Kevin Drum Feed | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/Blogs/2014/07 http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en U6 Is Now the Last Refuge of Scoundrels http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/u6-now-last-refuge-scoundrels <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>This is getting ridiculous. On Tuesday <a href="http://www.vox.com/2016/2/9/10956660/donald-trump-new-hampshire" target="_blank">Donald Trump</a> repeated his fatuous nonsense about the real unemployment rate being 42 percent. Then <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/11/upshot/the-real-jobless-rate-is-42-percent-donald-trump-has-a-point-sort-of.html?ref=topics&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">Neil Irwin</a> of the <em>New York Times</em> inexplicably decided to opine that "he's not entirely wrong" because there are lots of different unemployment rates. Et tu, Neil? Bill O'Reilly picked up on this theme today, with guest Lou Dobbs casually declaring that unemployment is "actually" 10 percent. Finally, in the ultimate indignity, <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/02/11/transcript-the-democratic-debate-in-milwaukee-annotated/" target="_blank">Bernie Sanders</a> decided to take this idiocy bipartisan: "Who denies that real unemployment today, including those who have given up looking for work and are working part-time is close to 10 percent?"</p> <p>Can we cut the crap? Trump is obviously just making shit up, but the 10 percent number is colorably legitimate. It's officially called U6, a measure of unemployment <em>plus</em> folks who have been forced to work part time <em>plus</em> workers who are "marginally attached" to the labor force. Right now it stands at 9.9 percent.</p> <p>But you can't just toss this out as a slippery way of making the economy seem like it's in horrible shape. If you're going to tout U6, you have to compare it to <em>what's normal for U6</em>. And what's normal in an expanding economy is about 8.9 percent. This means that even big, bad U6 is within a hair of its full-employment value.</p> <p>The US economy is not a house afire. That said, unemployment is low. Inflation is low. Wages are finally growing. The economy is expanding. Gasoline is cheap. Interest rates are low and houses are affordable. I'm getting pretty tired of the endlessly deceitful attempts to make it seem as if we're all but on the edge of economic Armageddon, and the last thing we need is for liberals to sign up for this flimflam too. It's good politics, I guess, but it's also a lie.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_u6_february_2016_0.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 5px 0px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 12 Feb 2016 05:49:02 +0000 Kevin Drum 296746 at http://www.motherjones.com Tonight's Debate Really Drove Home the Bernie vs. Hillary Dilemma http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/hillary <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Here's roughly how the first hour of tonight's debate went:</p> <blockquote> <p><em>Bernie: Free health care for everyone!</em></p> <p>Hillary: Let's not overpromise. Maybe we can get partway there. You know, one percent at a time.</p> <p><em>Bernie: When I'm president we'll have free college for everyone!</em></p> <p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_clinton_sanders_debate_2016_02_11.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Hillary: But we have to get the policy right. All the stakeholders need to buy in. It's tricky.</p> <p><em>Bernie:&nbsp; We need radical transformation of our criminal justice system!</em></p> <p>Hillary: A commission had some good ideas recently and I endorse them.</p> <p><em>Bernie: Let the children in!</em></p> <p>Hillary: Yes, but first we need an appropriate process.</p> </blockquote> <p>OK, I'm kidding. Sort of. But this is the bind Hillary Clinton is in. Bernie Sanders delivers all these big, stemwinding proposals and doesn't really have to explain how he's going to pass any of them or get them paid for. But he sure is visionary! Hillary, conversely, is just constitutionally incapable of talking like this. When a problem is raised, her mind instantly starts thinking about what works and who will vote for it and where the payfors are going to come from. And that means she sounds like an old fuddy duddy patiently explaining why your bright idea won't work. No wonder young voters don't care much for her.</p> <p>This has been true the entire campaign, of course, but I thought tonight's debate brought it into much sharper relief than usual. Did it hurt her? I've pretty much given up trying to divine the reactions of the studio audience to these debates, so I don't know. I guess that if you think we need to dream big dreams and the fuddy duddies ought to stand aside, you're more convinced than ever that Hillary is part of the problem, not part of the solution. If you have some respect for how hard the political process is, and how slowly progress is made, you're more convinced than ever that Bernie is talking through his hat and Hillary is the only reasonable choice.</p> <p>And for those who are undecided? I guess we'll find out soon enough.</p> <p><a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/02/11/transcript-the-democratic-debate-in-milwaukee-annotated/?hpid=hp_hp-top-table-main_no-name%3Ahomepage%2Fstory" target="_blank">Debate transcript here.</a></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 12 Feb 2016 04:47:45 +0000 Kevin Drum 296741 at http://www.motherjones.com Republican Tax Plans Will Be Great for the Ri—zzzzz http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/republican-tax-plans-will-be-great-ri%E2%80%94zzzzz <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Our good friends at the Tax Policy Center have now analyzed&mdash;if that's the right word&mdash;the tax plans of <a href="http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/publications/template.cfm?PubID=2000560" target="_blank">Donald Trump</a>, <a href="http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/publications/url.cfm?ID=2000547" target="_blank">Jeb Bush</a>, and <a href="http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/publications/template.cfm?PubID=2000606" target="_blank">Marco Rubio</a>. You can get all the details at their site, but if you just want the bottom line, you've come to the right place.</p> <p>The chart on the left shows who benefits the most from each tax plan. Unsurprisingly, they're all about the same: middle income taxpayers would see their take-home pay go up 3 or 4 percent, while the rich would see it go up a whopping 10-17 percent. On the deficit side of things, everyone's a budget buster. Rubio and Bush would pile up the red ink by $7 trillion or so (over ten years) while Trump would clock in at about $9 trillion. That compares to a current national debt of $14 trillion.</p> <p>No one will care, of course, and no one will even bother questioning any of them about this. After all, we already know they'll just declare that their tax cuts will supercharge the economy and pay for themselves. They can say it in their sleep. Then Trump will say something stupid, or Rubio will break his tooth on a Twix bar, and we'll move on.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_rubio_bush_trump_tax_gain.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 5px 15px;"><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_rubio_bush_trump_tax_cost.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 5px 0px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 12 Feb 2016 00:34:54 +0000 Kevin Drum 296716 at http://www.motherjones.com God Is Testing Marco Rubio http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/god-testing-marco-rubio <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Oh come on. Even Marco Rubio doesn't deserve this. Maybe it's time to ease up on the poor guy.</p> <blockquote> <blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Rubio got blueberry pancakes w blueberry syrup. He's trying to eat soft foods, he said, because he cracked a molar on a Twix bar yesterday.