emails, he said, was "not surprising." That seems like a rather nonchalant attitude if there was really anything scandalous in these exchanges, wouldn't you say?</p> <p>As usual, then, I think I'll just wait and see how this all turns out. My guess: it's the usual nothingburger, exactly the way virtually every other bit of Benghazi-related hysteria has become once we learn all the facts. For now, it's not worth the gray cells it would take to worry about. We'll know soon enough if I'm wrong.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 31 Aug 2016 01:56:16 +0000 Kevin Drum 312886 at http://www.motherjones.com Come On, Let's Give the Conservative Media Cocoon Some Credit http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/08/come-lets-give-conservative-media-some-credit <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Conservative media is starting to come under attack from conservatives. Yesterday Rush Limbaugh responded to a listener who was mad at him for not warning that Donald Trump was unreliable on the subject of immigration. In particular, he was mad about Trump's waffling on whether he would <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/08/the-ultimate-rush-limbaugh-betrayal-of-his-audience/497996/" target="_blank">deport all 11 million illegal immigrants:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Rush Limbaugh: Yeah, well I guess the difference is&mdash;well not the difference, I guess the thing is, this is gonna enrage you. You know, I could choose a path here to try to mollify you, <strong>but I never took him seriously on this!</strong>....</p> <p>Rick: This is why Trump is going to get annihilated. Because nobody called him out early on about his absurd policies.</p> <p>Rush Limbaugh: Yes they did! For crying out loud, 15 candidates called him out....</p> <p>Rick: <strong>Except unfortunately the number one place where Republican primary voters get their news.</strong></p> <p>Rush Limbaugh: Oh no, it&rsquo;s on me and we&rsquo;re out of time&ndash;&ndash;</p> <p>Rick: <strong>Which is Fox.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>So Limbaugh never took Trump seriously on one of his key immigration policies, but never bothered to tell his listeners this. And Fox News played the fool too. <a href="http://www.nationalreview.com/article/439520/fox-news-hurts-conservative-movement" target="_blank">David French has more on that:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>It&rsquo;s hard to overstate the power of Fox News for those seeking a career in the conservative movement. I&rsquo;ve seen the most accomplished of lawyers suddenly become &ldquo;somebody&rdquo; only <em>after</em> they regularly appear on Fox....<strong>The result is clear: Conservatives gain fame, power, and influence mainly by talking to each other.</strong></p> <p>....<strong>Fox News went on the air in October 1996. Since that time, the GOP has won the popular vote for president exactly once: in 2004, by a whopping 2.4 percent.</strong> If Hillary Clinton wins in November, as appears likely, the GOP will have lost the popular vote in five of the six presidential elections since Fox broke the liberal media monopoly.</p> <p>....Prior to 1996, a politician could truly succeed only by going to the American people through the media outlets they actually watched, <strong>which encouraged communication that persuaded those who weren&rsquo;t true believers</strong>....The conservative movement is a victim of Fox&rsquo;s success....Appearing on Fox can create an alluring but illusory fame, and in seeking it above all else, some of our best minds inadvertently limit their own influence. I don&rsquo;t resent Fox&rsquo;s existence, but I lament its effect on our movement. It&rsquo;s time to leave the cocoon.</p> </blockquote> <p>All this is true. And yet, ever since the Limbaugh/Gingrich/Ailes revolution of the 90s, conservatives have been immensely successful at literally every level of government other than the presidency. If their cocoon gets some of the blame for foisting Trump on the American public&mdash;and it does&mdash;it also gets some of the credit for the GOP's spectacular success at the state and congressional level:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_republican_control_states_congress_2.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 5px;"></p> <p>The Reagan Revolution didn't really have much effect on Republican control of Congress and the states. There were ups and downs, but the overall trend was flat. The Limbaugh/Gingrich/Ailes revolution was quite different. Republican control skyrocketed, and stayed high. In 2010 it got even higher. Conservative media deserves some of the credit for that.</p> <p>Now, unfortunately for Republicans, the real driver of all this was the conversion of the South from solidly Democratic to solidly Republican. This meant that in order to succeed, the LGA Revolution had to be based largely on appealing to the racial resentments of Southern whites. The three principals were all happy to do this, and it worked a treat. It's still working, too, everywhere except the presidency, where the growth of the non-white population has simply been too big an obstacle to overcome.</p> <p>So give LGA some credit. They saw the brass ring, and they didn't really care much if they had to sell their souls to get it. But Donald Trump has brought their fundamental problem into sharp focus: How do you harness white racial resentment effectively enough to keep control of Congress and the states, while appearing racially moderate enough to win the presidency? It's a hell of a pretty pickle, isn't it?