Blogs | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/Blogs/2010/06/node/65367 http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en 785 of This Year's Unaccompanied Migrants Were Under 6 Years Old http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/07/unaccompanied-child-migrants-younger-than-five-pew-research <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/migrants-age-pew630.png"><div class="caption">Pew Research Center</div> </div> <p>Little kids, including a troubling number of children age five or younger, make up the fastest-growing group of unaccompanied minors apprehended at the US border in fiscal year 2014. So far this year, nearly 7,500 kids under 13 have been caught without a legal guardian&mdash;and 785 of them were younger than six.</p> <p></p><div id="mininav" class="inline-subnav"> <!-- header content --> <div id="mininav-header-content"> <div id="mininav-header-image"> <img src="/files/images/motherjones_mininav/migrants_225.jpg" width="220" border="0"></div> </div> <!-- linked stories --> <div id="mininav-linked-stories"> <ul><span id="linked-story-252671"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/06/child-migrants-surge-unaccompanied-central-america"> 70,000 Kids Will Show Up Alone at Our Border This Year. What Happens to Them?</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-255056"> <li><a href="/mojo/2014/06/map-unaccompanied-child-migrants-central-america-honduras"> Map: These Are the Places Central American Child Migrants Are Fleeing </a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-256016"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/07/immigration-courts-backlog-child-migrant-crisis"> Why Our Immigration Courts Can't Handle the Child Migrant Crisis</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-256341"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/07/are-kids-showing-border-really-refugees"> Are the Kids Showing Up at the Border Really Refugees?</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-256331"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/07/child-migrant-ellis-island-history"> Child Migrants Have Been Coming to America Alone Since Ellis Island</a></li> </span> </ul></div> <!-- footer content --> <div id="mininav-footer-content"> <div id="mininav-footer-text" class="mininav-footer-text"> <p class="mininav-footer-text" style="margin: 0; padding: 0.75em; font-size: 11px; font-weight: bold; line-height: 1.2em; background-color: rgb(221, 221, 221);"> See <em>MoJo</em>'s <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/topics/child-migrants">full coverage</a> of the surge of unaccompanied child migrants from Central America. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>It's still mostly teens who travel solo to the United States from countries like El Salvador and Honduras, as the <a href="http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/07/22/children-12-and-under-are-fastest-growing-group-of-unaccompanied-minors-at-u-s-border/" target="_blank">Pew Research Center</a> revealed today in a new analysis of US Customs and Border Protection data. But compared to 2013, Border Patrol apprehensions of kids 12 or younger already have increased 117 percent, while those of teens have jumped only 12 percent. Apprehensions of the youngest group of kids, those under six, have nearly tripled.</p> <p>These new stats reveal a trend made all the more startling as details of the journey continue to emerge. In his <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/06/child-migrants-surge-unaccompanied-central-america" target="_blank">feature story</a> about this influx of child migrants, for instance, <em>MoJo</em>'s Ian Gordon tells of Adri&aacute;n, a Guatemalan kid who dodged attackers armed with machetes, walked barefoot for miles through Mexico, and resorted to prostitution to reach sanctuary in America. And Adri&aacute;n was 17. For the increasing number of kids under 13 making this harrowing trek without parents, the vulnerability to exploitation is only magnified, the potential for trauma and even death only amplified.</p> <p>That so many young kids feel compelled to leave home, or that their parents feel compelled to send them, sends a grim message about the state of their home countries. As El Salvadoran newspaper editor Carlos Dada told <em>On the Media</em>'s Bob Garfield <a href="http://www.onthemedia.org/story/on-the-media-2014-07-18/" target="_blank">last week</a>, quoting a Mexican priest who runs a shelter in Oaxaca, Mexico: "If these migrants are willing to take this road, knowing everything they are risking, even their lives, I don't even want to imagine what they are running away from."</p> <p>Here's another Pew age breakdown, this time by country of origin:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/pew-kids-country310_0.png"><div class="caption">Pew Research Center</div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> MoJo Charts Immigration child migrants Tue, 22 Jul 2014 20:49:51 +0000 Maddie Oatman 256751 at http://www.motherjones.com Be Still, My Heart: Beyoncé As Rosie the Riveter http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/07/beyonce-rosie-the-riveter <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>On Tuesday, Beyonc&eacute;, a whisper of perfection in an otherwise cruel and inhumane world, posted this photo of her as Rosie the Riveter to <a href="http://instagram.com/p/qwWCsgPw7N/?modal=true" target="_blank">Instagram</a>.