</p> &mdash; erica orden (@eorden) <a href="https://twitter.com/eorden/status/697812156939636736">February 11, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></blockquote> </blockquote></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 11 Feb 2016 22:29:07 +0000 Kevin Drum 296706 at http://www.motherjones.com No One Wants to Take Orders From Marco Rubio http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/no-one-wants-take-orders-marco-rubio <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>When the "establishment" is trying to figure out who they support in a presidential primary, I figure one of the key issues is: "Can I imagine myself taking orders from this person?"</p> <p>OK, not "orders," precisely. But you know what I mean. The president is the party leader, and one of the whole points of being part of the establishment is that you're the kind of person who accepts the leadership of your president. This explains, for example, why the establishment is horrified about Donald Trump. They can't imagine taking orders from a politically ignorant jackass like him. And they hate Ted Cruz's guts, so they can't abide the idea of taking orders from him either.</p> <p>But what about Marco Rubio? Everyone's been wondering lately why the establishment didn't rally around Rubio earlier, since he seemed like sort of an obvious choice. My guess is that it's not because they hate Rubio, or because they think he's a buffoon. But they do think he's a nervous and overly ambitious young man who's a bit of an empty suit. If he's the nominee, they'll suck it up and support him. But the idea of taking orders from this pipsqueak sticks in their craw.</p> <p>They're in quite the pickle, aren't they?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 11 Feb 2016 20:17:21 +0000 Kevin Drum 296696 at http://www.motherjones.com Here's a Chart That Puts the Bernie Bro Phenomenon In a Whole New Light http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/heres-chart-puts-bernie-bro-phenomenon-whole-new-light <!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_hillary_vote_daughters.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Why do millennials love Bernie Sanders? Here's a weirdly intriguing possibility: because they don't have enough daughters. <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2016/02/11/a-key-reason-young-people-dont-support-hillary-clinton-they-dont-have-daughters/" target="_blank">According to Michael Tesler,</a> millennial parents with sons overwhelmingly support Sanders. But millennial parents with daughters overwhelmingly support Hillary Clinton. (There's a similar effect among older voters, but it's very small.) And although Tesler doesn't say this, presumably single millennials are big Bernie fans too.</p> <p>Is this kind of eerie, or is it totally predictable? I could make a case either way. But even if it's predictable, the size of the effect is eye-popping. Make of it what you will.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 11 Feb 2016 19:12:50 +0000 Kevin Drum 296681 at http://www.motherjones.com Do Strict Photo ID Laws Massively Depress Minority Turnout? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/do-strict-photo-id-laws-massively-depress-minority-turnout <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Josh Marshall is highlighting yet again a new study that demonstrates a large effect of strict photo ID laws on minority turnout. So why haven't I? Because I honestly can't makes heads or tails of it. <a href="http://pages.ucsd.edu/~zhajnal/page5/documents/voterIDhajnaletal.pdf" target="_blank">Here are the authors:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>In the general elections, the model predicts Latino turnout was 10.3 points lower in states with photo ID than in states without strict photo ID regulations, all else equal. For multi-racial Americans, turnout was 12.8 points lower under strict photo ID laws. These effects were almost as large in primary elections. Here, a strict photo ID law could be expected to depress Latino turnout by 6.3 points and Black turnout by 1.6 points.</p> </blockquote> <p>Do you notice something missing? They mention Latinos and multi-racial voters in general elections, but not blacks. Why not? Apparently because of this:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_photo_id_turnout.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 15px 15px;"></p> <p>Their regression suggests that black turnout was <em>up</em> in states with strict photo ID laws. For some reason, though, the result isn't statistically significant, so they ignore it. Conversely, their result for primaries shows black turnout down. But even though it's a weaker result, it <em>is</em> statistically significant, so they report it.</p> <p>And there are other things that make no sense. Not only do the authors report numbers for depressed turnout that are far larger than anyone has gotten before, but they suggest that photo ID laws cause black turnout to rise while mixed-race turnout declines. That's pretty hard to fathom.</p> <p>There are other problems. Their charts are incomprehensible. They rely on data collected over the internet. And the results in this paper are precisely the opposite of what one of the authors reported just a year ago <a href="http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2490043" target="_blank">in a paper using the same methodology:</a> namely that strict photo ID laws <em>do</em> depress overall turnout, but <em>don't</em> depress minority turnout any more than white turnout ("there is little evidence that racial minorities are less likely than Whites to vote when states institute voter identification requirements").</p> <p>Beyond that, the authors have applied so many controls that it's hard to tell if there's any real data left by the time they're done. Check this out:</p> <blockquote> <p>We also control for individual demographic characteristics...age...education level...family income...nativity...gender, marital status...having children, being a union member, owning a home, being unemployed, and religion...and whether the respondent was registered to vote in the pre-election survey...We also have to incorporate other state level electoral laws...early voting...all-mail elections...no excuse absentee voting...the limit on the number of days before the election that residents can register to vote....Finally, to help identify the independent effect of ID laws, our analysis has to include the electoral context surrounding each particular election...political competitiveness of each state...the presence of different electoral contests...whether the Senatorial and Gubernatorial contests are open seats or not, whether the Senatorial and Gubernatorial contests are uncontested or not, and finally the region (South or not).</p> </blockquote> <p>Holy hell! I wonder how they decided on these controls rather than others? They don't say.</p> <p>It's quite possible that the analysis in this study is too sophisticated for me to understand. I'm hardly a statistical guru. In fact, I can't even tell precisely what their regressions are measuring. The numbers in the table don't seem to bear any relationship to the results reported in the text. So maybe I just have no idea how to read this stuff.</p> <p>But for now, I'd take this with a huge grain of salt until someone with the right chops weighs in on it. I don't doubt that strict photo ID laws depress turnout among minorities, but I doubt very much the effect is as big as this study suggests.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 11 Feb 2016 18:04:06 +0000 Kevin Drum 296661 at http://www.motherjones.com Get Your Memes Right: The 1994 Crime Bill Didn't Create Mass Incarceration http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/get-your-memes-right-1994-crime-bill-didnt-create-mass-incarceration <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>German Lopez points out today that the 1994 crime bill <a href="http://www.vox.com/2016/2/11/10961362/clinton-1994-crime-law" target="_blank">wasn't responsible for mass incarceration:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>States preside over the great bulk of the US justice system. So it's actually state policies that fueled mass incarceration....Federal criminal justice policy, including much of the 1994 crime law, focuses almost entirely on the federal system, particularly federal prisons....<strong>In the US, federal prisons house only about 13 percent of the overall prison population.