Blogs | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en Here's Why "Arming the Opposition" Usually Doesn't Work <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>I routinely mock the tiresomely predictable calls from conservative hawks to "arm the opposition." It never seems to matter who the opposition is. Nor does it matter if we're already arming them. If we are, then we need to send them even better arms. Does this do any good? Can allied forces always <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_syria_opposition.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">benefit from more American arms and training? That gets tactfully left unsaid.</p> <p>Today, Phil Carter, who has firsthand experience with this, writes a longer piece explaining just why the theory of indirect military assistance <a href="" target="_blank">is so wobbly in practice:</a></p> <blockquote> <p><strong>The theory briefs well as a way to achieve U.S. goals without great expenditure of U.S. blood and treasure.</strong> Unfortunately, decades of experience (including the current messes in Iraq and Syria) suggest that the theory works only in incredibly narrow situations in which states need just a little assistance. In the most unstable places and in the largest conflagrations, where we tend to feel the greatest urge to do something, the strategy crumbles.</p> <p>It fails first and most basically because it hinges upon an <strong>alignment of interests</strong> that rarely exists between Washington and its proxies.</p> <p>....Second, the security-assistance strategy <strong>gives too much weight to the efficacy of U.S. war-fighting systems and capabilities</strong>....For security assistance to have any chance, it must build on existing institutions, adding something that fits within or atop a partner&rsquo;s forces....But giving night-vision goggles and F-16 aircraft to a third-rate military like the Iraqi army won&rsquo;t produce a first-rate force, let alone instill the will to fight.</p> <p>....The third problem with security assistance is that <strong>it risks further destabilizing already unstable situations</strong> and actually countering U.S. interests. As in Syria, we may train soldiers who end up fighting for the other side or provide equipment that eventually falls into enemy hands.</p> </blockquote> <p>There are some things we should have learned over the past couple of decades, and one of them is this: "train-and-equip" missions usually don't work. Sometimes they do, as in Afghanistan in the 80s. But that's the rare success. In Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Afghanistan in the aughts, they failed.</p> <p>So why do we hear cries to arm our allies during practically every conflict? Because it turns out there aren't very many good choices in between doing nothing and launching a full-scale ground war. One option is aerial support and bombing. Another option is arming someone else's troops. So if you know the public won't support an invasion with US troops, but you still want to show that you're more hawkish than whoever's in charge now, your only real alternative is to call for one or the other of these things&mdash;or both&mdash;regardless of whether they'll work.</p> <p>And of course, the louder the better. It might not help the war effort any, but it sure will help your next reelection campaign.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sun, 04 Oct 2015 01:54:11 +0000 Kevin Drum 286066 at Gun Control's Biggest Problem: Most People Just Don't Care Very Much <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>David Atkins writes about the problem of <a href="" target="_blank">getting gun control legislation passed:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>There is a broadening schism in the activist community between those who focus on nuts-and-bolts electoral and legislative politics, and those who spend their energy on issue-area visibility and engagement....<strong>Election work and party involvement is increasingly seen as the unhip, uncool, morally compromised province of social climbers and "brogressives" not truly committed to the supposedly "real work" of social justice engagement by non-electoral means.</strong></p> <p>....There is certainly great value in persuasion, engagement and visibility model....But gun politics in the United States shows above all the weaknesses and limits of the engagement model. <strong>The vast majority of Americans support commonsense gun laws</strong>....Numerous <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_gun_lichtenstein.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">organizations have engaged in countless petitions and demonstrations to shame legislators into action from a variety of perspectives, but it essentially never works.</p> <p>....The reason that the United States cannot seem to do anything about guns is simply that the NRA and the vocal minority of the nation's gun owners mobilize to vote on the issue, while the large majority that favors gun safety laws does not....<strong>Gun control will pass precisely when legislators become more afraid of the votes of gun control supporters than they are of gun control opponents.</strong> That will only happen when interested organizations invest in field work&mdash;that much maligned, unsexy work of precinct walking and phonebanking&mdash;to mobilize voters on that issue, and when liberal organizations work to unseat Democrats who do the bidding of the NRA and replace them with ones who vote to protect the people.</p> </blockquote> <p>I'm not sure Atkins has this right. The problem is in the second bolded sentence: "The vast majority of Americans support commonsense gun laws." There's some truth to this, but there's also a big pitfall here, and it's one that liberals are especially vulnerable to. I routinely read lefties who quote polls to show that the country agrees with us on pretty much everything. Voters support teachers, they support the environment, they support financial reform, they support gun control.</p> <p>But this is a bad misreading of what polls can tell us. There are (at least) two related problems here:</p> <ul><li>Most polls don't tell us how deeply people feel. Sure, lots of American think that universal background checks are a good idea, but they don't really care that much. <a href="" target="_blank">In a recent Gallup poll of most important problems,</a> gun control ranked 22nd, with only 2 percent rating it their most important issue. Needless to say, though, gun owners are opposed to background checks, and they care a lot.</li> <li>Most polls don't tell us about the tradeoffs people are willing to make. In the abstract, sure, maybe a majority of Americans think we should make it harder to buy guns. But if there's a real-world price to pay how willing are they to pay it? A few months ago, <a href="" target="_blank">a Pew poll</a> that pitted gun control against gun rights found that gun rights won by 52-46 percent.</li> </ul><p>There are lots of polls, and some of them probably show a greater intensity among those who support gun control. A lot depends on question wording. But that's sort of my point: If you get substantially different responses because of small changes in question wording or depending on which precise issues you ask about (background checks vs. assault weapons, gun locks vs. large-capacity magazines) that's a sign of low intensity.</p> <p>Atkins is certainly right that Democratic legislators won't act on gun control until voters are mobilized, but that puts the cart before the horse. You can't mobilize voters on an issue they don't really care much about in the first place. In this case, I think the folks who prioritize issue-area visibility and engagement probably have the better of the argument. Until voters who favor gun control feel as strongly as those who oppose it, all the field work in the world won't do any good.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 03 Oct 2015 16:02:08 +0000 Kevin Drum 286061 at "Employees Are Bitter" as Whole Foods Chops Jobs and Wages <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Whole Foods Market co-CEO and co-founder John Mackey has never hidden his disdain for labor unions. "Today most employees feel that unions are not necessary to represent them," he <a href="">told</a> my colleague Josh Harkinson in 2013. That same year, Mackey echoed the&nbsp;sentiment in an <a href="">interview</a> with Yahoo Finance's<em> t</em>he <em>Daily Ticker</em>. "Why would they want to join a union? Whole Foods has been one of [<em><a href="">Fortune</a>'s</em>] 100 best companies to work for for the last 16 years. We're not so much anti-union as beyond unions.