Kevin Drum Feed | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en Here's What It's Like to Work at Planned Parenthood <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Last night, Bryn Greenwood, who worked for Planned Parenthood in the late 90s, <a href="" target="_blank">tweeted about her experience:</a></p> <blockquote> <p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_planned_parenthood_logo.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">I worked at a #PlannedParenthood clinic in Kansas for 3 years. My coworkers &amp; I were subjected to the following acts of terrorism:</p> <blockquote> <ul><li>Gasoline was poured under our back door &amp; ignited 4 times. Twice while the clinic was occupied, causing patients to be evacuated.</li> <li>Butyric acid (used as a stink bomb) was poured under our doors &amp; into ventilation system so many times I lost count. Clinic evacuated.</li> <li>2 cherry bombs were left on our doorstep after hours, causing damage &amp; clinic closure. Imagine what it's like going to work after that.</li> <li>We received hundreds of phone calls, threatening to torch our clinic &amp; to kill the "murdering whores" who worked there.</li> <li>3 times someone drove by at night &amp; shot out our windows. Picketers stood on the sidewalk &amp; harassed employees as we swept up broken glass.</li> </ul></blockquote> <p>Our clinic didn't perform abortions. We did well woman exams, pregnancy tests, dispensed birth control, &amp; treated STIs. Our clinic offered free &amp; low cost services in a low income neighborhood, but every day the "pro-life" movement tried to frighten us. The goal was to make us afraid to come to work, to make us quit, to make us close the clinic. That's terrorism. That's how terrorism works.</p> </blockquote> <p>This is what life is like for women's health providers, even ones who don't perform abortions. I guess I'd urge caution about calling this terrorism, since I'm not sure it does us any good to <em>expand</em> the scope of crimes that are part of the "war on terror." Historically speaking, that hasn't been great for liberal values. Still, it's hard to argue that the goals and methods aren't pretty terrifying&mdash;and that's even without Greenwood mentioning the personal threats implicit in photographing license plates and publishing names and addresses of clinic workers, which are common tactics.</p> <p>After two days of near silence, Republican presidential candidates are finally "praying" for the victims of the Colorado attack. They could hardly avoid it when they were booked on national TV&mdash;and anyway, praying is always OK, even for sinners. Especially for sinners, in fact. It's a turn of phrase that doesn't risk showing even the slightest desire to protect Planned Parenthood from future attacks. Republicans might not want Planned Parenthood workers killed, but they sure don't seem to mind if their angry hordes do everything just short of that.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 30 Nov 2015 16:32:30 +0000 Kevin Drum 290781 at Would You Like Fewer Fries With That? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Aaron Carroll writes today that calorie labeling in restaurants doesn't seem to have any effect. I skimmed through his review of the evidence in order to get to the part of the story where he tells us what <em>does</em> have an effect, but I <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_fries.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">was disappointed. Not surprised, though. Hardly anything works. Here's his single paragraph <a href="" target="_blank">about alternatives:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Previous work in <em>Health Affairs</em> showed that training servers to ask if customers might like to <strong>downsize three starchy sides</strong> induced up to a third of customers to order and eat 200 fewer calories per meal. More recent work in the journal showed that changing the &ldquo;prevalence, prominence and default nature of healthy options&rdquo; on <strong>children&rsquo;s menus</strong> led to sustained changes in what people ordered.</p> </blockquote> <p>I don't know about children's menus, but that first suggestion rings a bell. One of my favorite restaurants offers two sides with dinner entrees. I always order the same thing, and all I want is a single side order of fries. This is all but impossible to get. If I tell my server I want just one order of fries and nothing else, I'm told brightly that it's no trouble to just double up the fries. If I say I don't <em>want</em> two orders of fries, the cook gives them to me anyway. I think they want to fill up the plate and make sure I don't feel ripped off.</p> <p>Suggesting that we downsize calorie-laden sides might be a good idea. But in my experience, the first step is for restaurants to <em>allow</em> sides to be downsized if the customer asks. Baby steps.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 30 Nov 2015 15:48:35 +0000 Kevin Drum 290771 at Kevin's Three Laws of Political Speech <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Following the attack on the Planned Parenthood clinic on Colorado, we are having the usual spats over what kind of political speech is and isn't appropriate. Apropos of that, here are three things I believe. These are not universally fashionable at the moment, but I suppose that's all the more reason to lay them out yet again.</p> <p><strong>Nazi analogies are OK.</strong> Most Americans are not great students of history, and Nazi analogies are often just the most accessible way to make a historical point that you know everyone will get. Generally speaking, comparing a bit of behavior to the Third Reich doesn't mean you're literally accusing someone of being Hitler, and everyone knows it. We should all stop pretending otherwise. What's more, sometimes the comparison is actually apt. For example, pro-lifers claim to believe that abortion is murder, which makes comparisons to the Holocaust perfectly reasonable.</p> <p>Obvious caveats: Don't be an asshole. It's easy to go overboard and trivialize Nazi horrors. This is both insulting and tedious. It also makes you <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_triangle_shirtwaist_cartoon.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">look like an idiot, so have a care. Not everything deserves to be compared to Hitler.</p> <p><strong>There's nothing wrong with politicizing tragedies.</strong> The Triangle Shirtwaist fire prompted a sea change in views of workplace safety, and I think that was just fine. The 9/11 attacks increased public support for the invasion of Iraq, and I assume conservatives think that was just fine. More generally, what's wrong with politicizing tragedies? That's when people are paying attention, which means it's often the best time to mobilize public support to address the issues underlying the tragedy. That's what politics is for, isn't it? If liberals want to use the Planned Parenthood attack to raise public awareness of gun violence and access to abortion, they should go right ahead. If conservatives want to use it to raise public awareness of the number of abortions performed every year, they should feel free to try.</p> <p>Obvious caveats: Don't be an asshole. Wait until we actually know what happened. Show some respect for the victims and their families. Don't lie. Never even hint that the tragedy was in some way deserved.</p> <p><strong>Talk is not responsible for extreme acts, especially by the mentally ill.</strong> Political speech is often fiery. It's often <em>supposed</em> to be fiery, and there's always a risk that a few unhinged listeners will react in extreme ways. That's a chance we have to take. If we rein in political speech to a level where there's literally no risk of anyone reacting badly, we'll have nothing but pabulum. Robert L. Deer might very well have been motivated to attack Planned Parenthood because he heard about them selling fetal tissue, but that doesn't mean it was wrong for activists to bring this to the public's attention.<sup>1</sup></p> <p>Obvious caveats: Don't be an asshole. If you're doing the verbal equivalent of hoisting a pitchfork and telling people to storm the Bastille, don't pretend to be surprised when they storm the Bastille. Directly inciting violence is both legally and morally wrong.</p> <p><sup>1</sup>It was wrong to <em>lie</em> about it, but that's a whole different subject.