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>That's true. And there's one other thing to add to that: by 1995, when the crime bill took effect, state and federal policies had long since been committed to mass incarceration. <a href="http://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=nps" target="_blank">Between 1978 and 1995</a> the prison population had already increased by more than 250 percent. Between 1995 and its peak in 2009, it increased only another 40 percent&mdash;and even that was due almost entirely to policies already in place.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_prison_population_crime_bill_0.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 20px;"></p> <p>Depending on your reading of history, mass incarceration was either (a) a reasonable response to a huge crime wave, (b) a defensible idea that got way out of hand, or (c) a racist scourge that destroyed the black community. In fact, there's a good case that it was all three of these things: there really was a big surge in crime in the 70s and 80s that created a growing pool of violent offenders; even the defenders of mass incarceration mostly agree that it had already gone too far by the early 90s; and it's difficult to believe that it ever would have gone as far as it did if it weren't for the contemporary media-political inspired hysteria over black "predators" flooding our neighborhoods.</p> <p>That said, whatever else the 1994 crime bill did, it didn't create the carceral state or even give it much of a boost. That had happened many years before.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 11 Feb 2016 16:53:20 +0000 Kevin Drum 296631 at http://www.motherjones.com The NSA's Credibility Takes Another Hit http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/nsas-credibility-takes-another-hit <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Henry Farrell passes along the news that the NSA is merging two of its major divisions <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2016/02/10/the-nsa-is-massively-reorganizing-itself-thats-going-to-hurt-its-credibility/" target="_blank">into a single directorate:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The NSA has traditionally had two big responsibilities. The first&nbsp;&mdash; spying and surveillance&nbsp;&mdash; gets the lion's share of public attention (and, it would appear, resources). Yet the second responsibility&nbsp;&mdash; protecting U.S. networks from external attack&nbsp;&mdash; is <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_nsa_logo.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">also very important....<strong>Protecting private U.S. networks and computers from intrusion means creating secure cryptographic standards that make it a lot harder for outsiders to break in.</strong> The problem is that other networks in other countries are likely to start using the same standards. This means that the better that the NSA does at securing U.S. computers and networks against foreign intrusion, the harder it is going to be for the NSA to break into foreign computers and networks that use the same standards. <strong>If, alternatively, it cheats by promoting weak standards, the security of U.S. networks will be weakened, but it will also be easier for the NSA to break into foreign ones.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>As Farrell points out, the Snowden leaks showed that the NSA <em>did</em> cheat: they deliberately tried to introduce weaknesses into crypto standards so they'd be able to break into foreign networks. This makes their merger of offense and defense a big problem:</p> <blockquote> <p>When the NSA had visibly separate organizational structures, with separate budget lines for offense (attacking other people's systems) and defense (defending one's own systems), <strong>it helped reassure outside observers a little that the defense perspective has its internal advocates within the organization, even if those advocates often lost.</strong> In a combined structure, that is no longer the case. Outsiders will find it harder to adjudicate whether the organization is prepared to prioritize defense over offense (at least some of the time).</p> <p>And that has consequences....It may make it less likely that businesses will trust the NSA with information about vulnerabilities....It may further erode the dominance of U.S. security standards (and U.S. firms) in world markets. <strong>It will surely make the cryptographic community more skeptical of cooperating with the NSA.</strong> Because the NSA is the kind of organization it is, it has great difficulty in communicating its true intentions and getting others to believe them, even when it wants to. Split organizational structures (which are costly because they go along with budget lines, factional fighting and so on) are one of the very few ways that it can credibly communicate its priorities to outsiders, and reassure them, if it wants to reassure them, that it is interested in protecting networks as well as subverting them.</p> </blockquote> <p>To be honest, I'm surprised the crypto community&mdash;especially overseas&mdash;is willing to cooperate with the NSA <em>at all</em>, given what we now know. They are plainly pretty obsessed with sneaking backdoors into both crypto standards and network devices. If the Snowden leaks didn't destroy their credibility on this subject forever, I'm not sure what would.</p> <p>In any case, this is some boring bureaucratic news that might have some real-world consequences. You'll probably never hear about it again, so I figured it might be worth hearing about it at least once.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 11 Feb 2016 15:44:03 +0000 Kevin Drum 296621 at http://www.motherjones.com Why Are Millennials In Love With Bernie Sanders? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/why-are-millennials-love-bernie-sanders <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Why are the young 'uns all voting for Bernie? If you can avoid the condescension that typically poisons this topic, it's actually an interesting question. It would hardly be worth asking if Bernie were outpolling Hillary by, say, 60-40 percent among millennials, but lately he seems to be outpolling her by about 85-15 percent. That's crazy. Santa Claus would have a hard time pulling numbers like that against the Grinch.</p> <p>So I'm going to noodle over this. WARNING: I'm not planning to come to any conclusions here. I'm just pondering possibilities sort of randomly and taking a look at whatever relevant data I can find. If you're interested, come along for the ride.</p> <p>First up, John Cole offers what I consider sort of the conventional wisdom. Millennials are attracted to Sanders because they're <a href="https://www.balloon-juice.com/2016/02/10/this-not-hard-they-just-have-a-different-perspective/" target="_blank">pissed off about their grim economic prospects:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>When we are talking about the youth vote, we&rsquo;re talking about the people who have been straight up fucked by the current political establishment....They are <strong>saddled with debt,</strong> their economic opportunities are <strong>far more limited</strong> than that of any recent generation, and while they are working three jobs and paying for the SS benefits of current and soon to be retirees, they&rsquo;re <strong>fed catfood commissions by &ldquo;reasonable&rdquo; Democrats</strong> and told they are being selfish by the Boomer generation&nbsp;&mdash; the generation that while achieving many great things, has left a fucking mess to deal with.</p> </blockquote> <p>So what about that? Here's <a href="https://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/data/historical/household/" target="_blank">median income</a> and <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/10/student-loan-debt-median-income_n_3573683.html" target="_blank">student debt</a> among millennials since 2000:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_millennial_median_income.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 3px;"><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_millennial_student_debt.