&rdquo;</p> <p>On September 25, the natural-foods giant gave its workers reason to question their founder's argument. Whole Foods <a href="">announced</a> it was eliminating 1,500 jobs&mdash;about 1.6 percent of its American workforce&mdash;"as part of its ongoing commitment to lower prices for its customers and invest in technology upgrades while improving its cost structure." The focus on cost-cutting isn't surprising&mdash;Whole Foods stock <a href="">has lost 40 percent of its value</a> since February, thanks to <a href="">lower-than-expected earnings</a> and an <a href="">overcharging scandal</a> in its New York City stores.</p> <p>Sources inside the company told me that the layoffs targeted experienced full-time workers who had moved up the Whole Foods pay ladder. In one store&nbsp;in the chain's <a href="">South region</a>, "all supervisors&nbsp;in&nbsp;all departments&nbsp;were demoted to getting paid $11 an hour from $13-16 per hour and were told they were no longer supervisors, but still had to fulfill all of the same duties, effective immediately," according to an employee who works there.</p> <p>I ran that claim past a spokesman at the company's Austin headquarters. "We appreciate you taking the time to reach out and help us to set the record straight," he responded, pointing to the press release quoted above. When I reminded him that my question was about wage cuts, not the announced job cuts, he declined to comment.</p> <p>Another source, from one of Whole Foods' regional offices, told me the corporate headquarters had ordered all <a href="">11 regional offices</a> to reduce expenses. "They've all done it differently," the source said. "In some regions, they've reduced the number of in-store buyers&mdash;people who order products for the shelves."</p> <p>I spoke with a buyer from the South region who learned on Saturday that,&nbsp;after more than 20 years with the company, his position had been eliminated. He and other laid-off colleagues received a <a href="" target="_blank">letter</a> listing their options: They could reapply for an open position or "leave Whole Foods immediately" with a severance package&mdash;which will be sweetened if they agree not to reapply for six months. If laid-off employees manage to snag a new position that pays less than the old one did, they are eligible for a temporary pay bump to match the old wage, but only for a limited time.</p> <p>Those fortunate enough to get rehired at the same pay rate may be signing up for more work and responsibility. At his store, the laid-off buyer told me, ex-workers are now vying for buyer positions that used to be handled by two people&mdash;who "can barely get their work done as it is."&nbsp;</p> <p>My regional office source told me that the layoffs and downscaling of wages for experienced staffers is part of a deliberate shift toward part-time employees. Whole Foods has "always&nbsp;been an 80/20 company," the source said, referring to it ratio of full- to part-time workers. Recently, a "mandate came down to go 70/30, and there are regions that are below that: 65/35 or 60/40." Store managers are "incentivized to bring down that ratio," the source added.</p> <p>Employees working more than 20 hours per week are eligible for benefits once they've "successfully completed a probationary period of employment," the Whole Foods <a href="">website</a> notes. But some key benefits are tied to hours worked. For example, employees get a "personal wellness account" to offset the "cost of deductibles and other qualified out-of-pocket health care expenses not covered by insurance," but the amount is based on "service hours."</p> <p>And part-time employees tend not to stick around. My regional source said that annual turnover rates for part-timers at Whole Foods stores approach 80 percent in some regions. According to an internal document I obtained, the national annualized turnover rate for part-time Whole Foods team members was more than triple that of full-timers&mdash;66 percent versus about 18 percent&mdash;in the latest quarterly assessment. "Whole Foods has always been a high-touch, high-service model with dedicated, engaged, knowledgeable employees&acirc;&#128;&#139;,"&acirc;&#128;&#139; the source said. "How do you maintain that, having to [constantly] train a new batch of employees?"</p> <p>Of course, Whole Foods operates in a hypercompetitive industry. Long a dominant player in natural foods, it now has to vie with Walmart, Trader Joe's, and regional supermarket chains in the organic sector. Lower prices are key to staying competitive, and in order to maintain the same profit margins with lower prices, you have to cut your expenditures. Whole Foods' labor costs, according to my regional source, are equal to about 20 percent of sales&mdash;twice the industry standard.</p> <p>It's not unusual for a publicly traded company to respond to a market swoon by pushing down wages and sending workers packing. But Whole Foods presents itself as a different kind of company. As part of its <a href="" target="_blank">"core values,"</a> Whole Foods <a href="" target="_blank">claims</a> to "support team member [employee] happiness and excellence." Yet at a time when the company's share price is floundering and its <a href="" target="_blank">largest institutional shareholder</a> is Wall Street behemoth Goldman Sachs&mdash;which owns nearly 6 percent of its stock&mdash;that value may be harder to uphold.</p> <p>Workers join unions precisely to protect themselves from employers that see slashing labor costs as a way to please Wall Street. "There's a fear of unions coming in, because employees are bitter," the regional-office source said. "People talk about it in hushed tones." &nbsp;</p></body></html> Tom Philpott Food and Ag Sat, 03 Oct 2015 10:00:09 +0000 Tom Philpott 285796 at Why Do I Like Reza Farazmand's Stupid Comics So Much? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><div class="caption"> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/EARS.jpg"><div class="caption">Reza Farazmand</div> </div> </div> <p>Does a man ever grow up? Apparently not. I'm a geezer, for Chrissake, and I can't stop laughing at <em>Poorly Drawn Lines</em>. That's the popular <a href="" target="_blank">web comic</a> by Reza Farazmand that, come October 6, you can acquire <a href="" target="_blank">in the form of ink rolled onto processed and flattened dead trees</a>. You know, a book.</p> <p>Farazmand's gags are, if not poorly drawn, then simply drawn. They poke fun at technology, art, metaphysics, human (and creature) foibles, and the meaning of life. For the most part, they're kind of juvenile and super jaded, kind of like <em>The Far Side</em> meets <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Mad</em> magazine</a>, except with more swearing. Naturally, my 13-year-old loves 'em. And although they're hit or miss,&nbsp;like all comics, I love 'em, too.</p> <p>The book's very first strip reads as follows:</p> <blockquote> <p><strong>Buffalo:</strong> Some buffalo can jump as high as 36 feet.</p> <p><strong>Man:</strong> That's not true.</p> <p><strong>Buffalo:</strong> Some buffalo are lonely and lie to gain attention.</p> <p>[<em>They pause to consider.</em>]</p> <p><strong>Buffalo:</strong> Some buffalo would be down to get a drink later, or...</p> <p><strong>Man:</strong> I have a thing tonight.</p> <p><strong>Buffalo:</strong> Okay.</p> </blockquote> <p>If I have to explain why that's funny, you don't deserve to get it. (Sorry, Mom.) But plenty of people do, judging from the strip's 650,000-plus <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook fans</a>. Here are some more examples from the book:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/the-owl.jpg"><div class="caption">Reza Farazmand<br><br> &nbsp;</div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/beginning.jpg"><div class="caption">Reza Farazmand</div> </div> </div></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/mixed-media/2015/09/reza-farazmand-poorly-drawn-lines-book"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Mixed Media Cartoons Books Sat, 03 Oct 2015 10:00:08 +0000 Michael Mechanic 285041 at Ben Carson Just Showed the Other GOP Candidates How to Talk About Clean Energy <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>When asked at a Friday appearance in Iowa if he'd support 50 percent clean energy in the United States by 2030, GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson replied, "I want more than 50 percent."