</p> <p><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="710" scrolling="no" src="//instagram.com/p/qwWCsgPw7N/embed/" width="612"></iframe></p> <p>Beyonc&eacute; has become somewhat of a feminist hero recently, putting overtly feminist lyrics into her songs, and making genuinely heartfelt public statements about women's rights. In January, she wrote an <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/01/beyonce-gender-inequality-essay-shriver-report-center-american-progress" target="_blank">essay about income inequality.</a> On the other side of the pop star aisle there is Lana del Rey who is more interested <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/06/lana-del-rey-feminism-spacex-tesla-intergalactic-possibilities" target="_blank">in Tesla and "intergalactic possibilities."</a></p></body></html> Mixed Media Music Tue, 22 Jul 2014 19:54:46 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 256766 at http://www.motherjones.com Study Finds Kids Prefer Healthier Lunches. School Food Lobby Refuses to Believe It. http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/07/school-lunch-study-student-perceptions <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>From all of the commotion around the new federal school lunch standards, you'd think they were really Draconian. Republican legislators have <a href="http://aderholt.house.gov/press-releases/congressman-aderholt-hosts-school-meal-forum-in-cullman-county/" target="_blank">railed against them</a>. Districts have <a href="http://www.jsonline.com/news/health/some-districts-balk-at-latest-serving-of-school-lunch-rules-b99288269z1-265421821.html" target="_blank">threatened</a> to opt out. The School Nutrition Association (SNA), the industry group that represents the nation's 55,000 school food employees, has officially <a href="http://www.schoolnutrition.org/uploadedFiles/Legislation_and_Policy/SNA_Policy_Resources/Implementation%20of%20Nutrition%20Standards.pdf" target="_blank">opposed</a> some of them&mdash;and <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2014/07/21/school-lunch-lobbying-michelle-obama/12964211/" target="_blank">doubled its lobbying</a> in the months leading up to July 1, when some of the new rules took effect.</p> <p>Here's who doesn't mind the new standards: kids. For a <a href="http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/chi.2014.0038" target="_blank">study</a> just published in the peer-reviewed journal <em>Childhood Obesity, </em>researchers asked administrators and food service staff at 537 public elementary schools how their students were liking the meals that conformed to the new standards. Half of those surveyed said that the students "complained about the meals at first," but 70 percent said that the students now like the new lunches. Rural districts were the least enthusiastic about the new meals&mdash;there, some respondents reported that purchasing was down and that students were eating less of their meals. But respondents from schools with a high percentage of poor students&mdash;those with at least two-thirds eligible for free or reduced-price meals&mdash;were especially positive about the new standards: They found that "more students were buying lunch and that students were eating more of the meal than in the previous year."</p> <p>"Kids who really need good nutrition most at school are getting it," says&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ihrp.uic.edu/researcher/lindsey-turner-phd" target="_blank">Lindsey Turner</a>, the <em>Childhood Obesity</em> study's lead author and a research scientist at the University of Illinois-Chicago. "That's really good news."</p> <p>SNA's response? To issue a <a href="http://www.schoolnutrition.org/5--News-and-Publications/2--Press-Releases/Press-Releases/SNA-Comments-on-New-Study-on-Perceptions-of-School-Meals/" target="_blank">statement</a> declaring that "these reported perceptions about school meals do not reflect reality." The group cites USDA data that participation in school meals has declined by 1.4 million since the new rules went into effect in 2012. But Turner, the <em>Childhood Obesity</em> study's lead author, notes that this is only about a 3 percent drop. She also points to a Government Accountability Office <a href="http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-104" target="_blank">study</a> that found that most of the drop-off was among students who pay full price for lunch.</p> <p>What makes SNA's stance on the new rules even stranger is that they actually are not all that strict. For example: Foods served must be whole grain rich, but as I <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/07/school-lunch-conference-cheetos" target="_blank">learned</a> from my trip to SNA's annual conference last week, that includes whole-grain Pop Tarts, Cheetos, and Rice Krispies Treats. Students are required to take a half cup of a fruit or vegetable&mdash;but <a href="http://rosatiice.com/products/" target="_blank">Italian ice</a>&mdash;in flavors like Hip Hoppin' Jelly Bean&mdash;are fair game.</p> <p>Not all members of SNA consider the task of tempting kids with healthy foods onerous. As I reported last week, Jessica Shelly, food director of Cincinnati's diverse public schools, has <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/07/pity-poor-school-food-professional" target="_blank">shown</a> that all it takes is a little creativity.