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 30 Aug 2016 22:46:28 +0000 Kevin Drum 312861 at http://www.motherjones.com Sign Up Now To Be a Monthly Donor to MoJo http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/08/sign-now-be-monthly-donor-mojo <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The bosses are at it again&mdash;our latest experiment in how we can pay for MoJo's journalism went live a few weeks ago.</p> <p>You can (and should!) read more in their piece <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/media/2016/08/whats-missing-from-journalism" target="_blank">"This Is What's Missing From Journalism Right Now,"</a> but I have to say, the idea sounds pretty good: sign up new monthly donors to give us much-needed stability in these <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/media/2016/04/that-popping-sound-you-hear" target="_blank">challenging times</a> to be in the news business, and do it by using <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_prison_story_cost.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">facts and logic&mdash;instead of blanketing the site with ads and sending a ton of panicky emails.</p> <p>Oh yes, I can get on board with that.</p> <p>Our goal&mdash;by the end of September&mdash;is to find 2,000 readers who pitch in $15 a month so we generate $30,000 in new revenue that we can count on each and every month. And they say we're off to a great start&mdash;already signing up 1,275 new monthly donors in the first two weeks of a planned six-week effort.</p> <p>There's a good chance we can get there without being too pushy with those ads and emails, so if you're reading this and already know why <em>Mother Jones</em> needs your support, I hope you'll&nbsp; <a href="https://na01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3a%2f%2fsecure.motherjones.com%2ffnp%2f%3faction%3dSUBSCRIPTION%26list_source%3d7H68CK00%26extra_don%3d1%26abver%3dB&amp;data=01%7c01%7cbhiatt%40motherjones.com%7c456b752a51ff470d733c08d3d0a02e26%7c012f9e2f06f14827a96c9a54d367d83e%7c1&amp;sdata=gUOX7hsKxlM7%2bN%2bAxWIR%2b39HhE5iVryvB5t9wV4ZL6s%3d" target="_blank">help us keep the momentum going by starting your tax-deductible monthly gift today</a> (or you can give by <a href="https://na01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3a%2f%2fwww.paypal.com%2fcgi-bin%2fwebscr%3fcmd%3d_s-xclick%26hosted_button_id%3dZUNJXBSLZM3R6&amp;data=01%7c01%7cbhiatt%40motherjones.com%7c456b752a51ff470d733c08d3d0a02e26%7c012f9e2f06f14827a96c9a54d367d83e%7c1&amp;sdata=aMM0FpL24Eip%2f1hu07S6AUT3s8kCiNaAl5H7YQZO624%3d" target="_blank">PayPal here</a>). But if you're not quite ready, or if you want to nerd out on the numbers, give Clara and Monika's piece a read and see if you find it convincing.</p> <p>We'll see where the numbers are after the long holiday weekend, but we might even be able to wrap up this campaign and get out of your way ahead of schedule. Wouldn't that be amazing?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 30 Aug 2016 18:59:48 +0000 Kevin Drum 312841 at http://www.motherjones.com Is Contraception Really Key? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/08/contraception-really-key <!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.vox.com/2016/8/30/12709638/teen-pregnancy-birth-control" target="_blank">Sarah Kliff reports today</a> that the teen birthrate has plummeted over the past decade. That's not news. The interesting question is <em>why</em> the teen birthrate has plummeted, and a <a href="http://www.jahonline.org/article/S1054-139X(16)30172-0/pdf" target="_blank">new paper</a> in the <em>Journal of Adolescent Health</em> says the reason is better access to contraceptives. That sounds reasonable, but Kliff backs up this idea with the following chart, taken from data in the paper:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_contraception_is_key.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 15px 0px 15px 60px;"></p> <p>This is a problem. Contraception use <em>dropped</em> slightly between 2009 and 2012. Sexual activity stayed about the same. And yet teen pregnancies declined by an astounding 20 percent over the same period. This does not fit with the notion that contraception is key.</p> <p>Plus there's longer term data. The chart below shows the <a href="http://www.hhs.gov/ash/oah/adolescent-health-topics/reproductive-health/teen-pregnancy/trends.html" target="_blank">teen pregnancy rate since 1990.</a> It dropped steadily from 1992 to 2006, despite <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6413a6.htm" target="_blank">virtually no change in contraceptive use.</a> I've subbed in contraceptive use from the new paper for 2007-12 (dashed line), and it doesn't really seem to correlate with teen pregnancy rates either:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_teen_pregnancy_0.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 40px;"></p> <p>So count me skeptical about the contraception theory. Teen pregnancy has been dropping for 25 years, and any explanation needs to account for this. <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/08/childhood-lead-exposure-causes-lot-more-just-rise-violent-crime" target="_blank">But what could it be?