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 30 Nov 2015 00:21:27 +0000 Kevin Drum 290761 at Ben Carson and the Conservative Grift Machine <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>In the <em>LA Times</em> today Joseph Tanfani and Maloy Moore have a great piece about the American Legacy PAC and its 2014 Save Our Healthcare campaign. It was fronted by Ben Carson, who starred in a video denouncing Obamacare and told viewers, "If you want to hold Washington accountable and truly save American health care, join me and sign our petition<iframe align="right" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="228" src="" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;" width="405"></iframe> today." Needless to say, when you called the toll-free number, it turned out that Carson wanted more than just your John Hancock. <a href="" target="_blank">He also wanted your Benjamins:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>When Juanita McMillon saw his name, she was eager to get out her checkbook. &ldquo;I think he is sincere, and I think he is honest, and I think he is exactly what we need,&rdquo; said McMillon, 80, from the small town of De Kalb in northeast Texas. She gave $350....American Legacy raised close to $6 million in 2014 &mdash; and spent nearly all of it paying the consultants and firms that raised the money. <strong>Just 2% was donated to Republican candidates and committees, financial reports show.</strong></p> <p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m really careful who I give money to, but I guess I did not read it close enough,&rdquo; McMillon said, adding that she had never heard of American Legacy. &ldquo;I prefer to give money to individuals, and I assumed, I guess, that Dr. Carson was getting my money.&rdquo;</p> <p><strong>Though American Legacy didn&rsquo;t raise much money for Obamacare-hating Republicans, it was a success at something else &mdash; finding people willing to give to Carson</strong>....When Carson entered the race, the campaign tapped those donors again. Donnell gave another $250 to the campaign, and McMillon another $450. Of the more than 4,000 donors to American Legacy, more than 25% also ended up giving to the Carson campaign, a <em>Los Angeles Time</em>s analysis showed.</p> </blockquote> <p>This is good reporting, but so far there's nothing all that new here. Conservatives have turned grifting into a high art, and Carson is just the flavor of the month. What makes this piece great is the response from Doug Watts, Carson's campaign spokesman:</p> <blockquote> <p>Watts defended the American Legacy effort and offered assurance to donors. &ldquo;I would say to those people, you did give to Dr. Carson,&rdquo; Watts said. <strong>&ldquo;They participated in the building of a list&rdquo; of donors for the campaign.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Booyah! By giving money to Carson's anti-Obamacare campaign, you identified yourself as a soft touch who would give Carson even more money later on. And that's a big help. Of course, these elderly donors <em>thought</em> they were helping Carson fight Obamacare, because, you know, that's what Carson actually said. But what's the difference? Tomayto, tomahto.</p> <p>Anyway, read the whole thing if you've got the stomach for it.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 28 Nov 2015 20:15:18 +0000 Kevin Drum 290756 at Republican Candidates Are Too Busy This Morning to Denounce Attack on Planned Parenthood Clinic <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>When I went to bed last night, none of the Republican presidential candidates had said anything about the horrific shootings at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado. But that was ten <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_stand_planned_parenthood.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">hours ago, and it's now nearly noon on the East Coast. Anything new?</p> <p>As near as I can tell, no. No tweets, no statements, nothing on Facebook. On Twitter, Donald Trump is still blathering about how much he loves the disabled. Jeb Bush is tweeting about football. Ted Cruz hasn't put up anything new in over a week.<sup>1</sup> Marco Rubio was "sickened" by the killing of Lu&iacute;s Diaz in Venezuela a couple of days ago, but is busy promoting his cold-weather bundle of Rubio gear today. Ben Carson is burnishing his foreign policy credentials by talking to refugees in Jordan. Carly Fiorina has been quiet since Thanksgiving.</p> <p>But it's a holiday weekend, so maybe they've turned off the news to spend more time with their families. All 14 of them. Still, I know they're all resolutely opposed to terrorism and adamantly in favor of law and order, so I'm sure they'll issue uncompromising condemnations sometime soon. After all, we can't allow depraved attacks against health clinics on American soil to be met with silence that could easily be interpreted as backing down in the face of hate. Right?</p> <p><sup>1</sup>Oops. I was fooled by the fact that Cruz has his demand for President Obama to insult him to his face permanently at the top of his feed. But Cruz did indeed tweet something this morning. Here's the full version of his statement <a href="" target="_blank">on Facebook:</a> "My and Heidi's prayers are with the loved ones of those killed in Colorado Springs, with those injured, and with the first responders who bravely got the situation under control." Not exactly a stirring condemnation of violence, but I guess it's a start.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 28 Nov 2015 16:55:25 +0000 Kevin Drum 290751 at Donald Trump and the Politics of Resentment <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>As you surely know by now, the latest round of Republican campaign cretinism came a few days ago when Donald Trump <a href="" target="_blank">mocked a reporter</a> with chronic arthrogryposis, which restricts the movement of his arms <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_trump_kovaleski.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">and hands. Today Josh Marshall posted a brief but spot-on explanation of why Trump is not only not apologizing for this, <a href="" target="_blank">but going on the offensive over it:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>If you're surprised that Donald Trump isn't apologizing for mocking a reporter's physical handicap and doesn't seem to be paying any price for it, let me help. Half of rightwing politics is about resentment over perceived demands for apologies. <strong>Apologies about race, about fear of Muslims, about not being politically correct, about not liking the losers and the moochers, about Christmas, about being being white.</strong> This will hurt Trump about as much as going after Megyn Kelly did. Remember: his biggest applause line at the first GOP debate came for calling Rosie O'Donnell a fat slob.</p> <p>About half the juice of far-right politics in this country is rooted in refusing to apologize when 'elites' or right thinking people reprove you for not being 'politically correct.'</p> </blockquote> <p>The thing about Trump is that he talks as if he's sitting at home with a couple of his buddies. In settings like that, lots of us make casually derisive remarks that we wouldn't make in public.<sup>1</sup> But Trump <em>does</em> say it in public, and to his supporters that's great. He's finally saying the stuff that they're quite sure <em>everybody</em> says in private.</p> <p>The giveaway was this bit from Trump about Kovaleski: "He should stop using his disability to grandstand and get back to reporting for a paper that is rapidly going down the tubes." That's what Trump's fans think is going on all over the place. The blacks, the Hispanics, the disabled, the immigrants, the poor: sure, they've got problems, but who doesn't? They're just making a big deal out of it in order to gain sympathy and government bennies that the rest of us have to pay for. And the worst part is that you <em>know</em> what everyone else is already thinking about this claptrap, but you get in trouble if you <em>say</em> it. Republican candidates have tapped this vein of resentment for years, but usually in coded ways that won't get them in too much hot water. Trump just dives in. Other politicians may have paved the way, but it's Trump who's finally figured out how to turn it into electoral gold.</p> <p><sup>1</sup>Yes, I do it too, and no, for obvious reasons I'm not going to tell you what my sore spots are.