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 0px;"></p> <p>Millennial income has certainly gone down, but no more than any other group up to age 55. Relative to everyone else, there's not really much to see there. On the debt front, there's not much question that college students are being squeezed harder every year. Still, since 2000 student debt has only gone up about $10,000&mdash;and that includes all the folks who have racked up $100,000 bills to go to law school or business school. For most undergrads, it's less than that. As for the cat food commissions, even in the worst case they haven't recommended anything more than very small cuts in the rate of growth of Social Security.</p> <p>Next up, here's the <a href="http://polling.reuters.com/#poll/TR131/filters/RESP_AGE:-4,PARTY_ID_:1/suggested/0" target="_blank">Reuters rolling poll of millennials</a> for the past couple of months:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_millennial_sanders_vs_clinton.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 5px;"></p> <p>There are two things to notice. First, Sanders <em>isn't</em> ahead 85-15. He's ahead by about 60-40. That's not all that surprising. Second, although Hillary Clinton has been losing millennial support steadily since the middle of last year, there was a huge change over the course of only five days at the beginning of January. Even taking into account poll noise, that's fairly astonishing. What happened during that week? Nothing comes immediately to mind.</p> <p>What else? <a href="https://newrepublic.com/article/129632/millennial-voters-ask-much-hate" target="_blank">Clio Chang</a> offers a couple of additional economic observations: "While unemployment has dropped to 4.9 percent overall, it is at 16 percent for those between the ages of 16 and 19, and 8.2 percent for 20-to-24-year-olds....Young people today are also much less likely to have employer-sponsored health care than in the past." Here's unemployment among millennials compared to the overall unemployment rate:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_millennial_unemployment.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 15px 10px;"></p> <p>They move pretty much in sync, and the unemployment rate for 20-24 years olds is about the same as it was in the mid-2000s. On health care, however, Chang is certainly right. Employer health care coverage has <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/health_policy/trends_hc_1968_2011.htm" target="_blank">steadily</a> <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhis/earlyrelease/quarterly_estimates_2010_2015_q123.pdf" target="_blank">declined</a> since 2000, and the cost of health care borne by workers (premiums + out-of-pocket costs) has <a href="https://cdn.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Affordability-report3.pdf" target="_blank">gone up 21 percent</a> just in the past six years:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_millennial_employer_healthcare_coverage_2.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 3px;"><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_millennial_healthcare_cost_0.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 0px;"></p> <p>This is a big deal, though it's worth noting that it's affected everyone, not just millennials. If anything, millennials might be less affected by this since they generally have lower health care needs than older workers.</p> <p><a href="http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/17/opinions/burns-millennials-bernie-sanders/" target="_blank">Dasha Burns</a> suggests that college-educated millennials feel betrayed by the lack of good jobs after they graduate: "Morale really hit a low as we were figuring out how to pay (or repay) for college while realizing the promised exchange of higher education for good job was a myth from generations past." But according to EPI, unemployment among college grads has <a href="http://www.epi.org/publication/the-class-of-2015/" target="_blank">recovered to nearly pre-recession levels</a> while the college wage premium has <a href="http://stateofworkingamerica.org/chart/swa-wages-figure-4n-college-wage-premium/" target="_blank">continued to rise steadily.</a> And although college grads suffered income hits during the Great Recession, so did everyone else. In fact, college grads actually <a href="https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d14/tables/dt14_502.30.asp" target="_blank">fared better</a> than most other groups:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_millennial_college_wage_premium_0.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 15px 5px;"><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_millennial_college_income_loss_0.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 15px 0px;"></p> <p>With the exception of student debt, the problems of millennials generally seem little different than those of middle-aged workers. Both have been hit by higher health care costs. Both have suffered through wage stagnation for decades, followed by wage decline during the Great Recession. Both suffered high unemployment following the financial crash, and both have recovered at about the same rate. But if that's the case, why does Bernie Sanders appeal so strongly to millennials but not to older voters?</p> <p>Needless to say, there's only so much that raw data can tell you, especially when it presents a very mixed picture. Maybe it's dispassionately policy based: they like Bernie's dovish foreign policy and hawkish Wall Street policy. Maybe it's all up to intangibles: millennials are simply more attracted to a passionate, straight-talking idealist than middle-aged voters are. Or, for all the talk of how gloomy millennials are, maybe it's because they <em>haven't</em> given up. They're still willing to take a flyer on a guy who says he can fix things without endless compromise.</p> <p>And assuming it's not just a statistical artifact, there's the mystery of the huge Bernie surge during five days in January. What's up with that?</p> <p>Beats me. As I said at the top, <em>h</em><span class="st"><em>ypotheses non fingo</em>. I don't know what's really going on and I'm not going to pretend otherwise. Take all this data for what it's worth&mdash;which might be nothing.</span></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 11 Feb 2016 14:15:20 +0000 Kevin Drum 296576 at http://www.motherjones.com Marcobot Is Now Programmed to Repeat... Repeat... Repeat http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/marcobot-now-programmed-repeatrepeatrepeat <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>A friend passes along Marco Rubio's annoyance with all the folks who are mocking his habit of robotic talking point repetition. Here he is on Sean Hannity's show tonight:</p> <blockquote> <p>First of all, it's silly because, yes, it might be the 80th time that reporter heard it, but if I'm at a town hall in Iowa or New Hampshire, that might be the only time that those people hear it....And it may be the 100th time that a member of the press corps heard it, but it might be the first and only time that that voter gets to hear it.</p> </blockquote> <p>"See how different those two sentences are?" asks my friend. "One says 80th and the other says 100th.&nbsp; And it's 'that reporter' versus 'the press corps.'"</p> <p>Poor Marco. This stuff is now so lodged in his brain that he probably couldn't stop himself if he tried. It's amazing how thoroughly Chris Christie has gotten inside his OODA loop.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 11 Feb 2016 06:20:17 +0000 Kevin Drum 296606 at http://www.motherjones.com President Obama Shows How to Defend Pragmatism the Right Way http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/president-obama-shows-how-defend-pragmatism-right-way <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>So did President Obama kinda sorta endorse Hillary Clinton and her pragmatic approach to politics in his Springfield speech today? Not really. He was pretty focused on the bitterness and polarization of contemporary political culture and what <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_obama_hillary_clinton.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">we could do about it. But there were a few places where he seemed like he was giving Hillary a little boost <a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/02/10/remarks-president-address-illinois-general-assembly" target="_blank">if you cocked your ears just right:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>I learned by talking to your constituents that if you were willing to listen, it was possible to bridge a lot of differences....