</a></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 30 Aug 2016 18:37:46 +0000 Kevin Drum 312836 at http://www.motherjones.com Quote of the Day: Jay Mathews' Biggest Mistake Was Trusting Michelle Rhee http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/08/quote-day-jay-mathews-biggest-mistake-was-trusting-michelle-rhee <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Jay Mathews has been covering local education for the <em>Washington Post</em> since 1996. Alexander Russo asked him what his <a href="http://washingtonmonthly.com/2016/08/30/washington-post-journo-reflects-on-20-years-covering-education/" target="_blank">biggest mistake has been in those past 20 years:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>I think my major mistake was giving too much credit to the jump in achievement scores and the appointment of new principals under Michelle Rhee in the DC schools. The scores proved to be largely the result of test tampering and many of the new principals weren&rsquo;t as good as they needed to be.</p> </blockquote> <p>Has the cult of Michelle Rhee finally run its course? We can hope.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 30 Aug 2016 17:50:42 +0000 Kevin Drum 312826 at http://www.motherjones.com When it Comes to Helping the Poor, Block Grants Are an Epic Failure http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/08/when-it-comes-helping-poor-block-grants-are-epic-failure <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>I remain agnostic about the 1996 welfare reform act, simply because I haven't studied it enough. But Ron Haskins, a former Republican congressional staff director, points out <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/08/30/%253Fp%253D197290/" target="_blank">one very conspicuous failure:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Haskins said the reform has had important successes &mdash; improving day-care programs, helping local authorities collect child-support payments from absent fathers, establishing the value of work in American culture with an unequivocal statement by Congress and the president.</p> <p>At the same time, Haskins said, the reform has done too little to help the worst off. <strong>Clinton's reform gave states authority to use federal money to help parents train and find work, but many states used the money for other purposes, he said.</strong></p> <p>"This group of moms at the bottom needs help," he said. <strong>"It's disappointing to me that the states have not tried harder."</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>I assume Haskins is sincere, but this is what happens when you leave social welfare programs up to the states, as Republicans have been hellbent on doing for decades. This usually takes the form of "block grants," where federal programs are eliminated and money is instead given to states with only moderate strings attached.</p> <p>Because of they way they're funded, block grants are a handy way of ensuring that spending on the programs will never increase much: in the case of TANF, funding for the block grants was fixed forever at $16.5 billion. In inflation-adjusted terms, this means that <a href="https://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/114th-congress-2015-2016/reports/49887-TANF.pdf" target="_blank">funding has decreased from $21 billion to $16 billion since 1996.</a> Even during the Great Recession, TANF funding only barely rose&mdash;for two or three years&mdash;to 1996 levels. This was despite the fact that the number of poor during the Great Recession far exceeded the number in 1996.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_cbo_tanf_funding.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 5px;"></p> <p>But that's not all. Block granting also allows states more freedom to do what they want, and the plain truth is that there are a lot of states that don't really want to do anything. So they do their best to game the system in every possible way, spending their block grant money on anything <em>except</em> helping the poor. <a href="http://www.cbpp.org/research/family-income-support/how-states-use-federal-and-state-funds-under-the-tanf-block-grant" target="_blank">As the CBPP chart on the right shows,</a> only about 26 cents of every <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_welfare_block_grants.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">block grant dollar goes to cash assistance for the poor, and only half goes to core welfare programs at all.</p> <p>This is especially ironic in the case of welfare reform, which was largely the result of experiments by states in the late 80s and early 90s. Some of those experiments had been pretty successful, which allowed the states to argue that they could handle welfare programs better than the sluggish federal bureaucracy. But once welfare reform was passed, the experiments ended. Instead, many states began pushing the envelope as hard as they could to redirect their block grant money away from poor people and into other programs. They argued&mdash;and continue to argue&mdash;that these programs help the poor more than actual welfare programs do, but in most cases this is obvious sophistry. They're just plugging budget holes with welfare money and telling the poor to pound sand.</p> <p>Of course, there are other ways states can show their contempt for the poor even more transparently. Obamacare allowed states to expand Medicaid for virtually no cost. It was a no-brainer. But lots of states didn't want to help the poor, and when the Supreme Court gave them the opportunity to reject the free federal money, they did. This hurt their hospitals and hurt their economies, but no matter. Their hatred for spending money on the poor is so red hot that they pulled out of the expansion program anyway.