Kevin Drum Feed | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/Blogs/2013/06/wga-officially-declares-star-tre http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en 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 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>....Tetraehtyl 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 <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_email.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">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 Wed, 26 Aug 2015 19:12:05 +0000 Kevin Drum 282736 at http://www.motherjones.com Sigh. Yet Another Thing to Freak Out About. http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/08/yet-another-thing-freak-out-about <!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.motherjones.com/environment/2015/08/back-to-school-with-mutant-super-lice" target="_blank">Mutant super lice?</a> WTF? I blame liberal moral decay.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 26 Aug 2015 18:57:27 +0000 Kevin Drum 282731 at http://www.motherjones.com Breaking News: Kids Don't Like to Eat Vegetables http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/08/breaking-news-kids-dont-eat-vegetables <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Excellent news! We have new research on <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2015/08/26/schoolchildren-are-tossing-an-average-of-more-than-a-third-cup-of-fruits-and-veggies-in-the-trash-each-lunch/?hpid=z5" target="_blank">whether kids like to eat vegetables:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The Agriculture Department rolled out new requirements in the 2012 school year that mandated that children who were taking part in the federal lunch program choose either a fruit or vegetable with their meals.</p> <p>...."The basic question we wanted to explore was: <strong>does requiring a child to select a fruit or vegetable actually correspond with consumption.</strong> The answer was clearly no," Amin, the lead author of the study, said in a statement.</p> </blockquote> <p>This will come as a surprise to exactly zero parents. You can (usually) make your kids eat vegetables if you refuse to let them leave the table until they do, but that's what it takes. Ask my mother if you don't believe me.<sup>1</sup></p> <p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_fruit_vegetable_consumption.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">I'm not actually making fun of the researchers here. Sometimes seemingly obvious things turn out to be untrue. The only way to find out for sure is to check. And in fact, the study actually did produce interesting results:</p> <blockquote> <p>Because they were forced to do it, children took fruits and vegetables&nbsp;&mdash; 29 percent more in fact. <strong>But their consumption of fruits and vegetables actually went down 13 percent after the mandate took effect</strong> and, worse, they were throwing away a distressing 56 percent more than before. The waste each child (or tray) was producing went from a quarter of a cup to more than a 39 percent of a cup each meal. In many cases, the researchers wrote, "children did not even taste the [fruits and vegetables] they chose at lunch."</p> </blockquote> <p>Yep: when kids were required to plonk fruits and vegetables onto their trays, average consumption went <em>down</em> from 0.51 cups to 0.45 cups. Apparently sticking it to the man becomes more attractive when kids are forced to do something.</p> <p>In any case, the researchers kept a brave face, suggesting that eventually the mandates would work. We just need "other strategies" to get kids to <a href="http://www.publichealthreports.org/issueopen.cfm?articleID=3386" target="_blank">like eating vegetables:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Because children prefer FVs in the form of <strong>100% fruit juice or mixed dishes, such as pizza or lasagna,</strong> one should consider additional factors, such as the types of whole FVs offered and how the cafeteria staff prepares them. Cutting up vegetables and serving them with dip and slicing fruit, such as oranges and apples, can positively influence students&rsquo; FV selection and consumption by making FVs more accessible and appealing.</p> </blockquote> <p>I dunno. Cutting up veggies and serving them with dip decidedly doesn't make them taste anything like pizza or lasagna. I speak from decades of pizza-eating experience here. Anyway, parents have been trying to get their kids to eat their vegetables for thousands of years, and so far progress has been poor. I'm not sure what the answer is. Shock collars? DNA splicing? GMO veggies that taste like candy bars?</p> <p><sup>1</sup>Yeah, yeah, some kids actually like vegetables. Little bootlickers.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 26 Aug 2015 17:38:44 +0000 Kevin Drum 282711 at http://www.motherjones.com Watch Ted Cruz Turn a Simple Immigration Question Into an Attack on Obama and the Mainstream Media http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/08/watch-ted-cruz-turn-simple-immigration-question-attack-obama-and-mainstream-media <!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_ted_cruz.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Megyn Kelly tried to nail down Ted Cruz last night on a simple question: If a pair of illegal immigrants have two children who were born in the United States and citizens, <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2015/08/25/ted-cruz-and-megyn-kelly-tangle-over-immigration/?hpid=z5" target="_blank">would he deport the citizen children?