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 27 Nov 2015 23:50:32 +0000 Kevin Drum 290746 at Friday Cat Blogging - 27 November 2015 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>I am an idiot. Yesterday, in a fit of bad timing, my camera chose to tell me its memory card was getting full. I had already transferred all the photos to my PC, so I went ahead and deleted everything on the card. Today, I went looking for a terrific Thanksgiving-themed picture of Hilbert that I took a couple of weeks ago, and....I really don't have to finish this story, do I? It turned out I had transferred everything except for about 50 pictures taken two weeks ago. For some reason, I missed those. File recovery restored a bunch of deleted photos, but not the Hilbert pics.</p> <p>It was a really great picture, too. But I guess you'll never see it. Luckily, my sister-in-law came up for dinner yesterday and brought her dogs. So today you get a very special edition of Friday catblogging starring Rupert the dog. Isn't he cute? There are no Thanksgiving pictures of the cats available because they were both upstairs hiding under the bed. They're such brave little furballs.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_rupert_2015_11_27_0.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 115px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 27 Nov 2015 19:13:20 +0000 Kevin Drum 290736 at The Fabulous Memory of Donald Trump <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">Donald Trump</a> on the reporter he mocked a few days ago:</p> <blockquote> <p>Serge Kovaleski must think a lot of himself if he thinks I remember him from decades ago&nbsp;&mdash; <strong>if I ever met him at all, which I doubt I did.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Serge Kovaleski</a> on Donald Trump:</p> <blockquote> <p>In an interview on Thursday, <strong>Mr. Kovaleski said that he met with Mr. Trump repeatedly</strong> when he was a reporter for <em>The Daily News</em> covering the developer&rsquo;s business career in the late 1980s, before joining <em>The Post</em>. &ldquo;Donald and I were on a first-name basis for years,&rdquo; Mr. Kovaleski said. &ldquo;I&rsquo;ve interviewed him in his office,&rdquo; he added. &ldquo;I&rsquo;ve talked to him at press conferences. All in all, I would say around a dozen times, I&rsquo;ve interacted with him as a reporter while I was at <em>The Daily News</em>.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Donald Trump again:</a></p> <blockquote> <p><strong>I have the world's greatest memory.</strong> It's one thing everyone agrees on.</p> </blockquote> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Donald Trump yet again,</a> during the third Republican debate on October 28:</p> <blockquote> <p>BECKY QUICK: You had talked a little bit about Marco Rubio. I think you called him "Mark Zuckerberg&rsquo;s personal senator" because he was in favor of the H-1B visas.</p> <p>&nbsp;DONALD TRUMP: <strong>I never said that. I never said that.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>In fact, Trump had said exactly that in his own immigration plan <em>six weeks earlier</em>. There are legions of examples like this. Perhaps Trump's memory isn't quite as infallible as he thinks? Or maybe his memory is great but he's a serial liar? Decisions, decisions.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 27 Nov 2015 18:20:42 +0000 Kevin Drum 290731 at My Annual Black Friday Post — This Year With Global Updates! <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 10px 0px 5px 1px;"></p> <p>According to the retail industry, "Black Friday" is the day when retail profits for the year go from red to black. Are you skeptical that this is really the origin of the term? You should be. After all, the term <em>Black ___day</em>, in other contexts, has always signified something terrible, like a stock market crash or the start of the Blitz. Is it reasonable to think that retailers deliberately chose this phrase to memorialize their biggest day of the year?</p> <p>Not really. But to get the real story, we'll have to trace its origins back in time. Here's a 1985 article from the <em>Philadelphia Inquirer</em>:</p> <blockquote> <p>[Irwin] Greenberg, a 30-year veteran of the retail trade, says it is a Philadelphia expression. "It surely can't be a merchant's expression," he said. A spot check of retailers from across the country suggests that Greenberg might be on to something.</p> <p>"I've never heard it before," laughed Carol Sanger, a spokeswoman for Federated Department Stores in <strong>Cincinnati</strong>&hellip;"I have no idea what it means," said Bill Dombrowski, director of media relations for Carter Hawley Hale Stores Inc. in <strong>Los Angeles</strong>&hellip;From the National Retail Merchants Association, the industry's trade association in <strong>New York</strong>, came this terse statement: "Black Friday is not an accepted term in the retail industry&hellip;"</p> </blockquote> <p>Hmm. So as recently as 1985 it wasn't in common use nationwide. It was only in common use in Philadelphia. But why? If we go back to 1975, the <em>New York Times</em> informs us that it has something to do with the Army-Navy game. The <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 20px 15px 30px;">gist of the story is that crowds used to pour into Philadelphia on the Friday after Thanksgiving to shop, they'd stay over to watch the game on Saturday, and then go home. It was the huge crowds that gave the day its bleak name.</p> <p>But how old is the expression? When did it start? If we go back yet another decade we can find a Philly reference as early as 1966. An advertisement that year in the<em> American Philatelist</em> from a stamp shop in Philadelphia starts out: "'Black Friday' is the name which the Philadelphia Police Department has given to the Friday following Thanksgiving Day. It is not a term of endearment to them. 'Black Friday' officially opens the Christmas shopping season in center city, and it usually brings massive traffic jams and over-crowded sidewalks as the downtown stores are mobbed from opening to closing."</p> <p>But it goes back further than that. A couple of years ago I got an email from a Philadelphia reader who recalled the warnings she got from the older women at Wanamaker's department store <a href="" target="_blank">when she worked there in 1971:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>They warned me to be prepared for the hoards of obnoxious brats and their demanding parents that would alight from the banks of elevators onto the eighth floor toy department, all racing to see the latest toys on their way to visit Santa. The feeling of impending doom sticks with me to this day. <strong>The experienced old ladies that had worked there for years called it "Black Friday."</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>"For years." But how many years? Ben Zimmer collects some evidence that the term was already in common use by 1961 (common enough that Philly merchants were trying to change the term to "Big Friday"), and passes along an interview with Joseph Barrett, who recounted his role in popularizing the expression <a href="" target="_blank">when he worked as a reporter in Philadelphia:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>In 1959, the old <em>Evening Bulletin</em> assigned me to police administration, working out of City Hall. Nathan Kleger was the police reporter who covered Center City for the Bulletin. In the early 1960s, Kleger and I put together a front-page story for Thanksgiving and we appropriated the police term "Black Friday" to describe the terrible traffic conditions. Center City merchants complained loudly to Police Commissioner Albert N. Brown that drawing attention to traffic deterred customers from coming downtown. I was worried that maybe Kleger and I had made a mistake in using such a term, so I went to Chief Inspector Albert Trimmer to get him to verify it.</p> </blockquote> <p>So all the evidence points in one direction. The term originated in Philadelphia, probably sometime in the 50s, and wasn't in common use in the rest of the country until decades later. And it did indeed refer to something unpleasant: the gigantic Army-Navy-post-Thanksgiving day crowds and traffic jams, which both retail workers and police officers dreaded. The retail industry originally loathed the term, and the whole "red to black" fairy tale was tacked on sometime in the 80s by an overcaffeinated flack trying to put lipstick on a pig that had gotten a little too embarrassing for America's shopkeepers. The first reference that I've found to this usage <a href="" target="_blank">was in 1982,</a> and by the early 90s it had become the official story.</p> <p>And today everyone believes it, which is a pretty good demonstration of the power of corporate PR. But now you know the real story behind Black Friday.</p> <p><strong>UPDATE:</strong> Last year, the future of Black Friday was global domination. This year, the future of Black Friday is....<a href="" target="_blank">better decorum?