Kevin Drum Feed | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/Blogs/2013/01/quote-day-how-not-be-%20%40 http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en For the First Time Ever, Social Conservatives No Longer Outnumber Social Liberals in America http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/first-time-ever-conservatives-no-longer-outnumber-liberals-america <!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.washingtonmonthly.com/political-animal-a/2015_05/no_more_social_conservative_te055694.php" target="_blank">Via Ed Kilgore,</a> here's an interesting chart <a href="http://www.gallup.com/poll/183386/social-ideology-left-catches-right.aspx" target="_blank">from the good folks at Gallup:</a></p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_gallup_liberal_conservative_1.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 15px 55px;"></p> <p>What's interesting about this is that the change is due almost entirely to Democrats and Democratic leaners. Since 1999, that group has gone from 35 percent socially liberal to 53 percent, and from 20 percent socially conservative to 14 percent conservative.</p> <p>Republicans and Republican leaners, by contrast, have barely budged. In the 2015 polling there's a slight dip in conservative ID and a slight spike in moderate ID, but it's probably just noise. Generally speaking, the lines are pretty flat over the past couple of decades.</p> <p>So why have Democrats changed so much? Perhaps it's the impact of Millennials. Perhaps it's the impact of gay marriage, which Democrats have been far more willing to accept than Republicans. Maybe MSNBC and liberal blogs have had a bigger impact than I would have guessed. I'm not sure. But the increase has been steady enough that it can't be blamed on any specific event, like the Bush presidency or the financial crisis.</p> <p>In any case, this really is a milestone. For a long time, one of the rocks of political analysis in America has been the simple fact that conservatives outnumber liberals. That's been true since at least the 60s, and probably for the entire postwar period&mdash;and it's been a perpetual millstone around Democratic necks. They couldn't win national elections just by getting the liberal vote and a little bit of the center-right vote. They had to get a <em>lot</em> of the center-right vote.</p> <p>But it now looks like that era is coming to an end. With social issues increasingly defining politics, a social liberal is, for all practical purposes, just a plain old liberal&mdash;and the trend of <a href="http://www.gallup.com/poll/180452/liberals-record-trail-conservatives.aspx" target="_blank">increasing liberal ID is already underway.</a> It's still got a ways to go, but the liberal-conservative gap is definitely closing. This probably goes a long way toward explaining why Hillary Clinton and other Democrats seem much more willing to move left than in the past. It's because they no longer think they have to capture a huge chunk of the moderate vote to win. They still need some moderates in their camp, but they no longer need to capture two-thirds or more of them. Like Republicans, they can make do with half or even a bit less.</p> <p><strong>UPDATE:</strong> The headline initially just said "liberal" and "conservative" without mentioning that it was about <em>social</em> liberals and conservatives. Too much shorthand. Sorry about that. I've changed the headline and a few words of the text to make everything clear.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 22 May 2015 16:40:29 +0000 Kevin Drum 275726 at http://www.motherjones.com Friday Cat Blogging Counterpoint: I Don't Care About Your Cute Cat http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/cats-dogs-pets-pandas-whatever <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><em>While Kevin Drum is <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/04/housekeeping-note" target="_blank">focused on getting better</a>, we've invited some remarkable writers, thinkers, and Friends of Kevin to contribute posts and keep the conversation going. Today, in the spirit of open debate, we interrupt our regularly scheduled <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/friday-cat-blogging-22-may-2015" target="_blank">cat blogging</a> for a counterpoint by <a href="http://annfriedman.com/clips" target="_blank">writer</a>, <a href="http://annfriedman.com/day-jobs" target="_blank">editor</a>, <a href="http://annfriedman.com/cyg" target="_blank">podcaster</a>, <a href="http://annfriedman.com/speaking" target="_blank">speaker</a>, <a href="http://annfriedman.com/tagged/pie+charts" target="_blank">chartisan</a>, <a href="https://tinyletter.com/annfriedman" target="_blank">newsletterer</a>, and <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2006/11/mail-order-abortions" target="_blank">former </a></em><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2006/11/mail-order-abortions" target="_blank">MoJo</a><em><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2006/11/mail-order-abortions" target="_blank">er</a></em><em> <a href="http://annfriedman.com/bio" target="_blank">Ann Friedman</a>.</em></p> <p>I don't like cats. And it's even worse than you think: I don't like dogs, either. In fact, I have virtually no interest in animals at all&mdash;even eating them. I am really happy that you are comforted by the presence of your dog. I am thrilled that you and your cat "rescued each other." But, no, I do not want to cuddle with or even see photos of your pet. And please don't bother sending me that video of <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Se6flT2EWs">baby red pandas</a> cuddling each other or a <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Co3N4-6B2pM">lion reuniting</a> with its long-lost human pal.</p> <p>I feel nothing.</p> <p>On this point, especially among my feminist peers on the internet, I am in the minority. In honor of the man who <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/28/technology/circuits/28cats.html">pioneered Friday cat blogging</a>, I'm going to reckon with the fact that I am just not very interested in furry creatures. The last time I wrote about this was seven years ago, in ancient internet times when I was a blogger for <em>Feministing</em> and <a href="http://feministing.com/2007/08/31/friday_anticat_blogging_1/">dared</a> to do some "Friday anti-catblogging." The commenters weren't having it. "I honestly think that there is a valuable conversation to be had about the correlation of cat-hating with misogyny," one wrote.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/kevin-drum/2015/05/cats-dogs-pets-pandas-whatever"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Kevin Drum Animals Top Stories Fri, 22 May 2015 16:34:47 +0000 Ann Friedman 275621 at http://www.motherjones.com Friday Cat Blogging - 22 May 2015 http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/friday-cat-blogging-22-may-2015 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>One of the reasons we got a pair of sibling cats last year is because I've always wanted a couple of cats who would sleep together in an adorable little kitty pile. And that's worked out pretty well. Is there anything cuter than Hilbert and Hopper snoozing together in the picture below? I don't think so. I really don't.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_hilbert_hopper_2015_05_21.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 40px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 22 May 2015 16:00:12 +0000 Kevin Drum 275711 at http://www.motherjones.com Don't Panic: Health Insurance Rates Aren't About to Rise by 50 Percent http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/dont-panic-health-insurance-rates-arent-about-rise-50-percent <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Here's the latest Fox News bait <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/health-insurers-seek-hefty-rate-boosts-1432244042?mod=trending_now_1" target="_blank">from the <em>Wall Street Journal</em>:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Major insurers in some states are proposing hefty rate boosts for plans sold under the federal health law, setting the stage for an intense debate this summer over the law&rsquo;s impact.</p> <p>In New Mexico, market leader Health Care Service Corp. is asking for an average jump of 51.6% in premiums for 2016. The biggest insurer in Tennessee, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, has requested an average 36.3% increase. In Maryland, market leader CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield wants to raise rates 30.4% across its products. Moda Health, the largest insurer on the Oregon health exchange, seeks an average boost of around 25%.</p> <p><strong>All of them cite high medical costs incurred by people newly enrolled under the Affordable Care Act.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Well, of course they do. It's a handy excuse, so why not use it?</p> <p>In any case, we've all seen this movie before. Republicans will latch onto it as evidence of how Obamacare is destroying American health care and it will enjoy a nice little run for them. Then, a few months from now, the real rate increases&mdash;the ones approved by state and federal authorities&mdash;will begin to trickle out. They'll mostly be in single digits, with a few in the low teens. The average for the entire country will end up being something like 4-8 percent.</p> <p>So don't panic. Sure, it's possible that the Obamacare shit has finally hit the fan, but probably not. Check back in October before you worry too much about stories like this.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Health Care Fri, 22 May 2015 14:53:32 +0000 Kevin Drum 275721 at http://www.motherjones.com Republicans Hate Obamacare Even If They Like Their Own Obamacare Plans http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/republicans-hate-obamacare-even-if-they-their-own-obamacare-plans <!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://kff.org/health-reform/poll-finding/survey-of-non-group-health-insurance-enrollees-wave-2/" target="_blank">A new Kaiser poll</a> gives us an in-depth look at what people think about health insurance plans purchased through an Obamacare exchange. Some of the results are unsurprising: people like plans with low deductibles; most say it was easy to shop for a plan; and most were pretty satisfied with the plans they purchased. But unless I'm badly misreading something, there's one result that's pretty gobsmacking. First off, here's a chart showing basic satisfaction levels with Obamacare plans:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_kaiser_obamacare_satisfaction_q1_2015.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 15px 15px;"></p> <p>That's pretty good. Positive responses increased a bit from 72 percent to 74 percent. That compares very favorably with satisfaction levels toward employer plans. But now take a look at this chart that breaks down Obamacare favorability attitudes by party:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_kaiser_obamacare_party_breakdown_q1_2015.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 15px 15px;"></p> <p>This is crazy. This isn't a general survey of all Americans. It's a survey specifically of people who don't have group coverage. Most of them (probably more than two-thirds) have actually purchased Obamacare plans and therefore have personal experience with them, but favorability is nonetheless still driven mostly by party ID. You can buy an ACA plan on the marketplace, get a subsidy, and be happy with your plan&mdash;but if you're a Republican you <em>still</em> overwhelmingly hate Obamacare by 74-25 percent.