</p> <p>Whatever else you think about welfare reform, there's one clear lesson we've learned: federal programs should remain federal programs. Lots of states actively hate spending money on the poor, and if you give them money they'll do everything they can to avoid spending it on the people it's designed to help.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 30 Aug 2016 16:15:33 +0000 Kevin Drum 312811 at http://www.motherjones.com Creating Panic Is Bad for the Country, But Good for Politicians http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/08/creating-panic-bad-country-good-politicians <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>There was another stampede at an airport Sunday night, when passengers at LAX <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/30/us/shooting-scares-show-a-nation-quick-to-fear-the-worst.html" target="_blank">wrongly thought they heard guns being fired:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>A loud noise mistaken for gunfire led to rumors that spread at blazing speed in person and on social media, setting off a panic that shut down one of the nation&rsquo;s busiest airports, as passengers fled terminals and burst through security cordons, and as the police struggled to figure out what was happening and to restore order.</p> <p><strong>Far from being an isolated episode,</strong> it was essentially what had happened on Aug. 13 at a mall in Raleigh, N.C.; on Aug. 14 at Kennedy International Airport in New York; on Aug. 20 at a mall in Michigan; and on Aug. 25 at a mall in Orlando, Fla.</p> </blockquote> <p>Spreading panic over terrorism has real effects. This is one of them. We are being turned into a nation of babies.</p> <p>The number of terrorist attacks in the US is minuscule. The number of people in the US who die from terrorist attacks is minuscule. But I suppose the political advantage from scaring the hell out of people about terrorism is fairly substantial. And that's all that counts, isn't it?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 30 Aug 2016 15:02:24 +0000 Kevin Drum 312796 at http://www.motherjones.com Menstrual Syncing Is Baloney http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/08/menstrual-syncing-baloney <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Simon Oxenham <a href="https://www.newscientist.com/article/2102956-do-women-sync-up-no-but-we-cant-resist-menstruation-myths/" target="_blank">busts a myth today:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Another popular theory is that when women live together, their menstrual cycles align. The idea has become a popular example of how pheromones can control us, but over time many studies have failed to replicate and confirm the finding. <strong>But for some reason, this idea is particularly resilient to debunking,</strong> living on in an abundance of newspaper articles and anecdotal conversations between friends.</p> </blockquote> <p>I can propose one possible reason this idea resists debunking: Nobody is debunking it. I learned about this in college in the late 70s, when it was believed to be true. In the intervening 45 years, this is the first time I've heard that it's wrong. That might be understandable if I didn't read a lot, but I do. And I've never heard <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_journal_popular_myths_delusions_0.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">until now that the menstrual syncing theory hasn't held up.</p> <p>Eventually, I suppose, my generation will die off and younger generations will never have been exposed to this idea, but that process sure takes a while. In the meantime, we are all prisoners of the fact that fascinating scientific results always get a lot of media attention, while the slow work of falsifying them&mdash;which is rarely done in a single blockbuster study&mdash;ends up buried in academic journals.</p> <p>Because of this, I think we need a new academic journal: <em>The Journal of Popular Myths and Delusions</em>, or some such. They would tackle things in two ways. First, when a popular theory gets to the point where it's widely discredited in the scientific community, they'd write an article about it that would give news organizations a hook to report it. Second, they would annually commission a survey of known scientific falsehoods and then spend the following year debunking the most popular ones. I recommend they start with the whole <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/25/upshot/no-you-do-not-have-to-drink-8-glasses-of-water-a-day.html?_r=0" target="_blank">eight glasses of water</a> thing.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 29 Aug 2016 19:10:49 +0000 Kevin Drum 312731 at http://www.motherjones.com Donald Trump Is a Consistent, Brazen, Serial Liar http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/08/donald-trump-consistent-brazen-serial-liar <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Today Ron Fournier bids farewell to Washington with a column declaring Donald Trump <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/08/trump-should-not-be-president/497858/" target="_blank">unfit for the Oval Office:</a></p> <blockquote> <p><strong>There's Simply No Equivalence<br> Hillary Clinton has her problems, but Donald Trump is unfit for the presidency.</strong></p> <p>....On one hand, Clinton. On the other hand, Trump. That&rsquo;s the unfortunate choice facing voters in a system rigged heavily in favor of <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_clinton_trump_lies_1.