</p> <p>The 50 percent by 2030 mark comes from the advocacy group NextGen Climate, which has launched a campaign pushing candidates on the issue. And while Carson hasn't yet released any details on how he plans to accomplish this goal&mdash;and sometimes <a href="" target="_blank">struggles to explain</a> what climate change is, exactly&mdash;the former neurosurgeon has recently voiced his support for green issues.</p> <p>"I don't care whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, a liberal or a conservative, if you have any thread of decency in you, you want to take care of the environment because you know you have to pass it on to the next generation," he <a href="" target="_blank">said Wednesday.</a> "There is no reason to make it into a political issue."</p></body></html> MoJo 2016 Elections Climate Change Energy Fri, 02 Oct 2015 23:26:35 +0000 Gabrielle Canon 286051 at All 8,400 Apollo Moon Mission Photos Just Went Online. Here Are Some of Our Faves. <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Every photo ever taken by Apollo astronauts on moon missions is <a href="" target="_blank">now available online, on the Project Apollo Archive's Flickr account.</a> That's about 8,400 images, grouped by the roll of film they were shot on. You can finally see all the blurry images, mistakes, and unrecognized gems for yourself. The unprocessed Hasseblad photos (basically raw scans of the negatives) uploaded by the <a href="" target="_blank">Project Apollo Archive</a> offer a fascinating behind-the-scenes peek at the various moon missions&hellip;as well as lots and lots (and lots) of photos detailing the surface of the moon. Here's a very small taste. All photos by <a href="" target="_blank"><em>NASA/The Project Apollo Archive</em></a>.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/21469415470_347dae8dc8_z.jpg"></div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/21081274684_336bed7ef9_z.jpg"></div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/21472806779_0d78eb4ac2_z.jpg"></div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/21473012669_223ed42b1c_z.jpg"></div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/21473304069_bb368e23b8_z.jpg"></div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/21514531299_c71ac6499c_z.jpg"></div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/21516663498_742c297bbf_z.jpg"></div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/21517000839_886420b4f1_z.jpg"></div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/21638880632_914a1928e9_z.jpg"></div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/21651777526_e97b673be4_z.jpg"></div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/21062653243_1b22803020_z.jpg"></div> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/21659535595_e589d435a1_z.jpg"></div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/21659724205_2712747261_z.jpg"></div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/21668779731_19d53f2e7d_z.jpg"></div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/21703935065_a669fe78cf_z.jpg"></div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/21713172361_f0ecd20061_z.jpg"></div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/21038830323_90e0c2f86c_z.jpg"></div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/21669280311_fe283cae95_z.jpg"></div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/21662134636_65399eaae3_z.jpg"></div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/21693268821_3a960090ac_z.jpg"></div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/21495634050_bf46d9c709_z.jpg"></div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/21683417565_06f64cb4ea_z.jpg"></div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/21058943643_87df0cf1a0_z_0.jpg"></div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/21692965661_831ed39180_z.jpg"></div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/21668593222_8ac24a358f_z%281%29.jpg"></div> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> Mixed Media Photo Essays Top Stories Fri, 02 Oct 2015 21:46:32 +0000 Mark Murrmann 286021 at Jeb Bush on Oregon Mass Murder: "Stuff Happens" <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>While speaking to reporters during a campaign stop in Greenville, South Carolina, on Friday, <a href="" target="_blank">Jeb Bush weighed in</a> on the latest school shooting to take place in the United States, this time in Oregon, just a day before.</p> <p>"We're in a difficult time in our country and I don't think more government is necessarily the answer to this," Bush said. "I think we need to reconnect ourselves with everybody else. It's very sad to see. But I resist the notion, and I had this challenge&nbsp;as governor&mdash;look, stuff happens. There's always a crisis. The impulse is always to do something and it's not necessarily the right thing to do."</p> <p>You can watch the full video here:</p> <center> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"></iframe></p> </center> <p>When asked by a reporter if he stood by the "stuff happens" part of his quote, Bush did not back down:</p> <center><script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"></iframe></center> <p>The astonishingly callous summation of Thursday's deadly rampage that killed 10 people and injured seven&nbsp;others was buffered by Bush's criticism against renewed calls for gun control.</p></body></html> MoJo 2016 Elections Guns Fri, 02 Oct 2015 19:45:33 +0000 Inae Oh 286011 at Friday Cat Blogging - 2 October 2015 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Here's Hopper playing hide-and-seek with the camera. In the background, Hilbert lounges about obliviously, probably waiting for dinner to be served.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_hopper_2015_10_02_0.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 40px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 02 Oct 2015 19:01:25 +0000 Kevin Drum 285991 at Senator Blumenthal to Introduce Gun Legislation After Oregon Shooting <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) announced a plan to introduce new gun legislation in the wake of Thursday's school shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon that left <a href="" target="_blank">10 dead and 7 others injured. </a></p> <center> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">My thoughts are with the victims of the <a href="">#UCCShooting</a>. The frequency of mass shootings is beyond disturbing. We must act to end gun violence.</p> &mdash; Richard Blumenthal (@SenBlumenthal) <a href="">October 1, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script></center> <p>The proposed legislation, which seeks to ban gun sales without background checks pending beyond 72 hours, cites <a href="" target="_blank">June's massacre</a> in Charleston, South Carolina, inside a historic church, and the revelation soon after that a <a href="" target="_blank">loophole in the background check process</a> allowed shooter Dylann Roof to obtain a gun.</p> <p>"While certain facts remain unknown, the FBI has acknowledged that a fully completed background check would have uncovered Dylann Roof&rsquo;s prior arrest on a drug charge and his drug addiction, thereby barring him from purchasing the .45-caliber handgun with which he took nine lives," a <a href=";utm_medium=twitter" target="_blank">statement</a> released by Blumenthal's office said.</p> <p>This is hardly the first time the senator has been front and center of the gun control debate. Following the 2012 Newtown shooting massacre in Blumenthal's state of Connecticut that killed 26 people, including 20 children, he came in out in strong support of gun safety measures. Congress, of course, failed to pass the legislation.</p> <p>Back in May of 2014, he again<a href="" target="_blank"> pushed</a> lawmakers to revive the gun legislation debate, "saying Congress will be complicit" if members fail to act again. Despite repeated calls, the introduction of new gun control legislation today will likely meet the same fate.</p></body></html> MoJo Congress Crime and Justice Guns Fri, 02 Oct 2015 17:55:30 +0000 Inae Oh 285966 at Oregon Sheriff Handling School Massacre Shared a Sandy Hook Conspiracy Video <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The month after the December 2012 Sandy Hook massacre, Sheriff John Hanlin of Douglas County, Oregon, posted a video called&nbsp;"The Sandy Hook Shooting - Fully Exposed" to his personal Facebook page. The video makes a number of conspiratorial claims, including about there being more than one shooter and that the grieving parents who appeared on news reports were acting.