<strong>They understand the difference between realism and idealism;</strong> the difference between responsibility and recklessness. They had the maturity to know what can and cannot be compromised, and to admit the possibility that the other side just might have a point.</p> <p>....Our progress has never been inevitable. It must be fought for, and won by all of us, with the kind of patriotism that our fellow Illinoisan, Adlai Stevenson, once described <strong>not as a &ldquo;short, frenzied outburst of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.&rdquo;</strong></p> <p>....Trying to find common ground doesn't make me less of a Democrat or less of a progressive. <strong>It means I&rsquo;m trying to get stuff done</strong>....Rather than accept the notion that compromise is a sellout to one side, we&rsquo;ve got to insist on the opposite&nbsp;&mdash; that it can be a genuine victory that means progress for all sides.</p> </blockquote> <p>Obama's defense of realism vs. idealism and his irritation toward "short, frenzied" outbursts of emotion could be read as implicit criticisms of Bernie Sanders. Likewise, his defense of his progressive record includes a deliberate echo of Hillary Clinton's description of herself as a "progressive who likes to get things done."</p> <p>It's not much, and it was relatively subtle. Still, even when he acknowledged that our democracy "seems stuck" and "we have to find a new way of doing business," he didn't endorse anything revolutionary. Quite the contrary. It became yet another chance to urge pragmatism and hard work: "In a big, complicated democracy like ours, if we can&rsquo;t compromise, by definition, we can&rsquo;t govern ourselves."</p> <p>It's unfortunate for Hillary that she can't defend this kind of politics effectively. Obama somehow makes the hard slog of slow change sound noble and heroic. Hillary makes it sound workmanlike at best and defeatist at worst. She may not ever have the simple kind of elevator pitch that Bernie Sanders has, but if she could make her brand of pragmatism sound just a little more uplifting&mdash;a little more vital&mdash;I'll bet she'd be having a lot fewer problems right now.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 11 Feb 2016 06:10:40 +0000 Kevin Drum 296596 at http://www.motherjones.com Uninsured Rate Ticks Up a Bit at End of 2015 http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/uninsured-rate-ticks-bit-end-2015 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Every quarter I take a look at the CDC's survey of the uninsured to see how Obamacare is doing. So far it's doing pretty well. However, the CDC data is always six months behind, and a few days ago I noticed that <a href="http://www.gallup.com/poll/188045/uninsured-rate-fourth-quarter-2015.aspx" target="_blank">Gallup's more timely survey</a> showed an increase in the uninsured rate over the last two quarters of 2015. I figured I'd have to wait another month <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_cdc_uninsured_q3_2015.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">to see if the CDC confirmed this, but their <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhis/earlyrelease/quarterly_estimates_2010_2015_q123.pdf" target="_blank">latest data</a> came out earlier than I expected. Sure enough, in the third quarter they show a small increase in the uninsured.</p> <p>Unfortunately, I don't have anything trenchant to say about this. The data is a little noisy, and this might be nothing more than the usual bouncing around. Or it might represent a normal uptick at the end of the year, as people lose insurance before the new signup period. It's probably not really possible to say until we have quite a bit more data. And it's worth noting that the uninsured rate is still more than a percentage point below the original CBO projection.</p> <p>But the raw data is the raw data. Good or bad, it's here for everyone to noodle over.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 11 Feb 2016 05:03:55 +0000 Kevin Drum 296586 at http://www.motherjones.com Does Obama Still Have That Old-Time Magic? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/does-obama-still-have-old-time-magic <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>In a few minutes President Obama will be back in Springfield making a speech addressed to his supporters. "You've taken on the painstaking work of progress," he says. "You've helped us find that middle ground where real change is won....I hope you'll tune in today at 2:30 p.m. Eastern." <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/images/Blog_Obama_FDR.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">Andrew Sprung figures this is basically going to be <a href="http://xpostfactoid.blogspot.com/2016/02/coming-today-obama-message-for-hillary.html" target="_blank">an endorsement of Hillary Clinton:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Obama just sent an email to supporters announcing a speech to be delivered this afternoon. I imagine it will be a message "for" Clinton&nbsp;&mdash; both to support her and to model a coherent pitch for incremental change.</p> <p>....Then there's "the painstaking work of progress" and the 'middle ground where real change is won." Those are memes pointed at this moment, in which the frontrunners in both parties are calling for radical, fundamental change.... Incrementalism is a tough sell, but Obama has made it throughout his career, and he does so more effectively than Clinton. He's more successful because he's better at articulating the long-term goal and how the incremental steps move toward them, as well as the historical framework in which those steps fit.</p> </blockquote> <p>But will it work? Personally, I've always viewed Obama as a cautious, pragmatic, mainstream liberal. But his strongest supporters never saw him that way. They really believed he was going to revolutionize Washington DC and end all the bickering. He'd pass universal health care, rein in Wall Street once and for all, and stop climate change in its tracks.</p> <p>But he didn't. And the conventional wisdom says that his supporters from 2007&mdash;when he first went to Springfield to announce his candidacy&mdash;are disappointed in him. He turned out to be just another go-along-get-along guy, and now he wants to foist a go-along-get-along gal on us. Sorry. No sale. We're feeling the Bern these days.</p> <p>We'll see. But I will say this: If Obama really wants to help Hillary Clinton, he can't afford too much subtlety. Any criticism of radical change will be read by liberals as primarily an attack on Donald Trump unless he makes it crystal clear what he's talking about. Tune in at 2:30 and find out!</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 10 Feb 2016 19:21:55 +0000 Kevin Drum 296536 at http://www.motherjones.com Here's Why Bernie Sanders Doesn't Say Much About Welfare Reform http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/heres-why-bernie-sanders-doesnt-say-much-about-welfare-reform <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Clio Chang and Samuel Adler-Bell want to know why Bernie Sanders hasn't spent more time blasting the Clinton-era welfare reform law and proposing <a href="https://newrepublic.com/article/128878/missing-bernies-revolution-welfare-reform" target="_blank">concrete ways to address poverty:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>While Sanders frequently repeats and laments the statistic that one in five American children live in poverty, neither he nor Clinton has put forward a specific plan to address it. And neither spends much time talking about food stamps, housing subsidies, or the Earned Income Tax Credit, all essential programs for the poor.</p> <p>Liberal pundits have criticized Clinton for defending her husband&rsquo;s welfare legislation&mdash;and for parroting the conservative caricature of welfare beneficiaries as "deadbeats"&mdash;but so far, it hasn&rsquo;t created any serious problems for her campaign. But this, perhaps, is to be expected from a more moderate Democrat. <strong>The oversight is arguably a more glaring problem for Sanders, who voted against the welfare bill and harshly condemned it in his 1997 book, but hasn&rsquo;t made it an issue in the primary.</strong> In August, he told Bloomberg, with uncharacteristic restraint, "I think that history will suggest that that legislation has not worked terribly well."