</p> <p>Folks, that is hardcore.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Health Care Thu, 21 May 2015 17:17:00 +0000 Kevin Drum 275666 at http://www.motherjones.com CNN Plans to Feature Peanut Gallery Debate as Warmup for Main Event http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/cnn-plans-feature-peanut-gallery-debate-warmup-main-event <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>CNN will be hosting the second Republican debate, and they've come up with a....unique way of dealing with the fact that there are just too damn many candidates. To handle the crowd, <a href="http://www.politico.com/blogs/media/2015/05/cnn-sets-criteria-for-second-gop-debate-207470.html?hp=rc2_4" target="_blank">they're going to have two separate debates:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>"The first 10 candidates&nbsp;&mdash; ranked from highest to lowest in polling order from an average of all qualifying polls released between July 16 and September 10 who satisfy the criteria requirements ... will be invited to participate in 'Segment B' of the September 16, 2015 Republican Presidential Primary Debate," the network states in its candidate criteria. "Candidates who satisfy the criteria and achieve an average of at least 1 percent in three national polls, but are not ranked in the top 10 of polling order will <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_cnn_debate_stage.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">be invited to participate in 'Segment A' of the September 16, 2015 Republican Presidential Primary Debate."</p> </blockquote> <p>Did you get that? All the yokels&mdash;Carly Fiorina, Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum, etc.&mdash;will go on first. They'll be sort of the warm-up act. Then they'll get shuffled off the stage and the big guns will have prime time all to themselves. This is pretty humiliating for the also-rans, but presumably if they play by the rules they'll have a chance to move up, just like in English Premier League soccer. Perhaps Rick Perry will stumble and get relegated to the minor leagues for the next debate, while Jindal will knock everyone's socks off and get promoted to the show. I don't know if I'd quite call this "fun," but it would certainly make for some interesting office pools.</p> <p>The first debate, which is hosted by Fox, will feature none of this nonsense. The top ten candidates will be invited to the debate, and that's that. If you're outside the top ten, you can watch the debate on your big-screen TV at home. Or, if Fox is feeling generous, perhaps the sad sacks polling at the 1% level will be allowed to while away their time in the spin room, where they can try to buttonhole reporters and explain why they really should have been up on the stage. Maybe the saddest story will win a prize.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 21 May 2015 15:29:12 +0000 Kevin Drum 275656 at http://www.motherjones.com By About 2020, We'll Probably Finally Know Whether a $15 Minimum Wage Is a Good Idea http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/2020-or-so-well-probably-finally-know-whether-15-minimum-wage-good-idea <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>So my near neighbor of Los Angeles is poised to raise the minimum wage to $15. How should we think of that?</p> <p>Personally, I'm thrilled. Not because I think it's a slam-dunk good idea, but because along with Seattle and San Francisco it will give us a great set of natural experiments to figure out what happens when you raise the minimum wage a lot. We can argue all we want; we can extrapolate from other countries; and we can create complex Greek-letter models to predict the effects&mdash;but we can't <em>know</em> until someone actually does it.</p> <p>So what do I think will happen? Several things:</p> <p>In the tradeable sector, such as clothing piece work and agriculture, the results are very likely to be devastating. Luckily, LA doesn't have much agriculture left, but it <em>does</em> have a lot of apparel manufacture. That could evaporate completely (worst case) or <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_los_angeles_15_minimum_wage.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">perhaps migrate just across the borders into Ventura, San Bernardino, and other nearby counties. Heavier manufacturing will likely be unaffected since most workers already make more than $15.</p> <p>In the food sector, people still need to eat, and they need to eat in Los Angeles. So there will probably be little damage there from outside competition. However, the higher minimum wage will almost certainly increase the incentive for fast food places to try to automate further and cut back on jobs. How many jobs this will affect is entirely speculative at this point.</p> <p>Other service industries, including everything from nail salons to education to health care will probably not be affected much. They pretty much have to stay in place in order to serve their local clientele, so they'll just raise wages and pass the higher prices on to customers.</p> <p>Likewise, retail, real estate, the arts, and professional services probably won't be affected too much. Retail has no place to go (though they might be able to automate some jobs away) while the others mostly pay more than $15 already. The hotel industry, by contrast, could easily become less competitive for convention business and end up shedding jobs.</p> <p>On the bright side, of course, a large number of low-income workers will see their wages rise. On the less bright side, <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/05/19/the-best-indication-of-what-a-federal-12-minimum-wage-could-mean-for-poor-places-comes-from-puerto-rico/" target="_blank">the experience of Puerto Rico</a> suggests that (a) employment losses could be as high as 9 percent, and (b) lots of low-wage workers will flee to other places.</p> <p>So if I had to guess, I'd say that Los Angeles will see (a) less poverty for low-wage workers who keep their jobs, and (b) higher prices for middle-class consumers, who will end up paying for the minimum wage hike. Since the poor spend more than the middle-class, this could be a net stimulus for the LA economy. On the downside, we're also pretty likely to see significant job losses. In other words, I agree with Adam Ozimek that we should not treat this as terra incognita <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/modeledbehavior/2015/05/20/uncertainty-about-15-minimum-wages-is-not-a-good-thing/" target="_blank">just because it's never been done before:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>It&rsquo;s true that the farther we go out of the historical sample, the more uncertain we are about the magnitude of the impact. But I think minimum wage advocates are taking the wrong message from this. After all, a $100 minimum wage would also be out of sample and subject to the same &ldquo;we have no clue&rdquo; and &ldquo;can&rsquo;t be on solid ground&rdquo; statements from Dube and Neumark. But this uncertainty is all in the direction of more job losses. <strong>When you enter unprecedented minimum wage hike territory your uncertainty goes up, but so undeniably does your risk of job losses.</strong> The idea that a minimum wage hike being of an unprecedented magnitude creates neutral uncertainty is like someone drinking more beer than they ever have just being uncertain about what it will do to their driving ability.</p> </blockquote> <p>So we'll see. My own guess is that $15 is too high. I would have supported something in the $10-12 range for a city as large and basically prosperous as Los Angeles. But $15? There's just too much uncertainty in a number that big, and the uncertainty almost all points in the direction of significant job losses.</p> <p>But I could be wrong! We now have three cities that are jumping into the deep end of the minimum wage debate, and that will eventually tell us more than all the speculation in the world combined. Fasten your seat belts.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 21 May 2015 14:23:46 +0000 Kevin Drum 275646 at http://www.motherjones.com Rand Paul's Latest Fundraiser Now Underway http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/rand-pauls-latest-fundraiser-now-underway <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>I see from the intertubes that Sen. Rand Paul has <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/live/2015/may/20/rand-paul-senate-filibuster-nsa-spying-patriot-act-live" target="_blank">begun another talking filibuster.</a> This time it's to protest <em>any</em> legislation that extends the NSA's ability to access metadata from phone calls, even if the data is held by <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_rand_paul_filibuster_0.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">the phone companies and available only by court order. Paul's filibuster will annoy a lot of people, but in the end I think I agree, for once, <a href="http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-rand-paul-filibuster-20150520-story.html#page=1" target="_blank">with John McCain:</a> "He'll get his headline and then we'll move on."</p> <p>That's pretty much the lay of the land. Paul will chew up some floor time, which might end up eating into Memorial Day weekend for the Senate, but since virtually no one agrees with his position, it's simply not going to accomplish anything. I'm even a little skeptical about the headlines. Frankly, once you've done the Jimmy Stewart bit once, its entertainment value starts to plummet.</p> <p>On the other hand, Paul seems to be mostly treating this as another great fundraising opportunity, and it might very well be. But that's probably all it will be.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 20 May 2015 19:17:37 +0000 Kevin Drum 275601 at http://www.motherjones.com Eight Good Lessons About Health Care — Plus a Ninth http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/eight-good-lessons-about-health-care-%E2%80%94-plus-ninth <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Over at Vox today, Sarah Kliff and Julia Belluz have a list of <a href="http://www.vox.com/2015/5/20/8621527/health-tips-reporter" target="_blank">eight things they now do differently</a> after reporting on health care for a combined decade between them. It's a great list, and unless I missed something I think I agree with every word on it. Even item #3, which has been, um, a bit of a challenge for me over the past six months.</p> <p>Of course, as with all collections of advice, even good ones, this one has an underlying ninth item: <em>don't be an idiot</em>. Sometimes guidelines need to be broken. But they're still good to keep in mind.