</p> <p>HT <a href="http://www.thelunchtray.com/sna-challenges-study-kids-like-healthier-school-food/" target="_blank">The Lunch Tray</a>.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Food and Ag Tue, 22 Jul 2014 19:29:37 +0000 Kiera Butler 256741 at http://www.motherjones.com What Happens If Obama Loses the Halbig Case? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/07/what-happens-if-obama-loses-halbig-case <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>So let's suppose the <em>Halbig</em> case goes up to the Supreme Court and they rule for the plaintiffs: in a stroke, everyone enrolled in Obamacare through a federal exchange is no longer eligible for subsidies. What happens then? Is Obamacare doomed?</p> <p>Not at all. What happens is that people in blue states like California and New York, which operate their own exchanges, continue getting their federal subsidies. People in red states, which punted the job to the feds, will suddenly have their subsidies yanked away. Half the country will have access to a generous entitlement and the other half won't.</p> <p>How many people will this affect? The earliest we'll get a Supreme Court ruling on this is mid-2015, and mid-2016 is more likely. At a guess, maybe 12 million people will have exchange coverage by 2015 and about 20 million by 2016. Let's split the difference and call it 15 million. About 80 percent of them qualify for subsidies, which brings the number to about 12 million. Roughly half of them are in states that would be affected by <em>Halbig</em>.</p> <p>So that means about 6 million people who are currently getting subsidies would suddenly have them yanked away. It's even possible they'd have to <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_obamacare_site_new.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">pay back any tax credits they'd received previously.</p> <p>So what's the political reaction? The key point here is that people respond much more strongly to <em>losing</em> things than they do to <em>not getting them in the first place</em>. For example, there are lots of poor people in red states who currently aren't receiving Medicaid benefits thanks to their states' refusal to participate in Obamacare's Medicaid expansion. This hasn't caused a revolt because nothing was taken away. They just never got Medicaid in the first place.</p> <p>The subsidies would be a different story. You'd have roughly 6 million people who would suddenly lose a benefit that they've come to value highly. This would cause a huge backlash. It's hard to say if this would be enough to move Congress to action, but I think this is nonetheless the basic lay of the land. Obamacare wouldn't be destroyed, it would merely be taken away from a lot of people who are currently benefiting from it. They'd fight to get it back, and that changes the political calculus.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Health Care Top Stories Tue, 22 Jul 2014 18:54:34 +0000 Kevin Drum 256756 at http://www.motherjones.com The (Possibly) Frightening Implications of the Halbig Case http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/07/possibly-frightening-implications-halbig-case <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>In the <em>Halbig</em> case that struck down subsidies on federal Obamacare exchanges earlier today, one of the key issues was deference to agency interpretation of the law. Longstanding precedent holds that courts should generally defer to agency interpretations as long as they're plausible. They don't have to be perfect. They don't even have to be the best possible interpretations. They merely have to make sense.</p> <p>The DC circuit court decided that there really wasn't any serious ambiguity in the law, and therefore no deference was due to the IRS's interpretation that state and federal exchanges were meant to be treated the same. The dissent was scathing about this, since the record pretty clearly showed tons of ambiguity. So if and when this case makes it up to the Supreme Court, what's going to happen? A lawyer buddy of mine is pessimistic:</p> <blockquote> <p>Sadly, I think the Supreme Court will eagerly uphold the challenge because it gets to an issue that conservatives have generally despised: deference to administrative agencies' interpretation of statutes.</p> <p>It's long been a fundamental principle in administrative law that an agency's interpretation of a federal statute that they are charged with enforcing is entitled to judicial deference, unless such deference is unreasonable. Conservatives would prefer that courts not defer to the government because #biggovernment. Thus, they want to weaken the deference standard and <em>Halbig</em> gives them basically a two-fer. Or a three-fer since the agency interpreting the statute is the IRS: Take out Obamacare, knock back the deference standard, and punch the IRS. This invariably will help advance the conservatives' legal goals because with a lower deference standard, their eccentric theories (such as on tax issues) have a better chance of surviving.</p> <p>In normal times, the deference standard would likely be left intact because weakening it raises serious issues with government enforcement across all agencies, and courts are loath to send the country into a tailspin. But those days are apparently long past. Truly frightening times.