</p> </blockquote> <p>One reason for this restraint may be simple: perhaps Sanders believes that the best approach to poverty is to enact his broad economic revolution. Once that's done, poverty will start to decrease.</p> <p>But there's another possible reason: maybe welfare reform has turned out not to be an especially big deal. After all, by 1996 the old AFDC program accounted for <a href="https://aspe.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/pdf/180706/4spending.pdf" target="_blank">only about $20 billion in spending,</a> a tiny fraction of the total welfare budget&mdash;and the difference in spending between AFDC and the TANF program that took its place is <a href="https://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/114th-congress-2015-2016/reports/49887-TANF.pdf" target="_blank">even more minuscule.</a> The truth is that it's barely noticeable compared to <em>increases</em> in social welfare spending during the 90s from changes to CHIP, EITC, the minimum wage, and so forth.</p> <p>On that score, it's worth taking a look at social welfare spending more broadly. But what's the best way? We spend just shy of a trillion dollars a year on social welfare and safety net programs, but that number bounces up and down when the economy goes into recession and more people need help. That tells us more about the economic cycle than it does about anti-poverty programs. Instead, we need to look at spending per person in poverty. This gives us a better idea of how <em>policy</em> has responded to poverty over the past few decades. So here it is:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_welfare_spending.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 13px;"></p> <p>I chose 150 percent of the poverty level as my metric, but the truth is that it doesn't matter much. This chart looks pretty much the same whether you show total spending, per capita spending, or spending per family below the poverty level. If you remove Medicaid from the mix, the spending increase isn't as steep but otherwise looks little different.</p> <p>There are two obvious takeaways from this. First, overall spending on social welfare programs has increased by 3x since 1980. That's pretty substantial. Second, if the 1996 welfare reform act had any effect on this steady rise in spending, you'd need a chart the size of my house to make it out. Perhaps Bernie Sanders knows this, and understands that in the great scheme of things, welfare reform just isn't worth fighting over anymore.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 10 Feb 2016 18:24:58 +0000 Kevin Drum 296521 at http://www.motherjones.com The 2016 Election Is Likely to Be a Close One http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/2016-election-likely-be-close-one <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><span class="trb_ar_by_nm_pm"><span class="trb_ar_by_nm_au" data-byline-withoutby=""><span itemprop="author">In the <em>LA Times</em> today, Maria Bustillos says she can't support Hillary Clinton because of her vote for the Iraq War, her ties to Wall Street, her sellout "pragmatism," and the fact that Henry Kissinger recently said complimentary things about her. "</span></span></span>Those are words that should cause any real progressive of <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_sanders_pointing.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">any gender to damn near have an aneurysm." It's hard to argue with that.</p> <p>So far, no problem. Those are all good reasons to vote for Bernie. <a href="http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-0210-bustillos-female-bernie-voter-20160210-story.html" target="_blank">But what comes next is pretty disturbing:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Much as I support Sanders' lifelong, rock-ribbed liberalism, I might have been persuaded to vote for a Democrat somewhat to the right of him in hopes of bringing some moderate Republicans along for the ride&mdash;especially in view of that party's clown car primary. But none of those halfway-reasonable leftists ran: not Al Gore, not Russ Feingold, not Elizabeth Warren. And the very clownishness of that madly tootling Republican vehicle, I believe, <strong>virtually ensures that whichever Democrat secures the nomination will win the general.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>I wonder how common this belief is? Not too common, I hope, because it's wishful thinking in the extreme. Democrats have held the White House for eight years and the economy is in okay but not great shape. Those are not great fundamentals for a Democratic victory.</p> <p>Now, it's also true that demographic shifts are making the electorate steadily more Democratic. And candidate quality matters: If Republicans nominate a Donald Trump or a Ted Cruz, they'll be shooting themselves in the foot. Nonetheless, every bit of history and political science modeling suggests that this will <em>at least</em> be a close election&mdash;and possibly one that favors Republicans at the start.</p> <p>You should vote for whomever appeals to you. But if you're operating under the delusion that Democrats can literally nominate anyone they want because nobody sane will vote for any of those crazy Republicans, you'd better think twice. This is a belief that betrays both a lazy liberal insularity about the nature of the electorate and an appalling amnesia about a political era that's brought us Ronald Reagan, Newt Gingrich, Tom DeLay, Dick Cheney, Paul Ryan, and the entire tea party. This election is no runaway, folks.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 10 Feb 2016 17:06:01 +0000 Kevin Drum 296506 at http://www.motherjones.com You May Officially Stop Wigging Out About Twitter http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/you-may-officially-stop-wigging-out-about-twitter <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Finally we have some closure. Not in the presidential campaign, of course, which remains in chaos, but in our Twitter feeds. Today we learned that Twitter's new "algorithm" is apparently a feature that curates which tweets you see first <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/11/technology/twitter-announcement-q4-earnings.html?hp&amp;action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;clickSource=story-heading&amp;module=second-column-region&amp;region=top-news&amp;WT.nav=top-news" target="_blank">if you've been away for a while:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The company, based in San Francisco, announced on Wednesday that it would start showing a selection of tweets that a user who has been away from the service might want to see. &ldquo;There are lots of people on Twitter who follow hundreds or even thousands of accounts,&rdquo; Jeff Seibert, Twitter&rsquo;s senior director of product, said in an interview. <strong>&ldquo;When they come back to Twitter, there&rsquo;s actually too much for them to catch up on.&rdquo;</strong></p> <p>Tweets in this update can come from any time, from minutes to hours ago. The idea is to put important tweets up top so the user does not have to wade through less interesting information.</p> <p>....To avoid another panic among its more loyal users, Twitter is carrying out the latest change slowly. <strong>Users will initially have the option to switch on the new feature in the settings menu before it becomes a default setting. Everyone who doesn&rsquo;t like it will be able to turn it off.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Now see? That's not so bad, is it? I will definitely be giving this a try. If it doesn't work out for me, I'll turn it off.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 10 Feb 2016 16:03:59 +0000 Kevin Drum 296491 at http://www.motherjones.com Quote of the Evening: America Currently Suffering Worst Economic Catastrophe in Recorded History http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/quote-evening-america-currently-suffering-worst-economic-catastrophe-recorded-his <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>I know Trump has said this before, so technically it's hardly new. Still, <a href="http://www.vox.com/2016/2/9/10956660/donald-trump-new-hampshire" target="_blank">I mean, it's...it's...oh hell:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>I am going to be the greatest jobs president that God ever created. Remember that. Don't believe those phony numbers when you hear 4.9 percent and 5 percent unemployment. The number's probably 28, 29, as high as 35. In fact, I even heard recently 42 percent. Do you think if we had 5 percent unemployment, do you really think we'd have these gatherings?