</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Cruz did not answer the question, but instead launched into an explanation of how he thinks the immigration system should be changed, starting with finding areas of bipartisan agreement such as securing the border, and then streamlining legal immigration.</p> <p>"But that doesn't sound like an answer," Kelly said...."You've outlined your plan, but . . . you're dodging my question. You don't want to answer that question?" Kelly asked.</p> <p>...."Megyn, I get that's the question you want to ask. <strong>That's also the question every mainstream media journalist wants to ask,</strong>" Cruz said.</p> <p>"Is it unfair?" Kelly asked. "It's a distraction from how we actually solve the problem. <strong>You know it's also the question Barack Obama wants to focus on," Cruz said.</strong></p> <p>"But why is it so hard?" Kelly asked. "Why don't you just say yes or no?"</p> </blockquote> <p>This is Ted Cruz showing off his debating skills. His supporters hate the mainstream media and they hate President Obama, so Cruz adroitly turns this into a show of defiance against both. "I'm not playing that game," he insists, the courage practically oozing out of his pores.</p> <p>Nice job, senator!</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 26 Aug 2015 15:59:23 +0000 Kevin Drum 282696 at http://www.motherjones.com Did Donald Trump Discover Religion in 2011? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/08/did-donald-trump-discover-religion-2011 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Here is Donald Trump on religion <a href="http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0411/52942.html" target="_blank">in a 2011 interview:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>&ldquo;I believe in God. I am Christian. I think The Bible is certainly, it is THE book,' Trump told CBN's David Brody.</p> <p>....When asked by Brody about whether he keeps a lot of Bibles, Trump said, "Well I get sent Bibles by a lot of people... we keep them at a certain place. <strong>A very nice place.</strong> But people send me Bibles. And you know, it's very interesting. I get so much mail, and because I'm in this incredible location in Manhattan, you can't keep most of the mail you get.</p> </blockquote> <p>I put this up for two reasons. First, Trump's claim that he puts all the Bibles he receives in "a very nice place" is pretty amusing. I'd like to see this Taj Mahal of Bible storage! Second, it's the earliest reference I can find to Trump talking about religion.</p> <p>I don't have access to a good news database, so I can't really say for sure that Trump never displayed any religious tendencies before this. I <em>can</em> say that even though he's a Presbyterian, he got married in 2005 in an Episcopalian church. And when his daughter Ivanka converted to Judaism, he apparently had no problem with it. That's not much, but it's all I've got.</p> <p>So what's the deal with Trump and religion? He seems to have discovered it pretty conveniently during his slow-but-steady conversion process into a viable Republican presidential candidate, but maybe not. Maybe he's been a regular churchgoer all along. Does anyone know?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 26 Aug 2015 15:27:10 +0000 Kevin Drum 282691 at http://www.motherjones.com Quote of the Day: Donald Trump is the "Political Equivalent of Chaff" http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/08/quote-day-donald-trump-political-equivalent-chaff <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>By now everyone has heard of Donald Trump's run-in with Univision reporter Jorge Ramos at his press conference yesterday. But just because it was so<iframe align="right" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="258" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/FnsytGGNh58" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;" width="400"></iframe> entertaining, I'm going to quote conservative blogger Leon Wolf at length <a href="http://www.redstate.com/2015/08/25/awesome-terrible-majesty-donald-trump-press-conference/" target="_blank">about the whole affair:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Donald Trump just held a press conference prior to a speech in Iowa which was&nbsp;&mdash; and I say this without exaggeration&nbsp;&mdash; the most bizarre thing I have seen in a lifetime of following politics. It was at once an illustration of why the media fixates on him, and also why the other candidates in the race cannot deal with him.</p> <p>He opened the conference by yelling at Univision anchor Jorge Ramos, who he claimed asked a question without being called on. He continued to yell at Ramos at some length about being out of turn, <strong>then turned to one of his campaign staffers, nodded, and pointed at Ramos, whereupon the staffer removed Ramos from the conference.</strong> (Note: I would have zero problem on principle with throwing Ramos out of a press conference on the merits).</p> <p><strong>The next reporter&rsquo;s question, naturally, was, &ldquo;Why did you have him thrown out?&rdquo; Amazingly, Trump responded to this question, I&rsquo;m not kidding, by answering, &ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t have him thrown out, you&rsquo;ll have to ask security, whoever they are.&rdquo;</strong> When reporters pressed him with the obvious fact that the person who had him removed was on his staff (he appeared to be wearing a Trump button even, but I can&rsquo;t swear to that), he immediately changed his tune to say that it was because the reporter was a &ldquo;highly emotional person,&rdquo; with no mention of the fact that <em>30 seconds earlier he had been denying that he had Ramos thrown out at all.