</p> </blockquote> <p>So what's next? <a href="http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2014/07/22/breaking-fourth-circuit-panel-unanimously-upholds-obamacare-subsidies-for-all-eligible-purchasers/" target="_blank">In breaking news,</a> the Fourth Circuit court has just upheld the federal subsidies in Obamacare, ruling squarely on deference grounds&mdash;and disagreeing completely with the DC circuit opinion, which held that the legislative language in Obamacare was clear and plain. In fact, said the Fourth Circuit, the statute <em>is</em> ambiguous, and therefore the court owes deference to the IRS interpretation. This is good news for Obamacare, especially if today's DC circuit decision by a three-judge panel is overturned by the full court, thus giving the government two appellate court wins. If that happens, it's even possible that the Supreme Court would decline to hear an appeal and simply leave the lower court opinions in place.</p> <p>But I'd say an eventual Supreme Court date still seems likely. There's no telling if my friend's read of the politico-legal climate among the Supreme Court's conservative majority is correct, but I thought it was worth sharing.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Supreme Court Tue, 22 Jul 2014 17:07:36 +0000 Kevin Drum 256726 at http://www.motherjones.com Europe Agrees to Levy Moderate New Sanctions Against Russia http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/07/europe-agrees-levy-moderate-new-sanctions-against-russia <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Europe has agreed to further sanctions against Russia <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-28415248" target="_blank">in response to the shootdown of MH17:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The EU will widen its sanctions against Russia to include more individuals and consider targeting the defence sector, the Dutch foreign minister says. Frans Timmermans said "unanimous" and "forceful" decisions had been taken on enhanced sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine conflict.</p> <p>....A new sanctions list naming individuals and organisations will be drawn up by EU ambassadors by Thursday, Mr Timmermans told reporters after meeting his EU colleagues in Brussels. He said there was also agreement that the European Commission would look at further measures to be taken against Russia in the fields of defence, concerning "dual-use goods in the field of energy", and in financial services.</p> </blockquote> <p>The <em>Telegraph</em> reports that <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/ukraine/10974050/Malaysia-Airlines-plane-crashes-on-Ukraine-Russia-border-live.html" target="_blank">not everyone is impressed:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>[The sanctions] are not likely to satisfy not the United States and more hawkish members of the EU, including Poland and the Baltic states, who lobbied for tough sanctions against the Russian economy. In their conclusions, the ministers said they would only ask the 28-nation bloc's executive arm to prepare for more forceful economic sanctions&nbsp;&mdash; including targeting the arms, energy and financial sectors.</p> </blockquote> <p>No surprises here. Most European leaders are willing to do more, but not too much more. They simply have too much invested in their economic ties with Russia to take more drastic steps.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum International Tue, 22 Jul 2014 16:38:04 +0000 Kevin Drum 256716 at http://www.motherjones.com DC Circuit Court Kills Federal Subsidies for Obamacare. Next Stop Is Probably the Supreme Court. http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/07/dc-circuit-court-kills-federal-subsidies-obamacare-next-stop-probably-supreme-cou <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Well, the DC circuit court has ruled 2-1 that <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/23/us/court-rules-against-obamacare-exchange-subsidies.html?hp&amp;action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;version=LedeSum&amp;module=first-column-region&amp;region=top-news&amp;WT.nav=top-news&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">Obamacare subsidies apply only to exchanges set up by states,</a> not to exchanges set up by the federal government. This is because one section of the law says that taxpayers can receive tax credits only if they enroll in a plan "through an Exchange established by the State under section 1311 of the [ACA]." The court ruled that a <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_prettyman_courthouse.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">state is a state, and as far as that goes, it's reasonable enough. Even if this was merely a drafting error, it's pretty clear that the federal government isn't a state.