</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Last year, British retail chains embraced Black Friday as a way to get a jump-start on the holiday shopping season. What followed was, as the Brits would say, a shambles....Now, retailers are following a different tack. Some are simply abandoning the shopfest. Others will still do Black Friday, despite the frenzy, because shoppers will be buying....But the day will be a bit more subdued. More refined. More, well, British.</p> <p>Walmart&rsquo;s Asda chain was among the first British merchants to adopt Black Friday in 2013, and it&rsquo;s leading the retreat. Its decision to drum up publicity at one London store last year backfired spectacularly when camera crews filmed hordes of shoppers barging through the doors and fighting over an inadequate number of cheap smartphones and video games. To prevent a repeat of the unseemly drama, Asda canceled Black Friday this year and will spread its discounting from November into January. &ldquo;Black Friday in its current guise has gone,&rdquo; says Asda Chief Executive Officer Andy Clarke. &ldquo;It will be interesting to see how many retailers continue it next year.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>I feel certain this is just a temporary setback. America may lead the world in displays of unfettered greed, but it's a universal human aspiration. It's just that it takes a little while to get used to an annual spectacle based on huge mobs of people trampling widows and orphans in order to get good deals on smartphones. But the Romans got used to it,<sup>1</sup> and it helped them forge an empire.</p> <p>Elsewhere, the American tradition of post-Thanksgiving shopping mobs is being imported as&nbsp;<em>Vendredi Noir</em>, <em>Viernes Negro</em>, and plain old English Black Friday. It has now made its way into Colombia, Bolivia, Ireland, Denmark, Sweden, South Africa, Nigeria, Lebanon, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Brazil, Costa Rica, Panama, Australia, India, and Mexico. Its foothold is still tentative, possibly because in these countries today is just another Friday. It's not even a day off work, as God intended. But fear not. Like Halloween, Black Friday is yet another vulgar American holiday that will soon wrap its clammy tentacles around households throughout the world.</p> <p><sup>1</sup>Though in their case, it was mobs of people rushing the&nbsp;<em>Mercatus Traiani</em> for Saturnalia deals on dormouse pie with oyster sauce.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 27 Nov 2015 13:00:14 +0000 Kevin Drum 290726 at Happy Thanksgiving! <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Aren't they cute when they're asleep? In reality, of course, they're just storing up energy for later. They will strike when all the humans are sated with turkey and don't have the energy to fight back.</p> <p>Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! And remember: no shopping today. Tomorrow is soon enough. Fight the power.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_hilbert_hopper_2015_11_26.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 5px 60px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 26 Nov 2015 16:53:14 +0000 Kevin Drum 290721 at A Stunning Series of Screw-Ups Led to October's US Strike on an Afghan Hospital <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The Pentagon has completed its investigation of the US attack on a hospital in Afghanistan operated by Doctors Without Borders, and it paints a grim picture. Gen. John Campbell, the top commander <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_msf_hospital_kunduz.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">in Afghanistan, delivered <a href="" target="_blank">a summary of the investigation today:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>According to the military's investigation, the special operations gunship had sought to attack a building suspected of being used as a base by Taliban insurgents, but the plane's onboard targeting system identified the coordinates as an open field. <strong>The crew decided to open fire on a nearby large building, not knowing that it was the Doctors Without Borders hospital.</strong></p> <p>....When the gunship flew closer, its targeting system "correctly aligned" with the intelligence building, not the hospital, <strong>but the crew ignored the system,</strong> he said. The AC-130 aircraft had launched more than an hour early <strong>"without conducting a normal mission brief"</strong> or receiving a list of locations that it was barred from attacking, including the hospital, he said.</p> <p>....A minute before the gunship started firing, the crew transmitted the coordinates of their target to their headquarters at Bagram Airfield, north of Kabul, giving the accurate location of the hospital, Campbell said. <strong>The headquarters "did not realize that the grid coordinates for the target matched a location on the no-strike list," he said.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>In summary: the gunship crew left without getting briefed. Their targeting system malfunctioned, so they decided to open fire on the nearest large building instead. When the targeting system later found the right building, the crew ignored it. And when they sent coordinates to headquarters, nobody there matched it up with their no-strike list.</p> <p>If this is the whole truth, it's a pretty stunning series of screw-ups. If it's not the whole truth, then something even worse happened. We may never know which.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 25 Nov 2015 20:29:04 +0000 Kevin Drum 290716 at Why Did Democrats Lose the White South? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Modern conservatives are oddly fond of pointing out that it was Democrats who were the party of racism and racists until half a century ago. There's always an implied "Aha!" whenever a conservative mentions this, as though they think it's some little-known quirk of history that Democrats try to keep hidden because it's so embarrassing.</p> <p>It's not, of course. Abraham Lincoln was the first Republican president, and Republicans were the face of Reconstruction and voting rights for blacks after the Civil War. Because of this, the South became solidly Democratic and stayed that way until World War II. But in the 1940s, racist white southerners gradually began defecting to the Republican Party, and then began defecting en masse during the fight over the 1964 Civil Rights Act.</p> <p>But wait: the 1940s? If Southern whites began defecting that early, then partisan changes in racial tolerance couldn't have been their motivation. Right?</p> <p>But it was. The Civil Rights movement didn't spring out of nothing in 1964, after all. Eleanor Roosevelt was a tireless champion of civil rights, and famously resigned from the DAR when they refused to allow singer Marian Anderson to perform at Constitution Hall in 1939. FDR was far more constrained by his need for Southern votes in Congress&mdash;and it showed in most New Deal <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_eleanor_roosevelt_marion_anderson.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 25px 0px 15px 30px;">programs&mdash;but the WPA gave blacks a fair shake and Harold Ickes poured a lot of money into black schools and hospitals in the South. In 1941 FDR signed a nondiscrimination order for the national defense industry&mdash;the first of its kind&mdash;and he generally provided African-Americans with more visibility in his administration than they had ever enjoyed before. After decades of getting little back from Republicans despite their loyal support, this was enough to make blacks a key part of the New Deal Coalition and turn them into an increasingly solid voting bloc for the Democratic Party.</p> <p>From a Southern white perspective, this made the Democratic Party a less welcoming home, and it continued to get less welcoming in the two decades that followed. Harry Truman integrated the military in 1948, and Hubert Humphrey famously delivered a stemwinding civil rights speech at the Democratic convention that year. LBJ was instrumental in passing the Civil Rights Act of 1957, while Republican Dwight Eisenhower was widely viewed&mdash;rightly or wrongly&mdash;as unsympathetic to civil rights during the 1950s.