</p> <p>The sheriff, who has done an admirable job in not glorifying the perpetrator from yesterday's mass shooting at&nbsp;Umpqua Community College, is also an avid <a href="" target="_blank">guns rights supporter</a> and a possible member of the <a href="" target="_blank">Oath Keepers</a>, a group that claims to be <a href="" target="_blank">upholding their oath</a> to defend the Constitution from any perceived threats&mdash;such as expanded gun control.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/HANLINPOST.jpg"></div> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> MoJo Guns Top Stories Fri, 02 Oct 2015 17:49:37 +0000 Becca Andrews 285961 at Two Questions About Hillary Clinton's Email Server <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Lots of people have asked lots of questions about Hillary Clinton and her email server. That's fair enough. But I've got a couple of questions for the people with all the questions. There might be simple answers to these, but they've been bugging me for a while and I still don't really understand them. Here they are:</p> <ul><li>One of the most persistent suspicions is that Hillary set up a private server in order to evade FOIA requests. But this has never made any sense to me. What could possibly have led either Hillary or her staff to believe this? There's simply nothing in either the statute or in the way it's been applied in practice to suggest that official communications are beyond the reach of FOIA just because they're in private hands.<br> &nbsp;</li> <li>On a related note, what was going on in the State Department's FOIA office? They received several FOIA requests that required them to search Hillary's email, and responded by saying there was no record of anything relevant to <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_foia_backlog.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">the request. But the very first time they did this, they must have realized that Hillary's email archive wasn't just sparse, but nonexistent. Did they ask Hillary's office about this? If not, why not? If they did, what were they told? This should be relatively easy to answer since I assume these folks can be subpoenaed and asked about it.</li> </ul><p>Generally speaking, the reason I've been skeptical about this whole affair is that the nefarious interpretations have never made much sense to me. What Hillary did was almost certainly dumb&mdash;as she's admitted herself&mdash;and it's possible that she even violated some regulations. But those are relatively minor things. Emailgate is only a big issue if there was some kind of serious intent to defraud, and that hardly seems possible:</p> <ul><li>Hillary's private server didn't protect her from FOIA requests and she surely knew this.</li> <li>By all indications, she was very careful about her email use and never wrote anything she might regret if it became public.</li> <li>And it hardly seems likely that she thought she could delete embarrassing emails before turning them over. There's simply too much risk that the missing emails would show up in someone else's account, and that really would be disastrous. Her husband might be the type to take idiotic risks like that, but she isn't.</li> </ul><p>School me, peeps. I fully acknowledge that maybe I'm just not getting something here. What's the worst case scenario that's actually plausible?</p> <p><strong>POSTSCRIPT:</strong> Note that I'm asking here solely about FOIA as it applies to the Hillary Clinton email server affair. On a broader level, FOIA plainly has plenty of problems, both in terms of response time and willingness to cooperate with the spirit of the statute.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 02 Oct 2015 17:44:21 +0000 Kevin Drum 285971 at The Gun Violence Chart Obama Asked For <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>When President Barack Obama took the podium on Thursday night to speak about the mass shooting at Oregon's Umpqua Community College, <a href="" target="_blank">he blasted Congress</a> for its inaction on gun safety legislation. "Our thoughts and prayers are not enough," he said, visibly angry.</p> <p>He also had a request for the media: "Have news organizations tally up the number of Americans who have been killed through terrorist attacks over the last decade and the number of Americans who have been killed by gun violence, and post those&nbsp;side by side on your news reports."</p> <p>Wish granted, Mr. President. We compared gun deaths with other highly publicized causes of death in the chart below. (Note that about <a href="" target="_blank">two-thirds of American gun deaths</a> are <a href="" target="_blank">suicides</a>.) The numbers come from 2013&mdash;the most recent year that data is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="250" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="//" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="100%"></iframe></p></body></html> MoJo Crime and Justice Guns Fri, 02 Oct 2015 16:58:18 +0000 Julia Lurie 285946 at These Emails Show Monsanto Leaning on Professors to Fight the GMO PR War <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>For a <a href="" target="_blank">blockbuster recent piece</a>, the<em> New York Times'</em> Eric Lipton got a first look at a massive cache of private emails between prominent public university scientists and GMO industry executives and flacks. The emails came to light through a barrage of <a href="" target="_blank">controversial</a> Freedom of Information Act requests by <a href="" target="_blank">U.S. Right to Know</a>, which is <a href="">funded</a> by the scrappy, anti-corporate Organic Consumers Association.</p> <p>In addition to the correspondence uncovered by USRTK, Lipton used the FOIA to uncover <a href="" target="_blank">emails</a> showing close ties between former Washington State University researcher Charles Benbrook and organic food companies like farmer-owned dairy company Organic Valley. Lipton paints a fascinating picture of the place occupied by public universities in the PR and lobbying war between the agrichemical/GM seed and organic food industries.</p> <p>But his piece, excellent as it is, may actually underplay the extent to which Monsanto, other ag-biotech companies, and their trade groups and hired PR guns <a href="http://" target="_blank">rely</a> on friendly professors as foot soldiers in the industry's battle against regulators and critics.</p> <p>Here are some highlights that didn't make it into the<em> Times.&nbsp;</em>Although there is no specific evidence to suggest that Monsanto paid professors for these activities, and many of the professors have said they reached their conclusions independently, the correspondence is nonetheless interesting:&nbsp;<em> </em></p> <p>&bull; In an <a href="" target="_blank">August 2013 email</a> to nine prominent academics, Monsanto's strategic engagement lead Eric Sachs broached a plan: that the group would pen "short policy briefs on important topics in the agricultural biotechnology arena," chosen "because of their influence on public policy, GM crop regulation, and consumer acceptance."</p> <p>Sachs assured the professors that the project would be handled discreetly. "I understand and appreciate that you need me to be completely transparent and I am keenly aware that your independence and reputations must be protected," he wrote. Two outside entities&mdash;an <a href="">industry-funded group</a> called the American Council on Science and Health and a PR outfit called <a href="">CMA</a>&mdash;would "manage the process of producing the policy briefs," "coordinate website posting and promotion," and "merchandize" the briefs by helping turn them into "op-eds, blog postings, speaking engagements, events, webinars, etc." This third-party management is "an important element," the Monsanto exec added, "because Monsanto wants the authors to communicate freely without involvement by Monsanto."