</p> <p>The problem is that there's more to it than that. The court is also required to ensure that its interpretation of a single clause doesn't make a hash out of the entire statutory construction of a law. The majority opinion makes heavy weather of this for a simple reason: virtually everything in the language of the law assumes that subsidies are available to everyone. Why, for example, would federal exchanges have to report detailed subsidy information if no one even gets subsidies on federal exchanges in the first place? The court blithely waves this off, suggesting that it's merely to allow the IRS to enforce the individual mandate. But that's pretty strained. Enforcing the mandate requires only a single piece of information: whether a taxpayer is insured. It doesn't require detailed information about eligibility for subsidies and the amount of the subsidies each taxpayer gets. The fact that all these details are required certainly suggests that Congress assumed everyone was getting subsidies.</p> <p>The court, following the arguments of the plaintiffs, also makes a brave effort to figure out <em>why</em> Congress might have done something so transparently ridiculous as limiting subsidies to state exchanges. Their conclusion is that Congress deliberately withheld subsidies from federal exchanges as an incentive for states to set up exchanges of their own. On this point, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/documents/1225631-halbig-dccircuit-20140722" target="_blank">Judge Harry Edwards was scathing in his dissent:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Perhaps because they appreciate that no legitimate method of statutory interpretation ascribes to Congress the aim of tearing down the very thing it attempted to construct, Appellants in this litigation have invented a narrative to explain why Congress would want health insurance markets to fail in States that did not elect to create their own Exchanges. Congress, they assert, made the subsidies conditional in order to <em>incentivize</em> the States to create their own exchanges. This argument is disingenuous, and it is wrong. <strong>Not only is there no evidence that anyone in <em>Congress</em> thought &sect; 36B operated as a condition, there is also no evidence that <em>any State</em> thought of it as such. And no wonder: The statutory provision presumes the existence of subsidies and was drafted to establish a formula for the payment of tax credits, not to impose a significant and substantial condition on the States.</strong></p> <p>It makes little sense to think that Congress would have imposed so substantial a condition in such an oblique and circuitous manner....The simple truth is that Appellants&rsquo; incentive story is a fiction, <strong>a <em>post hoc</em> narrative concocted to provide a colorable explanation for the otherwise risible notion that Congress would have wanted insurance markets to collapse in States that elected not to create their own Exchanges.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>There's no evidence that Congress ever thought it needed to provide incentives for states to set up their own exchanges. Certainly they could have made that clear if that had been their intention. As Edwards says, this claim is simply made up of whole cloth. In fact, he says acerbically, the entire suit is little more than a "not-so-veiled attempt to gut the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ":</p> <blockquote> <p>The majority opinion evinces a painstaking effort&nbsp;&mdash; covering many pages&nbsp;&mdash; attempting to show that there is no ambiguity in the ACA. The result, I think, is to prove just the opposite. <strong>Implausible results would follow if &ldquo;established by the State&rdquo; is construed to exclude Exchanges established by HHS on behalf of a State.</strong> This is why the majority opinion strains fruitlessly to show plain meaning when there is none to be found.</p> <p>....This court owes deference to the agencies&rsquo; interpretations of the ACA. Unfortunately, by imposing the Appellants&rsquo; myopic construction on the administering agencies without any regard for the overall statutory scheme, the majority opinion effectively ignores the basic tenets of statutory construction, as well as the principles of <em>Chevron</em> deference. <strong>Because the proposed judgment of the majority defies the will of Congress and the permissible interpretations of the agencies to whom Congress has delegated the authority to interpret and enforce the terms of the ACA, I dissent.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Will the Supreme Court agree? Given the obviously political motivations of most Supreme Court justices these days, I think that's hard to predict. A lot will depend on John Roberts. Having already betrayed his fellow conservatives by voting to uphold Obamacare, will he side with the government in order to show that he meant what he said and doesn't want to invite an endless series of desperate attempts to kill the law? Or has he had second thoughts, and will therefore welcome this as a chance to essentially reverse himself? I can't read his mind, so I don't know. We'll find out soon enough.</p> <p><strong>POSTSCRIPT:</strong> This ruling will, I assume, be stayed during appeal, so it has no immediate impact. The next step is for the Obama administration to either ask for an emergency en banc review from the entire DC circuit court, or to appeal directly to the Supreme Court. Either way, it will end up at the Supreme Court sooner or later.</p> <p><strong>POSTSCRIPT 2:</strong> White House press secretary Josh Earnest has <a href="https://twitter.com/aterkel/status/491604394165534722" target="_blank">confirmed</a> that the administration will ask for an en banc review. Since the full court now has a liberal majority, they presumably hope they'll get a more favorable ruling before heading to the Supreme Court.