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 20 May 2015 17:20:02 +0000 Kevin Drum 275581 at http://www.motherjones.com Big Banks Plead Guilty to Collusion, But Fines are Pocket Change http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/big-banks-plead-guilty-collusion-fines-are-pocket-change <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Five of the planet's biggest banks have finally been forced to plead guilty to <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/21/business/dealbook/5-big-banks-to-pay-billions-and-plead-guilty-in-currency-and-interest-rate-cases.html?hp&amp;action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;module=first-column-region&amp;region=top-news&amp;WT.nav=top-news" target="_blank">collusion charges in the foreign exchange market:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The Justice Department forced four of the banks &mdash; Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Barclays and the Royal Bank of Scotland &mdash; to plead guilty to antitrust violations in the foreign exchange market as part of a scheme that padded the banks&rsquo; profits and enriched the traders who carried out the plot....Underscoring the collusive nature of their contact, which often occurred in online chat rooms, <strong>one group of traders called themselves &ldquo;the cartel,&rdquo;</strong> an invitation-only club where stakes were so high that a newcomer was warned, &ldquo;Mess this up and sleep with one eye open.&rdquo; To carry out the scheme, one trader would typically build a huge position in a currency and then unload it at a <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_banks_foreign_exchange_collusion_0.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">crucial moment, hoping to move prices. Traders at the other banks agreed to, as New York State&rsquo;s financial regulator put it, <strong>&ldquo;stay out of each other&rsquo;s way.&rdquo;</strong></p> <p>....The guilty pleas, which the banks are expected to enter in federal court later on Wednesday, represent a first in a financial industry that has been dogged by numerous scandals and investigations since the 2008 financial crisis. Until now, banks have either had their biggest banking units or small subsidiaries plead guilty.</p> <p>....As part of the criminal deal with the Justice Department, a fifth bank, UBS, will plead guilty to manipulating the London Interbank Offered Rate, or Libor, a benchmark rate that underpins the cost of trillions of dollars in credit cards and other loans.</p> </blockquote> <p>The total fine is about $5 billion, and it's about damn time this happened. Unfortunately, I assume that a billion dollars each is basically pocket change that's already been fully reserved on their balance sheets. Needless to say, not a single dime of this will hit the actual people running the banks, who couldn't possibly be expected to know that any of this stuff was going on. They were too busy drinking their lunches and remodeling their corner offices to know what a few rogue traders on the 23rd floor were doing. The <em>Times</em> confirms that life will go on as usual:</p> <blockquote> <p>For the banks, though, <strong>life as a felon is likely to carry more symbolic shame than practical problems.</strong> Although they could be technically barred by American regulators from managing mutual funds or corporate pension plans or perform certain other securities activities, the banks have obtained waivers from the Securities and Exchange Commission that will allow them to conduct business as usual. In fact, the cases were not announced until after the S.E.C. had time to act.</p> </blockquote> <p>It's good to be king.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 20 May 2015 15:43:47 +0000 Kevin Drum 275566 at http://www.motherjones.com The Truth About How Obama Has Handled the Pacific Trade Deal http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/obama-leadership-trans-pacific-partnership-tpp <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><em>While Kevin Drum is <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/04/housekeeping-note" target="_blank">focused on getting better</a>, we've invited some of the remarkable writers and thinkers who have traded links and ideas with him from Blogosphere 1.0 to this day to contribute posts and keep the conversation going. Today we're honored to present a post from <a href="https://twitter.com/dandrezner" target="_blank">Daniel Drezner</a>.</em></p> <p>One of the enduring memes of the Obama administration has been the notion that the president is a lousy politician. One of the things that Bill Clinton and George W. Bush had in common is that they knew how to schmooze. Obama, on the other hand, <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/obama-and-world-leaders-2015-3" target="_blank">does not have any close friendships on the international stage</a>, nor is he particularly tight with <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/11/obama-congressional-gridlock_n_6451466.html" target="_blank">Republican</a> or <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/19/us/aloof-obama-is-frustrating-his-own-party.html?_r=0" target="_blank">Democrat</a> members of Congress. Indeed, this has been a sufficiently common lament for someone to write "<a href="http://www.thewire.com/politics/2014/08/a-brief-history-of-president-obama-not-having-any-friends/378761/" target="_blank">A Brief History of President Obama Not Having Any Friends</a>" last year.</p> <p>So let's stipulate that the president is a cold fish. What remains contested is whether this matters in terms of getting things done. There are DC insiders who argue that personal relationships and one-on-one politicking really do matter. These are the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/01/opinion/dowd-bottoms-up-lame-duck.html?ref=maureendowd" target="_blank">pundits</a> who tend to <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/dana-milbank-on-ferguson-obama-is-mostly-thoughts-and-little-action/2014/12/01/f3decf9e-79aa-11e4-b821-503cc7efed9e_story.html" target="_blank">bemoan presidential passivity</a> and write "<a href="http://www.realclearpolitics.com/2013/03/10/why_won039t_obama_lead_303613.html" target="_blank">Why won't Obama lead</a>?" ledes and ask why Barack Obama doesn't drink more whiskey with Mitch McConnell or play more golf with John Boehner. And then there are <a href="http://themonkeycage.org/2012/11/26/dinner-wont-do-it/" target="_blank">structuralists</a> who argue that what really matters are the separation of powers written into the Constitution and the <a href="http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2013/05/obama-leadership-and-magical-thinking.html" target="_blank">incentive of opposition parties</a> to, you know, <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/05/03/politics-is-not-here-to-please-you/" target="_blank">oppose the president's policies</a>.</p> <p>Last week's machinations over trade promotion authority (TPA) regarding the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) will not definitively settle this debate, but they did offer a few data points that suggest the relative merits of each side of this debate.</p> <p>First, Senate Majority Leader <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/14/us/politics/mcconnell-siding-with-obama-on-trade-deal-describes-unlikely-alliance.html?_r=0" target="_blank">Mitch McConnell gave a delightfully blunt interview</a> to the <em>New York Times</em>' John Harwood. On TPA/TPP, McConnell and most of the Senate Republicans are working with Obama, which puts him in strange territory. To explain this to Harwood, McConnell flatly debunked the notion that Obama would have accomplished more in the GOP-controlled Congress if only he'd been more sociable with Republican members of Congress:</p> <blockquote> <p>In the caricature of how Washington works, Mr. McConnell and other congressional Republicans were supposed to bond with Mr. Obama at a so-called bourbon summit meeting, as though a soothing, generous pour would bring them together.</p> <p>It has never happened&mdash;which, as far as Mr. McConnell is concerned, counts for exactly zero.</p> <p>"It's all good stuff for you all to write, but it has no effect on policy," Mr. McConnell said. He dismissed "press talk" that social outreach could bridge the deep ideological and partisan divisions of 21st-century American politics.</p> <p><strong>"It wouldn't make any difference," </strong>he concluded. <strong>"Look, it's a business." </strong>(emphasis added)</p> </blockquote> <p>And that sound you just heard was the combined egos of the "why can't Obama lead" crowd visibly deflating.</p> <p>McConnell's <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=au0zM3I_p3w" target="_blank">Hyman Roth-like</a> answer would seem to validate the structuralist position of the president's ability to get legislation passed&mdash;at least when it comes to dealing with the opposition party.</p> <p>When it comes to dealing with his own party, however, I'm not sure that the structuralists can claim victory. One could argue that Democrats are just as constrained on trade as Republicans because of their base's public opinion, but <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/monkey-cage/wp/2015/05/13/how-trade-affects-u-s-elections/" target="_blank">I don't think it's really that simple</a>.</p> <p>There were a lot of things going on in last Tuesday's initial failure of TPA to pass the Senate, including genuine policy differences between Obama and elements of the progressive movement. But <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/05/12/us-usa-congress-trade-vote-idUSKBN0NX2R620150512?mod=related&amp;channelName=politicsNews" target="_blank">as Reuters noted</a>, at least part of it was Obama's alienation of Senate Democrats:</p> <blockquote> <p>As for Obama, he may have hurt his chances with Democrats by minimizing concerns about trade's impact on labor, the environment and regulations, and his explicit criticism of the anti-trade stance of leading liberal Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren.</p> <p>"The president was disrespectful to her," Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown told reporters. "When he said that a number of us, not just Senator Warren, don't know what we're talking about...he shouldn't have." Brown opposes the fast-track bill.</p> </blockquote> <p>Indeed, there has been <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/obama-warren-feud-breaks-open-as-trade-legislation-blocked-by-democrats/2015/05/12/9902f880-f8bb-11e4-9030-b4732caefe81_story.html" target="_blank">a lot of Democrat grumbling</a> about <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/09/business/nike-to-create-jobs-if-trans-pacific-partnership-is-approved.html?smid=nytcore-ipad-share&amp;smprod=nytcore-ipad&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">Obama's</a> <a href="https://www.yahoo.com/politics/why-obama-is-happy-to-fight-elizabeth-warren-on-118537612596.html?soc_src=unv-sh&amp;soc_trk=tw" target="_blank">rhetorical</a> jabs at Warren and other anti-TPP Democrats, to the point where <a href="https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=5&amp;cad=rja&amp;uact=8&amp;ved=0CDoQFjAE&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fthehill.com%2Fblogs%2Fblog-briefing-room%2Fnews%2F241820-democratic-senator-sees-sexism-in-obama-remarks-on-warren&amp;ei=i2JZVfTYCpLkgwT_9YGYDQ&amp;usg=AFQjCNGHJIzoNuYA3oLVmYoZ7tMpKjZLDA&amp;sig2=NIXZkks69q34kJJOQZsVcg&amp;bvm=bv.93564037,d.eXY" target="_blank">Sherrod Brown accused Obama of sexism</a>.