Kevin Drum Feed | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/Blogs/2016/07/mraid.js http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en Yes, We Should Raise the Minimum Wage http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/07/yes-we-should-raise-minimum-wage <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Donald Trump, having discovered that raising the minimum wage is popular, has suddenly jumped on the bandwagon. He now claims to favor raising the federal minimum wage to $10 per hour. I will leave it to you to decide if you believe him.</p> <p>Trump's flip-flopping aside, James Pethokoukis has a few points to make. <a href="http://www.aei.org/publication/what-trump-know-about-raising-minimum-wage/" target="_blank">Here's the first one:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>As Scott Winship has argued, using the proper inflation adjustment would mean a roughly $8.50 modern minimum to match its 1968 level. And the current minimum is pretty much what the average minimum was from 1960 to 1980 before its steady decline during the 1980s. So a jump to $10, much the less $15 Democrats want, is a pretty big jump. What&rsquo;s more, government-mandated wage floors are particularly problematic in a big country like America where living costs vary greatly by region.</p> </blockquote> <p><a href="https://www.dol.gov/featured/minimum-wage/chart1" target="_blank">In 1968 the minimum wage was $1.60.</a> If you adjust for inflation, that comes to $11.08. So why does Scott Winship say it only comes to $8.50?</p> <p>The answer has to do with which inflation measure you use. If you use the usual CPI indicator that gets reported in the news every month, inflation has risen 6.9x since 1968. If you use the PCE indicator, it's only gone up 5.3x. So which is correct?</p> <p>I don't have the chops to adjudicate this, and anyway, the real answer is: it depends. They both have advantages and disadvantages depending on what you're interested in. However, without getting into all the gory details, I want to make a couple of points.</p> <p>First, CPI measures only money that <em>consumers</em> spend. PCE measures everything, including business expenditures. The place where this makes the biggest difference is healthcare spending. Consumers generally spend a fairly small amount on medical care (copays, deductibles, etc.) with the vast bulk being covered by <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_pce_cpi_weights_0.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">insurance or the government. As a result, <a href="http://www.bea.gov/papers/pdf/Moyer_NABE.pdf" target="_blank">medical expenses account for about 6 percent of the CPI index, but a whopping 20 percent of the PCE index.</a></p> <p>But if medical spending accounts for a bigger percentage of the PCE index, something else must be lower. It all has to add up to 100 percent, after all. As it turns out, there are several differences in weighting, but the biggest by far is housing. Primary shelter accounts for only 15 percent of the PCE index, but 33 percent of the CPI index.</p> <p>So which is more accurate? Again, it depends on what you're interested in. But without making any sweeping statements on one side or the other, I'll say this: for the poor, CPI is almost certainly more accurate. I can't prove this with the BLS survey numbers used to construct the CPI, since the accuracy of those numbers is precisely what we're arguing about. But consider two things:</p> <ul><li>The poor do, in fact, say that they spend about 40 percent of their income on housing (compared to about 30 percent for the middle class and above).</li> <li>Common sense suggests that this is right. Do you really think that a family earning $25,000 spends only $300 per month on rent? Likewise, do you think they spend $5,000 per year on medical care?</li> </ul><p>It's hardly conceivable that the PCE weights are anywhere near representative of the real-life expenditures of the poor, and these are the people who are affected by the minimum wage. In particular, housing prices are a big expense for the poor, and housing costs have <a href="https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/CPIHOSNS#0" target="_blank">increased 7.4x since 1968.</a></p> <p>I'm generally loath to play too many games with inflation measures, since you can very quickly get into a quagmire of cherry picking just the bits and pieces that help your argument. But in this case, it really does seem clear: in the case of the minimum wage, the lived experience of the poor over the long term is much closer to the CPI than to the PCE. A minimum wage of $10 would get us back to roughly where we were in the late 60s and early 70s. Is there really a good reason we shouldn't do that?</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_bls_food_shelter.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 15px 0px 5px 35px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 28 Jul 2016 18:26:26 +0000 Kevin Drum 310371 at http://www.motherjones.com Donald Trump Caught Using Apple Macbook http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/07/donald-trump-caught-using-apple-macbook <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Donald Trump participated in a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" yesterday:</p> <blockquote> <blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">90 minutes, 13 questions: What Trump said in his Reddit AMA <a href="https://t.co/NdhVEkR4Bu">https://t.co/NdhVEkR4Bu</a> <a href="https://t.co/G3ztkGd2Md">pic.twitter.com/G3ztkGd2Md</a></p> &mdash; Yahoo News (@YahooNews) <a href="https://twitter.com/YahooNews/status/758693594978983936">July 28, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></blockquote> </blockquote> <p>The subgroup that sponsored the AMA is almost literally a white supremacist site, but I guess no one cares about that any more. Just Donald being Donald. Rick Hasen notes something even more damning:</p> <blockquote> <blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-cards="hidden" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">I thought Trump called for boycott of Apple products (<a href="https://t.co/tsg9Wx4kKI">https://t.co/tsg9Wx4kKI</a>). but he's doing Reddit AMA on Macbook <a href="https://t.co/re2r9GAihX">https://t.co/re2r9GAihX</a></p> &mdash; Rick Hasen (@rickhasen) <a href="https://twitter.com/rickhasen/status/758695740138938372">July 28, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></blockquote> </blockquote> <p>Let me guess. It was "a friend's" Macbook? I'll bet Trump has been eating Oreos too. And watching HBO. And getting mocha lattes from Starbucks. When will the media rip the veil off this hypocrisy?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 28 Jul 2016 16:27:00 +0000 Kevin Drum 310351 at http://www.motherjones.com Hillary Clinton Tells the Truth! http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/07/hillary-clinton-tells-truth <!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_yankees.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Here is Gail Collins a couple of days ago in a big profile of Hillary Clinton with the ironic subhead, "How is it possible that we still don&rsquo;t really know the most famous woman in America?" She's describing Hillary's <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/24/opinion/campaign-stops/behind-hillarys-mask.html" target="_blank">2000 run for the Senate in New York:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>She had trouble with the carpetbagging issue. At one point, Clinton attempted to woo the locals by claiming that although she&rsquo;d been brought up as a Chicago Cubs fan, she had always rooted for the Yankees because people need a team in each league. This was contradictory to every law of Midwestern fandom, which holds that no matter what else you do, hating the New York Yankees is a central principle of life.</p> </blockquote> <p>Hillary Clinton is indeed a guarded person. That said, perhaps the reason we don't know her is because of reporting like this. Collins doesn't quite say that Hillary was lying, but that's the pretty obvious subtext. It's what nearly everybody thought at the time.</p> <p>There's only one problem: Hillary really was a fan of both the Cubs and the Yankees. And she really was a big baseball fan as a kid. <a href="http://dailyhowler.blogspot.com/2016/07/how-we-got-here-fury-concerning-yankees.html?m=0" target="_blank">Bob Somerby collects the evidence today.