</em></p> <p>....When a politician goofs once, it&rsquo;s easy for that to get stuck in the feedback loop of the media and other candidates.</p> <p>Watching Donald Trump speak and answer questions, though, is like watching a billion targets appear in the sky all at once, for a political opponent. <strong>Each thing he says is so bizarre, or ill informed, or demonstrably false, or un presidential in tone or character, that it becomes impossible to know which target to lock on to or focus on.</strong> And to the extent that he makes a policy statement, it is so hopelessly vague and ludicrous that it&rsquo;s impossible to know where to begin, at least within the context of the 30-second soundbite that the modern political consumer requires (and chances are, he will say something diametrically opposed to it before the press conference is over anyway).</p> <p><strong>Donald Trump is the political equivalent of chaff,</strong> a billion shiny objects all floating through the sky at once, ephemeral, practically without substance, serving almost exclusively to distract from more important things&nbsp;&mdash; yet nonetheless completely impossible to ignore.</p> </blockquote> <p>I have only one point to make here: Ramos was being a jerk and a bully, but in the end, he was only doing to Trump what Trump does to everyone else. And that made the whole thing worthwhile because we learned what happened when Trump is faced with someone willing to be as much of a bully as he is: he couldn't handle it, so he had the guy thrown out and then lied about doing it.</p> <p>Needless to say, he can't have the Secret Service toss Vladimir Putin or Xi Jinping out of the room if he gets annoyed at them. So what does he think he's going to do? If he can't even handle Jorge Ramos, how is he going to handle Enrique Pe&ntilde;a Nieto?</p> <p>And then there's the inevitable question: will this episode hurt or help Trump? Answer: It will hurt him with Hispanics, of course, but Trump doesn't care. He's playing entirely for the Republican base right now, and they're going to love this. If he has the guts to toss out Jorge Ramos, maybe that means he'll have the guts to deport 11 million illegal immigrants too. Vote Trump!</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 26 Aug 2015 14:47:58 +0000 Kevin Drum 282686 at http://www.motherjones.com All of Our Negotiating Partners Think the Iran Deal Is Just Fine http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/08/all-our-negotiating-partners-think-iran-deal-just-fine <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The <em>New York Times</em> reports that the Iran deal is <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/25/world/europe/europe-doesnt-share-us-concerns-on-iran-deal.html" target="_blank">just a big yawn in Europe:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The matter is settled, according to Camille Grand, director of the Strategic Research Foundation in Paris and an expert on nuclear nonproliferation. <strong>&ldquo;In Europe, you don&rsquo;t have a constituency against the deal,&rdquo;</strong> he said. &ldquo;In France, I can&rsquo;t think of a single politician or member of the expert community who has spoken against it, including some of us who were critical during the negotiations.&rdquo;</p> <p>Mr. Grand said the final agreement was better than he had expected. &ldquo;I was surprised by the depth and the quality of the deal,&rdquo; he said. <strong>&ldquo;The hawks are satisfied, and the doves don&rsquo;t have an argument.&rdquo;</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>No arguments? I got your arguments right here. <em>24 days! Self-inspections! $150 billion! Death to America! Neville Chamberlain!</em></p> <p>If the Europeans have no arguments against the deal, they aren't even trying. They should try calling the Republican Party for a set of serious, detailed, and principled talking points.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 25 Aug 2015 22:18:54 +0000 Kevin Drum 282671 at http://www.motherjones.com CBO: Slow Growth Is the New Normal http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/08/cbo-slow-growth-new-normal <!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_cbo_output_gap_2015_08_25.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 24px;">Here's something that ought to be good news: according to the CBO, the output gap&mdash;the difference between actual GDP and potential GDP&mdash;should disappear by the end of 2017. This depends on the recovery continuing, of course, but still. It's nice to see that the economy will probably be running at full steam within a couple of years.</p> <p>Except that the news isn't so rosy once you understand <em>why</em> the CBO thinks the output gap will shrink to zero. It's not because GDP growth is great. It's because <a href="https://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/114th-congress-2015-2016/reports/50724-BudEconOutlook.pdf" target="_blank">potential GDP growth is kind of sucky:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>CBO projects that real potential output over the 2020&ndash;2025 period will grow by 2.1 percent per year, on average. That figure is substantially lower than the agency&rsquo;s estimate of the rate of growth that occurred during the business cycles from 1981 to 2007&mdash;3.1 percent per year, on average....According to CBO&rsquo;s estimates, <strong>the recession and the ensuing slow recovery have weakened the factors that determine potential output (labor supply, capital services, and productivity) for an extended period.