</p> <p>Of course, twenty-four hours later, a deal had been struck for a vote on TPA in the Senate. <a href="http://www.politico.com/story/2015/05/obama-trans-pacific-partnership-trade-deal-117921.html#ixzz3a47nef6f" target="_blank">If Edward Isaac-Dovere and Burgess Everett's <em>Politico</em> recap</a> is accurate, then Presidential Leadership (TM) played a pivotal role in the process:</p> <blockquote> <p>The White House named names. And not 24 hours later, President Barack Obama and his aides had a deal to get fast-track back on track...</p> <p>Obama aides strategically put out word to reporters of the meeting, even before senators had arrived at the White House. Shortly after the meeting ended, they released the list: the seven Democrats who'd voted for fast-track in committee, plus Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.). A few hours before, every Senate Democrat except Tom Carper of Delaware had publicly rebuked his trade effort. Now the White House put on the spot the other nine who had either publicly or privately indicated they would support the underlying fast-track and Trade Adjustment Assistance package, but who voted against opening debate.</p> <p>In other words, the president had more than enough votes just in the room to get the trade bill moving. According to senators who were there, the president took his time, spending 90 minutes to explain why they needed to get their act together.</p> </blockquote> <p>Now this <em>does </em>sound like some Old Time-y Presidential leadership, and so maybe, when it comes to managing his own party, there is something to the "Why can't Obama lead?" meme.</p> <p>But not a lot. My colleague <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2015/05/13/fast-track-may-not-be-dead-after-all/" target="_blank">Greg Sargent's take</a> suggests that last Tuesday's vote was more about Reid/McConnell dynamics than anything to do with Obama. And even the close of <em>Politico</em>'s story:</p> <blockquote> <p>Then again, some Senate Democrats said this all would have been resolved even without Obama&mdash;though maybe not in time for the House to take up the bill in June, keeping it on track to help Obama seal the Trans-Pacific Partnership with 12 Pacific Rim countries.</p> <p>"This was going to end up there anyway," Nelson said. "But I would say the meeting with the president accelerated the discussion."</p> </blockquote> <p>So, to sum up: Most of the time, the structuralists are mostly right when it comes to presidents exercising leadership in pushing legislation through Congress. But they're not completely right. On the margins, when dealing with one's own party, maybe presidential leadership matters just a wee bit.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Congress Corporations Foreign Policy International Labor Top Stories Wed, 20 May 2015 13:00:08 +0000 Daniel Drezner 275526 at http://www.motherjones.com Are You a True Political Junkie? A Wee Test. http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/are-you-true-political-junkie-wee-test <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>I'm often amazed at the incredible memories that true political junkies have for trivial stuff that happened well over a decade ago. I was just reading a Kevin Williamson item over at The Corner, and he was noting that (a) some police organizations are apparently referring to President Obama's new restrictions on transfer of military equipment as a "ban," and (b) that lefties were attacking this as fear-mongering, since it <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_bush_stem_cells.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">wasn't a ban, just a restriction on how the federal government plans to spend its own money.</p> <p>Where's he going with this, I wondered. <a href="http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/418577/whats-ban-kevin-d-williamson" target="_blank">I didn't have to wait long to find out:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Well....</p> <p>Am I the only one who remembers the so-called federal ban on stem-cell research enacted by the Bush administration? That was a ban that was not, in fact, a ban at all, or even a ban on federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research, but a restriction on federal funding for research using newly created lines of embryonic stem cells. When the [Fraternal Order of Police] complains that police departments cannot use federal funds the way they did before, the Left insists that the word &ldquo;ban&rdquo; is inappropriate, that the complaints amount to &ldquo;fear-mongering.&rdquo; But <em>Mother Jones</em> wrote of a &ldquo;Stem Cell Research Ban&rdquo; under Bush, CBS News reported &ldquo;Obama Ends Stem Cell Research Ban,&rdquo; Wired wrote of a &ldquo;Bush stem cell ban,&rdquo; <em>U.S. News and World Report</em> wrote of &ldquo;Bush&rsquo;s Stem Cell Research Ban,&rdquo; etc.</p> <p>A funding restriction is not a ban; it isn&rsquo;t now&mdash;but it wasn&rsquo;t then, either. It is too much to expect even a modicum of consistency from our feckless, lollygagging media, which is mainly composed of people who were too thick for law school and too lazy to sell real estate, and certainly not from the intellectually dishonest Democratic operatives within the media (Hello, Mr. Stephanopoulos!). But we should always keep that dishonesty in mind.</p> </blockquote> <p>I guess I take a much more easygoing attitude toward this stuff, especially when we're talking about headlines. Heds are almost never entirely accurate thanks to space constraints, and using the word <em>ban</em> instead of <em>ban on federal funding of new stem cell lines</em> seems pretty much inevitable. As long as the hed is reasonably close to reality and a more accurate explanation is put in the first paragraph or two, I can't get too excited.</p> <p>And if it was something that happened back in 2001? I'd be racking my brains to remember what happened and whether I should still give a damn. I guess that's what marks me as not really a true political junkie. I don't hold grudges against the press quite long enough.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 19 May 2015 18:49:49 +0000 Kevin Drum 275496 at http://www.motherjones.com Finally! It's Tax Fantasyland Season Again! http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/finally-its-tax-fantasyland-season-again <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>One of the more entertaining aspects of the 2012 presidential race was keeping track of the ever-expanding array of fanciful tax plans from Republicans. Even after Herman Cain announced his absurd 9-9-9 plan, other plans that would cut taxes even more kept coming down the pike. No candidate was willing to give up the mantle of biggest tax cutter.</p> <p>But that wasn't the truly entertaining part. The entertainment came from the fact that the candidates were all willing to describe in almost loving detail what they'd cut: capital gains vs. regular income; different tax brackets; precise rates that millionaires would have to pay; and so forth. But when anyone asked which tax deductions and tax credits <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_death_to_taxes.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">they'd kill in order to make their plans revenue neutral, they'd blush like schoolchildren and insist that only Congress could make that call. So brave!</p> <p>Josh Barro reports today that even with only a few candidates yet in the race, Republicans are already <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/19/upshot/can-republicans-avoid-the-romney-tax-trap.html?partner=rss&amp;emc=rss&amp;_r=0&amp;abt=0002&amp;abg=1" target="_blank">tying themselves in knots over taxes:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>There are a few ways the 2016 Republican candidates can avoid the Romney middle-class tax trap. They can break with party tradition and abandon the position that there should be significant tax-rate cuts for top earners. They can forthrightly defend the idea that people with low and middle incomes should pay more. They can abandon the promise of revenue neutrality &mdash; so a tax cut for the rich does not need to be offset by tax increases elsewhere. They can be as vague as possible.</p> </blockquote> <p>So far, apparently, the scorecard looks like this:</p> <ul><li>Carson, Cruz and Paul are calling for flat taxes but are taking the classic position that they'll talk about ways to stay revenue neutral sometime.....in the future. Like maybe the 14th of never.</li> <li>Christie has a slightly modified version of the classic. He won't talk about how he'll stay revenue neutral either, but he's also claiming that he might just let the deficit take some of the hit, which would mean fewer hot-button deductions to eliminate that could wreck his candidacy.</li> <li>Rubio, the boy genius of the Everglades, goes even further, taking what I'll call the Sam Brownback position: screw the deficit, he says. He's just going to lower taxes and leave it at that. After that we're in God's hands.</li> <li>Finally, Jeb Bush has taken the most unusual position of all: he's not even talking about taxes. He's generally in favor of lowering taxes, but that's as much as he's willing to say.</li> </ul><p>That's only six candidates, and there are many more to come&mdash;and we can expect plenty of tax fantasyland from all of them, I think. I mean, can you imagine what Lindsey Graham or Carly Fiorina are going to come up with? The mind reels. With the exception of the poor shmoes at the Tax Policy Center, who have to pretend to take this stuff seriously while they trudge through their analysis of each and every farfetched plan, it should be plenty of fun for the rest of us. Which candidate will come up with the most ridiculous, most pandering plan of all? Your guess is as good as mine.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 19 May 2015 15:29:15 +0000 Kevin Drum 275476 at http://www.motherjones.com Obamacare Is Making It Easier to Be a Young Working Parent http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/obamacare-helps-young-working-parents <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="354" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="//mjdwcharts.s3.amazonaws.com/j3ngg/1/index.html" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p><em>With Kevin Drum continuing to <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/its-experiment-week" target="_blank">focus on getting better</a>, we've invited some of the remarkable writers and thinkers who have traded links and ideas with him from Blogosphere 1.0 to this day to contribute posts and keep the conversation going. Today we're honored to present a post from economist <a href="http://deanbaker.net/index.html#home" target="_blank">Dean Baker</a>.</em></p> <p>The main point of the Affordable Care Act was to extend health insurance coverage to the uninsured. While this is a tremendously important goal, a benefit that is almost equally important was to provide a guarantee of coverage to those already insured if they lose or leave their job. This matters hugely because roughly 2 million people lose their job every month due to firing or layoffs. As a result of the ACA most of these workers can now count on being able to get affordable coverage even after losing their job.