</a> Here's a childhood friend reminiscing about her in 1993, six years before New York was even a twinkle in Hillary's eyes:</p> <blockquote> <p>"We used to sit on the front porch and solve the world's problems," said Rick Ricketts, her neighbor and friend since they were 8. "She also knew all the players and stats, batting averages&mdash;Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle&mdash;everything about baseball."</p> </blockquote> <p>And this, in a 1994 story about a White House party for documentarian Ken Burns when he released "Baseball":</p> <blockquote> <p>"That was a great swing," Burns told her. "Did you get some batting practice before the screening, just to warm up?" Mrs. Clinton, who as a kid was a "big-time" fan of the Chicago Cubs and New York Yankees and "understudied" Ernie Banks and Mickey Mantle, smiled.</p> </blockquote> <p>How about that? Hillary was telling the truth the whole time. Hard to believe, isn't it?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 28 Jul 2016 16:14:14 +0000 Kevin Drum 310346 at http://www.motherjones.com Tough Times at Fox News http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/07/tough-times-fox-news <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The <em>New York Times</em> reports on <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/28/business/media/after-ailess-departure-a-stony-silence-at-fox.html?hp&amp;action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;clickSource=story-heading&amp;module=first-column-region&amp;region=top-news&amp;WT.nav=top-news&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">hard times at Fox News:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Megyn Kelly and her co-hosts [at the Democratic convention], including Bret Baier and Brit Hume, have not been speaking during commercial breaks, according to two people with direct knowledge of the anchors&rsquo; interactions, who described the on-set atmosphere at Fox <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_fox_news_glass.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">News as icy. During ads, the hosts are often absorbed with their smartphones.</p> <p>....Employees say there is a continuing split inside the network, with one camp of old-guard Fox News loyalists &mdash; some of whom owe their careers to Mr. Ailes &mdash; upset at his ouster. Some are resentful toward Ms. Kelly for cooperating with lawyers brought in by the network&rsquo;s parent company, 21st Century Fox, to investigate Mr. Ailes&rsquo;s behavior. (About a dozen women have reported improper behavior by Mr. Ailes to investigators.)</p> <p>Another contingent inside Fox News is equally dismayed by the responses of stars like Kimberly Guilfoyle, Greta Van Susteren and Jeanine Pirro, who were quick to publicly defend Mr. Ailes after he was accused of harassment in a suit filed by the former anchor Gretchen Carlson.</p> </blockquote> <p>And the pressure really seems to have <a href="http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/o-reilly-defends-well-fed-slaves" target="_blank">gotten to Bill O'Reilly:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>"I think the time has come now, where this whole network is going to have to band together, all of us, and we&rsquo;re going to have to call out the people who are actively trying to destroy this network, by using lies and deception and propaganda. We're going to have to start to call them out by name, because that's how bad it's become," he said.</p> <p>...."Jesse Watters goes on the floor of the Democratic convention, and some photographer comes up and starts swearing at him and cursing at him right in his face? This is provocation," he continued. "These people are doing this. They want me dead, Bolling, literally dead."</p> <p>Bolling responded to O'Reilly, "I&rsquo;m not sure they want you dead."</p> <p>"Oh they do, believe me," O'Reilly said.</p> </blockquote> <p>Poor Bill. I think he revels in the notion that we all want him dead. It would be a shock to his ego to find out that most of us just want him to go away.</p> <p>As for Jesse Watters, he's been ambushing liberals for years, but he and O'Reilly both complain mightily whenever someone tries to do the same to him. If being yelled at is the worst that happens to him, he should count himself lucky.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 28 Jul 2016 15:26:28 +0000 Kevin Drum 310341 at http://www.motherjones.com My 17-Word Democratic Convention Speech Roundup http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/07/my-17-word-democratic-convention-speech-roundup <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Tonight's speech roundup:</p> <ul><li>Michael Bloomberg: Trump is a con man.</li> <li>Tim Kaine: Trump is a liar.</li> <li>Joe Biden: Trump is a sociopath.</li> <li>Barack Obama: Trump is an asshole.<sup>1</sup></li> </ul><p>Decisions, decisions. Who's right?</p> <p>Whatever else you think of it, the Democratic convention sure has had a strong lineup of speakers. Even Bloomberg, who's a little stiff on the podium, was pretty good tonight. Biden and Kaine were both sociable and folksy, and Obama, as usual, was inspirational. We'll see how the public responds to all this, but it's hard to see how the Democrats could have done much better in the prime time hour than they have over the past three days.</p> <p><sup>1</sup>My translation from the original Obamish.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 28 Jul 2016 04:00:57 +0000 Kevin Drum 310331 at http://www.motherjones.com Here's a Bit of Mid-Convention Entertainment For You http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/07/heres-bit-mid-convention-entertainment-you <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Here's a bit of miscellaneous entertainment for you as you watch the convention&mdash;or even if you don't:</p> <blockquote> <blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">I'm a little surprised it isn't bigger news that Trump is doing an AMA in a literal white supremacist forum. Sign of the times I guess.</p> &mdash; Adam Hyland (@therealprotonk) <a href="https://twitter.com/therealprotonk/status/758461882566967296">July 28, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Bill O'Reilly defends his slavery remarks: George Washington gave his slaves meat <a href="https://t.co/ms4HClNHWe">pic.twitter.com/ms4HClNHWe</a></p> &mdash; Media Matters (@mmfa) <a href="https://twitter.com/mmfa/status/758455309220270080">July 28, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Sort of remarkable (and handy for Bloomberg's speech) that Trump filed for more foreign workers *this month* <a href="https://t.co/QaJFNh0f2j">https://t.co/QaJFNh0f2j</a></p> &mdash; Ben Smith (@BuzzFeedBen) <a href="https://twitter.com/BuzzFeedBen/status/758480374385311745">July 28, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></blockquote> </blockquote></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 28 Jul 2016 02:05:52 +0000 Kevin Drum 310316 at http://www.motherjones.com Chart of the Day: Donald Trump's Deficit Busting Budget Plan http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/07/chart-day-donald-trumps-deficit-busting-budget-plan <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>I know no one cares about this because it's boring policy stuff and no one takes any of Donald Trump's policy suggestions seriously in the first place, but I'm trying to fill the time while the B-listers natter on at the Democratic convention. I was disappointed that Jerry Brown didn't do a better job, but California already has all the great weather, so I suppose I can't complain that we don't have all the great convention speakers too.</p> <p>Anyway, here's the Committee for a Responsible Budget on what the national debt would look like under <a href="http://www.crfb.org/papers/promises-and-price-tags-fiscal-guide-2016-election" target="_blank">President Trump vs. President Clinton:</a></p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_cfrb_trump_vs_clinton.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 15px 0px 15px 10px;"></p> <p>According to the CFRB, Hillary Clinton has proposed $1.4 trillion in new spending and $1.2 trillion in revenue increases to pay for it. Pretty close! Donald Trump's proposed budget, by contrast, is about $10 trillion out of whack.</p> <p>On the bright side, the top 1% get their taxes <a href="http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/publications/analysis-donald-trumps-tax-plan/full" target="_blank">reduced by about 12 percentage points.</a> So it's all good.