</strong></p> <p>....The main reason that potential output is projected to grow more slowly than it did in the earlier business cycles is that <strong>CBO expects growth in the potential labor force (the labor force adjusted for variations caused by the business cycle) to be much slower than it was earlier.</strong> Growth in the potential labor force will be held down by the ongoing retirement of the baby boomers; by a relatively stable labor force participation rate among working-age women, after sharp increases from the 1960s to the mid-1990s; and by federal tax and spending policies set in current law, which will reduce some people&rsquo;s incentives to work.</p> </blockquote> <p>CBO is basically buying into the secular stagnation theory here. The recession, along with demographic factors, has caused a permanent slowdown in the potential capacity of the US economy. Slow growth is the new normal.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 25 Aug 2015 19:26:26 +0000 Kevin Drum 282656 at http://www.motherjones.com What Would It Take to Engineer a 4% Inflation Rate? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/08/what-would-it-take-engineer-4-inflation-rate <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>If interest rates are 0 percent but inflation is running at 2 percent, then your real interest rate is -2 percent. It's easy to see how this works. If you borrow $100 for one year, then not only do you pay no interest on the loan, but you get to pay it back with dollars that are worth less. That's a bargain.</p> <p>But maybe it's not enough of a bargain. If the economy is in really weak shape, even -2 percent might be high enough to make you think twice before borrowing to build a new factory that could end up laying idle and costing you a bundle. Maybe it would take -4 percent to get you off your butt.</p> <p>But how do you do that? You'd need negative interest rates to go along with your 2 percent inflation. The answer is more inflation. If you keep interest rates at zero, but inflation is running at 4 percent, then voila! You have an interest rate of -4 percent. But not everyone <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_interest_rate_drop.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">agrees that this would be a good idea. <a href="http://www.bradford-delong.com/2015/08/must-re-read-yes-you-do-need-to-reread-this-and-i-do-still-find-myself-disturbed-by-a-division-in-the-ranks-of-those-o.html" target="_blank">Here is Brad DeLong:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>I...find myself disturbed by a division in the ranks of those of us economists who I think have some idea of what the elephant in the room is. Some of us&mdash;Rogoff, Krugman, Blanchard, me&mdash;think our deep macro economic problems could be largely solved by the adoption and successful maintenance of a 4%/year inflation target in the North Atlantic. Others&mdash;Summers, Bernanke&mdash;do not. They appear to think that a strongly negative natural real safe rate of interest (there's at mouthful!) will cause significant problems even if 4%/year inflation allows a demand-stabilizing central bank to successfully do its job without hitting the zero lower bound.</p> </blockquote> <p>Generally speaking, I'm in DeLong's camp. But here's my question: what makes him think that the Fed can engineer 4 percent inflation right now? And what would it take?</p> <p>I ask this because it's conventional wisdom that a central bank can engineer any level of inflation it wants if it's sufficiently committed and credible about it. And that's true. But my sense recently has been that, in practice, it's harder to increase inflation than it sounds. The Bank of Japan has been trying to hit the very modest goal of 2 percent inflation for a while now and has had no success. Lately it's all but given up. "It's true that the timing for achieving 2 percent inflation has been delayed somewhat," <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/04/30/japan-economy-boj-idUSL4N0XR0KS20150430" target="_blank">the BOJ chief admitted a few months ago,</a> in a statement that bears an uncomfortable similarity to the emperor's declaration in 1945 that "the war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan's advantage."</p> <p>So I'm curious. Given the current state of the economy, what open market operations would be required to hit a 4 percent inflation goal? How big would they have to be? How long would they have to last? What other extraordinary measures might be necessary? I've never seen a concrete technical analysis of just how much it would take to get to 4 percent. Does anybody have one?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 25 Aug 2015 18:09:49 +0000 Kevin Drum 282651 at http://www.motherjones.com Hispanics Really, Really Hate Donald Trump http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/08/hispanics-really-really-hate-donald-trump <!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.gallup.com/poll/184814/hispanics-frown-trump-not-rest-gop-field.aspx" target="_blank">Gallup posted a pretty dramatic chart today.</a> It shows net favorability among Hispanics for the Republican presidential candidates, and for 16 of them it ranges from +11 (Jeb Bush) to -7 (Ted Cruz). <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_hispanic_gop_favorability.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">That's a fairly narrow band. But for Donald Trump, net favorability clocks in at -51.</p> <p>-51! For Hillary Clinton, net favorability is +40.