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Health Care Regulatory Affairs Tue, 22 Jul 2014 15:35:07 +0000 Kevin Drum 256706 at http://www.motherjones.com For Republicans, It's All Going According to Plan http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/07/republicans-its-all-going-according-plan <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Steve Benen draws a contrast today between an activist president who's at least trying to get things done, and a dysfunctional Congress than <a href="http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/day-the-life" target="_blank">can't even make the attempt:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Remember the VA crisis? Lawmakers quickly approved a reform bill, which now appears likely to fail because of House Republicans&rsquo; reluctance to compromise. Remember the plan to address the border crisis? The plan was for Congress to act before taking August off, but that now appears unlikely, too.</p> <p>The effort to extend unemployment benefits is dead. So is raising the minimum wage. So is ENDA. No one even talks about gun background checks anymore. The Highway Trust Fund will probably benefit from a stopgap measure, but even this hardly represents real governing.</p> </blockquote> <p>Unfortunately, I think Republicans would call this a big win. Getting things done doesn't really do them any good at the ballot box. Making the government appear impotent and incompetent does. So that's the path they've chosen.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Congress Tue, 22 Jul 2014 14:07:57 +0000 Kevin Drum 256701 at http://www.motherjones.com We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for July 22, 2014 http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/07/were-still-war-photo-day-july-22-2014 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p class="rtecenter"><em>Former US Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Pitts joins President Barack Obama in the East Room of the White House to be honored as the 9th living recipient of the Medal of Honor from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. <span class="meta-field photo-desc ">(Department of Defense News photo by EJ Hersom)</span></em></p></body></html> MoJo Military Tue, 22 Jul 2014 13:23:13 +0000 256691 at http://www.motherjones.com Quick Reads: "Do Not Sell at Any Price" by Amanda Petrusich http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/07/quick-reads-do-not-sell-any-price-amanda-petrusich <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="Do Not Sell at Any Price" class="image" src="/files/do-not-sell-at-any-price-270.jpg"></div> <p><strong>Do Not Sell at Any Price</strong></p> <p>By Amanda Petrusich</p> <p>SCRIBNER</p> <p>Once you get past the overexplaining of vinyl-era terms (gatefold album cover, etc.), Amanda Petrusich's first-person foray into the weird world of 78 rpm collectors is an engrossing romp that illuminates this cartoonish slice of nerddom so aptly portrayed in the movie <em>Crumb</em>. She catches the bug, too, embarking on a quest for 100-year-old Paramount blues 78s that takes her to flea markets and record swaps, although not, like one of her sources, to the bottom of the Milwaukee River. This obsession, Petrusich ultimately divines, is rooted as much in the (perhaps unattainable) sense of authenticity and passion crackling up from those vinyl grooves as in the earthly desire to own something rare.</p> <p><em>This review originally appeared in our <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/toc/2014/07" target="_blank">July/August issue</a> of</em> Mother Jones.&nbsp;</p></body></html> Mixed Media Books Music Tue, 22 Jul 2014 10:00:06 +0000 Mark Murrmann 253011 at http://www.motherjones.com The Way We Live Now http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/07/way-we-live-now <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Methinks someone on the EPA's social team is logged into the department's brand account on their iPhone...</p> <p><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Screen%20Shot%202014-07-21%20at%2010.48.30%20PM.png"></p> <p>If someone gets fired over this harmless mistake I will be genuinely outraged but I think it's ok for all of us to have a harmless chuckle.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Tue, 22 Jul 2014 03:05:21 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 256686 at http://www.motherjones.com Obama Planning to Retire to Rancho Mirage? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/07/obama-planning-retire-rancho-mirage <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><a href="http://www.latimes.com/business/realestate/hot-property/la-fi-hotprop-barack-obama-20140721-story.html" target="_blank">Let the speculation begin!</a></p> <blockquote> <p>President Obama and his wife, Michelle, could be the owners of a home in Rancho Mirage listed at $4.25 million before the month is out. The First Family is believed to be in escrow on a contemporary home in a gated community <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_obama_rancho_mirage.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">where entertainers Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby once maintained estates.