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 28 Jul 2016 00:21:02 +0000 Kevin Drum 310301 at http://www.motherjones.com Donald Trump's Top Ten Giveaways to Vladimir Putin http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/07/donald-trumps-top-ten-giveaways-vladimir-putin <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The number of pro-Putin positions that Donald Trump has taken has assumed quite remarkable proportions. He:</p> <ol><li>Wants to reduce America's commitment to NATO and reorient its activities to the Middle East. This is perhaps Vladmir Putin's greatest foreign policy desire.</li> <li><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_trump_russia.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Says America has no moral standing to complain about human and civil rights violations.</li> <li>Welcomed Russia's incursion into Syria.</li> <li>Considers Putin a great leader.</li> <li>Would consider eliminating sanctions against Russia and recognizing their annexation of Crimea.</li> <li>Wants to weaken American ties to its allies by insisting that he will walk away from them unless they pay us more for our military protection.</li> <li>Never mentions Russia in his otherwise endless litany of countries that are taking advantage of us.</li> <li>Opposes sending arms to Ukraine.</li> <li>Is pro-Brexit.</li> <li>Isn't sure he would defend the Baltics if Russia attacked them.</li> </ol><p>Have I missed anything? I probably have. It's hard to keep track.</p> <p>Most of these are defensible positions on their own. I don't support sending arms to Ukraine, for example. Plenty of conservatives are pro-Brexit. And plenty of lefties would like to see us reduce our military footprint worldwide.</p> <p>But even if you personally agree with an item or three on this list, the whole thing adds up to something unprecedented for an American candidate for president. Donald Trump considers America at odds with virtually the entire world. He's based his entire campaign on this. At various times he's mentioned China, Mexico, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Germany, France, and the entire Pacific Rim. But never Russia. On the contrary, his list of positions toward Russia is basically Vladimir Putin's dream foreign policy. For a guy suffering under crippling sanctions, a tanking economy, low oil prices, and a demographic time bomb, Donald Trump is offering him everything he could possibly want. And what does Trump want in return? For Russia&mdash;and only for Russia&mdash;he wants nothing.</p> <p>As much as I loathe Putin, I'm not among those who now think Mitt Romney was right when he listed Russia as our #1 geopolitical threat. Conservative fearmongering on the subject leaves me cold. Nonetheless, this list is not a coincidence. There's something behind the scenes guiding it. But what?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 27 Jul 2016 16:59:19 +0000 Kevin Drum 310216 at http://www.motherjones.com Trump asks Russia For Help Beating Hillary Clinton http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/07/trump-asks-russia-help-beating-hillary-clinton <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Donald Trump reaches out to his buddy Vladimir Putin for help:</p> <blockquote> <blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">"Russia, if you're listening, I hope you find the 33,000 emails that are missing. I think you'll be rewarded mightily by our press!" WTF WTF</p> &mdash; Josh Barro (@jbarro) <a href="https://twitter.com/jbarro/status/758316840665944064">July 27, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Trump just asked Putin to help him beat Clinton<br><br> We have fallen through the looking glass</p> &mdash; Ron Fournier (@ron_fournier) <a href="https://twitter.com/ron_fournier/status/758316888556470272">July 27, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">What the fuck? WHAT IN THE FUCKING FUCK??!! <a href="https://t.co/jGErUfMj9y">https://t.co/jGErUfMj9y</a></p> &mdash; Daniel Drezner (@dandrezner) <a href="https://twitter.com/dandrezner/status/758317692256387073">July 27, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Setting aside every other level of craziness here, &ldquo;Russia, if you&rsquo;re listening&rdquo;&mdash;that clip will be in an ad.</p> &mdash; Brian Beutler (@brianbeutler) <a href="https://twitter.com/brianbeutler/status/758318499378987010">July 27, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">I didn't think Trump could get any more pro-Putin but now he is saying he might lift sanctions &amp; recognize Crimea annexation. Unbelievable.</p> &mdash; Max Boot (@MaxBoot) <a href="https://twitter.com/MaxBoot/status/758334322671751168">July 27, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Quite a Trump news conference:<br> -I want to work with Russia<br> -Russia, please, please find Hillary&rsquo;s missing emails<br> -I wouldn&rsquo;t go to France</p> &mdash; Philip Rucker (@PhilipRucker) <a href="https://twitter.com/PhilipRucker/status/758316950766297088">July 27, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></blockquote> </blockquote> <p>Just another day in Trumpland.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 27 Jul 2016 15:20:12 +0000 Kevin Drum 310196 at http://www.motherjones.com There's Little Support for ISIS in the Arab World http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/07/theres-little-support-isis-arab-world <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>A trio of researchers set out to measure the support for ISIS in <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2016/07/27/what-do-ordinary-citizens-in-the-arab-world-really-think-about-the-islamic-state/?hpid=hp_hp-more-top-stories_mc-isispoll-925am%3Ahomepage%2Fstory" target="_blank">five Arab states:</a></p> <blockquote> <p><strong>The findings were stark: not many Arabs sympathize with the Islamic State.</strong> The percent agreeing with the Islamic State&rsquo;s goals range from 0.4 percent in Jordan to 6.4 percent in the Palestinian territories. The percent agreeing with the Islamic State&rsquo;s use of violence range from 0.4 percent in Morocco to 5.4 percent in the Palestinian territories. The percent agreeing that the Islamic State&rsquo;s tactics are compatible with Islam range from 1.0 percent in Jordan to 8.9 percent n the Palestinian territories.</p> </blockquote> <p>That's surprisingly&mdash;and gratifyingly&mdash;low. Good news.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 27 Jul 2016 15:13:58 +0000 Kevin Drum 310191 at http://www.motherjones.com Does Russian Money Keep Donald Trump Afloat? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/07/does-russian-money-keep-donald-trump-afloat <!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://thehill.com/homenews/administration/289345-obama-possible-russia-interfering-in-us-election" target="_blank">The president speaks:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Obama said Russian President Vladimir Putin might prefer Republican nominee Donald Trump over his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, because the business magnate has &ldquo;repeatedly expressed admiration&rdquo; for the Russian leader in the past.</p> <p>&ldquo;I am basing this on what Mr. Trump himself has said,&rdquo; the president said. &ldquo;And I think that &mdash; Trump's gotten pretty favorable coverage &mdash; back in Russia.&rdquo;</p> <p><strong>The president&rsquo;s comments add considerable heft to mounting evidence that Russian hackers were behind the DNC hack. Obama said that the FBI is still investigating the origin of the hack, but he acknowledged that &ldquo;experts have attributed this to the Russians.&rdquo;</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>It's one thing when a campaign manager or some campaign surrogates say that Vladimir Putin is working to help elect Trump. It's quite another when the president says it. That automatically makes it news. And Trump himself is making things worse. <a href="http://www.newsweek.com/donald-trump-russia-putin-dnc-hack-bernie-sanders-hillary-clinton-emails-483807" target="_blank">Asked by <em>Newsweek</em>,</a> "Do you, or any of your business units have outstanding loans with Russian banks or individuals?&rdquo; his spox said "Mr. Trump does not have any business dealings in/with Russia." Then Trump tweeted this:</p> <blockquote> <blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">For the record, I have ZERO investments in Russia.</p> &mdash; Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) <a href="https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/758071952498159616">July 26, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></blockquote> </blockquote> <p>The evasiveness of this answer is pretty obvious. Nobody cares all that much if Trump has business in Russia, they care whether Russian money funds his business here&mdash;which might explain why he's so friendly to Russian interests. He has very carefully avoided answering that question. That's a bad sign since he would normally just lie about it. He must know that evidence of his reliance on Russian money is out there.