</p> <p>In other words, Southern whites who wanted to keep Jim Crow intact had plenty of reasons to steadily desert the Democratic Party and join the GOP starting around World War II. By the early 60s they were primed and ready to begin a massive exodus from the increasingly black-friendly Democratic Party, and exit they did. Barry Goldwater, the 1964 GOP nominee, refused to support the Civil Rights Act that year, and influential conservative thinkers like William F. Buckley were decidedly unfriendly toward black equality. This made the Republican Party more and more appealing to Southern white racists, and by 1968 Richard Nixon decided to explicitly reach out to them with a campaign based on states' rights and "law and order." Over the next two decades, the Democratic Party became ever less tolerant of racist sentiment and the exodus continued. By 1994, when Georgia Republican Newt Gingrich won a landslide victory in the midterm elections, the transition of the white South from solidly Democratic to solidly Republican was basically complete.</p> <p>This history is what makes the conservative habit of pointing out that Democrats were the original racists so peculiar. It's true, but it makes the transformation of the party even <em>more</em> admirable. Losing the South was a huge electoral risk, but Democrats took that risk anyway. That made it far more meaningful and courageous than if there had been no price to pay.</p> <p>Despite all this, conservatives still like to argue that the surge in Southern white support for the Republican Party was driven not by racism, but by other factors: economic growth; migration from other regions; and by the evolution of Democratic views on redistribution, free speech, abortion, and other issues. Unfortunately, it's hard to find quantitative data that can settle this dispute.</p> <p>But a couple of researchers recently found some: Gallup poll data starting in the late 50s that asks if you'd be willing to vote for a qualified presidential candidate who happened to be black. Respondents who answered no were coded (quite reasonably) as racially conservative. They then looked at differences between the Democratic Party ID of Southern whites who were and weren't racially conservative. <a href="" target="_blank">Here's their conclusion:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>We find that except for issues involving racial integration and discrimination, whites in the South and elsewhere have indistinguishable preferences on both domestic and foreign policy in the 1950s....We find no evidence that white Southerners who have negative views of women, Catholics or Jews differentially leave the Democratic party in 1963; <strong>the exodus is specific to those who are <em>racially</em> conservative.</strong> Finally, we <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_white_southern_dem_decline_1963_0.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">find no role for Southern economic development in explaining dealignment.</p> </blockquote> <p>The charts on the right show one specific data point: JFK's televised civil rights speech of June 11, 1963. Among Southern whites, approval of JFK plummets right at that moment (top chart). And in the Gallup polls, racially conservative Southern whites leave the party in droves (bottom chart). This is not a steady decline. It's a sharp, sudden exodus at a specific moment in time.</p> <p>So: why did Democrats lose the white South? For the reason common sense and all the evidence suggests: because the party became too liberal on civil rights, and racist white Southerners didn't like it. Southern white flight from the party began in the 1940s, took a sharp dive in the early 60s, and continued to decline for several decades after as Democrats became ever more committed to black equality. This might not be the only reason for Southern realignment, but it's surely the most important by a long stretch.</p> <p>For more on both this study and the Southern Strategy of the Nixon era, <a href="" target="_blank">Wonkblog's Max Ehrenfreund has you covered.</a></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 25 Nov 2015 18:48:22 +0000 Kevin Drum 290651 at Marco Rubio Sure Does Have a Lot of (Very, Very) Secret Admirers <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>We all know that dark money is this year's hotness, right? So who's the king of dark money? It turns out the answer is Marco Rubio. Other candidates all have their Super PACs, but Super PACs disclose their donors. Rubio has the Conservative Solutions Project, a 501(c)(4) that doesn't. <a href="" target="_blank">And as Andrew Prokop points out,</a> CSP has been responsible for virtually all of the TV ads so far promoting Rubio.</p> <p>Wait&mdash;allow me to revise and extend. 501(c)(4) groups aren't allowed to promote candidates, so of course CSP isn't doing so. It's doing "issue education." Like this, for example:</p> <p><iframe align="middle" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="260" src="" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 90px;" width="480"></iframe></p> <p>Can you feel the education? Sure you can! So far Rubio's buddies who run CSP have spent $8.4 million educating us about the problems facing America and the types of fresh, young, Cuban-American men who are leading the charge to solve them. For some reason though, none of the worthies involved in this issue education care to make their largesse public. I wonder what they've got to hide?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 25 Nov 2015 17:37:57 +0000 Kevin Drum 290691 at Russia Is Paying a Price for Vladimir Putin's Napoleon Complex <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Russia says its pilot received no warning before Turkey shot down one of its fighters on Tuesday. Turkey says it gave plenty of warning. <a href="" target="_blank">Here's the <em>New York Times</em> today:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>A United States military spokesman, Col. Steven Warren, <strong>confirmed on Tuesday that Turkish pilots had warned the Russian pilot 10 times, but that the Russian jet ignored the warnings</strong>....At the emergency NATO meeting, Turkish officials played recordings of the warnings Turkish F-16 pilots had issued to the Russian aircraft. The Russian pilots did not reply.</p> </blockquote> <p>The fact that the US says this doesn't automatically make it true. On the other hand, I wouldn't believe Vladimir Putin without checking for myself if he told me the sky was blue. So while it's entirely likely that both sides have been testing each other for the past couple of weeks, my best guess at this point is that Russia has flown over the Hatay peninsula repeatedly and been warned about it, but continued doing it anyway. This kind of provocation is pretty common in Putin's Russia. This time, though, he did it to a country headed by a guy much like himself, and he paid the price for it.</p> <p>So what happens now? <a href="" target="_blank">"We're not going to war against Turkey,"</a> the Russian foreign minister said today, but Russia will probably announce some kind of symbolic reprisal soon. And that will be that. Putin is discovering to his sorrow that Syria is not quite the same as Crimea or South Ossetia. It's all great when you can show off your shiny new cruise missiles on the nightly news, but this isn't a war that will be over in a few weeks because there's nobody to fight back. It's a never-ending quagmire, and there's not really much in it for Russia.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 25 Nov 2015 17:05:54 +0000 Kevin Drum 290666 at President Obama Has a Different Job Than President Hollande <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Dana Milbank was unimpressed by the contrast Barack Obama made yesterday during his press conference with French president Fran&ccedil;ois Hollande. Hollande was animated and can-do about destroying <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_obama_hollande.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">ISIS, while Obama was....<a href="" target="_blank">a little more realistic about things:</a></p> <blockquote> <p><strong>Tough talk won&rsquo;t defeat terrorists &mdash; but it will rally a nation</strong>. It&rsquo;s no mere coincidence that the unpopular Hollande&rsquo;s support has increased during his forceful response to the attacks, while Obama&rsquo;s poll numbers are down.</p> <p>The importance of language was very clear at the White House on Tuesday, even in translation. There was little difference in their strategies for fighting the Islamic State, but Hollande was upbeat and can-do, while Obama was discouraging and lawyerly. It was as if the smoke-&rsquo;em-out spirit of George W. Bush had been transplanted into the body of a short, pudgy, bespectacled French socialist with wrinkled suit-pants.</p> <p>....Hollande spoke of a new era. &ldquo;There is a new mind-set now,&rdquo; Hollande said. &ldquo;And those who believed that we could wait&rdquo; now realize &ldquo;the risk is everywhere . . . . We, therefore, must act.