</p> <p>The White House said rumors regarding a home in Rancho Mirage are not true.</p> <p>....The 8,232-square-foot compound in question sits adjacent to a bighorn sheep preserve on a 3.29-acre hilltop with panoramic views. The custom-built main house, constructed in 1993 and designed for entertaining, includes a gym, four bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms. A 2,000-square-foot casita has three bedrooms and three bathrooms. Over-the-top exterior features include a pool with a 20-foot waterfall, a rock lagoon, two spas, a misting system and a putting green with a sand trap.</p> </blockquote> <p>I have to say that the Obamas don't really strike me as Rancho Mirage kind of people, but who knows? Maybe I've misjudged them.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Obama Tue, 22 Jul 2014 01:01:52 +0000 Kevin Drum 256676 at http://www.motherjones.com Wage Stagnation Is No Illusion http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/07/wage-stagnation-no-illusion <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Bloomberg has a long article today wondering whether wage stagnation is <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-07-21/yellen-wage-gauges-blurred-by-boomer-millennial-workforce-shift.html" target="_blank">mainly due to demographic shifts:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>25- to 34-year-olds will make up 22.5 percent of the workforce by 2022, compared with 21.6 percent in 2012....Meanwhile, the share of 45- to 54-year-olds in their best earning years will drop by 3.3 percentage points in the decade ending 2022.</p> <p>....Hollowing out the middle-aged working population could cut median earnings because such employees bring home the biggest paychecks. The median 45- to 54-year-old household earns $66,400 a year, compared with $51,400 for 25- to 34-year-old households.</p> </blockquote> <p>Well, sure. Compared to 30 years ago, the theory goes, we have more young workers bringing down the average and fewer prime age workers raising the average. As a result, the average is declining. But all that means is that <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_median_wage_age_25-34_0.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">baby boomers are aging out of the workforce, not that wages are necessarily in bad shape.</p> <p>That makes sense. At least, it <em>would</em> make sense if it were true. The thing is, in an article more than a thousand words long, we never learn that we can look at this directly. The chart on the right shows the median wages of just 25-34 year olds, and as you can see, they've been declining for more than a decade. This has nothing to do with demographics because it's measuring wages for the same age group the entire time.</p> <p>Now, these figures don't include health insurance, and they only go through 2012. So they aren't of much help if, say, the Fed is trying to gauge the tightness of the labor market in the second quarter of 2014. Nonetheless, they certainly show a long-term trend of wage stagnation that plainly has nothing to do with demographics. This makes it vanishingly unlikely that wage stagnation over the past six months is merely due to demographic shifts.</p> <p>It's a nice fairy tale to pretend that wage stagnation might just be an artifact of boomers retiring, but easily available data quite clearly shows otherwise. It's real.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Economy Mon, 21 Jul 2014 23:00:30 +0000 Kevin Drum 256661 at http://www.motherjones.com Watch John Oliver Explain the Insanity of Our Prison System With Puppets http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/07/john-oliver-prison-system-sesame-street-puppets <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The United States imprisons too many people for too long for too many things. As <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Pz3syET3DY&amp;app=desktop" target="_blank">John Oliver summed it up</a> last night, "We are doing a terrible job taking care of people that it is very easy for all of us not to care about."</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/_Pz3syET3DY" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Oliver outlines a few of the prison system's flagrant injustices:</p> <ul><li>African Americans are sent to prison for drug offenses at <a href="http://www.naacp.org/pages/criminal-justice-fact-sheet" target="_blank">10 times the rate of white people</a>, despite similar levels of drug use.</li> <li>Solitary confinement, which <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/10/solitary-confinement-shane-bauer" target="_blank"><em>Mother Jones </em>has covered</a> extensively, is "one of the most mentally excruciating things prisoners can be subjected to." Yet when&nbsp;a senator asked the director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons about <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/10/solitary-cell-graphic" target="_blank">the size of the average isolation cell</a> during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing this past February, the prison official had no idea, stalling awkwardly before <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/25/bop-director-prison-cell-size_n_4855865.html" target="_blank">making a wildly incorrect guess</a>.