</p> <p>Trump's tax returns would tell us the answer, of course, but Trump has declined to release them, unlike every other presidential candidate of the past few decades. Maybe now we know why.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 27 Jul 2016 00:06:30 +0000 Kevin Drum 310156 at http://www.motherjones.com Democrats and Republicans Have Mirror Image Race Problems http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/07/democrats-and-republicans-have-mirror-image-race-problems <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>On Sunday, Chuck Todd asked Donald Trump about former KKK grand wizard and famous white nationalist David Duke:</p> <blockquote> <blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-cards="hidden" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Would Trump support a Dem over David Duke? "Depending on who the Democrat is, but the answer would be yes." <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MTP?src=hash">#MTP</a><a href="https://t.co/EqAoUmUpMy">https://t.co/EqAoUmUpMy</a></p> &mdash; Meet the Press (@meetthepress) <a href="https://twitter.com/meetthepress/status/757239735492325376">July 24, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></blockquote> </blockquote> <p>"Depending on who the Democrat is" doesn't seem like a very strong repudiation of Duke, does it? Apparently Trump is still playing footsie with the racists. On Tuesday, <em>New York Times</em> reporter Maggie Haberman asked about Trump's reply to Todd:</p> <blockquote> <blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-cards="hidden" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Trump team warns me that if I continue to "waste our time" on Duke q's, they will allocate "resources" elsewhere <a href="https://t.co/jug5iFvJq8">https://t.co/jug5iFvJq8</a></p> &mdash; Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) <a href="https://twitter.com/maggieNYT/status/757995573333155842">July 26, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></blockquote> </blockquote> <p><a href="http://www.vox.com/2016/7/25/12256510/republican-party-trump-avik-roy" target="_blank">And here is longtime Republican policy wonk Avik Roy:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>&ldquo;Conservative intellectuals, and conservative politicians, have been in kind of a bubble,&rdquo; Roy says. &ldquo;We&rsquo;ve had this view that the voters were with us on conservatism &mdash; philosophical, economic conservatism. <strong>In reality, the gravitational center of the Republican Party is white nationalism.</strong>&rdquo;</p> <p>....He expands on this idea: &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a common observation on the left, but it&rsquo;s an observation that a lot of us on the right genuinely believed wasn&rsquo;t true &mdash; which is that <strong>conservatism has become, and has been for some time, much more about white identity politics than it has been about conservative political philosophy.</strong> I think today, even now, a lot of conservatives have not come to terms with that problem.&rdquo;</p> <p>Trump&rsquo;s politics of aggrieved white nationalism &mdash; labeling black people criminals, Latinos rapists, and Muslims terrorists &mdash; succeeded because the party&rsquo;s voting base was made up of the people who once opposed civil rights. &ldquo;[Trump] tapped into something that was latent in the Republican Party and conservative movement &mdash; but a lot of people in the conservative movement didn&rsquo;t notice,&rdquo; Roy concludes, glumly.</p> </blockquote> <p>The problem for Republicans is simple to describe: it's not that their leaders are racist, but that they've long <em>tolerated</em> racism in their ranks. They know this perfectly well, and they know that they have to broaden their appeal beyond just whites. But they're stuck. If they do that&mdash;say, by supporting comprehensive immigration reform or easing up on opposition to affirmative action&mdash;their white base goes ballistic. In the end, they never make the base-broadening moves that they all know they have to make eventually.</p> <p>For Democrats, the problem is the mirror image. Bashing Donald Trump and his supporters for their white nationalism helps with <em>their</em> base, but it's the worst possible way to attract working-class whites who might be attracted to traditional Democratic economic messages. Once you say the word "racism," the conversation is over. Potentially persuadable voters won't hear another word you say.</p> <p>As long as this remains the case, Democrats will routinely win the presidency because their non-white base is growing every year. But Republicans will routinely win the House&mdash;and sometimes the Senate&mdash;because way more than half of all congressional districts are majority white. Result: endless gridlock.</p> <p>I wish I knew the answer.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 26 Jul 2016 18:46:58 +0000 Kevin Drum 310111 at http://www.motherjones.com White Men Liked Mitt Romney Better Than Donald Trump http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/07/white-men-liked-mitt-romney-better-donald-trump <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Here's a fascinating comparison of the 2012 and 2016 presidential elections via Stuart Stevens. I'm not sure what the source is&mdash;someone's PowerPoint presentation, perhaps&mdash;but I assume the data was transcribed correctly. <a href="https://twitter.com/stuartpstevens/status/757974716888051714" target="_blank">Here it is:</a></p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_2012_2016_election_comparisons.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 15px 0px 15px 50px;"></p> <p>This is based on one poll, and it's pre-convention. Still, it sure explodes a lot of myths about Donald Trump. He's doing <em>worse</em> among white men than Mitt Romney and much worse among white women. He's doing slightly better among the middle-aged, but far worse among the elderly. And he's doing <em>better</em> among blacks.</p> <p>On the non-surprising front, he's doing far worse among Latinos. Obama won them by 44 percent, while Clinton is winning them by 62 points. I wonder why?</p> <p>This doesn't show how Trump is doing specifically among blue-collar white men (those with no more than a high school diploma), but I wonder if he's really as popular among this demographic as everyone thinks? Or, in the end, is he just going to perform in a pretty standard Republican way, but just a bit worse?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 26 Jul 2016 17:06:44 +0000 Kevin Drum 310096 at http://www.motherjones.com We Need Smarter Bears http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/07/we-need-smarter-bears <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><a href="https://www.balloon-juice.com/2016/07/25/late-nightearly-morning-open-thread-all-you-can-eat-buffet/" target="_blank">Over at John Cole's place,</a> everyone is watching the Katmai Park live bearcam. So I watched too, and it's clear that Katmai Park needs a smarter breed of bear. I watched for a few minutes, and during that time I saw a couple of dozen salmon leap up the falls in the foreground while the adorable young bear just stood around in one spot oblivious to the fact that all the fish were elsewhere, laughing at him. I feel certain this is a metaphor for something, but I can't quite think of what. Help me out.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_bearcam.jpg" style="margin: 15x 0px 15px 5px;"></p> <p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_bearcam_2.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;"><strong>UPDATE:</strong> Victory! (For the bear, anyway. Not so much for the salmon. But I'm rooting for my fellow mammal.) This must be a metaphor for yet something else. Perhaps that bears know more about being bears than I do? It may have taken a while to snatch breakfast from the jaws of defalls, but then again, what does a bear have besides time? It's not as if he needs to finish up fast so he can get back to Judge Judy.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 26 Jul 2016 16:02:58 +0000 Kevin Drum 310076 at http://www.motherjones.com Democrats Are Running an ISIS-Free Convention http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/07/democrats-are-running-isis-free-convention <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Jim Geraghty <a href="http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/438338/democratic-convention-without-terrorism-talk" target="_blank">reviews the Democratic convention:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>In the past eleven days, we&rsquo;ve seen five terrorist attacks in Europe: a truck attack in Nice, a suicide bomber in Ansbach, an attack with an axe on a train in Wuerzburg, a machete attack in Reutlingen, and a priest&rsquo;s throat slit in Rouen, France.