</p> </blockquote> <p>Yeah, Trump "heard" 42 percent recently. You betcha. Trump hears a lot of things, sort of like Joan of Arc. In any case, I assume Trump keeps saying this because it goes over well with his audiences. Why might this be?</p> <ul><li>Trump fans are really bad at arithmetic.</li> <li>Trump fans know an ungodly number of unemployed people in their immediate circle of friends.</li> <li>Trump fans are really eager to believe the government is lying to them.</li> <li>Trump fans don't actually know what unemployment is.</li> <li>Trump fans don't really have a clue what he's saying. It's just mumbo jumbo delivered with authority, and they love it.</li> </ul><p>I dunno. Could be all of the above, I suppose.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 10 Feb 2016 04:55:42 +0000 Kevin Drum 296481 at http://www.motherjones.com Well, That Was a Boring Night in New Hampshire http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/well-was-boring-night-new-hampshire <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>This has been a shockingly surprise-free evening. Trump and Sanders were both expected to win by about 20 points, and that's what they did. The next four Republicans were expected to bunch up, and that's what <em>they</em> did. Kasich <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_new_hampshire_primary_2016.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">did a little better and Rubio a little worse than the polls showed, but that's all. As for Chris Christie, he bet the farm on New Hampshire and now the mortgage is due. He's toast.</p> <p>So is Kasich, by the way. I'm afraid a 16 percent showing in New Hampshire isn't going to be strong enough to do him any good. More and more, it's starting to look like Trump vs. Cruz for all the marbles, with Rubio and Bush still having outside shots as spoilers.</p> <p>I guess Trump was the big winner tonight. He won big, he's got good numbers in South Carolina, and the race for second place was close enough that probably nobody is going to pull out. As long as Trump is competing with a bunch of rabble, instead of one or two well-funded competitors, he'll probably keep doing pretty well. The only question left is whether the chump faction of the Republican Party is big enough to actually deliver him the nomination. I think I no longer have an opinion about that.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 10 Feb 2016 04:09:24 +0000 Kevin Drum 296471 at http://www.motherjones.com Heavy Drinking Is Primarily a Women's Problem http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/heavy-drinking-primarily-womens-problem <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Back in 2005, South Dakota adopted a program called 24/7 Sobriety. It's pretty simple: if you're convicted of drunk driving, you have to take a breath test twice a day while you're on pretrial release or probation. If you fail, you get tossed in jail for a couple of days.</p> <p>So how has it worked out? According to a new study in <em>Lancet Psychiatry</em>, pretty well. Previous studies had already demonstrated a 12 percent drop in repeat drunk driving, and the new study shows that 24/7 also contributed to a drop of 4.3 percent in all-cause mortality. That's a lot of lives saved. <a href="http://www.vox.com/2016/2/9/10952842/rand-sobriety-study" target="_blank">Mark Kleiman has more of the details here.</a></p> <p>So far, none of this is a big surprise. But another result of the study is more interesting: the decline in mortality was largest among women even though men make <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_247_program_mortality.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">up the vast majority of drunk driving cases. The chart on the right shows the numbers. All-cause mortality barely budged for men but was down 8.3 percent among women. Even more startling, the decline in mortality was mostly due to fewer deaths from circulatory problems and external injuries.</p> <p>But why? The authors make a few suggestions:</p> <blockquote> <p>A well publicised programme such as 24/7 Sobriety...might promote a general deterrent effect. <strong>Another potential mechanism is a reduction in drinking-related problem behaviours among participants,</strong> which might reduce mortality among non-participants (eg, domestic violence).</p> <p><strong>With respect to circulatory deaths among women, one might consider reduced stress due to partner&rsquo;s cessation of heavy drinking.</strong> There might also be spillovers due to changes in the drinking behaviour of participants&rsquo; family and friends. A husband&rsquo;s drinking affects his wife&rsquo;s drinking during the transition into married life and early in the marriage, and transitions in drinking behaviour can have spousal effects even later in life.</p> </blockquote> <p>This is, obviously, speculative. Still, it confirms our intuition that heavy drinking affects friends and family as much or more than it does the heavy drinker himself. Heavy drinkers are far more likely to assault their wives and girlfriends; are more likely to trigger drinking in others; and just generally cause lots of stress and anxiety in those around them. When you cut out the heavy drinking, all of those things are reduced significantly. And the biggest beneficiaries are women.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 10 Feb 2016 01:25:45 +0000 Kevin Drum 296456 at http://www.motherjones.com The Russians Are Doing Surprisingly Well in Syria http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/russians-are-doing-surprisingly-well-syria <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>In the interest of keeping myself honest, I should acknowledge that&mdash;so far, at least&mdash;the Russian incursion in Syria has apparently gone <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/after-four-months-russias-campaign-in-syria-is-proving-successful-for-moscow/2016/02/02/7a65d676-9dd0-11e5-9ad2-568d814bbf3b_story.html" target="_blank">a lot better than I expected:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Under the banner of fighting international terrorism, President Vladimir Putin has reversed the fortunes of forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad....Government forces are now on the offensive, and last week they scored their most significant victory yet....<strong>&ldquo;The operation is considered here to be quite successful,&rdquo;</strong> said Evgeny Buzhinsky, a retired lieutenant general and senior vice president of the Russian Center for Policy Studies <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_russia_air_force.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">in Moscow. It could probably continue for one year or longer, he said, &ldquo;but it will depend on the success on the ground.&rdquo;</p> <p>....<strong>&ldquo;Putin can afford to play geo&shy;political chess in the Middle East because it does not cost much,&rdquo;</strong> said Konstantin von Eggert, an independent political analyst based in Moscow. Entering the conflict in Syria has allowed Putin to combat what he sees as a U.S. policy of regime change, show off his military muscle and reassure allies in the region that Moscow is a loyal partner, von Eggert said.</p> </blockquote> <p>In the past couple of days, thanks to Russian help, Assad has come ever closer to taking control of Aleppo, <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-02-07/tipping-point-in-syria-as-russian-air-power-turns-tide-for-assad" target="_blank">Syria's biggest city:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Gains by Assad and his allies in the past month have squeezed overland supply lines to Turkey that may represent the last bulwark against defeat for the rebels in northern Syria.</p> <p>Assad, who was on the verge of defeat in mid-2015 before Russian President Vladimir Putin stepped in with military support, has wrested back the initiative. <strong>His army last week broke a three-year siege of two villages north of Aleppo. The city is almost encircled, apart from a narrow stretch of contested territory.