</p> <p>How much does this matter? Potentially a lot. Between 2012 and 2016, the Hispanic share of the US population will increase by about 2 percentage points. That doesn't sound like a lot, but recent elections have all been close calls. If the Hispanic share of the population grows <em>and</em> they vote in ever greater numbers for Democrats, that could easily make a difference of 1 or 2 percentage points. And that could end up being the difference between victory and defeat.</p> <p>And it could be even worse than that. In some swing states like Florida and Nevada, the Hispanic share of the population will <a href="https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/immigration/report/2015/01/06/101605/the-changing-face-of-americas-electorate/" target="_blank">increase by 3 percentage points</a> between 2012 and 2016. Those states will soon be out of reach for Republican candidates if Hispanics flock to the Democratic Party in ever greater numbers.</p> <p>"Amateurs talk strategy, professionals talk logistics." There's a lot of blather right now about how Trump is appealing to populism, appealing to the disenfranchised, appealing to all the anger out there. But that's strategy. If you're smart, you'll let the amateurs keep blathering while the professionals look at the cold realities of demographic trends and voter turnout. On that score, Trump is doing nothing but damage to the GOP.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 25 Aug 2015 16:57:06 +0000 Kevin Drum 282636 at http://www.motherjones.com "Accident" vs. "Crash": Round 2 http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/08/accident-vs-crash-round-2 <!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_car_crash.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">I never thought I'd be writing about this a second time, but here goes: Round 2 on "accident" vs. "crash." Here's a sample of Twitter reaction to my post on the subject yesterday morning:</p> <blockquote> <p><strong>@emilymbadger:</strong> advocates would say this [i.e., drivers are rarely punished for killing pedestrians] is one consequence of a culture of "accidents": <a href="http://t.co/dJVUnJNcKi" target="_blank">http://t.co/dJVUnJNcKi</a></p> <p><strong>@DroptheAword:</strong> 30k people die on US roads each yr. Acceptance of this as inevitable come from the &ldquo;accidents happen&rdquo; mindset.</p> <p><strong>@jakekthompson:</strong> Calling a crash an "accident" takes blame away from the cause, and removes incentive to fix the problem.</p> </blockquote> <p>The problem is that these are just assertions, not arguments. There doesn't appear to be any evidence at all to back them up. I myself doubt that the word "accident" has any significant effect on how people view traffic safety, but then, I don't have any evidence either.</p> <p>Now, it's not as if everything in the world demands a battery of rigorous studies. There's nothing wrong with just trying to persuade people. But in this case, a lot of energy and attention will be spent on this that could be spent on other campaigns to improve road safety, so it would be nice to have at least a little bit of research that's on point. It wouldn't be too hard to get a start on this, either. Read this paragraph:</p> <blockquote> <p>A teenager from Smithville is in critical condition after a Monday morning <strong>accident</strong> in Jonesville that is being investigated as a hit and run. The teen's car was struck from behind by an Oldsmobile and then crossed into the northbound lane, where it was struck in the side by a Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck. The driver of the Oldsmobile left the scene of the <strong>accident</strong>, and his or her identity has not been determined.</p> </blockquote> <p>Now read this one:</p> <blockquote> <p>A teenager from Smithville is in critical condition after a Monday morning <strong>collision</strong> in Jonesville that is being investigated as a hit and run. The teen's car was struck from behind by an Oldsmobile and then crossed into the northbound lane, where it was struck in the side by a Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck. The driver of the Oldsmobile left the scene of the <strong>crash</strong>, and his or her identity has not been determined.</p> </blockquote> <p>Does this alter your perception of what happened? Social scientists do this kind of research all the time, showing random subsets of subjects slightly different write-ups and then asking follow-up questions to see if the changes make any difference. This would hardly be conclusive, but it's relatively easy to do and would provide at least a bit of evidence one way or another.</p> <p>So: are there any enterprising grad students out there who want to take a crack at this? Or, better yet, someone who's already done it?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 25 Aug 2015 16:03:50 +0000 Kevin Drum 282631 at http://www.motherjones.com Republicans Will Survive Their Destruction Derby Primary Just Fine http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/08/republicans-will-survive-their-destruction-derby-primary-just-fine <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>I would like to highlight two common claims about presidential primaries that I see a lot:</p> <ul><li>Having lots of candidates and a long race is a big problem. When the Republicans have finished beating each other up this year, the eventual winner will be too exhausted to win in November. All that Hillary Clinton will have to do is roll the tape of her opponent being slagged by fellow Republicans, and she'll waltz into the White House.