</p> <p>In December of 2014, the zealously pro-biotech website Genetic Literacy Project ran a <a href="">package</a> of <a href="">professor-penned articles</a> that look remarkably like the ones proposed by Sachs, though no involvement with Monsanto is disclosed in any of them. For example, Calestous Juma, a professor at Harvard's Kennedy School, was among the addressees on that August 2013 letter from Monsanto's Sachs. In it, Sachs laid out seven topics and suggested each to one or two of his correspondents. Here's what Sachs had in mind for Juma:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/juma.jpg"></div> <p>Entitled "Global Risks of Rejecting Agricultural Biotechnology," <a href="">Juma's contribution</a>&mdash;which Juma says is based on a <a href="" target="_blank">book</a> that he wrote in 2011&mdash;closely resembles Sachs' request for a robust defense of GMOs as a bulwark against hunger in the developing world. (On Wednesday, <em>The Boston Globe</em> <a href="" target="_blank">noted</a> Juma's piece, describing it as a "widely disseminated policy paper last year in support of genetically modified organisms," written "at the behest of seed giant Monsanto, without disclosing his connection.")</p> <p>In his email, Sachs recommended that Peter Phillips, a policy professor at Canada's University of Saskatchewan, write about "over burdensome regulation of GMO crops and food." His <a href="">piece</a> on the Genetic Literacy Project website is called "Economic Consequences of Regulations of GM Crops."</p> <p>For Mississippi State's Davis Shaw and Tony Shelton of Cornell, Sachs suggested a piece defending crops modified to kill insects and withstand herbicides. Their Genetic Literacy Project <a href="">article</a>, titled "Green Genes: Sustainability Advantages of Herbicide Tolerant and Insect Resistant Crops," does just that.</p> <p>For University of Florida professor Kevin Folta&mdash;a main focus of the<em> New York Times </em>article&mdash;Sachs envisioned a piece on "holding activists accountable" for their opposition to GMOs. In his <a href="">GLP piece</a>, Folta thundered against those who "wage aggressive campaigns against existing technologies that have demonstrated to be advantageous to the farmer, the environment, the consumer, and the poor locked in nutritional deficit."</p> <p>&bull; Another prominent academic who emerges with strong industry ties is Nina Fedoroff, an emeritus professor of biology at <a href="">Penn State</a>, a professor of biosciences at <a href="">King Abdullah University of Science and Technology</a> in Saudi Arabia, and the former chief science and technology adviser to secretaries of state Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton. The<em> Times</em> piece noted that University of Illinois professor emeritus Bruce Chassy led a "monthslong effort to persuade the&nbsp;<a href="">Environmental Protection Agency</a>&nbsp;to abandon its proposal<a href="" title="The proposed rule.">&nbsp;to tighten the regulation of pesticides</a>&nbsp;used on insect-resistant seeds."</p> <p>But it didn't mention that Fedoroff evidently played a key role in the campaign, which, as the <em>Times</em> reported, culminated when Chassy "eventually set up a meeting at the E.P.A., with the help of an industry lobbyist, and the agency ultimately dropped the proposal." Fedoroff, it turns out, attended that meeting, according to an <a href="" target="_blank">October 17 email.</a> According to Chassy's email, the pivotal confab with the EPA was set up by <a href="">Stanley Abramson</a>, a prominent industry lobbyist, and <a href="">Adrianne Massey</a>, who serves as managing director of science and regulatory affairs at the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), a<a href="" target="_blank"> trade group to which Monsanto and other ag-biotech firms belong</a>.</p> <p>Fedoroff's role in the campaign to get the EPA to back off on GMO regulation wasn't confined to that one "surprisingly productive" meeting<em>. </em>Chassy reports in an August 19, 2011, <a href="" target="_blank">email</a> to Massey that he has been "working with Nina," for "a month and many revisions" on an <a href="">op-ed</a> that ran in the<em> New York Times </em>on August 2011<em>. </em>The piece, bylined solely by Fedoroff, complained that the EPA "wants to require even more data on genetically modified crops" and concluded that the "government needs to stop regulating genetic modifications for which there is no scientifically credible evidence of harm."</p> <p>&bull; In a January 10, 2012 <a href="" target="_blank">email</a>, Karen Batra, communications director for the <a href="" target="_blank">Biotechnology Industry Organization</a>, asked Chassy for advice on how to respond to an <a href="">article</a> critical of GMOs published in <em>The Atlantic.</em> "For most of us communications folks, the science here is way over our heads, and an appropriate response would have some kind of scientific defense," she wrote. "In other words, BIO just writing a letter saying 'biotech foods are safe' isn't enough of a response here."</p> <p>She added that a group called IFIC&mdash;presumably the <a href="">industry-funded</a> International Food Information Council Foundation&mdash;had "also [sent] out a mass email asking folks to weigh in on the [<em>Atlantic</em> article's] comments page." Batra asked the scientists to "either post a comment yourself on the page or provide us with some top-line scientific points that we could use in a letter to the editor<em>.</em>" Chassy responded to Batra's email with detailed talking points on the article.&nbsp;</p> <p>&bull; Chassy "engaged on the Huffington Post blog at my request," a <a href="" target="_blank">2012 email from Monsanto's Sachs</a> reveals&mdash;engaging in a spirited back-and-forth with an anti-GMO commentor, for which he <a href="" target="_blank">sought input from Monsanto employees</a>.</p> <p>&bull; At one point, Chassy agreed to Monsanto's request to travel to China to speak at a seminar, without having any idea of the topic or the audience. Here's <a href="" target="_blank">Chassy</a> on January 24, 2012:</p> <blockquote> <p>You originally asked if I would go to China and do what I did in Korea. You wanted to know if I was available and said you would explain later. One thing led to another and I am now going but we never did speak about the actual mission on China. Where am I speaking? &nbsp;To whom? For how long? More importantly, what is the topic and is there an assigned title? What's really going on and what are the between the lines issues? Knowing the ansers [sic] to all of these questions would really help me plan a talk. Can we talk sometime before I start putting a talk together?</p> </blockquote> <p>Sachs <a href="" target="_blank">responded</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>I apologize for the gaps in information. This opportunity came to my attention late in the process and I was narrowly focused on finding the best 3rd-party [i.e, non-Monsanto] expert that could speak on the topic of safety assessment of products employing RNAi [a topic I discuss <a href="">here</a>.]</p> </blockquote> <p>"Monsanto China is working with Chinese Agricultural Biotech Association to host the seminar," Sachs continues. "The goal is to pave the way for import approval for biotech products in China."</p> <p>Chassy later submitted a draft of his presentation to Monsanto officials ahead of the event. (See the exchange <a href="" target="_blank">here</a>). "Overall, everyone is pleased with how the presentation turned out," a Monsanto employee responded, adding that there "were some minor changes in text and they are indicated in red," as well as "some comments for you to address." Chassy responded seeking more input:</p> <blockquote> <p>Thanks to the reviewers. They picked up a number of good points. I have attached a word file which contains responses to the reviewers comments. There are a couple that remain unresolved or for which my new wording may or may not fully address the concern voiced by the reviewer. Please have each of the reviewers take a second look.</p> </blockquote> <p>&bull; In a January 15, 2015, <a href="" target="_blank">email</a> to the University of Florida's Kevin Folta, Monsanto's Lisa Drake&acirc;&#128;&uml; wrote that "over the past six months, we have worked hard through third parties"&mdash;ie, people not affiliated with Monsanto&mdash;to "insert fresh and current" material on GMOs to WebMD. The pitch: "I would appreciate your consideration of submitting a blog on the safety and health of biotech to Web MD, at all possible?" She added, "Please consider insert [sic] the word 'labeling' somewhere in the content in order to get search algorithms to pick it up." Folta responded, "I'm glad to do this and will bounce something off you soon." (Folta says he never ended up writing the post in question.)