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">the two major parties. But there&rsquo;s no equivalence.</p> <p>On one hand, Benghazi and email and lies.</p> <p>On the other hand, mendacity, bigotry, bullyism, narcissism, sexism, selfishness, sociopathology, and a lack of understanding or interest in public policy&mdash;all to extremes unseen in modern presidential politics.</p> </blockquote> <p>I don't mean to criticize Fournier for anything here, but he uses a formulation that I've seen all too often and it puzzles me. Critics of Hillary Clinton always mention that she "lies." But Trump? It's all bigotry, ignorance, and narcissism. Why? Trump lies practically every time he opens his mouth. Without getting into the question of how often or how seriously Hillary lies, there's really no question that Trump outclasses her about a thousand to one on this score.</p> <p>Fournier actually does better than some, since he at least mentions "mendacity" in his list. But why not just say Trump is a liar? And not just any liar. By a wide margin Trump is the most consistent, brazen, serial liar in presidential campaign history. He's so far off the charts it's hard to even describe what he does. This really deserves to be called out more often.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 29 Aug 2016 18:27:43 +0000 Kevin Drum 312706 at http://www.motherjones.com Is Donald Trump Softening Even More on Immigration? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/08/donald-trump-softening-even-more-immigration <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>After Donald Trump spent a week waffling and "softening" over his immigration policy, I said, "The only thing left is for him to casually tell us that 'build the wall' was meant kind of metaphorically all along, and most of it will end up being a 'virtual wall' of drones and security cameras." Ha ha. Just a little joke. Trump would never back down on&mdash;what's that, NBC News?</p> <blockquote> <blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Trump may be shifting towards building more of a "virtual wall" on the border, reports <a href="https://twitter.com/HallieJackson">@halliejackson</a></p> &mdash; Ari Melber MSNBC (@AriMelber) <a href="https://twitter.com/AriMelber/status/770277754784903168">August 29, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></blockquote> </blockquote> <p>Sigh. I wonder if someone finally told Trump that it's not possible to build an actual concrete wall across every mile of the border? But if so, why would he have listened this time? It's not like he's ever shown any deference to reality in the past.</p> <p>Anyway, maybe there's nothing to this. I guess we'll have to wait for Trump's big immigration speech on Wednesday. (Yes, another one.) At the moment, he's too busy tweeting about Hillary Clinton's <a href="https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/770250409843777536" target="_blank">low</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/770252177512230912" target="_blank">IQ</a> to have time for anything else.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 29 Aug 2016 16:18:32 +0000 Kevin Drum 312696 at http://www.motherjones.com Huma Abedin Has Finally Had Enough http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/08/huma-abedin-has-finally-had-enough <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>After the latest humiliating public news of her husband Anthony Weiner's <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/08/anthony-weiner-gets-caught-yet-another-sexting-scandal" target="_blank">sexting obsession</a>, Huma Abedin is calling it quits:</p> <blockquote> <blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Huma Abedin and Anthony Weiner are separating <a href="https://t.co/4WVZxfTMmo">pic.twitter.com/4WVZxfTMmo</a></p> &mdash; Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) <a href="https://twitter.com/BraddJaffy/status/770279919263907840">August 29, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></blockquote> </blockquote> <p>Jesus. She has a laughingstock for a husband, and spent four years trying to fend off the odious Doug Band while she was working for Hillary Clinton at the State Department. What a life. She deserves better, and I hope she gets it.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 29 Aug 2016 15:44:04 +0000 Kevin Drum 312691 at http://www.motherjones.com Our Automotive Overlords Are Coming Soon http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/08/our-automotive-overlords-are-coming-soon <!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_driverless_cars_age_0.jpg" style="margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Vox has polled America about driverless cars, and the truth has emerged: if you are skeptical of self-driving technology, you are probably the same kind of oldster who scoffs at Snapchat and Instagram. Which....um, is probably pretty reasonable. But older folks also tend to watch Fox News and vote Republican. You don't want to be part of that demographic do, you? Besides, <a href="http://www.vox.com/2016/8/29/12647854/uber-self-driving-poll" target="_blank">you might not have any choice:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>If self-driving technology saves as many lives as its supporters hope, we could eventually have a different debate: whether to allow people to drive their own cars at all....A slight plurality of those under 30 said they would favor a ban, 43 percent to 42 percent. In contrast, those over 65 were opposed by a wide margin, 58 percent to 22 percent.