</p> <p><strong>Not one speaker addressed ISIS or Islamist terrorism last night.</strong> Democrats formulate their governing plans in a happier, peaceful, imaginary world.</p> </blockquote> <p>It <em>is</em> a little odd. Obviously Democrats aren't going to go down the apocalyptic path that Republicans did, but destroying ISIS really would make the world a better place. You'd think someone might mention this. And yet, when Scott Pelley asked Hillary Clinton on Sunday what she most wanted to accomplish as president, <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/news/60-minutes-hillary-clinton-tim-kaine-democratic-ticket-scott-pelley/" target="_blank">she said this:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Well, I care most about getting the economy working for everybody.... rebuilding the ladders of opportunity....education....health care....race and discrimination....immigration reform....gun safety.</p> </blockquote> <p>During this whole laundry list, I was talking to the TV: "Say ISIS. Say ISIS. Say ISIS." But she never did. And to my surprise, nobody commented on this the next day, not even conservatives (at least, none of the ones I read). Eventually, though, it's going to become a little too obvious if no speaker ever says anything about it. Maybe Bill Clinton will mention it tonight. Or one of the military folks on Wednesday or Thursday. Somebody should.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 26 Jul 2016 15:18:08 +0000 Kevin Drum 310066 at http://www.motherjones.com Party Unity Finally Comes to the Democrats http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/07/party-unity-finally-comes-democrats <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>This is annoying. I feel like I ought to have something to say about tonight's festivities, but I don't, really. The A-listers (Michelle Obama, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders) all gave good speeches. Bernie held nothing back, giving a full-throated endorsement of Hillary Clinton that showed him in his best light. Earlier in the day there had been some booing when Hillary's name was mentioned, but it seemed to die out as the night wore on, and in the prime time hour that was all most <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_michelle_obama_convention.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">people saw, it was pretty much all sweetness and light. If the object was to show off a united Democratic Party to the nation, I'd say that Team Hillary did it.</p> <p>On the other side of the aisle, Donald Trump was doing his usual: doubling down on whatever he's been criticized about recently. In this case it was NATO: "We have to walk," <a href="http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/trump-nato-we-have-to-walk" target="_blank">Trump said.</a> "Within two days they're calling back!...They will pay us if the right person asks. That&rsquo;s the way it works, folks." Republicans were almost universally appalled. During the Democratic speeches, Trump spent his time tweeting out his usual juvenile zingers. There's no point in highlighting them, though. It was just the workaday Trumpiness that I suspect even his fans are starting to get bored of by now.</p> <p>And...that's about it. Party unity proceeds apace among Democrats, while puerile insults continue apace in Trumpland. Tune in again tomorrow.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 26 Jul 2016 04:29:48 +0000 Kevin Drum 310051 at http://www.motherjones.com Hugh Hewitt Says the Kremlin Is Blackmailing Hillary Clinton http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/07/hugh-hewitt-says-kremlin-blackmailing-hillary-clinton <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Speaking of Republicans and Hillary Derangement Syndrome....</p> <p>Jonah Goldberg writes today that the conventional wisdom about the DNC email leak is that Russia engineered it in order to help Donald Trump, <a href="http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/438318/do-russians-want-trump" target="_blank">its preferred candidate:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>But there&rsquo;s another theory <strong>with wide currency out there.</strong> It&rsquo;s most articulate and forceful subscriber is Hugh Hewitt. Because Hillary&rsquo;s private server was almost certainly hacked by the Russians, we should assume that they know literally everything Hillary has sent or received over it. Most intelligence and cyber security types seem to agree. <strong>Hence, Hugh argues, Hillary is &ldquo;compromised.&rdquo;</strong> They have leverage over her.</p> <p><strong>So far, I&rsquo;m pretty much with Hugh.</strong> But here&rsquo;s what I don&rsquo;t get. If the Russians have so much leverage over Clinton, why don&rsquo;t they want her to be president? This morning, Hugh dangled a theory that the Russians were yanking her leash by showing they have the goods on her. They saved the server emails <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_putin_smirk.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">for later (or for blackmail), but released the DNC emails to brush her back, or something.</p> </blockquote> <p>This is lunacy. For starters, keep in mind that there's no actual evidence that anyone hacked into Hillary's private server. Second, even if the Russians did hack her server, they only "have something" on Hillary if she actually <em>did something</em>. Both Hewitt and Goldberg seem to think it's so obvious that Hillary is up to her armpits in corruption that they don't even have to make an argument for this. <em>Of course she's concealing mountains of double dealing on her server.</em> And the Russians are keeping all this secret so they have leverage over President Hillary when the time comes.</p> <p>This is, of course, nuts. It's nuts to so blithely assume Hillary's corruption. It's nuts to think the Russians would keep their intel secret instead of simply releasing what they have and ruining her chances of winning. It's nuts to think that Hillary would even run for president if she knew she had some kind of huge bombshell that was likely to blow up on her.</p> <p>It would be one thing if this came out of the fever swamps. And I know my readers will all tell me that Hewitt and Goldberg <em>are</em> part of the fever swamp. But they're not. Whatever else you think of him, Goldberg isn't even all that extreme in his conservatism. Hewitt is, but he's also a smart guy who's relatively restrained by radio jock standards. They're both pretty mainstream conservatives.</p> <p>But one of them is willing to make up a completely batshit argument, while the other says he's "with Hugh" and is only willing to concede that he doesn't think his case "is quite as compelling as he makes it sound." If these guys are wondering how Donald Trump captured their party, all they have to do is look in the mirror.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 25 Jul 2016 21:56:53 +0000 Kevin Drum 310011 at http://www.motherjones.com Bernie Sanders Can't Figure Out Why His Supporters Don't Like Hillary Clinton http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/07/bernie-sanders-cant-figure-out-why-his-supporters-dont-hillary-clinton <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>MoJo's ace reporting team tells us what happened when Bernie Sanders addressed his delegates at the Democratic convention. At first, when he talked about the platform and the resignation of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/07/bernie-sanders-delegates-speech-philadelphia" target="_blank">things went fine:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>But when he tried to rally the delegates on behalf of Clinton, his audience became restless. "Immediately, right now, we have got to defeat Donald Trump, and we have got to elect Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine," Sanders said. His delegates shouted their protests and booed, forcing Sanders to pause before continuing in his remarks. Sanders called Trump a "bully and a demagogue" who "has made bigotry the core <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_bernie_mic.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 25px 0px 10px 30px;">of his campaign." Still, the boos continued. "She does too!" delegates shouted. Others yelled, "Only you! Only you!"