</li> <li>Having no competition is a big problem. Democrats would be much better off if Hillary Clinton had some serious challengers who sharpened her campaign skills and took a little bit of the spotlight off her.</li> </ul><p>As near as I can tell, there is zero evidence for either claim. Off the top of my head, I'd say you can very occasionally make the claim that a primary battle matters&mdash;the 1968 Democratic race comes obviously to mind&mdash;but most of the time the candidate who emerges at the end seems to be unhurt by either too much or too little competition.</p> <p>Does anyone know of any backup for either of these claims? I've never seen any. Republicans are putting the first one to a kind of destruction test this year, but even so I'll bet the eventual winner is in pretty normal shape by Labor Day.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 25 Aug 2015 15:04:23 +0000 Kevin Drum 282626 at http://www.motherjones.com Jeb Bush Gives Away the Game on "Anchor Babies" http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/08/jeb-bush-gives-away-game-anchor-babies <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Jeb Bush wants us all to chill out about <a href="http://time.com/4008888/jeb-bush-anchor-baby-asians/" target="_blank">his use of the term "anchor babies":</a></p> <blockquote> <p>What I was talking about was the specific case of fraud being committed. Frankly it&rsquo;s <strong>more related to Asian people</strong> coming into our country, having <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_bush_anchor_baby.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">children, and....taking advantage of a noble concept, which is birthright citizenship.</p> </blockquote> <p>Um....no. Bush initially used the term in a <a href="http://www.billbennett.com/audio/gov-jeb-bush-talks-education-va-system-reforms-and-how-he-will-handle-donald-trump/" target="_blank">radio interview with Bill Bennett.</a> The conversation was entirely about Donald Trump's immigration plan, securing our southern border, and dealing with our third-largest trading partner. In other words, it was all about Mexico. Bush was very definitely not talking about Asians.</p> <p>And if he was, there's already a perfectly good term to use: birth tourism. It's well known, well documented, and clearly a growing phenomenon. There's no need to describe it using a term that many people find offensive, since there's already one available.</p> <p>Basically, Bush is tap dancing here. But he's also doing us a favor. In my tedious discussion of "anchor babies" on Saturday, I concluded that its offensiveness depended on whether it was an actual problem in the first place. Bush is pretty much conceding that it's not&mdash;at least as it refers to illegal immigration from Mexico. But if it's rare or nonexistent, then you're imputing offensive behavior to immigrant mothers for something they don't do. And that does indeed make it offensive.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 24 Aug 2015 22:33:35 +0000 Kevin Drum 282616 at http://www.motherjones.com It's Now Open Season on China http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/08/its-now-open-season-china <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>In the midst of Trumpmania, it's good to see that some things never change. <a href="http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/scott-walker-xi-jinping-markets" target="_blank">Here is Scott Walker today:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Americans are struggling to cope with the fall in today's markets driven in part by China's slowing economy and the fact that they actively manipulate their economy....massive cyberattacks....militarization of the South China Sea....economy....persecution of Christians....There's serious work to be done rather than pomp and circumstance. We need to see some backbone from President Obama on U.S.-China relations.</p> </blockquote> <p>China bashing is the little black dress of presidential campaigns: always appropriate, always in style.</p> <p>Of course, Donald "China is killing us!" Trump got there before Walker. And more than that: he not only bashed China, but was able to claim that he'd been warning of this all along. If only we'd sent Carl Icahn over there from the start, things would be OK today.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 24 Aug 2015 21:56:34 +0000 Kevin Drum 282611 at http://www.motherjones.com "Crash" vs. "Accident" Doesn't Seem Like It Matters Very Much http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/08/crash-vs-accident-doesnt-seem-it-matters-very-much <!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_traffic_pileup.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Emily Badger passes along news of a group trying to get us all to <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/08/24/when-a-car-crash-isnt-an-accident-and-why-the-difference-matters/" target="_blank">stop talking about traffic "accidents":</a></p> <blockquote> <p>An "accident" is, by definition, unintentional. We accidentally drop dinner plates, or send e-mails before we're done writing them. <strong>The word also suggests something of the unforeseen &mdash; an event that couldn't have been anticipated, for which no one can be blamed. </strong>That second connotation is what irks transportation advocates who want to change how we talk about traffic collisions. When one vehicle careens into another or rounds a corner into a pedestrian &mdash; call it a "crash," they say, not an "accident."