</p> </blockquote> <p>Millennials will be taking over the world soon, and they're wide open to banning human drivers. This makes sense. Our grandchildren will probably be appalled when we tell them that once upon a time humans were actually allowed to pilot these 2-ton death machines. Your future automotive overlords are knocking on the door and I, for one, welcome them.</p> <p><strong>UPDATE:</strong> The original version of the chart in this story showed that only 2 percent of the elderly were ready to give up their cars. The actual number is 9 percent.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 29 Aug 2016 15:14:01 +0000 Kevin Drum 312686 at http://www.motherjones.com Yet Another Blockbuster Story About Hillary and the Clinton Foundation Turns Out To Be Nothing http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/08/yet-another-blockbuster-story-about-hillary-and-clinton-foundation-turns-out-be-n <!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_lat_chagoury.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">When I picked up my copy of the <em>LA Times</em> this morning, I was greeted by the headline on the right. It's about someone you may have heard of: <a href="http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-clinton-donor-chagoury-20160828-snap-story.html" target="_blank">Gilbert Chagoury, a billionaire from Nigeria.</a></p> <blockquote> <p><strong>Chagoury is a prominent example of the nexus between Hillary Clinton&rsquo;s State Department and the family&rsquo;s Clinton Foundation,</strong> which has come under renewed scrutiny during her presidential run. The organization, founded as a way for the Clintons to tap their vast network for charitable works, has tackled some of the steepest challenges in the developing world, including rebuilding Haiti and fighting AIDS in Africa. It has also come under fire for its willingness to accept money from foreign governments with interest in swaying U.S. policy during Clinton&rsquo;s time as secretary of State, <strong>and the controversial histories of some donors.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>A nexus! So what's up with Chagoury? Here's a snapshot:</p> <blockquote> <p>Chagoury was born in 1946 in Lagos to Lebanese parents....During the rule of Gen. Sani Abacha, who seized power in Nigeria in 1993, <strong>Chagoury prospered</strong>....tried to influence American policy to be more friendly to the regime....Abacha turned out to be &ldquo;one of the most notorious kleptocrats in memory,&rdquo; stealing billions in public funds....After Abacha&rsquo;s death in 1998, the Nigerian government hired lawyers to track down the money. The trail led to bank accounts all over the world &mdash; some under Gilbert Chagoury's control. <strong>Chagoury, who denied knowing the funds were stolen, paid a fine of 1 million Swiss francs,</strong> then about $600,000, and gave back $65 million to Nigeria; a Swiss conviction was expunged, a spokesman for Chagoury said.</p> </blockquote> <p>OK. Chagoury is rich, powerful, connected, and maybe a little shady. Next:</p> <blockquote> <p>In 1996, he gave $460,000 to a voter registration group steered by Bill Clinton&rsquo;s allies....attended Clinton's 60th birthday fundraiser....contributed $1 million to $5 million to the Clinton Foundation....<strong>the Chagoury Group&rsquo;s Eko Atlantic development &mdash; nine square kilometers of Lagos coastal land reclaimed by a seawall &mdash; was singled out for praise.</strong></p> <p>....By last summer, <strong>U.S. diplomats had selected a 9.9-acre property at Eko Atlantic as the preferred site for a new Lagos consulate,</strong> State Department documents obtained by the <em>Los Angeles Times</em> show. Two months ago, James Entwistle, then the U.S. ambassador to Nigeria, wrote to Washington, asking permission to sign a 99-year lease.</p> </blockquote> <p>The Eko Atlantic stuff is small beer, and happened after Hillary Clinton left the State Department anyway. So what's her connection to all this? That's a little hazy:</p> <blockquote> <p>[Doug] Band, Bill Clinton&rsquo;s aide, pushed for new access for Chagoury after Hillary Clinton took over at the State Department. In 2009, Band wrote his friends in the department. &ldquo;<strong>We need Gilbert Chagoury to speak to the substance guy re Lebanon.</strong> As you know he's key guy there and to us and is loved in Lebanon. Very imp.&rdquo; Huma Abedin, a longtime aide and confidante to Clinton and now vice chairwoman of her presidential campaign, suggested [former Ambassador to Lebanon Jeffrey] Feltman....<strong>But no meeting ever happened,</strong> according to both Feltman and Chagoury&rsquo;s spokesman. Chagoury wanted only to pass along insights on Lebanese politics, Corallo said, adding that &ldquo;nothing ever came of it&rdquo; and that Chagoury never talked to anyone at the State Department.</p> </blockquote> <p>And...what? This is followed by a description of Chagoury's run-ins with US security officials, all of which happened <em>after</em> 2009. However, the story is written in such a way that this is unclear unless you read carefully.</p> <p>So as near as I can tell, Chagoury (a) is tied up in some of the less savory aspects of Lebanese politics, (b) has contributed to the Clinton Foundation, and (c) wanted to discuss Lebanon once with someone at State, but never did. Later on, he had trouble getting a US visa thanks to suspicions of past connections with Hezbollah, which Chagoury denies.