</p> <p>The ACA also means that people who may previously have felt trapped at a job because of their need for insurance now can leave their job without the risk that they or their family would go uninsured. This could give many pre-Medicare age workers the option to retire early. It could give workers with young children or other care-giving responsibilities the opportunity to work part-time. It could give workers the opportunity to start a business. Or, it could just give workers the opportunity to leave a job they hate.</p> <p>While it is still too early to reach conclusive assessments of the labor market impact of the ACA, the evidence to date looks promising. Republican opponents of Obamacare have often complained that the program would turn the country into a "part-time nation." It turns out that there is something to their story, but probably not what they intended. The number of people who are working part-time for economic reasons, meaning they would work full-time if a full-time position was available, has fallen by almost 16 percent from the start of 2013 to the start of 2015. This is part of the general improvement in the labor market over this period.</p> <p>The number of people working part-time involuntarily is still well above pre-recession levels, but it has been going in the right direction.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="354" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="//mjdwcharts.s3.amazonaws.com/UUcgH/2/index.html" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p>It is true that the employer sanction part of the ACA has not taken effect (which required that employers with more than 50 workers provide insurance or pay a penalty, but it is not clear this would make a difference. Under the original wording of the law (Obama subsequently suspended this provision), employers would have expected that the sanctions would apply for the first six months of 2013. We found no evidence of shifting to more part-time work during this period compared to the first six months of 2012.</p> <p>But there is a story on increased voluntary part-time employment. This is up by 5.7 percent in the first four months of 2015 compared to 2013. This corresponds to more than 1 million people who have chosen to work part-time. We did some analysis of who these people were and found that it was overwhelmingly a story of young parents working part-time.</p> <p>There was little change or an actual decline in the percentage of workers over the age of 35 who were working part-time voluntarily. There was a modest increase in the percentage of workers under age 35, without children, working part-time voluntarily. There was a 10.2 percent increase in the share of workers under the age of 35, with one to two kids, working part-time. For young workers with three of more kids the increase was 15.4 percent.</p> <p>Based on these findings it appears that Obamacare has allowed many young parents the opportunity to work at part-time jobs so that they could spend more time with their kids. Back in the old days we might have thought this was an outcome that family-values conservatives would have welcomed.</p> <p>As far as other labor market effects of Obamacare, there has been a modest uptick in self-employment, but it would require more analysis to give the ACA credit. Similarly, older workers are accounting for a smaller share of employment growth, perhaps due to the fact that they no longer to need to get health care through their jobs. These areas will require further study to make any conclusive judgments, but based on the data we have seen to date, it seems pretty clear that Obamacare is allowing many young parents to have more time with their kids. And that is a good story that needs to be told.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Charts Economy Health Care Obama Top Stories Tue, 19 May 2015 10:20:06 +0000 Dean Baker 275431 at http://www.motherjones.com It's Experiment Week http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/its-experiment-week <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>As you all know, I'm recovering nicely from my chemotherapy. That is to say, <em>technically</em> I'm recovering nicely. All my numbers are in a good range and are continuing to improve, and there's every reason to think that will continue.</p> <p>However, I still <em>feel </em>crappy. Heavy fatigue and nausea rule my day. But I'm thinking that I might&mdash;might!&mdash;be feeling ever so slightly better on that front. Just a smidgen. Plus I'm so bored I could scream. So I'm going to test my energy level this week by writing two blog posts a day. It's unlikely that any of them will include heavy analysis. They'll be more in the mold of this morning's post, "Marco Rubio is a Moron," which was not exactly a strain on my gray matter or powers of concentration. But it was kinda fun.</p> <p>Anyway that's the plan. And just to add to the difficulty factor, it turns out my neighbors are beginning a 3-month home gutting and remodel. That should be nice and noisy, especially since we share a common wall with them. So here's my tentative daily schedule:</p> <ul><li>Eat breakfast</li> <li>Rest</li> <li>Write blog post.</li> <li>Rest.</li> <li>Take a walk around the block.</li> <li>Rest.</li> <li>Write blog post.</li> <li>Rest.</li> <li>Take a shower.</li> <li>Rest.</li> <li>Eat lunch.</li> <li>Rest.</li> <li>Take another walk around the block.</li> <li>Rest.</li> </ul><p>And....that will probably do it. We'll see.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 18 May 2015 16:49:53 +0000 Kevin Drum 275421 at http://www.motherjones.com Marco Rubio Is a Moron http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/marco-rubio-moron <!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_rubio_wallace.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Here's the latest from <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/politics/first-draft/2015/05/17/marco-rubio-struggles-with-question-on-iraq-war/" target="_blank">Florida wunderkind Marco Rubio:</a></p> <blockquote> <p><strong>Marco Rubio Struggles With Question on Iraq War</strong></p> <p>Under a barrage of questions from Chris Wallace of Fox News, Mr. Rubio repeatedly said &ldquo;it was not a mistake&rdquo; for President George W. Bush to order the invasion based on the intelligence he had at the time. But Mr. Rubio grew defensive as Mr. Wallace pressed him to say flatly whether he now believed the war was a mistake. Mr. Rubio chose instead to criticize the questions themselves, saying that in &ldquo;the real world&rdquo; presidents have to make decisions based on evidence presented to them at the time.</p> <p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s not a mistake &mdash; I still say it was not a mistake because the president was presented with intelligence that said Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, it was governed by a man who had committed atrocities in the past with weapons of mass destruction,&rdquo; Mr. Rubio said on &ldquo;Fox News Sunday.&rdquo;</p> <p>A moment later, as Mr. Wallace tried to pin him down on his view, Mr. Rubio began to reply, &ldquo;Based on what we know now, I think everyone agrees&nbsp;&mdash; &rdquo; but Mr. Wallace cut him off before he finished the thought.</p> <p>&ldquo;So was it a mistake now?&rdquo; Mr. Wallace asked.</p> <p><strong>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t understand the question you&rsquo;re asking,&rdquo; Mr. Rubio said.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>The truth is that I don't care about Rubio's actual position on the Iraq War. The guy's trying to run on a platform of more-hawkish-than-thou, and that's pretty much all I need to know. Most of the time he sounds like a ten-year-old trying to sound tough in front of the older kids.</p> <p>But I'm seriously beginning to wonder if he has a 3-digit IQ. After Jeb Bush's weeklong debacle trying to answer this question, every Republican candidate ought to have their own answer figured out. And not just figured out: by now their answers ought to be poll-tested, cut down into nice little sound bites, and so smoothly delivered you'd never even know this was a tricky issue in the first place.</p> <p>But no. Rubio sounded like this question came as a total surprise. Seriously, Marco? This guy does not sound like he's ready for prime time.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 18 May 2015 15:51:44 +0000 Kevin Drum 275411 at http://www.motherjones.com No, the GOP Has Not Lost Its Lust for War http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/republicans-war-hawks-libertarians <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>It seems like only yesterday that the conventional wisdom was that the Republican Party was on the cusp of a major shift in philosophy: The libertarians had made huge inroads into the party and the rank and file was very, very taken with their agenda&mdash;most especially their isolationist foreign policy. The fact that there are exactly two senators who might be called true libertarians, Rand Paul and Mike Lee, and no more than a handful in the House, did not strike political observers as evidence that Republican voters might not be quite as enthusiastic in this regard as they believed.</p> <p>For a piece entitled "<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/10/magazine/has-the-libertarian-moment-finally-arrived.html" target="_blank">Has the Libertarian Moment Finally Arrived?</a>" in the <em>New York Times </em>magazine last August, journalist Robert Draper spent some time with a few "libertarian hipsters." He was apparently smitten with their hot takes on various issues, and how they were changing the face of Republicanism as we know it. Of course, there's nothing new about libertarians and conservatives walking hand in hand on issues of taxation, regulation, and small government, which orbit the essential organizing principle of both movements. Where libertarians and Republicans disagree most is on social issues like abortion, marriage equality, and drug legalization. (The libertarian-ish GOPers have found a nice rhetorical dodge by falling back on the old confederate line that the "states should decide," which seems to get them off the hook with the Christian Right, who are happy to wage 50 smaller battles until they simply wear everyone down or the Rapture arrives, whichever comes first.)</p> <p>But what Draper and many other beltway wags insisted had changed among the GOP faithful was a new isolationism which was bringing the rank and file into the libertarian fold. They characterized this as a return to "the real" Republican philosophy, as if the last 70 years of American imperialism never happened. Evidently, the ideological north star of the GOP remains Robert Taft, despite the fact that 95 percent of the party faithful have never heard of him. After quoting Texas Gov. Rick Perry saying that we should cut costs by closing prisons, Draper asserted:</p> <blockquote> <p>The appetite for foreign intervention is at low ebb, with calls by Republicans to rein in federal profligacy now increasingly extending to the once-sacrosanct military budget. And deep concern over government surveillance looms as one of the few bipartisan sentiments in Washington&hellip;</p> </blockquote> <p>The bipartisan "concern" over government surveillance is unfortunately overstated. Polling shows that it ebbs and flows depending on which party is doing it. And regardless of the sentiment, the default solution is to fiddle at the edges, legalize the worst of it, and call it "reform."