&rdquo;</p> <p>Then came President Oh-bummer. &ldquo;Syria has broken down,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;And it is going to be a difficult, long, methodical process to bring back together various factions within Syria to maintain a Syrian state.&rdquo;</p> <p><strong>Maybe you can motivate people when you sound so discouraging. But it&rsquo;s hard.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Aside from the fact that Milbank is cherry picking a bit here, I think he misses a few things. First is the most obvious: France is the country that was just attacked. <em>Of course</em> its president is the more emotional one. Hollande would seem more emotional than pretty much anyone he was paired up with. Have you ever seen Angela Merkel at a press conference?</p> <p>Second, let's face facts: over the past year France has probably conducted no more than a few hundred airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq. It only started strikes against ISIS in Syria last month. When Hollande says "we must act," he's basically asking the United States to act.</p> <p>Third and most important: Obama isn't <em>trying</em> to rally a nation. Just the opposite, maybe. He's been down this road before, and he's well aware that revving up the public for a splendid little war requires no effort at all&mdash;especially during campaign season. When reporters demand to know why we can't just "take out the bastards," it's obvious that Obama has a different job than Hollande. He's not trying to rally a nation, he's trying to keep everyone grounded about exactly what we can do. And for that I say: good for him. It's harder and less satisfying than preaching fire and brimstone, but in the long run it's better for the country.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 25 Nov 2015 15:53:15 +0000 Kevin Drum 290656 at The Case For Donald Trump Being a Liar Is Overwhelming <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>I've gotten some pushback on <a href="" target="_blank">my post</a> about calling Donald Trump's serial tall tales <em>lying</em>. The main objection is an obvious one: something is only a lie if you tell it knowingly. Trump tells lots of whoppers, but maybe he's just misinformed. Or, in cases like the Jersey City Muslims, <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_trump_shrugging.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">maybe he's convinced himself that he really saw them cheering on 9/11. There's no way to know for sure.</p> <p>This is true: we can't know <em>for sure</em>. But in Trump's case we can be <em>pretty damn sure</em>. After all, this hasn't happened once or twice or three times. It's happened dozens of times on practically a daily basis. He doesn't just tell these stories until somebody corrects him. He blithely keeps on telling them long after he must know they're untrue. And while memory can fail, Trump has, by my count, told at least seven separate stories based on his own memory for which there is either (a) no evidence or (b) directly contradictory evidence.<sup>1</sup> Some of them are for things that had happened only a few days or weeks before.</p> <p>If you're waiting for absolute, watertight, 100 percent proof of a knowing lie, you'll probably never get it. But the case in favor of Trump being a serial liar is overwhelming&mdash;and in the fallen world in which we live, this is how adults have to make judgments about people. Given the evidence at hand, there's simply no reasonable conclusion except one: Donald Trump is a serial liar.</p> <p><sup>1</sup>On my list of <a href="" target="_blank">Trump fabrications,</a> they are numbers 1, 6, 8, 13, 18, 19, and 26.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 25 Nov 2015 03:06:28 +0000 Kevin Drum 290646 at Quote of the Day: Here's What the Republican Primary Has Come To <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Gideon Resnick shows us what the Republican primary <a href="" target="_blank">has come to:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>A Carson campaign official told CBS News on Sunday that the candidate has considered taking a trip to Asia, Africa, or Australia in order to do something &ldquo;eye-opening&rdquo; prior to the Iowa caucus in February....(Australia was likely in the mix because Carson says he spent time working there at Charles Gairdner Hospital in 1983, according to his autobiography <em>Gifted Hands</em>. <strong>The <em>Daily Beast</em> has reached out to the hospital to confirm.</strong>)</p> </blockquote> <p>A leading presidential candidate makes a simple, entirely plausible statement in his autobiography and yet a reporter feels like maybe he ought to make a call to double check it. Just in case. And I can't say that I blame him.</p> <p>(Fine: I'm being snarky. For the record, I believe that Carson really was there.)</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 25 Nov 2015 02:28:37 +0000 Kevin Drum 290641 at The Big Problem With Electric Cars: They're Too Reliable <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Matt Richtel has an intriguing article today in the <em>New York Times</em> about electric cars. The question is: why aren't they selling better? Is it because they have weak performance? Because they can <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_electric_car.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">only go a hundred miles on a charge? Because they're expensive?</p> <p>Those are all issues.<sup>1</sup> But it turns out that people who want to buy an electric car anyway have a hard time <a href="" target="_blank">getting dealerships to sell them one:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Kyle Gray, a BMW salesman, said he was personally enthusiastic about the technology, but...the sales process takes more time because the technology is new, cutting into commissions....Marc Detsch, Nissan&rsquo;s business development manager for electric vehicles said some salespeople just can&rsquo;t rationalize the time it takes to sell the cars. <strong>A salesperson &ldquo;can sell two gas burners in less than it takes to sell a Leaf,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a lot of work for a little pay.&rdquo;</strong></p> <p><strong>He also pointed to the potential loss of service revenue. &ldquo;There&rsquo;s nothing much to go wrong,&rdquo; Mr. Deutsch said of electric cars.</strong> &ldquo;There&rsquo;s no transmission to go bad.&rdquo;....Jared Allen, a spokesman for the National Automobile Dealers Association, said there wasn&rsquo;t sufficient data to prove that electric cars would require less maintenance. But he acknowledged that service was crucial to dealer profits and that dealers didn&rsquo;t want to push consumers into electric cars that might make them less inclined to return for service.</p> </blockquote> <p>I suppose this makes sense. And to all this, you can add the fact that none of these cars can fly. There are so many hurdles to overcome before we make it into the Jetson's future we were all promised.</p> <p><sup>1</sup>We are, of course, talking about the non-Tesla market here.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 24 Nov 2015 22:11:52 +0000 Kevin Drum 290601 at Donald Trump Is a Pathological Liar. It's Time to Stop Tiptoeing Around This. <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Let's take a look at a few headlines about Donald Trump lately:</p> <blockquote> <p><a href="" target="_blank">CNN:</a> Does Donald Trump <strong>transcend</strong> the truth?</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">New York Times:</a> Donald Trump&rsquo;s <strong>shortcuts and salesmanlike stretches</strong></p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">ABC News:</a> Donald Trump gaining strength despite <strong>questionable</strong> comments</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">The Atlantic:</a> Donald Trump's <strong>fact-free</strong> weekend</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Washington Post:</a> Donald Trump is leading an increasingly <strong>fact-free</strong> 2016 campaign</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">NBC News:</a> Amid outcry, Trump continues campaign of <strong>controversy</strong></p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">BBC:</a> Trump <strong>'wrong'</strong> in claiming US Arabs cheered 9/11 attacks</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">CBS New York:</a> Evidence supporting Trump&rsquo;s claim of Jersey City Muslims cheering on 9/11 is <strong>hard to come by</strong></p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Business Insider:</a> Donald Trump declares massive victory on his <strong>widely disputed</strong> claim about 9/11</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Los Angeles Times:</a> When it comes to Syrian refugees and fighting Islamic State, Trump <strong>wings it</strong></p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">USA Today:</a> Trump defends tweet with <strong>faulty</strong> crime stats as 'a retweet'</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Fox News:</a> Trump tweet on black crime sets off <strong>firestorm</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>It's way past time for this stuff. You can call Trump's statements <em>lies</em> or <em>fabrications</em> or even <em>falsehoods</em> if you insist on being delicate about it. But you can't call them questionable or controversial or salesmanlike or disputed or even faulty. The man is a serial, pathological liar. Isn't it about time for the journalistic community to work up the courage to report this with clear eyes?