</p> <p>Am I missing something? How did this end up as the lead story in today's <em>LA Times</em>?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 29 Aug 2016 02:55:38 +0000 Kevin Drum 312671 at http://www.motherjones.com Health Update http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/08/health-update <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_m_protein_2016_08_28.jpg" style="margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">I've had some lab work and a couple of doctor visits this week. Everything is fine aside from my M-protein level, which you will recall is a marker that's a good measure of the level of cancerous cells in my bone marrow. The evil dex<sup></sup>got it down to 0.3, and it hovered around there for a couple of months after we stopped the dex.<sup>1</sup> This month, however, it's up to 0.48. My oncologist thinks that I may have been dehydrated when I did the lab work, because several other results were also higher than before. Because of this, he thinks the M-protein level will probably drop the next time I get labs done.</p> <p>Is this plausible? Beats me. As near as I can tell, oncologists are so devoted to happy talk that it's hard to know whether to believe anything they say. So this might be an aberration or it might not. We'll find out in a couple of months.</p> <p>If my M-protein level <em>does</em> go back down, then we keep doing what we're doing. If it continues to go up, we'll switch to a different maintenance regimen. We should find out sometime around my 58th birthday.</p> <p>Life is weird. In the past two years, four members of my immediate family have been diagnosed with cancer. The total size of my immediate family is seven. Seems a little excessive, doesn't it?</p> <p><strong>POSTSCRIPT:</strong> I get occasional emails from readers who haven't seen a health update in a while and want to know how I am. For the record, if there's no health update, it means nothing has changed. I'll always post about anything significant.</p> <p><sup>1</sup>That's dexamethasone, a corticosteroid that helps fight multiple myeloma. However, it has bad long-term side effects, so it can only be used for a few months at a time.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sun, 28 Aug 2016 18:53:04 +0000 Kevin Drum 312661 at http://www.motherjones.com Your Day in Trump: Friday, 26 August 2016, 74 Days Until the Election http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/08/your-day-trump-friday-26-august-2016-74-days-until-election <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Well, OK, I guess I'd better do a quick Trump update. No, he still hasn't made up his mind about his immigration policy, but he did respond to the shooting of Dwyane Wade's cousin:</p> <blockquote> <blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Dwyane Wade's cousin was just shot and killed walking her baby in Chicago. Just what I have been saying. African-Americans will VOTE TRUMP!</p> &mdash; Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) <a href="https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/769571710924263424">August 27, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></blockquote> </blockquote> <p>Keep it classy, Donald. Next up, remember that letter from Donald Trump's doctor claiming that Trump would be "the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency"? Yesterday NBC News finally got an interview with Dr. Harold Bornstein, who justified this opinion by explaining that "all the rest of them are either sick or dead." Roger that. This picture of Bornstein nearly brought down Twitter's servers yesterday:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_bornstein.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 15px 0px 15px 60px;"></p> <p>Yep, that's billionaire Donald Trump's doctor. You can&mdash;and should!&mdash;watch the entire interview with Dr. Bornstein <a href="http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/trump-doctor-wrote-health-letter-just-5-minutes-limo-waited-n638526" target="_blank">over at NBC News.</a> Fun fact: he wrote the letter in five minutes while Trump's limo was waiting downstairs.</p> <p>What else? Well, it turns out to no one's surprise that <em>Breitbart</em> chief and now Trump campaign CEO Steve Bannon may be even more bigoted than we thought. The <em>Daily News</em> picked up <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/election/trump-campaign-ceo-bannon-complained-jews-daughters-school-article-1.2767615" target="_blank">this little nugget from his divorce proceedings:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Mary Louise Piccard said in a 2007 court declaration that Bannon didn't want their twin daughters attending the Archer School for Girls in Los Angeles because many Jewish students were enrolled at the elite institution.</p> <p><strong>"The biggest problem he had with Archer is the number of Jews that attend,"</strong> Piccard said in her statement signed on June 27, 2007. "He said that he doesn't like the way they raise their kids to be 'whiny brats' and that he didn't want the girls going to school with Jews," Piccard wrote.</p> </blockquote> <p>Bannon's spox told the <em>Daily News</em> that "at the time" he never said anything like that. They did not specify at which time he <em>did</em> say it.