</p> <p>And while it is correct to say that Republicans loathe what they perceive as "federal profligacy," there is little real evidence that they think reigning in the military budget is the proper way to cut spending. <em>Politico</em> <a href="http://www.politico.com/story/2015/03/gop-debt-reduction-military-spending-116254.html" target="_blank">quizzed</a> a group of activists and "thought leaders" in Iowa and new Hampshire recently on the subject who said that federal debt was their primary concern and suggested that cutting the defense budget had to be on the table. But polling tells a different story. The <em>Washington Post</em>'s Chris Cillizza <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2015/05/04/twice-as-many-republicans-as-democrats-believe-national-security-is-the-1-issue-facing-the-country/" target="_blank">noted this</a> in the latest NBC-WSJ survey:</p> <blockquote> <p>Republicans say that national security/terrorism is the single most important issue facing the country.</p> </blockquote> <blockquote> <p>More than a quarter of Republicans (27 percent) chose that option, putting it ahead of "deficit and government spending" (24 percent) and, somewhat remarkably, "job creation and economic growth" (21 percent), which has long dominated as the top priority for voters of all partisan stripes.</p> <p>Beyond those top line numbers, there are two other telling nuggets in the data.</p> <p>The first is that Republican voters are twice as concerned as Democrats about national security and terrorism. In the NBC-WSJ survey, just 13 percent of Democrats named national security as the most pressing issue for the government; job creation and economic growth was far and away the biggest concern among Democrats (37 percent), with health care (17 percent) and climate change (15 percent) ranking ahead of national security and terrorism.</p> </blockquote> <blockquote> <p>The second is that national security is a rapidly rising concern for Republicans. In NBC-WSJ poll data from March 2012, just eight percent of Republicans named it as the most important issue for the government to address.</p> </blockquote> <p>Cillizza reported that a "savvy Republican operative" explained that this threefold increase in concern can be attributed to the rise of ISIS and the movie <em>American Sniper</em> arousing the militarist urge in the GOP base. That may be true, but let's just say it was never exactly deeply buried. In the aftermath of the latest disaster of nationalist bloodlust, they kept a low profile just long enough for the rest of the country to get past the trauma of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. But it didn't take ISIS or a Clint Eastwood movie for the right's patriotic fervor to return; it is one of the ties that binds the coalition together, and it's never dormant for long.</p> <p>Moreover, no one should be surprised to see national security returning to the top of the agenda as Republicans set their sites on the first woman Democratic nominee for president. After all, they have spent many decades portraying the <em>men</em> of the Democratic Party as little better than schoolgirls on this front. You can be sure they <a href="http://www.salon.com/2015/04/17/the_gops_next_2016_scheme_how_right_wingers_will_try_to_use_hillarys_gender_against_her/" target="_blank">will not forsake the tactic</a> in the face of an actual woman candidate. Indeed, they've carefully laid the groundwork for a full-scale assault on Hillary Clinton's capabilities in this department with their Benghazi crusade. And as Heather Hurlburt pointed out recently in the <em>American Prospect</em>, <a href="http://prospect.org/article/anxiety-itself" target="_blank">there is good reason for Dems to be concerned here</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>The majority of voters express equal confidence in men and women as leaders, but when national security is the issue, confidence in women's leadership declines. In a Pew poll in January, 37 percent of the respondents said that men do better than women in dealing with national security, while 56 percent said gender makes no difference. That was an improvement from decades past, but sobering when compared to the 73 percent who say gender is irrelevant to leadership on economic issues.</p> </blockquote> <p>Yet, aside from the fact that the GOP base has been hawkish on national security for at least 70 years, and that their best opportunity to defeat the (presumed) first woman presidential candidate may lie in deep voter anxieties about a woman's ability to execute the role of commander in chief, we are to believe that Republicans are going to run in 2016 on an isolationist platform. If that's the case, the GOP presidential candidates didn't get the memo. As Karen Tumulty <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/gop-contenders-talk-tough-offer-few-specifics-on-national-security/2015/05/13/f340c7c6-f8b3-11e4-9ef4-1bb7ce3b3fb7_story.html" target="_blank">reported</a> recently in the <em>Washington Post</em>:</p> <blockquote> <p>As recently as two years ago, it appeared that the 2016 presidential contest was likely to become a monumental debate within the Republican Party over national security and foreign policy.</p> <p>But not anymore. Although national security is Topic A for the growing field of candidates for the GOP nomination, it is becoming harder to discern any differences among them.</p> </blockquote> <blockquote> <p>The contenders are a hawkish group&mdash;at least in their sound bites. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has been the most skeptical of military intervention and government surveillance, but even he has proposed increasing defense spending and staged an event during his announcement tour in front of an aircraft carrier in South Carolina.</p> </blockquote> <p>That's right, even <em>Rand Paul</em> is proposing to increase defense spending. And the rest of them are sounding more like cartoon movie heroes than presidential candidates on the stump (perhaps lending some support to that <em>American Sniper</em> theory). Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who just released his <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/05/marco-rubio-neocon-advisers-bush-council-foreign-relations" target="_blank">very muscular</a> national security manifesto, the "Rubio Doctrine," probably wins the award for <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/10/us/politics/republican-hopefuls-in-south-carolina-push-a-muscular-foreign-policy.html?hp&amp;action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;module=first-column-region&amp;region=top-news&amp;WT.nav=top-news" target="_blank">most hawkish speech</a> thus far, thanks to this bit during a recent meeting of GOP candidates in South Carolina:</p> <blockquote> <p>On our strategy on global jihadists and terrorists, I refer them to the movie <em>Taken</em>. Have you seen the movie <em>Taken</em>? Liam Neeson. He had a line, and this is what our strategy should be: "We will look for you, we will find you, and we will kill you."</p> </blockquote> <p>The crowd went wild. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker went in a different direction by first sharing his innermost thoughts:</p> <blockquote> <p>National security is something you hear about. Safety is something you feel.</p> </blockquote> <p>But lest he be construed as some kind of touchy feely, wimpy Wisconsin cheese-eater, he then brought the house down with a red-meat <em>cri de coeur</em>:</p> <blockquote> <p>I want a leader who is willing to take the fight to them before they take the fight to us.</p> </blockquote> <p>The crowd came to its feet and cheered.</p> <p>Frankly, I feel a little bit sorry for poor old Rick Perry who, back in October, delivered what may be the most <a href="http://www.salon.com/2014/10/16/rick_perrys_demented_world_order_why_this_man_can_get_nowhere_near_the_white_house/" target="_blank">aggressive warhawk speech</a> of the cycle so far&mdash;before anyone was paying attention. He spoke in London, where there's no shortage of national security anxiety these days:</p> <blockquote> <p>What all of these various hate groups have in common is a disdain for, and a wish to destroy, our Western way of life.</p> <p>And someone needs to tell them that the meeting has already been held. It was decided, democratically, long ago&mdash;and by the way through great and heroic sacrifice&mdash;that our societies will be governed by Western values and Western laws.</p> <p>Among those values are openness and tolerance. But to every extremist, it has to be made clear: We will not allow you to exploit our tolerance, so that you can import your intolerance. We will not let you destroy our peace with your violent ideas. If you expect to live among us, and yet plan against us, to receive the protections and comforts of a free society, while showing none of its virtues or graces, then you can have our answer now: No, not on our watch!</p> <p>You will live by exactly the standards that the rest of us live by. And if that comes as jarring news, then welcome to civilization.</p> </blockquote> <p>(Prime Minister David Cameron seems to have taken notes: He was <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/may/13/counter-terrorism-bill-extremism-disruption-orders-david-cameron" target="_blank">reportedly</a> set to say pretty much the same thing in his Queen's speech, while adding some meat to the bone by proposing various kinds of government censorship and suppression of activity.)</p> <p>It's obvious that the GOP is not making the big switch to isolationism any time soon. So what are all those libertarian Republicans going to do? Are they willing to suck it up and sign on to the GOP's imperial project, once again selling out their most deeply held views about America's place in the world for a couple of cheap tax breaks? It's not as if they have to. There is one candidate in the race who has a long record of antiwar positions and is fully onboard with shrinking the military industrial complex until it only needs a bathtub in which to float. He has no interest in worrying about American "prestige" around the world or spending any blood and treasure on behalf of commercial interests.</p> <p>His name is Bernie Sanders in case anyone is wondering. He's even an Independent, one of the very few in the US Congress. Unfortunately, it's highly unlikely that any libertarians will join his campaign. Which is also quite telling. When it comes to making a choice between voting against war and voting for tax breaks for millionaires, tax breaks for millionaires wins every time. Their priorities have always been clear&mdash;and the leaders of the Republican Party know they'll never have to change a thing to buy their loyalty.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum 2016 Elections Foreign Policy International Top Stories To Kevin! Mon, 18 May 2015 10:15:12 +0000 Heather Digby Parton 275236 at http://www.motherjones.com Friday Cat Blogging - May 15 2015 http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/friday-cat-blogging-may-15-2015 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>With Kevin continuing to concentrate on his (<a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/health-update" target="_blank">ever improving!