</p> <p>Sanders declared that Trump poses a danger to the country's future, but he could not win over the crowd. "She has ruined communities!" one woman shouted. "She has ruined countries!" Sanders pointed out that Trump "does not respect the Constitution of the United States." Delegates kept on chanting: "Not with her!" and "We want Bernie!"</p> </blockquote> <p>Our reporters say that Sanders "looked a bit surprised by the intensity of the Clinton opposition." I can't imagine why. This is one of the big problems I had with him back during the primary. It's one thing to fight on policy grounds, as he originally said he would, but when you start promising the moon and explicitly accusing Hillary Clinton of being a corrupt shill for Wall Street&mdash;well, there are some bells that can be unrung. He convinced his followers that Hillary was a corporate warmonger more concerned with lining her own pockets than with progressive principles, and they still believe it. And why wouldn't they? Their hero told them it was true.</p> <p>Hillary is no saint. But her reputation as dishonest and untrustworthy is about 90 percent invention. Republicans have been throwing mud against the wall forever in an attempt to smear her, and the press has played along eagerly the entire time. When Bernie went down that road, he was taking advantage of decades of Republican lies in the hopes of winning an unwinnable battle. He was also playing directly into Donald Trump's hands.</p> <p>I don't know. Maybe he never realized how seriously his young followers took him. It's possible. But he really needs to do something about this. Tonight's speech would be a good starting point.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 25 Jul 2016 21:23:07 +0000 Kevin Drum 310001 at http://www.motherjones.com Proton Gradients and the Origin of Life http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/07/proton-gradients-and-origin-life <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Where did complex life originate? The <em>New York Times</em> reports on new research <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/26/science/last-universal-ancestor.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">from a team led by William Martin of Heinrich Heine University in D&uuml;sseldorf:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Their starting point was the known protein-coding genes of bacteria and archaea. Some six million such genes have accumulated over the last 20 years in DNA databanks....Of these, only 355 met their criteria for having probably originated in Luca, the joint ancestor of bacteria and archaea.</p> <p>Genes are adapted to an organism&rsquo;s environment. So Dr. Martin hoped that by pinpointing the genes likely to have been present in Luca, he would also get a glimpse of where and how Luca lived. &ldquo;I was flabbergasted at the result, I couldn&rsquo;t believe it,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p>The 355 genes pointed quite precisely to an organism that lived in the conditions found in deep sea vents, the gassy, metal-laden, intensely hot plumes caused by seawater interacting with magma erupting through the ocean floor....The 355 genes ascribable to Luca include some that metabolize hydrogen as a source of energy as well as a gene for an <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_proton_gradient.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">enzyme called reverse gyrase, found only in microbes that live at extremely high temperatures.</p> </blockquote> <p>About a year ago I read <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/21/science/book-review-taking-on-the-vital-question-about-life.html" target="_blank"><em>The Vital Question</em>,</a> by British biochemist Nick Lane, which was all about this theory. Roughly speaking, his entire book was about the energy needs of these ancient organisms, which is based on something called a proton gradient. This, it turns out, is a complex and highly unusual way of providing energy, but it's also nearly universal in modern life, suggesting that it goes back to the very beginnings of life. But if it's so unusual, how did it get its start?</p> <p>In the beginning, it could only work in a high-energy environment like a deep-sea vent. In these places, there was a natural gradient between proton-poor water and proton-rich water, and that was the beginning of the proton gradient. It's not the most efficient way of producing energy, but it was the only thing around 4 billion years ago. So willy nilly, life evolved to take advantage of this, and eventually evolved its own proton gradient inside cells.</p> <p>Martin has been a longtime proponent of this idea as well, and now he's produced yet more evidence that it's likely to be true. The energy producing mitochondria in all of your cells are the result of this. Even 4 billion years later, they still depend on a proton gradient. Protons, it turns out, are the key to life.</p> <p><strong>POSTSCRIPT:</strong> And how is the book? It's good, though fairly dense at times if you're not already familiar with some basic chemistry and biology. And toward the end it gets rather speculative, so take it for what it's worth. But overall? If you're interested in the origins of complex life, it's worth a read.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 25 Jul 2016 19:19:25 +0000 Kevin Drum 309986 at http://www.motherjones.com 18 Great Trends of the Obama Administration—And 2 Terrible Ones http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/07/18-great-trends-obama-administration%E2%80%94and-2-terrible-ones <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>So how has the country been doing during President Obama's term in office? Here's a scattering of indicators and how they've changed from 2008 (the last year of the Bush presidency) to now:</p> <ol><li><a href="https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/UNRATE#0" target="_blank">Unemployment rate (U3):</a> <strong>DOWN</strong> from 5.8 percent to 4.7 percent.</li> <li><a href="https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/U6RATE" target="_blank">Underemployment rate (U6):</a> <strong>DOWN</strong> from 10.6 percent to 9.6 percent.</li> <li><a href="https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2014/crime-in-the-u.s.-2014/tables/table-1" target="_blank">Violent crime rate (per 100,000 residents):</a> <strong>DOWN</strong> from 459 to 366.</li> <li><a href="http://www.gallup.com/poll/1603/crime.aspx" target="_blank">Fear of crime:</a> <strong>DOWN</strong> from 37 percent to 35 percent.</li> <li><a href="https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhis/earlyrelease/insur200906.pdf" target="_blank">Uninsured</a> <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhis/earlyrelease/quarterly_estimates_2010_2015_q1234.pdf" target="_blank">rate:</a> <strong>DOWN</strong> from 19.7 percent to 10.3 percent.</li> <li><a href="http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/11/19/5-facts-about-illegal-immigration-in-the-u-s/" target="_blank">Number of illegal immigrants:</a> <strong>DOWN</strong> from 11.8 million to 11.3 million.</li> <li><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_obama_marine_one.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 20px 0px 5px 30px;"><a href="http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/11/19/5-facts-about-illegal-immigration-in-the-u-s/" target="_blank">Illegal immigrants from Mexico:</a> <strong>DOWN</strong> from 6.6 million to 5.6 million.</li> <li><a href="http://www.cdc.gov/teenpregnancy/about/" target="_blank">Teen pregnancy rate (per thousand females):</a> <strong>DOWN</strong> from 40 to 25.</li> <li><a href="https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/BPBLTT01USQ188S#0" target="_blank">Current account balance (trade deficit):</a> <strong>DOWN</strong> from 4.6 percent of GDP to 2.3 percent of GDP.</li> <li><a href="http://icasualties.org/" target="_blank">American war deaths:</a> <strong>DOWN</strong> from 469 to 28.</li> <li><a href="https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/CPIAUCSL#0" target="_blank">Inflation rate:</a> <strong>DOWN</strong> from 3.8 percent to 1.1 percent.</li> <li><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/07/no-police-fatalities-are-not-going" target="_blank">Shootings of police officers:</a> <strong>DOWN</strong> from 149 to 120.</li> <li><a href="https://www.guttmacher.org/fact-sheet/induced-abortion-united-states?gclid=CLuog8yNj84CFQovaQodkLMEow" target="_blank">Abortion rate (per thousand women):</a> <strong>DOWN</strong> from 19 to 16.9 (through 2011).