</p> <p>"Our children did not die in 'accidents,'" says Amy Cohen, a co-founder of the New York-based group Families for Safe Streets. Her 12-year-old son was hit and killed by a van on the street in front of their home in 2013. <strong>"An 'accident,'" she says, "implies that nothing could have been done to prevent their deaths."</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>I remember this from my driver's ed class 40 years ago. Our instructor told us endlessly that they were "collisions," not accidents. But we're still talking about accidents 40 years later, so apparently this is a tough habit to break.</p> <p>And the truth is that I didn't really get it back then. I still don't. "Accident" doesn't imply that something is unforeseeable, or that no one can be blamed, or that nothing could possibly have been done to prevent it. Here's the definition:</p> <blockquote> <p><em><strong>noun.</strong></em> an undesirable or unfortunate happening <strong>that occurs unintentionally</strong> and usually results in harm, injury, damage, or loss; casualty; mishap.</p> </blockquote> <p>"Unintentional" is the key word here. If you drop the dinner dishes, it's unintentional unless you're pissed off at your family and deliberately threw the dishes at them. Then it's not an accident. Ditto for cars. If you deliberately run over someone, it's not an accident. If it's not deliberate, it is.</p> <p>Nearly all "accidents" are foreseeable (lots of people drop dinner dishes); have someone to blame (probably the person who dropped the dishes); and can be prevented (stop carrying the dishes with one hand). The same is true of automobile collisions. Driving while drunk, or texting, or speeding are all things that make accidents more likely. We can work to prevent those things and we can assign blame when accidents happen&mdash;and we do.</p> <p>I have a tendency to use the word "collision" because I was brainwashed 40 years ago, but it's hard to see that it makes much difference. Here is Caroline Samponaro, deputy director at Transportation Alternatives:</p> <blockquote> <p>"If we stopped using that word, as individuals, as a city, in a national context, what questions do we have to start asking ourselves about these crashes?" says Caroline Samponaro, deputy director at Transportation Alternatives. How did they happen? Who was to blame? An erratic driver? A faulty vehicle? A perpetually dangerous intersection?</p> </blockquote> <p>I'm mystified. We already do all that stuff. Collisions are routinely investigated. Fault is determined. The NTSA tracks potential safety problems in vehicles. Municipal traffic departments make changes to intersections. We pass drunk driving laws. We suspend the licenses of dangerous drivers.</p> <p>So it doesn't seem to me that use of the word "accident" is either wrong or perilous. If we had a history of ignoring automobile safety because it was common to just shrug and ask "whaddaya gonna do?" you could make a case for this. But we don't.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 24 Aug 2015 19:18:33 +0000 Kevin Drum 282591 at http://www.motherjones.com Good Stuff on the Intertubes Today http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/08/good-stuff-intertubes-today <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Everyone is writing about my pet topics today!</p> <ul><li><a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/25/upshot/no-you-do-not-have-to-drink-8-glasses-of-water-a-day.html" target="_blank">Aaron Carroll</a> busts the myth that you should drink eight glasses of water every day.</li> <li><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2015/05/food-irradiation" target="_blank">Kiera Butler</a> sings the praises of food irradiation.</li> <li><a href="http://www.vox.com/2015/8/24/9195129/h-r-block" target="_blank">Dylan Matthews</a> writes that Intuit and H&amp;R Block continue to oppose any effort to make taxes easier to file.</li> <li><a href="http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/2/f664a7e0-4978-11e5-b558-8a9722977189.html" target="_blank">Larry Summers</a> makes the case for continued low interest rates because "the global economy has difficulty generating demand for all that can be produced."</li> </ul><p>Go read them all.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 24 Aug 2015 17:26:52 +0000 Kevin Drum 282586 at http://www.motherjones.com President Obama Is the Anti-Lame Duck http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/08/president-obama-anti-lame-duck <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Quentin Tarantino <a href="http://www.vulture.com/2015/08/quentin-tarantino-lane-brown-in-conversation.html" target="_blank">really likes President Obama:</a></p> <blockquote> <p><strong>You supported Obama. How do you think he&rsquo;s done?</strong></p> <p>I think he&rsquo;s fantastic. He&rsquo;s my favorite president, hands down, of my lifetime. He&rsquo;s been awesome this past year. Especially the rapid, one-after-another-after-another-after-another aspect of it. It&rsquo;s almost like take no prisoners. His he-doesn&rsquo;t-give-a-shit attitude has just been so cool. Everyone always talks about these lame-duck presidents. I&rsquo;ve never seen anybody end with this kind of ending. All the people who supported him along the way that questioned this or that and the other? All of their questions are being answered now.</p> </blockquote> <p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_panda_mei_xiang.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Rapid fire indeed. In no particular order, here's a baker's dozen list of his major actions in the nine months since the 2014 midterm elections:</p> <ol><li>Normalized relations with Cuba.