</a>) health, over the past week we've hosted guest blog posts from all-stars like <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/democratic-party-progressive-politics-europe" target="_blank">Ruy Teixeira</a>, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/bad-medical-treatments-blood-pressure" target="_blank">Aaron Carroll</a>, and <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/ana-marie-cox-cats-internet" target="_blank">Ana Marie Cox</a>. But now that it's Friday, it's time for the humans to step aside for a real star.</p> <p>It's time to welcome Phelps.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/phelpswindow.jpg"></div> <p>Phelps linked up with<em> MoJo </em>senior editor Michael Mechanic around the time of the 2008 Beijing summer Olympics. While he's not as much of a swimmer as his <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AVExBUxIcIs" target="_blank">namesake</a>, one of his favorite spots in his Oakland home is a perch <strike>near</strike> in the sink, where he can swat his paws through water. Mike reports that Phelps loves spending time nearby while he plays music ("maybe because my fiddling sounds like a cat") and outside, where this "neighborhood tough guy" can face down cats, birds, and dogs.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/phelpssink2.jpg"></div> <p>From his front porch, Mike was witness to one such interaction when a dog got the best of Phelps and chased him up a tree. The incident spurred Mike to compose a little ditty ("Dog Treed a Cat"). Another tabby-inspired tune is "Phelps's Favorite."</p> <p>And today, Phelps, you're my favorite.</p> <center><iframe frameborder="0" height="480" src="https://vine.co/v/eKt6nvdbrnZ/embed/simple" width="480"></iframe><script src="https://platform.vine.co/static/scripts/embed.js"></script></center> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 15 May 2015 19:46:51 +0000 Clint Hendler 275346 at http://www.motherjones.com Bonus Friday Cat Blogging - 15 May 2015 http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/bonus-friday-cat-blogging-15-may-2015 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>It's been a traumatic week for Hilbert. He and Hopper were upstairs chasing each other around when he made the fateful decision to climb onto the bathroom counter and then leap to the top of the shower door. Why? Who knows. But he did it, and immediately discovered that the shower door railing is only about an inch wide. So he tumbled into the bathtub, and was then faced with an even bigger problem: my sister keeps the shower doors closed when they're not in use.</p> <p>A good deal of piteous meowing ensued until Karen investigated and found poor Hilbert trapped in the bathtub. She let him out&mdash;after taking a picture, of course&mdash;and reports that he spent the rest of the evening cuddled on her lap recovering from the indignity of it all.</p> <p>Karen now leaves the door open and says that the bathtub has quickly become the final resting place for a succession of cat toys. This is probably Hopper's doing. Either that or Hilbert got over his trauma mighty fast.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_hilbert_bathtub_2015_05_15.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 60px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 15 May 2015 17:00:08 +0000 Kevin Drum 275326 at http://www.motherjones.com Weird Tales and Trade Treaties http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/weird-tales-and-trade-treaties <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Watching the political fight over the TPP trade treaty has been kind of interesting. FWIW, two things strike me as a little odd:</p> <ul><li>Historically, it's been Republicans who bitch and moan about how treaties are invasions of American sovereignty. And of course they are. If you sign a treaty with another country, there has to be some kind of neutral mediator that can decide if the treaty has been breached, and this is ipso facto an infringement of sovereignty for both countries. Democrats usually laugh this off, since it's an obvious feature of any treaty (would <em>you</em> sign a treaty with Pakistan where Pakistan unilaterally gets to resolve all disputes?). This time, however, the worm has turned and it's Democrats who are loudly objecting to something called the Investor-State Dispute Settlement, which sets up a special tribunal <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_tpp_map_1.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">to adjudicate disputes brought by corporations against rules that they think violate the TPP. Republicans don't care much.<br><br> I don't have any big point to make here. It's just kind of interesting to see the two sides switch.<br> &nbsp;</li> <li>I'm a little puzzled about why Republicans are so gung-ho to get TPP passed in the first place. Sure, they're generally in favor of trade treaties, but it's not exactly one of their hot button issues. And yet, they seem to be going out of their way to help President Obama get it passed. Given their recent track record, I'd expect them to yawn and tell Obama he's on his own to whip the votes he needs. Is there some deeper strategy here that I'm not getting? Do they truly think this is going to rip the Democratic Party to shreds with months of vicious infighting? Or what?</li> </ul><p>Anyway, it looks to me like TPP is going to pass. These things nearly always do after a bit of grandstanding followed by some face-saving compromises. It might be close, but it will pass.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 15 May 2015 15:59:05 +0000 Kevin Drum 275331 at http://www.motherjones.com Lunatic Conspiracy Theories Aren't What They Used to Be http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/lunatic-conspiracy-theories-arent-what-they-used-be <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>As you may recall, a couple of weeks ago there was a minor hoorah over a military training exercise called Jade Helm, scheduled to take place this summer in various states in the southwest. A few lunatics in Texas got wind of this, along with a map or two, and decided that Jade Helm was really just a pretense for President Obama to take over Texas.</p> <p>Sadly for me, this all happened while I was near the bottom of my chemotherapy regimen and I barely had enough energy to make an occasional run to the bathroom, let alone write blog posts about stuff like this. Today, however, the fine folks at PPP have given me a second bite at the apple. They polled a bunch of Republicans about Jade Helm, and then broke down the answers by which candidate they currently support. <a href="http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/pdf/2015/PPP_Release_National_51315.pdf" target="_blank">Here are the results:</a></p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_ppp_take_over_texas_chart.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 15px 60px;"></p> <p>Apparently a full third of the Republican base believes that President Obama plans to order the military to take over Texas. Booyah! And supporters of Ted Cruz and Rick Perry&mdash;who are probably mostly from Texas&mdash;believe this idiocy by 60-70 percent.</p> <p>So what do we take from this? I think there are two main interpretations:</p> <ul><li>Fox and Rush and the rest of the conservative media have driven conservatives into such a frenzy that a third of them really, truly do believe that President Obama plans a military takeover of Texas.</li> <li>Poll questions like this no longer have any real meaning. This is basically little more than a survey of mood affiliation that tests how much you hate and distrust President Obama. That is to say, a yes answer has little or nothing to with Jade Helm. It just means you <em>really</em> hate and distrust Obama.</li> </ul><p>I'm inclined to the second interpretation myself. It's all good fun, but no, I don't think that a third of Republicans really believe this nonsense. It's just their way of showing that they're members in good standing of the political faction that believes Obama is capable of anything in his power-mad struggle to turn the United States into a socialist hellhole. The rest is just fluff.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 14 May 2015 18:35:49 +0000 Kevin Drum 275286 at http://www.motherjones.com Asians Are Kicking Ass in Silicon Valley, So Why Are So Few in the Boardroom? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/asians-tech-glass-ceiling-hidden-plain-sight-ascend-study <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/parity-in-tech2web_0.gif"><div class="caption"><strong>Asians are far less likely than whites to land tech leadership roles. </strong><a href="http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/ascendleadership.site-ym.com/resource/resmgr/Research/HiddenInPlainSight_Paper_042.pd" target="_blank">Ascend</a></div> </div> <p>When people talk about the need for <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/media/2014/05/google-diversity-labor-gender-race-gap-workers-silicon-valley" target="_blank">diversity in tech</a>, they aren't usually talking about Asian Americans. Though they make up less than 6 percent of the overall workforce, Asians account for a whopping 17 percent of all tech-sector workers and a far higher percentage of engineers. (At Twitter, for instance, people of Asian descent hold 34 percent of the technical positions.) By focusing exclusively on the obvious need for more blacks, Latinos, and women in Silicon Valley, however, diversity advocates have missed a key point: Asian workers are far less likely than whites to end up in the leadership ranks.</p> <p>According to a <a href="http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/ascendleadership.site-ym.com/resource/resmgr/Research/HiddenInPlainSight_Paper_042.pdf" target="_blank">study</a> that the nonprofit Ascend Foundation released last week, white workers are two and a half times more likely then their Asian counterparts to serve as executives at major tech companies. The study, which examined the workforce demographics at Google, HP, Intel, LinkedIn, and Yahoo, found that the "Asian effect" was nearly four times greater than gender as a glass-ceiling factor. (The authors also pointed to leadership gaps for blacks and Latinos, but dismissed those results as less statistically significant, given how few blacks and Latinos are employed by the industry overall.)</p> <p>The finding for Asians is notable, among other reasons, for what it says about the <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/03/ellen-pao-verdict" target="_blank">case of Ellen Pao</a>, whose unsuccessful sex discrimination case against her former employer, the VC firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield &amp; Byers, obsessed the technology press. Though the particulars of her case are unique, the study suggests that Pao, as an Asian American, was 40 percent as likely as a white woman and 28 percent as likely as a white man to land in a leadership role.</p> <p>The "bamboo ceiling," <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/11/cracking-the-bamboo-ceiling/380800/" target="_blank">as author Jane Hyun terms it</a>, is hardly limited to technology, but its existence in a sector where Asians are thriving illustrates the intractability of the problem. Hyun blames the workers for the promotion gap, arguing that they need to take a page from Sheryl Sandberg and "lean in." But other observers, such as Lisa Lee, a senior diversity manager for Pandora, point to the need for companies to curb their preconceptions about who will make a good leader.