</li> <li><a href="https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/FYFSDFYGDP" target="_blank">Federal deficit:</a> <strong>DOWN</strong> from 3.1 percent of GDP to 2.5 percent of GDP.</li> <li><a href="http://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUHresultsPDFWHTML2013/Web/NSDUHresults2013.htm#fig7.1" target="_blank">Drug abuse</a>: <strong>DOWN</strong> from 22.4 million to 21.6 million (through 2013).</li> <li><a href="http://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUHresultsPDFWHTML2013/Web/NSDUHresults2013.htm#fig7.5" target="_blank">Drug abuse among teenagers:</a> <strong>DOWN</strong> from 7.7 million to 5.2 million (through 2013).</li> <li><a href="https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/TDSP" target="_blank">Household debt (as percent of disposable income):</a> <strong>DOWN</strong> from 12.8 percent to 10 percent.</li> <li><a href="http://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_coi.asp" target="_blank">Public high school graduation rate:</a> <strong>UP</strong> from 74 percent to 82 percent (through 2013).</li> </ol><p>I'm not presenting this stuff because I think it will change anyone's mind. Nor because Obama necessarily deserves credit for all of them. You can decide that for yourself. It's mostly just to get it on the record. And it's worth noting that none of this may matter in the face of two other statistics that might be more important than all the rest put together:</p> <ol start="19"><li><a href="https://www.census.gov/data/tables/time-series/demo/income-poverty/historical-income-households.html" target="_blank">Median household income:</a> <strong>DOWN</strong> from $55,313 to $53,657 (through (2014).</li> <li><a href="https://www.start.umd.edu/pubs/START_AmericanTerrorismDeaths_FactSheet_Oct2015.pdf" target="_blank">Americans killed in terror attacks:</a> <strong>UP</strong> from 14 to 50+ (so far in 2016).</li> </ol><p>If you measure household income more broadly, it looks better than the raw Census figures. And household income has finally started increasing over the past couple of years. On the terror front, the absolute number of American fatalities from terrorist attacks is obviously very small. Still, the number of brutal attacks in the US and Europe (the only ones Americans care about) has obviously spiked considerably over the past year.</p> <p>Are these two things enough to outweigh everything else? Maybe. Come back in November and I'll tell you.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 25 Jul 2016 17:55:33 +0000 Kevin Drum 309976 at http://www.motherjones.com Trump Gets a Sizeable Convention Bounce in the Polls http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/07/trump-gets-sizeable-convention-bounce-polls <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>We now have <a href="http://elections.huffingtonpost.com/pollster/2016-general-election-trump-vs-clinton" target="_blank">four polls out that were taken after the Republican convention:</a> CNN, CBS, Morning Consult, and Gravis Marketing. They show an average post-convention bounce for <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_pollster_republican_convention_bounce.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">Trump of 6.3 points. That's higher than the normal GOP bounce of about 4 points. They also show Trump leading Clinton by an average of 2.5 points.</p> <p>This is not, by itself, anything for Democrats to be worried about. They'll get their own bounce this week, and it won't be until mid-August that everything settles down and we have a good idea of where everything really stands. But we can say two things. First, Donald Trump is suddenly going to start talking about polls again. Second, although liberals might have thought the Republican convention was a dumpster fire, it's obvious that Trump's message&mdash;even delivered in angry, apocalyptic tones&mdash;resonates with a lot of people. Democrats better hope that Team Hillary has an effective answer to that.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 25 Jul 2016 16:09:14 +0000 Kevin Drum 309966 at http://www.motherjones.com Even Trump-Friendly Media Thinks Putin Prefers Trump http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/07/even-trump-friendly-media-thinks-putin-prefers-trump <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>John Schindler on the <a href="http://observer.com/2016/07/wikileaks-dismantling-of-dnc-is-clear-attack-by-putin-on-clinton/" target="_blank">DNC email leak:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The important part of this story is that Russian intelligence, using its Wikileaks cut-out, has intervened directly in an American presidential election....The most damaging aspect to the DNC leak is the certainty that Moscow has placed disinformation&mdash;that is, false information hidden among facts&mdash;to harm the Democrats and the Clinton campaign.</p> <p>....<strong>It&rsquo;s obvious that Moscow prefers Trump over Clinton in this election,</strong> which ought not surprise given the important role of Putin-friendly advisors in the Trump campaign, and what better way to help is there than to discredit Team Clinton?</p> </blockquote> <p>This is mostly interesting for where it appeared: the <em>New York Observer</em>, which is owned by Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump's husband. Sometimes you can't even count on family to protect you.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 25 Jul 2016 15:32:59 +0000 Kevin Drum 309961 at http://www.motherjones.com Are Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin Really BFFs? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/07/are-donald-trump-and-vladimir-putin-really-bffs <!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_putin_trump.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Today brings one of the weirdest stories of any recent presidential campaign: Hillary Clinton's campaign has essentially accused Donald Trump of being a pawn of the Russians. Not in hints; not from an unaffiliated Super PAC; not in a deniable statement from an arms-length surrogate; and not in vague "doesn't put America first" terms. Friday's release of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee, <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/ThisWeek/clinton-campaign-chief-russians-trump-pro-russian-platform/story?id=40824946" target="_blank">says Clinton's campaign manager,</a> "was done by the Russians for the purpose of helping Donald Trump." And Trump intervened to change the Republican platform last week in a way that "some experts would regard as pro-Russian."</p> <p>Believe it or not, though, that's not the weirdest part of this story. The weirdest part is (a) Clinton's campaign might be right, and (b) this is not really getting an awful lot of attention from the media.</p> <p>Let that sink in: the Clinton campaign has explicitly accused the Russians of being on Team Trump <em>and</em> suggested that Trump might be on Team Russia. And although the media is covering it, it's not the top story anywhere. Seriously. WTF does it take these days to lead the news?</p> <p>In a nutshell, here's the evidence. A few months ago, when the DNC's email was hacked, outside experts immediately said it looked like it had been done by the Russians. <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/25/us/politics/donald-trump-russia-emails.html" target="_blank">Here's the <em>New York Times</em>:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Researchers have concluded that the national committee was breached by two Russian intelligence agencies, which were the same attackers behind previous Russian cyberoperations at the White House, the State Department and the Joint Chiefs of Staff last year....Evidence so far suggests that the attack was the work of at least two separate agencies, each apparently working without the knowledge that the other was inside the Democrats&rsquo; computers.</p> <p>....The experts cited by Mr. Mook include CrowdStrike, a cybersecurity firm that was brought into the Democratic National Committee when officials there suspected they had been hacked....Officials at several other firms that have examined the code for the malware used against the Democratic National Committee and the metadata of the stolen documents found evidence that the documents had been accessed by multiple computers, some with Russian language settings.