</p> <p>Am I done yet? Oh my no. Next up is Trump supporter Paul LePage, the unhinged governor of Maine. LePage apparently thought that a Democratic legislator had called him a racist (he hadn't) and <a href="http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/26/prove-im-a-racist-lepage-challenges-westbrook-legislator-in-obscenity-laced-voice-mail/" target="_blank">left him a noxious phone message.</a> Then he met with reporters to explain himself:</p> <p><iframe align="middle" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="337" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/0G1chkvRcW8?start=0" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 90px;" width="450"></iframe></p> <p>There were a few other items. There always are. But that's enough. For those of you who didn't pay any attention to the news yesterday, this has been your day in Trump.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 27 Aug 2016 17:04:53 +0000 Kevin Drum 312656 at http://www.motherjones.com Friday Cat Blogging - 26 August 2016 http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/08/friday-cat-blogging-26-august-2016 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>What kind of cat is Hilbert? Here is this week's peek into his personality.</p> <p>On Tuesday Marian made a tuna sandwich for lunch. That means tuna juice too, so she squeezed out the tuna juice into two saucers and put them out. Hopper came bounding over immediately and started lapping up the juice. Hilbert was slower off the mark, but eventually he figured out what was going on and shambled over.</p> <p>But when he got to the saucers, he didn't head to the unoccupied one. He went around the long way and stuck his snout into Hopper's saucer and pushed her away. She shrugged, and headed over to the other saucer, which she lapped up. She had been almost done with the first one anyway.</p> <p>So there you have it. Hilbert is more interested in taking away Hopper's tuna juice than in actually having any tuna juice of his own. However, he also has a brain the size of a peanut and is unable to effectively carry out his nefarious intentions. In the end, Hopper got all the tuna juice.</p> <p>In other words, he is not a cat we'd want to elect as president. But as a king? Sure. So here is his majesty up on the balcony, surveying his vast domains. I'm not sure what he's looking at. Probably a crow walking across the skylight.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_hilbert_2016_08_26.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 15px 0px 5px 40px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 26 Aug 2016 19:00:45 +0000 Kevin Drum 312641 at http://www.motherjones.com A Question for the AP http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/08/question-ap <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Just curious: are you ever planning to release the names of Hillary Clinton's non-governmental visitors? You're a news organization, after all, and this is news. I'd sure like to see them. I bet lots of other people would too.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 26 Aug 2016 18:45:14 +0000 Kevin Drum 312636 at http://www.motherjones.com Is the Clinton Foundation Corrupt? There's a Way to Find Out For Anyone Who's Seriously Interested. http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/08/clinton-foundation-corrupt-theres-way-find-out-anyone-whos-seriously-interested <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Did corporations and foreign governments make donations to the Clinton Foundation as a way of cozying up to Hillary Clinton? Cherry picking the few occasions when they did so within a few months of some action by Hillary won't tell us anything. There's too little signal and too much noise. But there's a way to attack this question. Since 2000, Hillary Clinton has had five phases in her career:</p> <blockquote> <p>2001-06: Senator from New York<br> 2007-08: Candidate for president with good chance of winning.<br> 2009-12: Secretary of State in the Obama administration.<br> 2013-14: Retired, giving speeches, no one knew what she would do next.<br><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_clinton_foundation_logo.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">2015-16: Candidate for president with excellent chance of winning.</p> </blockquote> <p>So here's what someone needs to do: Take a look at donations to the Clinton Foundation and see if they seem to align with these career phases. For example, you'd expect foreign governments to be uninterested in gaining favors from Hillary while she was a New York senator, but very interested while she was Secretary of State. Conversely, you might expect, say, the financial industry to be generous while she was a New York senator but not so much while she was Secretary of State. During the periods when she was running for president, you'd expect activity to pick up from everybody, and during 2013-14 you'd expect interest to decline across the board.</p> <p>You can probably think of other trends you'd expect to see if donations to the Clinton Foundation were widely viewed as a way of getting better access to Hillary. So what you need to do is write down these expectations <em>first</em>, and then crunch the data to see if the evidence supports your hypothesis.</p> <p>This would be a lot of work. But if you really, truly think the Foundation was basically just a way of buying access to Hillary Clinton, this is a way of getting past anecdotes and looking for real trends. Is anyone willing to do this?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 26 Aug 2016 18:23:18 +0000 Kevin Drum 312631 at http://www.motherjones.com