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 24 Nov 2015 19:35:45 +0000 Kevin Drum 290586 at Who's the Most Humble? We Are! <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_jesus_eat_sinners.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">People For the American Way emails to highlight something from last Friday's pre-Thanksgiving celebration of Christian virtue in Iowa. <a href="" target="_blank">Here is Carly Fiorina:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>"I do think it's worth saying," Fiorina declared, "<strong>that people of faith make better leaders</strong> because faith gives us humility, faith teaches us that no one of us is greater than any other one of us, that each of us are gifted by God. Faith gives us empathy; we know that all of us can fall and every one of us can be redeemed. And faith gives us optimism, it gives us the belief that there is something better, that there is someone bigger than all of us."</p> </blockquote> <p>PFAW is doing the Lord's work here&mdash;so to speak&mdash;but I can't get too worked up about this. It's annoying, but what do you expect at a big gathering of evangelical Christians in Iowa? But then there's this from omnipresent messaging guru Frank Luntz:</p> <blockquote> <p>Luntz then followed up on Fiorina's statement by declaring that "I can back that up statistically," asserting that <strong>"every single positive factor that you can describe is directly correlated to someone's relationship with faith, with God, and all the pathologies that you would criticize are directly related to a rejection of God."</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>You know, I've got nothing against organized religion. It provides an important part of life for a lot of people and does a lot of good charitable work. It also does some harm, but what human organization doesn't?</p> <p><strong>&lt;rant volume=7&gt;</strong></p> <p>But it sure does get tiresome to hear Christians like Fiorina constantly preening about how great they are and then in their next breath boasting about their humility. Fiorina also explicitly suggests that nonbelievers are second-rate leaders and then immediately congratulates believers like herself for their empathy. As for optimism, I have rarely come across a community more convinced that the entire country has become a grim and ghastly abomination than evangelical Christians. Generally speaking, I'd say that evangelical Christians&mdash;the ones who blather in public anyway&mdash;are among the least humble, least empathetic, and least optimistic people in the country.</p> <p>Still, you can just chalk all this up to political hyperbole and let it go. But then Luntz steps in to bring the Science&trade;. It's not just Fiorina's <em>opinion</em> that believers are better than nonbelievers. By God, Luntz can <em>prove</em> that every single bad thing in the world is due to unbelievers. Who needs faith when you have dial tests? So there you have it: Revel in your overwhelming superiority, Christians. What better way to win sympathy for your views?</p> <p><strong>&lt;/rant&gt;</strong></p> <p>Have a nice Thanksgiving, everyone. Eat with a few sinners and publicans this year, OK?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 24 Nov 2015 19:03:43 +0000 Kevin Drum 290581 at Here's a Look at the Memes That Climate Denialists Are Funding These Days <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>How does climate denial work? Who funds it? <a href="" target="_blank">In the <em>Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences</em>,</a> Justin Farrell used network analysis to take a detailed look at a massive corpus of 41,000 texts written between 1993 and 2013 and came up with an unsurprising answer to the second question: ExxonMobil and the Koch family foundations are the 800-pound gorillas here. But it's not just <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_co2_is_good.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">direct contributions from these two that matter. They also act as a signal of approval for everyone else: "Donations from these corporate benefactors signals entry into a powerful network of influence," Farrell says.</p> <p>Perhaps the most intriguing finding, however, is that climate denial is faddish. Certain themes get hot for a while and then get replaced by others. For example, take a look at the chart on the right. Is CO<sub>2</sub> good? Well, sure: without it all of Earth's plants would die and then we'd die too. Duh. But around 2008 we saw a spurt of op-eds and videos telling us that since "CO<sub>2</sub> is life," then more CO<sub>2</sub> must be a good thing, not a bad one. <a href="" target="_blank">Remember those?</a> But what prompted this idiocy? As the chart shows, organizations that received no funding from corporate denialists never adopted this meme. But among organizations that <em>did</em> receive funding, the "CO<sub>2</sub> is life" meme skyrocketed.</p> <p>You can see similar dynamics with other denialist memes, which have all had both fallow and active periods. Interestingly, though, the four memes Farrell studied are all in active periods right now. Hyperactive, even. And those memes all took off at the same time: around 2007-09. This might be related to the public embrace of Al Gore's <em>Inconvenient Truth</em>, or it might be related to the election of a Democratic president. Or both. Farrell's research doesn't tell us. Just for the record, though, here are the four memes he identified. I have taken the liberty of translating them into language we can all understand:</p> <ul><li>The great "global warming pause" based on using 1998 as a baseline.</li> <li>Energy production means more jobs and more growth.</li> <li>CO<sub>2</sub>: You call it pollution, we call it life.</li> <li>Hey, global temperatures go up and down all the time throughout history.</li> </ul><p>According to Farrell's data, all of these memes are still in full flower. This is surprising since I haven't seen the "CO<sub>2</sub> is life" nonsense lately. Maybe it's just gone underground. In any case, now you know where it comes from.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 24 Nov 2015 17:48:23 +0000 Kevin Drum 290566 at How Popular Is Your Senator? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">Martin Longman</a> points us this morning to Morning Consult, which has a fun list of the <a href="" target="_blank">most and least popular senators in America.</a> The most popular senator <em>in his home state</em> is Bernie Sanders; the least popular is either Bob Menendez or Mitch McConnell, depending on whether you go by approval or disapproval ratings. But which <em>states</em> are the most and least satisfied? That turns out to be surprisingly easy to figure out:</p> <ul><li>Vermont is the happiest state. Vermonters really like both Sanders and Patrick Leahy. Maine and Wyoming also do well.</li> <li>Arizona is the grumpiest state. Both John McCain and Jeff Flake have sky-high disapproval levels. Kentucky is also pretty unhappy with its senators.</li> </ul><p>On another note, not a single state that begins with A has a Democratic senator. How about that?