</p> </blockquote> <p>Eventually the email cache ended up in the hands of Wikileaks, which published it on Friday. "The release to WikiLeaks adds another strange element," says the <em>Times</em>, "because it suggests that the intelligence findings are being 'weaponized' &mdash; used to influence the election in some way." Other similar stories include <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/clinton-campaign--and-some-cyber-experts--say-russia-is-behind-email-release/2016/07/24/5b5428e6-51a8-11e6-bbf5-957ad17b4385_story.html" target="_blank">this one from the <em>Washington Post</em></a> and <a href="http://www.defenseone.com/technology/2016/07/how-putin-weaponized-wikileaks-influence-election-american-president/130163/" target="_blank">this one from <em>Defense One</em>.</a> Beyond that, <a href="http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/04/donald-trump-2016-russia-today-rt-kremlin-media-vladimir-putin-213833" target="_blank">Russian media has become conspicuously pro Trump</a> over the past year.</p> <p>So that's the evidence that Russia is backing Team Trump. But what about the evidence that Trump is on Team Russia? This is a little trickier, but it turns out Trump has an impressive number of pro-Russian views:</p> <ul><li><a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/trump-campaign-guts-gops-anti-russia-stance-on-ukraine/2016/07/18/98adb3b0-4cf3-11e6-a7d8-13d06b37f256_story.html" target="_blank">The <em>Washington Post</em>:</a> Trump didn't bother much with the Republican platform, but on one topic he pulled out the heavy artillery: against the advice of virtually all conservative foreign policy analysts, he insisted on gutting a plank that said the US should provide weapons to Ukraine. Also: for many years, Trump's campaign chair, Paul Manafort, was a lobbyist for Viktor Yanukovych, the pro-Putin former president of Ukraine.</li> <li><a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/21/us/politics/donald-trump-issues.html" target="_blank">The <em>New York Times</em>:</a> A few days ago, Trump told David Sanger and Maggie Haberman that he might not defend the Baltics if Russia invaded them. He also suggested that the US had little moral authority to condemn human rights abuses in other countries&mdash;a decidedly unusual view for someone running on an extreme nationalist platform.</li> <li><a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/donald-trump-goes-his-own-way-with-vladimir-putin-1463172396" target="_blank">The <em>Wall Street Journal</em>:</a> Trump has also suggested that NATO should reorient itself from defending Europe against Russian aggression and instead place more emphasis on Middle Eastern terrorism.</li> <li><a href="http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/trump-putin-yes-it-s-really-a-thing" target="_blank">Josh Marshall:</a> "Trump's foreign policy advisor on Russia and Europe is Carter Page, a man whose entire professional career has revolved around investments in Russia and who has deep and continuing financial and employment ties to Gazprom."</li> <li><a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/cover_story/2016/07/vladimir_putin_has_a_plan_for_destroying_the_west_and_it_looks_a_lot_like.html" target="_blank"><em>Slate</em>:</a> Trump has teamed up with Russian investors frequently on projects, and for years has lavished a surprising amount of praise on Vladimir Putin.</li> <li><a href="http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/sep/29/donald-trump-let-russia-fight-isis-syria/" target="_blank">The <em>Washington Times</em>:</a> Trump has been unusually sanguine about Russia's intervention in Syria. "Let Russia fight ISIS, if they want to fight &lsquo;em," Trump said last year. "Why do we care?"</li> </ul><p>Needless to say, there could be innocent explanations for all these things. Still, they add up to a suspiciously large number of positions that are not just pro-Russia, but unusually pro-Russia. Item #1 has no support among other conservatives, and items #2-6 have no real equal in <em>either</em> political party.</p> <p>So what's going on? The evidence that Putin would like to install Donald Trump in the White House is pretty strong. The evidence that Trump would pursue Russia-friendly policies in return is much more circumstantial, but still pretty substantial. Manchurian candidate jokes aside, this is something that deserves a lot more coverage than whatever Trump happened to tweet last night.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 25 Jul 2016 05:46:26 +0000 Kevin Drum 309936 at http://www.motherjones.com Friday Cat Blogging - 22 July 2016 http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/07/friday-cat-blogging-22-july-2016 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Somebody pointed out last week that we haven't seen Hopper for a while. Is that true? Maybe! So here she is, in all her green-eyed glory.</p> <p>Have a nice weekend, everyone. We deserve one after four days of the Republican convention.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_hopper_2016_07_22.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 15px 0px 5px 35px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 22 Jul 2016 19:00:10 +0000 Kevin Drum 309901 at http://www.motherjones.com Should We Allow Nonprofits to Endorse Candidates? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/07/should-we-allow-nonprofits-endorse-candidates <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>I work for a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, so I'm keenly aware that I'm not allowed to endorse candidates. That means y'all will just have to guess who I'm voting for in November. I apologize for having to keep you in such suspense.</p> <p>Until recently, though, I had no idea <em>why</em> non-profits weren't allowed to endorse candidates. Then I began hearing about the "Johnson Amendment" from Donald Trump. Obviously someone put a bug in his ear, and he's been repeating it <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_lbj_senate.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">like a mantra for weeks now. <a href="http://time.com/4406567/republican-platform-johnson-amendment-churches-political-organizing/" target="_blank">So what's this all about?</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The &ldquo;Johnson Amendment,&rdquo; as the 1954 law is often called, <strong>is a U.S. tax code rule preventing tax-exempt organizations, such as churches and educational institutions, from endorsing political candidates</strong>. At the time, then-Senator Lyndon B. Johnson was running for re-election, and he and other members of Congress pushed the amendment to stop support for their political opponents&rsquo; campaigns, George Washington University law professor Robert Tuttle has explained. Many have also argued the amendment served to stop black churches from organizing to support the civil rights movement.</p> <p>&ldquo;All section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office,&rdquo; the IRS explains of the rule on its website. &ldquo;Violating this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>There you go. So why has Trump suddenly decided this is a threat to democracy? You can probably guess: because conservative churches want to endorse Republican candidates and give them lots of money without losing their tax-exempt status. Jerry Falwell Jr. explains:</p> <blockquote> <p>In recent years, religious liberty group the Alliance Defending Freedom has advocated for its repeal, arguing that the law is unconstitutional and lets the IRS &ldquo;tell pastors what they can and cannot preach,&rdquo; and &ldquo;aims to censor your sermon.&rdquo;...&ldquo;This is something that could make a difference with Christian voters in the fall,&rdquo; Falwell says. <strong>&ldquo;It is almost as important for Christians as the appointment of Supreme Court justices.&rdquo;</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>My first thought about this is that it would provide yet another avenue for big money in politics. I can imagine rich donors setting up, say, the Church of the Divine Supply Siders and then funneling millions of dollars in dark money through it. Fun!</p> <p>On the other hand, in a world of Super PACs and <em>Citizens United</em>, why bother? They can already do this easily enough, just as churches can set up "action committees" that are legally separate and can endorse away.</p> <p>I'd genuinely like to hear more about this. Within whatever framework of campaign finance law we happen to have, is there any special reason that nonprofits shouldn't be able to endorse, organize, and spend money on behalf of a candidate? I have to admit that no really good reason comes to mind. Am I missing something?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 22 Jul 2016 17:09:46 +0000 Kevin Drum 309891 at http://www.motherjones.com