</p> <p>&bull; And on January 28, 2015, an employee of the PR firm Ketchum&mdash;writing "on behalf of the Council for Biotech Information," a group <a href="" target="_blank">funded by Monsanto and other biotech companies</a>&mdash;included Folta on a <a href="" target="_blank">group email</a> pointing to another burning controversy: A publisher had indicated it "will update a sixth-grade science textbook that presents some of the benefits of GM crops." Worse, "additional publishing companies are considering replacing content that could be considered pro-GMO."</p> <p>She asked anyone interested in responding to the textbook crisis to reply. "I'm excited to torpedo this stupidity," Folta responded, to the delight of his Ketchum correspondent. "This is the best email I've gotten all day. [Smiley-face emoticon.] Thanks! I'll be in touch as we move forward on this."</p></body></html> Tom Philpott Food and Ag Fri, 02 Oct 2015 16:30:10 +0000 Tom Philpott 284816 at Here's What Ben Carson Means When He Talks About Political Correctness <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">Here is Ben Carson on Wednesday:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>At a campaign event in New Hampshire, Carson noted that many people believe a situation like what took place in Germany in the 1930's and 1940's could never happen in America. "I beg to differ," Carson said. "If you go back and look at the history of the world, tyranny and despotism and how it starts, it has a lot to do with control of thought and control of speech."</p> <p>At a press conference after the speech, reporters asked Carson who he thinks is like Adolf Hitler in the U.S. <strong>"I'm not going to go into that that. I think that example is pretty clear," he responded, without elaborating.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Carson hastened to add that he <em>wasn't</em> referring to Barack Obama. No siree. Someone else. But not Obama. Wink wink nudge nudge.</p> <p>In any case, this provides a good opportunity to highlight Carson's views on political correctness. When Donald Trump talks about it, he's using it in the usual throwaway sense we're all familiar with. He wants to be able to talk about <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_thought_police.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">immigrants being rapists or women being shrill and ugly without everyone getting on his case. Others have in mind trigger warnings and other campus fads. But when Ben Carson talks about it, he means much, much more. It is the core of his worldview, so it's worth understanding what he means by it. <a href="" target="_blank">Here is Amy Davidson:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>In his most recent book, &ldquo;One America,&rdquo; he writes that <strong>agents working against this country&rsquo;s greatness include the political-correctness police, who use &ldquo;faux hypersensitivity&rdquo; to take power away from the majority of Americans</strong>....Political correctness, Carson says, is used to keep conservatives from invoking slavery or Nazism, both of which he cites freely. (&ldquo;Obamacare is really, I think, the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery&rdquo;; &ldquo;We live in a Gestapo age.&rdquo;)</p> <p>He wonders if Obama will cause the elections to be cancelled: &ldquo;He&rsquo;s sitting there saying, &lsquo;These Americans are so stupid I can tell them anything.&rsquo; &rdquo; Trump, the businessman, tells Americans how the financial system is rigged against them. <strong>Carson, the brain surgeon, tells them how they are being denied knowledge.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>This explains why, at the New Hampshire event, he's talking about "control of thought and control of speech" for seemingly no reason. In fact, Carson believes that liberals are deliberately making it impossible for conservatives to talk about the truly important issues that are destroying America. Keeping everyone cowed and silent is the first step to tyranny, which is why he thinks incipient Hitlerism is something to be taken seriously. Here he is explaining this view last year, <a href="" target="_blank">before he was running for president:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Political correctness is antithetical to our founding principles of freedom of speech and freedom of expression. <strong>Its most powerful tool is intimidation. If it is not vigorously opposed, its proponents win by default, because the victims adopt a &ldquo;go along to get along&rdquo; attitude.</strong> Major allies in the imposition of PC are members of the media, some of whom thrive on controversy and others who are true ideologues.</p> <p>....The American people must learn to identify and ignore political correctness if we are to escape the bitter ideological grenades that are destroying our unity and strength. <strong>Political correctness is impotent if we the people are fearless.</strong> Let us emphasize intelligent discussion of issues and leave the smear campaigns to those with no constructive ideas.</p> </blockquote> <p>Carson talks incessantly about political correctness, and he's been doing it for a long time. It is, he believes, the method by which the populace is kept too intimidated to object when liberal policies lead to moral decay and the eventual downfall of the country. You will hear him talk all the time about not being afraid to speak up, and when he does it's more than just a normal political stemwinder urging people to get involved and vote. He believes that political correctness today is the equivalent of brownshirt terrorism in 1933, and he believes that this is what brought Hitler to power in Germany. Whenever you hear Carson talk about either "political correctness" or "mind control," this is what it means to him.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 02 Oct 2015 16:25:48 +0000 Kevin Drum 285941 at Vatican: Pope Francis Barely Knew Who Kim Davis Was When He Met Her <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>I don't really care all that much about whether Pope Francis met with Kim Davis, but my sister is fascinated by the whole story. So this is for her. Earlier today, the Vatican spokesman, Rev. Federico Lombardi, said that Davis was basically part of an hour-long press-the-flesh session and <a href=";action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;module=first-column-region&amp;region=top-news&amp;WT.nav=top-news" target="_blank">Francis barely even knew who she was:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>&ldquo;Pope Francis met with several dozen persons who had been invited by the Nunciature to greet him as he prepared to leave Washington for New York City,&rdquo; Father Lombardi said.</p> <p>He added: &ldquo;<strong>Such brief greetings occur on all papal visits</strong> and are due to the pope&rsquo;s characteristic kindness and availability. The only real audience granted by the pope at the Nunciature was with one of his <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_benedict_xvi_smoke.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">former students and his family.&rdquo;</p> <p>....At the Vatican on Friday, a spokesman, the Rev. Thomas Rosica, said the invitation had been extended by the office of Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigan&ograve;, the nuncio, or envoy, in Washington, not from Rome....Father Rosica said of the controversy: &ldquo;I would simply say: Her case is a very complex case. It&rsquo;s got all kinds of intricacies. <strong>Was there an opportunity to brief the pope on this beforehand? I don&rsquo;t think so. A list is given &mdash; these are the people you are going to meet.</strong>&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>As usual with the Catholic Church, previous popes continue to have long arms even after they die or retire. It turns out that the papal nuncio, a culturally conservative guy who's loyal to the former Benedict XVI, decided to invite Davis. The current pope apparently had no idea this would happen and may not have even known who she was. Basically, Davis was ushered in for her 60 seconds with the pope, who blessed her, gave her a rosary, and then moved along to the next person in line. It would be wise not to read too much into this.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 02 Oct 2015 15:11:53 +0000 Kevin Drum 285931 at Here Are the NRA's Tweets Since the Oregon Shooting <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>On Thursday morning, a gunman opened fire inside a community college in Roseburg, Oregon, <a href="" target="_blank">killing</a> 10 people and injuring 7 others. The massacre is the latest mass shooting to take place in the United States&mdash;and the 45th school shooting in 2015 alone, according to the gun safety coalition Everytown.