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 24 Nov 2015 16:50:40 +0000 Kevin Drum 290546 at Turkey Shoots Down Russian Jet <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><iframe align="right" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="258" src="" style="margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;" width="400"></iframe>Turkey shot down a Russian jet today. Since Vladimir Putin is a real leader, not the featherweight we have here in America, I'll bet he made it crystal clear what price Turkey would pay for this. <a href="" target="_blank">Let's listen in:</a></p> <blockquote> <p><strong>Certainly, we will analyze what's happening very seriously,</strong> and today's tragic event will have serious consequences for Russian-Turkish relations. We have always treated Turkey as not just a close neighbor, but as a friendly state. I don't know in whose interests today's incident is, <strong>but it's not in our interest.</strong> And instead of immediately establishing the necessary contacting us, the Turkish authorities immediately their NATO partners, as if we downed a Turkish jet.</p> </blockquote> <p>How....very Obama-like. But we'll see what happens. This intervention just keeps getting worse and worse.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 24 Nov 2015 16:18:32 +0000 Kevin Drum 290531 at An Incomplete Catalog of Donald Trump's Never-Ending Fabrications <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>There's a legal term applied to advertising called "puffery." For example, if Coca-Cola says Coke is the best-tasting soda in the world, that's just puffery. They can't prove it, but that's okay, even if polls show that most people prefer Pepsi. Legally, statements like this are evaluated not as strictly factual claims, but as mere ordinary boasting, something that "ordinary consumers do not take seriously."</p> <p>The same concept applies to politics. Presidential candidates always say their tax plans will balance, they'll crush every one of our enemies, and the current incumbent is the worst ever in history. This is just puffery. It's worth pushing back on, but it's not generally a hanging offense.</p> <p>But Donald Trump is different. Sure, his picture is probably in the dictionary next to the word "puffery," but he also&nbsp;tosses out wild howlers with a con man's breezy assurance and tells flat-out lies as a matter of routine. He'll say things one day, and 24 hours later he'll blandly insist he's being malignly misquoted even though it's all on tape. These aren't just exaggerations or spin or cherry picking. They're things that are flatly, incontrovertibly wrong.</p> <p>And that's not all. Trump doesn't do this only in private or only when he's under pressure. Nor does he do it to cover up dubious past deeds. That would at least be normal human weakness. Rather, he does it again and again in front of huge crowds and on national TV, whether he needs to or not. It's just his normal, everyday behavior.</p> <p>We need an official list of this stuff. Like I said: not exaggerations or spin or cherry picking. Things that are just plain wrong. Here's a start:</p> <ol><li>On 9/11, he personally saw <a href="" target="_blank">thousands of Muslims in Jersey City cheering.</a></li> <li>He never said Marco Rubio was <a href="" target="_blank">Mark Zuckerberg's "personal senator."</a></li> <li>There are actually <a href="" target="_blank">93 million people not working</a> and the real unemployment rate is about 40 percent.</li> <li>The Obama administration is <a href="" target="_blank">sending Syrian refugees to red states.</a></li> <li>Climate change is a <a href="" target="_blank">hoax invented by the Chinese.</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank">He opposed the Iraq War</a> and has dozens of news clippings to prove it.</li> <li><a href="" target="_blank">Thirteen Syrian refugees</a> were "caught trying to get into the U.S." (Actually, they just walked up and requested asylum.)</li> <li>He never said the stuff&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Megyn Kelly accused him of saying</a> in the first debate.</li> <li><a href="" target="_blank">He will allow guns</a> at Trump golf resorts.</li> <li><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_politifact_donald_trump_0.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 35px 0px 10px 30px;">People on the terrorism watch are already <a href="" target="_blank">prohibited from buying guns.</a></li> <li>Among white homicide victims, <a href="" target="_blank">81 percent are killed by blacks.</a></li> <li>America has the <a href="" target="_blank">highest tax rate</a> in the world.</li> <li>CNN lied when it reported that a <a href="" target="_blank">speech he gave in South Carolina</a> was one-third empty.</li> <li><a href="" target="_blank">His criticism of Ford</a> prompted the company to move a factory from Mexico to Ohio.</li> <li><a href="" target="_blank">Vaccines cause autism.</a></li> <li>The Obama administration wants to <a href="" target="_blank">admit 250,000 Syrian refugees.</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank">ISIS built a luxury hotel</a> in the Middle East.</li> <li>He was on <em>60 Minutes</em> with Vladimir Putin and <a href="" target="_blank">"got to know him very well."</a></li> <li>He was never interested in <a href="" target="_blank">opening a casino in Florida.</a></li> <li>November 17: The United States only started <a href="" target="_blank">bombing ISIS oil fields</a> "two days ago."</li> <li>His campaign is <a href="" target="_blank">100 percent self-funded.</a></li> <li>Mexico doesn't have <a href="" target="_blank">birthright citizenship.</a></li> <li>The Iran deal forces us to <a href="" target="_blank">"fight with Iran against Israel"</a> if Israel attacks Iran.</li> <li>We still "really don't know" if Barack Obama was <a href="" target="_blank">born in the United States.</a></li> <li>More than <a href="" target="_blank">300,000 veterans have died</a> waiting for VA care.</li> <li>The Bush White House begged him to tone down his <a href="" target="_blank">"vocal" opposition to the Iraq War.</a></li> </ol><p>This is not normal political hucksterism. It's a pathological disregard for the truth. Trump knows that the conventions of print journalism mostly prevent reporters from really calling him out on this stuff, and he also knows that TV reporters won't usually press him too hard because they want him back on their shows. And when he does get called out, he just bluffs his way through. He knows his followers will believe him when he says the fault-finding is just another example of how the liberal media has it out for him. Within a day or three, he's repeated the lie often enough that it's old news and enters the canon of what "everyone knows." Journalists don't even bother with it anymore because they're already trying to play catch-up with his latest whopper.</p> <p>Anyway, this list is meant only as a start. It's what I came up with just by digging through my memory and doing a bit of googling. I'm sure there are plenty of others. Feel free to add them in comments.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum 2016 Elections Top Stories Tue, 24 Nov 2015 06:00:54 +0000 Kevin Drum 290506 at Carson Joins Trump Idiocy About Jersey City, Then Backs Away <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_911_east_jerusalem.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;"><a href="" target="_blank">The latest from la-la land:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson joined GOP rival Donald Trump in claiming that he, too, saw news footage of Muslim-Americans cheering as the World Trade Center towers fell on Sept. 11, 2001&nbsp;&mdash; despite the fact that no such footage has turned up yet. "I saw the film of it, yes," Carson told reporters at a Monday campaign event, adding that it was documented by "newsreels."</p> </blockquote> <p>Newsreels? What is this? 1943? But wait. We have breaking news via Twitter <a href="" target="_blank">from Jon Karl of ABC News:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>@RealBenCarson spox Doug Watts: Carson was mistaken when he said he saw film of Muslims celebrating on 9/11 in Jersey City...."He doesn't stand behind his comments [on] New Jersey and American Muslims," Watts told ABC's @KFaulders...."He was rather thinking of the protests going on in the Middle East and some of the demonstrations" there on 9/11.</p> </blockquote> <p>This is nuts. These guys are trying to put the <em>Onion</em> out of business for real. "We have investigated and discovered that East Jerusalem is not on the Hudson River after all." But hell, at least Carson is willing to admit his error. One brownie point for that&mdash;though it does raise some questions about his vaunted memory. Trump will continue to insist forever that he saw it, and his supporters will continue to believe him because you can never trust the mainstream media, can you? They're always covering up for Jersey City's Muslim community.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 23 Nov 2015 23:09:01 +0000 Kevin Drum 290486 at