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>The Russian air force has acquitted itself better than I expected, and Assad's forces have taken advantage of Russian air support better than I expected. It's still early days, of course, and there's a lot more to Syria than Aleppo. Russia could still find itself drawn into a long, pointless quagmire down the road. But it hasn't yet.</p> <p>Over the past decade, Putin has taken on several small-scale military incursions: in Georgia in 2008; in Crimea in 2014; and now in Syria. But small though they may be, they've been executed competently and they've provided the Russian army with invaluable real-world experience. Apparently that's paid off.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 09 Feb 2016 23:05:12 +0000 Kevin Drum 296426 at http://www.motherjones.com Arizona Is Paying a High Price for Cracking Down on Illegal Immigration http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/arizona-paying-high-price-cracking-down-illegal-immigration <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The <em>Wall Street Journal</em> has an interesting look today at the costs and benefits of immigration across the Southern border. After Arizona cracked down on illegal immigration in 2007, their population of undocumented workers dropped by a whopping 40 percent&mdash;<a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-thorny-economics-of-illegal-immigration-1454984443" target="_blank">and it's stayed down since then:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Arizona is a test case of what happens to an economy when such migrants leave, and it illustrates the economic tensions fueling the immigration debate.</p> <p>Economists of opposing political views agree the state&rsquo;s economy took a hit when large numbers of illegal immigrants left for Mexico and other border states, following a broad crackdown. But they also say the reduced competition for low-skilled jobs was a boon for some native-born construction and agricultural workers who got jobs or raises, and that the departures also saved the state money on education and health care. Whether those gains are worth the economic pain is the crux of the debate.</p> </blockquote> <p>You should read the whole thing if you want all the details, including the fact that wages increased about 15 percent for a small number of construction workers and farmworkers&mdash;though Arizona's unemployment rate more generally has been no better than its neighbors'. Beyond that, though, the <em>Journal</em> provides only a graphic summary that doesn't really summarize much. So I've helpfully annotated it for you. It sure looks to me like Arizona has a very long way to go before the benefits of reducing illegal immigration will come anywhere close to the costs.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_arizona_illegal_immigration_0.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 20px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 09 Feb 2016 20:15:07 +0000 Kevin Drum 296401 at http://www.motherjones.com The Worst Argument Ever For Not Drafting Women http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/worst-argument-ever-not-drafting-women <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>I can't say that I've paid a lot of attention to the question of whether women should be required to register for the draft or allowed to serve on the front lines. There are, I'm sure, some good reasons to oppose allowing women in the infantry, <a href="http://www.nationalreview.com/article/431002/women-combat-selective-service-natural-law" target="_blank">but this sure isn't one of them:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Such a policy inverts natural law and the rules that have grounded our civilization for thousands of years. Men should protect women. They should not shelter behind mothers and daughters.</p> </blockquote> <p>That's a <em>National Review</em> editorial. Not a personal opinion piece or a blog post. It's the official and carefully considered institutional view of the magazine. Did they invite Vladimir Putin to guest edit this issue, or what?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 09 Feb 2016 17:41:39 +0000 Kevin Drum 296381 at http://www.motherjones.com Torture Is Having Another Star Turn http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/torture-having-another-star-turn <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><a href="http://www.vox.com/2016/2/9/10950182/donald-trump-ted-cruz" target="_blank">From the "Fascinating Factlets" file:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The FCC, which regulates "indecent material" on broadcast radio and television, does not generally permit the word pussy to be aired between 6 am and 10 pm. That means that though a broadcaster can publish a story containing<iframe align="right" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="258" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/XX4MO7YHqeg?start=0" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;" width="400"></iframe> the word online, it can't do the same on its main network, which has a far broader reach.</p> </blockquote> <p>So...it's fair game after 10 pm? This means that only night owls got to hear Donald Trump's latest bit of puerile insultmongering. Everyone else got the bleeped version, or perhaps no version at all because who needs the grief from pissed-off viewers? In any case, the key takeaway here isn't that Donald Trump called Ted Cruz a pussy. What else would you expect from Trump? The key takeaway is that he was mocking Cruz for not being gung-ho enough about waterboarding, <em>and it was a huge crowd pleaser</em>. The audience went completely gaga over Trump's fetishization of torture. If he had called for prisoners to be tortured on national TV&mdash;"Celebrity Interrogator" hosted by Dick Cheney, maybe&mdash;I think they might have expired on the spot from sheer bliss.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 09 Feb 2016 17:09:02 +0000 Kevin Drum 296361 at http://www.motherjones.com Marco Rubio Is Running for Panicker-in-Chief http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/marco-rubio-running-panicker-chief <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>McKay Coppins <a href="http://www.buzzfeed.com/mckaycoppins/the-anxiety-of-marco-rubio" target="_blank">explains Marco Rubio to the rest of us:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>To those who have known him longest, Rubio's flustered performance Saturday night fit perfectly with an all-too-familiar strain of his personality, one that his handlers and image-makers have labored for years to keep out of public view. Though generally seen as cool-headed and quick on his feet, Rubio is known to friends, allies, and advisers for a kind of incurable anxiousness&mdash;<strong>and an occasional propensity to panic in moments of crisis, both real and imagined.</strong></p> <p>&hellip;More than age, record, or wardrobe, it is Rubio's natural nervousness that makes him seem to so many who know him like he is swimming in his dad's sport coat&hellip;From the moment the 2010 primary turned negative, <strong>the candidate needed a fainting couch every time an attack was lobbed his way,</strong> his aides recalled to me.&hellip;When a state senator who was backing the governor referred to Rubio as a "slick package from Miami," he was aghast and ordered his aides to cry foul. <em>Dog whistle! Anti-Cuban! Racist! </em>When opponents accused Rubio of steering state funds toward Florida International University in exchange for a faculty job after he left office, he was indignant. <em>Outrageous! Slander!</em></p> <p>&hellip;<strong>"He just lets these little things get to him, and he worries too much,"</strong> a Miami Republican complained after spending close to an hour sitting next to Rubio on a flight as he fretted over a mildly critical process story about him in the <em>National Journal</em>. "I'm just like, &lsquo;Marco, calm down.'"</p> </blockquote> <p>Excellent! Rubio sounds like a great primary opponent to me. It should take the Clinton machine about 10 seconds to figure out how to turn him into a puddle of mush on the campaign trail. I think I might start rooting for him to get the nomination after all.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum 2016 Elections Elections marco rubio Tue, 09 Feb 2016 16:34:31 +0000 Kevin Drum 296351 at http://www.motherjones.com