</p> <p>"Asians and Asian Americans are generally stereotyped as being nonconfrontational or timid," says Lee, the former publisher of <em><a href="http://www.hyphenmagazine.com/story-hyphen" target="_blank">Hyphen</a></em>, a magazine about the Asian-American experience. "So they may be overlooked for leadership roles because they're not thought of as leadership material. This has nothing to do with their actual skills or abilities. Part of the solution is companies making a concerted effort to address bias in the promotion process to ensure it's more fair for everyone."</p> <p>There may be additional factors at play. Mario Lugay, a program officer at the Kapor Center for Social Impact, which advocates for diversity in tech, makes the point that non-Asians are quick to lump Asians into one category, whereas Silicon Valley, for example, includes economically disadvantaged Southeast Asians and foreign-born workers from a variety of cultures. "My hope is that we strive to research and address the nuances of underrepresentation," says Lugay, who is Filipino. "That includes the diversity within the category of Asian, as well as Asian Americans."</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Charts Race and Ethnicity Tech Top Stories silicon valley Thu, 14 May 2015 10:00:12 +0000 Josh Harkinson 275111 at http://www.motherjones.com Health Update http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/health-update <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Today was my one-week follow-up at City of Hope, and everything seems pretty peachy. My counts are down since I'm no longer getting meds that artificially stimulate white blood cell production, but even without the meds my counts are all within the normal range and will likely be even better at my next follow-up. Every other lab result was positive too. I will remain fatigued for some time, but the extreme fatigue should last only another week or two. We hope.</p> <p>Assuming that I have no setbacks, the next real milestone will be a bone marrow biopsy at the end of June to see if I've achieved total remission. I <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_dem_clinic.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">will then have to decide if I want to begin Revlimid maintenance therapy, which I'm very much undecided on at the moment (my doctor is all in favor). Other than that, I just wait to get better.</p> <p>For my follow-up visit today I was directed to the DEM clinic. I wonder how they knew? And where do Republicans go? I guess it's a secret. But I'll bet their clinic is pretty nice. Probably open bar and free massages while you wait.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 13 May 2015 22:27:21 +0000 Kevin Drum 275246 at http://www.motherjones.com These Are the Reasons Why Cats Still Rule the Internet http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/ana-marie-cox-cats-internet <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><em>While Kevin Drum is <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/04/housekeeping-note" target="_blank">focused on getting better</a>, we've invited some of the remarkable writers and thinkers who have traded links and ideas with him from Blogosphere 1.0 to this day to contribute posts and keep the conversation going. Today we're honored to present a post from <a href="https://twitter.com/anamariecox" target="_blank">Ana Marie Cox</a>.</em></p> <p>I was at a small conference on religion and public policy recently&mdash;<a href="http://eppc.org/programs/the-faith-angle-forum/" target="_blank">the Faith Angle Forum</a>, it's called. It's a pretty heady affair with Serious Journalists talking Serious Subjects: the theological-versus-cultural origins of ISIS's brutality, whether you can use "principled pluralism" to bring together the left and right regarding gay marriage, and&mdash;headiest of all&mdash;a presentation from the former chief rabbi of England on "religious solutions to religious environments."</p> <p>So, obviously, I was sneaking in some cat-picture viewing between sessions. (This is a proven productivity practice and a much needed source of solace in discussing these troubled times.) I was also particularly tickled to inform the other attendees, during the Islamic State panel, that one of my favorite cat photo platforms, <em>BuzzFeed</em>, also has been doing some pretty stellar reporting on <a href="http://www.buzzfeed.com/ellievhall/how-isis-uses-twitter-to-recruit-women#.te8dbQyYY" target="_blank">ISIS's use of social media</a>. There were surprised but polite murmurs!</p> <p>At dinner, one of the presenters from the panel, Princeton Near Eastern studies scholar <a href="http://www.princeton.edu/nes/people/display_person.xml?netid=haykel" target="_blank">Bernard Haykel</a>, asked me about <em>BuzzFeed</em>. He is up on his jihadi poetry and can explain the reasons why Salafi Islam resists outside calls for reform, but he has not apparently seen Anna Kendrick quotes as motivational posters.</p> <p>"It's a great news site that also has lots of cat pictures," I told him.</p> <p>"Hmmm," he said. "Why cats?"</p> <p>Haykel uses the internet primarily for the study of ISIS propaganda and debates among Muslim theologians, so it's difficult not to see in his question the suggestion of what the internet's pro-cat bias must look like to an outsider: A MASSIVE RECRUITMENT EFFORT. Or, at the very least, a successful co-option of an entire medium to support the tuna-industrial complex.</p> <p>I am so used to taking cats on the internet for granted, it had been some time since I thought about <em>why cats</em>.</p> <p>The simple version of the story is this: <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/28/technology/circuits/28cats.html?oref=login&amp;oref=login&amp;oref=login&amp;_r=1&amp;" target="_blank">Early bloggers, like Kevin, were cat people</a>. Atrios. Glenn Reynolds. Me. Bloggers=cat people. There are theories about why blogger people are cat people, of course. There are things we have in common with cats: We are antisocial. We like things on our own terms. We break stuff for fun. We're judgy.</p> <p>Though there are also things that make cats attractive to us, things cats have that blogger-types might want for themselves: Grace. Self-actualization. Sleeping 18 hours a day.</p> <p>That early bloggers popularized cat blogging doesn't <em>really</em> explain why cats are <em>still</em> the internet's favorite pet, though it seems like we could extrapolate that the typical modern internet consumer is, temperamentally, more like the early bloggers than not. More insecure, more skeptical, less eager to please than your Boomer generation and its slavish canines.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/inline1.jpg"><div class="caption">Ana Marie Cox/Instagram</div> </div> <p>And there are more concrete influences to consider: Americans are living alone longer, moving around more, and have less money than they used to&mdash;cats fit the cultural moment. Cats are less burdensome than dogs on a daily basis, but that compromise is met with limited rewards: conditional affection, no tricks, hairballs. Perhaps millennials and cats make a match because cats are very much like the on-demand economy, which trades convenience for only elusive security.</p> <p>Cats are Uber, but for love.</p> <p>Well, I am being unfair to cats. And to Uber, for that matter&mdash;Uber has made a practice of<a href="http://blog.uber.com/KITTENS" target="_blank"> occasionally delivering kittens to offices</a> in need of mid-day pick-me-ups. These stunts sell out quickly, which attests to the internet's cat fixation but also to the ultimate snuggle-worthiness of cats&mdash;and humans. Sure, we may find cats' affections maddeningly, attractively unpredictable but, deep down, we suspect cats love us. And perhaps because that affection is so hard to pin down, it feels genuine.</p> <p>On the internet, where everything is suspect, cats&mdash;while sneaky&mdash;are above suspicion. The internet is virtual. Cats are real. The internet is about debate. Cats are undebatable.</p> <p>As Kevin himself pointed out <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/28/technology/circuits/28cats.html" target="_blank">back in 2004</a>, the cats are the medium, not the message:</p> <blockquote> <p>"I'd just blogged a whole bunch of stuff about what was wrong with the world," Mr. Drum said. "And I turned around and I looked out the window, and there was one of my cats, just plonked out, looking like nothing was wrong with the world at all."</p> </blockquote> <p>"Why cats?" Bernard asked. Because cats.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Animals Media Top Stories Wed, 13 May 2015 10:00:08 +0000 Ana Marie Cox 275191 at http://www.motherjones.com China's Future, Take 2 http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/chinas-future-take-2 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>After writing my <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/05/property-bubble-tech-bubble-whats-next-china" target="_blank">post</a> this morning about China's economic future, I got an email response from an American who lived there for nearly two decades and had a different perspective on what China's biggest problem might be going forward. Obviously this is just one person's opinion, and I can't independently vouch for it, but I thought it was interesting enough to share. Here it is:</p> <blockquote> <p>I read with interest your musings on the future of China. As it happens, I lived for 17 years in Beijing, married, and started a family there.</p> <p>I believe the macro-level statistics and phenomena you discuss are all trailing indicators. I left China with my family almost five years ago as a large number of interrelated quality-of-life issues became increasingly unbearable. Those factors have continued to worsen since then at an <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_china_dragon_0.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">accelerating rate, to the point where the economy is now largely driven by people trying to earn or steal enough money to leave.</p> <p>The once-thriving expat community in Beijing has shriveled to nearly nothing. The cost of living is approaching world-capital (NY, London, Tokyo, etc.) levels for a <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/cities/2014/dec/16/beijing-airpocalypse-city-almost-uninhabitable-pollution-china" target="_blank">miserable existence.</a> The local culture has become increasingly desperate and cutthroat. And Beijing is one of the more attractive places in China to live, work, and raise a family.</p> <p>People, generally, and Chinese especially, will tolerate all sorts of deprivation in service of a better future for their children. And that is largely what has driven the rapid pace of Chinese development since the end of the Cultural Revolution and the beginning of Deng Xiaoping's opening and reform policies. My feeling is that biggest challenge ahead for China is when the population at large concludes that a better future for their children is no longer in the cards.</p> <p>When it happens, it will happen gradually, then suddenly. And what happens after that, no one can say, but a continuation of the policies driving hyper-accelerated GDP growth over all else probably isn't it.</p> </blockquote></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 12 May 2015 23:51:03 +0000 Kevin Drum 275186 at http://www.motherjones.com