</p> <p>A visibly frustrated President Barack Obama noted hours after the rampage that Americans have come to view mass shootings as a "routine" experience&mdash;with news of senseless killings taking place only months, and sometimes days, apart. He <a href="" target="_blank">exclaimed</a> in frustration, "It cannot be this easy for somebody who wants to inflict harm on other people to get his or her hands on a gun." As for the biggest foe of gun control, the National Rifle Association, here's how it reacted to the tragedy via its Twitter feed&hellip;Actually, it did not react. The NRA's usually active Twitter feed was silent. Nada. Not a peep. No condolences to the families of those killed or any statement of concern for those injured.</p> <p>But the NRA has recently been busy tweeting about other gun matters.</p> <center> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en"><a href="">#Montana</a> town moves ahead with ban on private gun sales <a href=""></a> <a href="">#2A</a></p> &mdash; NRA (@NRA) <a href="">October 1, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">WATCH: <a href="">@theArmaLite</a> visits the <a href="">#NRA</a> World Shooting Championships <a href=""></a> <a href="">#2A</a></p> &mdash; NRA (@NRA) <a href="">October 1, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Gov. Christie pardons 3 charged with unlawful gun possession <a href=""></a> <a href="">#2A</a></p> &mdash; NRA (@NRA) <a href="">October 1, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script></center> <p>Note the time stamps. Its tweets on Thursday halted around the time that news of the shooting emerged. This has become S.O.P. for the gun industry-backed group. When gun massacres occur, it tends to duck and cover&mdash;and wait for the expressions of outrage and calls for gun control to pass. Then it's back to the business of opposing any efforts to enact new gun safety measures.</p> <p><strong>Update, 12:52 p.m. EST: </strong>After more than a day of silence, the NRA finally weighed in on Twitter with information about a kid's gun program.</p> <center> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">There&rsquo;s a lot we can do to teach our kids about <a href="">#gunsafety</a>. The Eddie Eagle program is a good place to start <a href=""></a> <a href="">#2A</a></p> &mdash; NRA (@NRA) <a href="">October 2, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script></center></body></html> MoJo Crime and Justice Guns Fri, 02 Oct 2015 14:54:34 +0000 Inae Oh 285921 at Chart of the Day: Net New Jobs in September <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The American economy <a href="" target="_blank">added 142,000 new jobs last month,</a> 90,000 of which were needed to keep up with population growth. This means that net job growth clocked in at a lackluster 52,000 jobs. The July and August numbers were revised downward by 59,000 jobs. The headline unemployment rate stayed steady at 5.1 percent, partly because the number of unemployed workers was down, but partly because half a million people dropped out of the labor force. Hourly earnings of production and nonsupervisory employees were flat, though weekly earnings were down at an annualized rate of 3.6 percent.</p> <p>This is a pretty weak report. It's not a disaster, but it suggests just how fragile the economy remains. A stronger dollar and weakness in China are likely taking a toll. We keep waiting for liftoff, but it never seems to come. We continue to dog paddle along.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_net_new_jobs_september_2015.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 5px 5px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 02 Oct 2015 14:51:34 +0000 Kevin Drum 285926 at Vatican Clarifies Pope's Meeting with Kim Davis: "Should Not Be Considered Support" <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>On Friday, the Vatican sought to provide a few more details concerning Pope Francis' meeting last week with <a href="" target="_blank">Kim Davis</a>, the defiant Kentucky clerk who was jailed for her refusal to issue gay marriage licenses in Rowan County.</p> <p>"The pope did not enter into the details of the situation of Mrs. Davis, and his meeting with her should not be considered a form of support of her position in all of its particular and complex aspects," official Vatican spokesman the Reverand Federico Lombardi <a href=";action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;module=second-column-region&amp;region=top-news&amp;WT.nav=top-news&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">said in a statement. </a></p> <p>The clarification follows a wave of controversy this week after <a href="" target="_blank">Kim Davis revealed</a>&nbsp;she had a private meeting with the pope during his historic visit to Washington, and claimed Francis gave her and her husband rosaries and told her to "stay strong."</p> <p>"Just knowing that the pope is on track with what we're doing and agreeing, you know, it kind of validates everything," Davis said in an interview with <a href="" target="_blank">ABC</a>.</p> <p>Days of speculation followed over whether the meeting in fact occurred, and if so, whether it put into question how truly progressive some believed the pope was. Some on social media professed to be shocked that the leader of the Catholic Church might endorse the politics of Davis and not support same-sex marriage, despite the church's clear stance opposing the issue.&nbsp;</p> <center> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Why Pope Francis&rsquo; meeting with Kim Davis is such a disappointment. <a href=""></a> <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Slate (@Slate) <a href="">September 30, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Next you're going to tell me the Pope is Catholic... <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) <a href="">September 30, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">BREAKING: The Pope does not have your politics.</p> &mdash; Christopher Hayes (@chrislhayes) <a href="">September 30, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script></center> <p>Eventually the Vatican confirmed the encounter, but with scant detail. Friday's statement appeared to downplay the importance of their meeting.</p> <p>"Pope Francis met with several dozen persons who had been invited by the Nunciature to greet him as he prepared to leave Washington for New York City," Lombardi said.</p></body></html> MoJo Gay Rights Religion Fri, 02 Oct 2015 13:58:29 +0000 Inae Oh 285916 at This Chart Shows How the "Unequal States of America" Compares to the World <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>A new report <a href="" target="_blank">finds</a> that the state of economic inequality in the United States is far more drastic than in other developed countries. The report, published by the German&nbsp;financial services company Allianz, even dubs us the "Unequal States of America."</p> <p>The company's latest <em>Global Wealth Report</em> calculates 55 countries' Gini coefficient, a measure of the distribution of wealth in which zero means total equality and 100 means total inequality. The average for all developed countries is 65. The United States' score is nearly 81.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/WealthInequalityWorldwideUnitedStates.jpg"><div class="caption">Allianz/Global Wealth Report 2015</div> </div> <p>Michael Heise, the chief economist at Allianz, <a href="" target="_blank">described</a> the situation in the United States as "worrying." "Our calculations indicate that developments have not been quite as dramatic in the other countries," he said. "As usual, the US represents more the exception than the rule among market economies." The report's authors note the country's <a href="" target="_blank">lackluster recovery</a> from the financial crisis has "caused a dramatic deterioration in wealth distribution." While the United States amassed nearly 42 percent of the world's private wealth in 2014 ($63.5 trillion), the top 10 percent of Americans <a href="" target="_blank">control more than two-thirds</a> of the country's <a href="" target="_blank">net wealth</a>.</p> <p>The United States leads the pack, but it's not alone. Much of the world's developed nations saw "exceptionally large gaps" in the wealth gulf between the rich and the poor during since 2000, according to the report. Over the past decade and a half, it found, the number of countries that closed their wealth gaps was roughly the same as the number that grew more unequal.