</li> <li>Signed a climate deal with China.</li> <li>Issued new EPA ozone rules.</li> <li>Successfully argued in favor of same-sex marriage before the Supreme Court.</li> <li>Put in place economic sanctions on Russia that have Vladimir Putin reeling.</li> <li>Pressured the FCC to approve net neutrality rules.</li> <li>Issued new EPA coal regulations.</li> <li>Issued an executive order on immigration.</li> <li>Got fast-track authority for the Trans-Pacific Partnership and seems poised to pass it.</li> <li>Signed a nuclear deal with Iran and appears on track to get it passed.</li> <li>Won yet another Supreme Court case keeping Obamacare intact.</li> <li>Issued new rules that increase the number of "managers" who qualify for overtime pay.</li> <li>Presided over the birth of twin giant panda babies at the National Zoo in Washington, DC.</li> </ol><p>I sure hope those baby pandas survive. It would be a shame if Obama's legacy were marred by insufficient maternal attention from Mei Xiang.</p> <p><strong>UPDATE:</strong> <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2015/08/24/how-obamas-active-second-term-is-shaping-the-2016-presidential-race/" target="_blank">Greg Sargent comments:</a> "What&rsquo;s particularly striking is how many of these major moves have been embraced by likely Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and have been opposed by the 2016 GOP presidential candidates." In other words, Obama's late-term actions will provide much of the contrast between the likely Democratic and Republican nominees next year.</p> <blockquote> <p>That&rsquo;s partly because Clinton is reconstituting the Obama coalition of millennials, minorities, and socially liberal, college educated whites, who are more likely to support (and care about) action to combat climate change, immigration reform, relaxing relations with Cuba, active government to expand health coverage, and so forth. It&rsquo;s also partly because the Clinton camp genuinely sees these issue contrasts as useful to the broader mission of painting the GOP as trapped in the past. It&rsquo;s possible the Clinton team thinks it can pull off a balancing act in which she signals she&rsquo;d take the presidency in her own direction while vowing to make progress on Obama&rsquo;s major initiatives and excoriating Republicans for wanting to re-litigate them and roll them back.</p> </blockquote> <p>Also, too, because Obama and Clinton are both liberals, and are naturally likely to agree on the general direction of the country in the first place. It's worth remembering that a lot of Democrats struggled in 2008 to find much daylight between the two.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 24 Aug 2015 16:13:00 +0000 Kevin Drum 282581 at http://www.motherjones.com Fragile Global Economy Is Starting to Crack Up http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/08/fragile-global-economy-starting-crack <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>I woke up a little late this morning, but maybe that turned out to be a good thing. The Dow Jones plunged a thousand points within minutes of opening, but by the time I saw the news it had already recouped about half of that loss:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_djia_2015_08_24.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 1px;"></p> <p>You can probably guess <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/business/wp/2015/08/24/new-day-of-carnage-for-financial-markets-amid-global-selloff/?hpid=z1" target="_blank">what triggered this:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The stock drop was fueled by what China&rsquo;s state media is already calling &ldquo;Black Monday,&rdquo; in which markets there recorded their biggest one-day plunge in eight years amid growing fears over an economic slowdown.</p> <p>On Friday, China reported its worst manufacturing results since the global financial crisis, a new sign of woe for the world&rsquo;s second-largest economy, which surprised investors earlier this month by announcing it would devalue its currency. China&rsquo;s benchmark Shanghai Composite index has fallen by nearly 40 percent since June, after soaring more than 140 percent last year.</p> </blockquote> <p>Markets around the world are crashing, and as usual that means <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-stocks-set-to-tumble-again-as-global-market-selloff-continues-1440418890" target="_blank">seeking safety in the good old US of A:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Investors stampeded into relatively safe assets such as U.S. government bonds, the Swiss franc and the yen. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note dropped below 2% during Asian trading and recently was 1.976%, the lowest level since April.</p> <p>....&ldquo;A lot of markets abroad have seen a low amount of liquidity so investors are turning to the U.S. market to hedge,&rdquo; said Jeffrey Yu, head of single-stock derivatives trading at UBS AG....While the selloff began as an emerging markets story, with China&rsquo;s stock market offering very little liquidity to investors due in part to technical stock-trading halts, investors have had to turn to the most liquid market to sell, which is the U.S., Mr. Yu said.</p> </blockquote> <p><em>Now</em> can we finally get a statement from the Fed saying that they no longer have any immediate plans to raise interest rates? Please?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 24 Aug 2015 15:06:34 +0000 Kevin Drum 282576 at http://www.motherjones.com