</p></body></html> MoJo Charts Economy Income Inequality International Fri, 02 Oct 2015 10:00:24 +0000 Edwin Rios 285856 at Here's Why I Doubt That Hillary Clinton Used a Private Email Server to Evade FOIA Requests <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Thanks to the endless release of her emails, we've learned something about Hillary Clinton that hasn't gotten much attention: As near as I can tell, she's sort of a technology idiot. She asked her aides for information that she could have Googled in less time than it took to ask. She needed help figuring out how to use an iPad. She didn't know her own office phone number. She used a BlackBerry. She had trouble operating a fax machine. She was unclear about needing a WiFi connection to access the internet.</p> <p>In other words, when Fox News reporter Ed Henry asked whether Clinton's email server had been wiped, and she answered, "What, like with a cloth or something?"&mdash;well, that might not have been the sarcastic response we all thought it was. She might truly have had no idea what he meant.</p> <p>As for setting up a private server with just a single account in order to evade FOIA requests, it looks as though she's genuinely not tech savvy enough to have cooked up something like that. She probably really did just think it sounded convenient, and nobody<iframe align="right" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="258" src="" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;" width="400"></iframe> stepped in to disabuse her of this notion.</p> <p>So what <em>was</em> the deal with FOIA? I don't know, and I suspect we'll never know. But I'll say this: there were obviously people at State who knew that Hillary used a private server for email. The folks who respond to FOIA requests are responsible for figuring out where documents might be, and in this case it was just a matter of asking. Apparently they didn't, which is hardly Hillary's fault. The alternative is that they did ask, and Hillary's staff flat-out lied to them and said that she never used email. You can decide for yourself which sounds more plausible.</p> <p><strong>POSTSCRIPT:</strong> After writing this, I decided to do some Googling myself to check a few things. And it turns out that I'm not, in fact, the first to notice Hillary's technology foibles. Just a few weeks ago, Seth Meyers did a whole late-night bit about this.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 02 Oct 2015 01:49:47 +0000 Kevin Drum 285911 at Angry Obama Blasts Congress for Failing America on Guns <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>At a press conference Thursday, President Barack Obama was visibly frustrated with a lack of action from Congress to prevent mass shootings like the one that happened today at <a href="" target="_blank">Umpqua Community College in Oregon</a>.</p> <p>"It cannot be this easy for somebody who wants to inflict harm on other people to get his or her hands on a gun," Obama said.</p> <p>He recalled an interview in which he said that America is the only country on Earth that sees <a href="" target="_blank">these kinds of mass shootings regularly</a>. Hours later, there were reports of a <a href="" target="_blank">shooting at a Lafayette, Louisiana, movie theater</a>.</p> <p>He continued: "We spend over $1 trillion on preventing terrorism&hellip;yet we have a Congress that prevents us from even collecting data on how to reduce gun deaths."</p></body></html> MoJo Guns Obama Top Stories Thu, 01 Oct 2015 22:59:53 +0000 Becca Andrews 285901 at Alabama Just Made It Even Harder for Black People to Vote <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>In Alabama, you need a driver's license or other <a href="" target="_blank">form of photo ID</a> to vote. But getting that ID just got a lot harder, especially in the state's majority-black counties.</p> <p>Due to budget cuts, Alabama is closing 31 satellite DMVs across the state. The biggest impact will be in rural, largely black counties that voted for President Obama in 2008 and 2012. Alabama Media Group columnist John Archibald <a href="" target="_blank">put it this way</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>Take a look at the 10 Alabama counties with the highest percentage of non-white registered voters. That's Macon, Greene, Sumter, Lowndes, Bullock, Perry, Wilcox, Dallas, Hale, and Montgomery, according to the Alabama Secretary of State's office. Alabama, thanks to its budgetary insanity and inanity, just opted to close driver license bureaus in eight of them. All but Dallas and Montgomery will be closed.</p> <p>Closed. In a state in which driver licenses or special photo IDs are a requirement for voting&hellip;</p> <p>Every single county in which blacks make up more than 75 percent of registered voters will see their driver license office closed. Every one.</p> </blockquote> <p>Archibald predicted the move would invite a Justice Department investigation, <a href="" target="_blank">as did his fellow columnist</a>, Kyle Whitmire:</p> <blockquote> <p>But put these two things together&mdash;Voter ID and 29 counties without a place where you can get one&mdash;and Voter ID becomes what the Democrats always said it was.</p> <p>A civil rights lawsuit isn't a probability. It's a certainty.</p> </blockquote></body></html> MoJo Civil Liberties Elections Race and Ethnicity Top Stories Thu, 01 Oct 2015 22:38:55 +0000 Pema Levy 285886 at Oregon Sheriff Handling Massacre Fought the White House on Gun Control After Newtown <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>As the sheriff in Douglas County, Oregon, John Hanlin was front and center following <a href="" target="_blank">Thursday's shooting</a> at Umpqua Community College, which left 10 dead and 7 others wounded.</p> <p>Two years ago, Hanlin was one of <a href="" target="_blank">hundreds of sheriffs</a> around the country to vow to stand against new gun control legislation. In a January 15, 2013, letter to Vice President Joe Biden, he wrote, "Gun control is NOT the answer to preventing heinous crimes like school shootings."</p> <p>Read more below:</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/letterVPBiden.jpg"></div> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> MoJo Guns Top Stories Thu, 01 Oct 2015 22:33:13 +0000 Becca Andrews 285896 at An Overwhelming Majority of Americans Still Support Universal Background Checks <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Following today's mass shooting at <a href="" target="_blank">Umpqua Community College</a> in Oregon, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest <a href="" target="_blank">said</a> that President Obama wants to see "sensible steps" to prevent gun violence, including expanding background checks to all gun purchases. While Congress has repeatedly punted on that proposal, a large majority of Americans say they are on board with it. According to a poll taken <a href="" target="_blank">just last week</a> by Quinnipiac University in Connecticut, 93 percent of registered voters said they would support universal background checks for all gun buyers&mdash;even as nearly half said they oppose stricter gun control laws.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Screen-Shot-2015-10-01-at-2.08ED_1.jpg"></div> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/mojo/2015/10/americans-support-universal-background-checks"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> MoJo Guns Obama Thu, 01 Oct 2015 22:13:36 +0000 Becca Andrews 285871 at The World Economic Forum Delivers a Report Card on the US Economy <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>So how's the ol' US of A doing under the free-market-hating presidency of the socialist Barack Obama? Probably badly, I'll bet. Let's see what the World Economic Forum has to say. <a href="" target="_blank">Their latest set of competitiveness rankings came out today,</a> and among countries with populations over 10 million, the US was....</p> <p>First. How about that? But it was probably even better before Obama took over, wasn't it? Let's see. In 2009 we ranked #1 among big countries with a score of 5.59. This year we're #1 with a score of 5.61. That's hard to fathom. But there you have it. Our competitiveness in the global free market seems to have improved a bit during Obama's tenure. I wonder if Fox News will bother reporting this?</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_wef_competitiveness_2015.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 32px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 01 Oct 2015 19:35:25 +0000 Kevin Drum 285861 at