</li> <li>One in 25 prison inmates <a href="http://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&amp;iid=4654" target="_blank">reported being sexually victimized</a> in the past year, yet prison rape is culturally-acceptable joke material that crops up in pop culture regularly: from <em>SpongeBob</em> to <em>Friends </em>to <em>Puss in Boots</em>.</li> <li>In an effort to cut costs, many states outsource food, health care, and even prison operations to private contractors. These cost-saving techniques have lead to <a href="http://www.freep.com/article/20140713/NEWS06/307130099/aramark-prison-food-privatization-michigan" target="_blank">maggot-infested food</a> in Michigan prisons and <a href="http://america.aljazeera.com/watch/shows/america-tonight/articles/2014/5/27/whistleblower-arizonainmatesaredyingfrominadequatehealthcare.html" target="_blank">50 inmates dying in one 8-month stretch</a> in Arizona.</li> <li>Prisoner rehabilitation isn't exactly the system's focal point: Publicly-traded private prison giant Corporate Corrections of America (CCA) <a href="http://file:///Users/hlevintova/Downloads/CCA%20Q1%202011%20Investor%20Presentation%20(1).pdf" target="_blank">actually touted</a> "high recidivism" as a reason private prisons are a "unique investment opportunity."</li> </ul><p>He closes the segment by recapping the horrors of the US prison system with mock Sesame Street puppets: The PBS show has recently made <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/05/watch-amazing-sesame-street-video-about-having-parent-prison" target="_blank">efforts to reach out</a> to the <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/05/mothers-day-visit-prison-incarcerated-distance" target="_blank">1 in 28 US children</a> growing up with a parent behind bars.</p> <p>The segment's bottom line: Prisoners are not treated humanely in the United States. They're viewed as a nuisance, a problem to be tucked away in a cell and never thought of again. But when nearly <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/28/us/28cnd-prison.html?_r=0" target="_blank">1 in 100 American adults is behind bars</a>, our broken system of mass incarceration is a human rights abuse that should not be ignored.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Video Crime and Justice Human Rights Media Prisons Mon, 21 Jul 2014 20:45:25 +0000 Katie Rose Quandt 256571 at http://www.motherjones.com Do We Need More Business Folks In Congress? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/07/do-we-need-more-business-folks-congress <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><a href="http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/political-animal-a/2014_07/we_want_more_of_everything051303.php" target="_blank">Ed Kilgore</a> points to a new Gallup poll that asks what kind of people <a href="http://www.gallup.com/poll/174002/americans-say-business-background-best-governing.aspx" target="_blank">you'd like to see in Congress:</a></p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_gallup__governed_better.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 15px 15px;"></p> <p>So is this a vote for more business experience? Or even&mdash;shudder&mdash;a retroactive yearning for Mitt Romney? Like Kilgore, I'm skeptical. At a guess, people who answered the question about business experience were implicitly contrasting it with lawyers or career politicians, and that's a rigged deck. Of course business leaders will come out ahead compared to those two despised professions.</p> <p>Which makes it too bad that Gallup screwed up this question. Instead of throwing out a kitchen sink of qualities (occupation, religion, ideology, etc.) they should have asked specifically about a list of occupations. Do you think the country would be better governed if our legislatures had more:</p> <ul><li>Business folks</li> <li>Teachers</li> <li>Lawyers</li> <li>Doctors</li> <li>Retired people</li> <li>Military leaders</li> <li>Scientists</li> <li>Etc.</li> </ul><p><em>That</em> would be kind of an interesting poll. Personally, I'd vote for more kindergarten teachers. I suspect that's a pretty appropriate background for serving a few years in Congress.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Congress Mon, 21 Jul 2014 20:08:04 +0000 Kevin Drum 256646 at http://www.motherjones.com Rand Paul Flubs the Facts on the Minimum Wage http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/07/rand-paul-obama-minimum-wage <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) says the minimum wage, like Trix, is for kids. Speaking in San Francisco over the weekend, the likely 2016 presidential candidate took issue with the president and first lady over an interview they gave to <a href="http://parade.condenast.com/306214/parade/the-president-and-michelle-obama-on-work-family-and-juggling-it-all/" target="_blank"><em>Parade</em></a>, in which the Obamas suggested their daughters should work minimum wage jobs because "<span data-parade-clicks="false" data-parade-location-ids="article" data-parade-location-types="promoarea" data-parade-mouseovers="false" data-parade-touches="false" data-parade-type="promoarea" data-parade-views="false">that's what most folks go through every single day." It was a fairly innocuous comment. But Paul argued it sent the wrong message. Per <a href="http://www.politico.com/story/2014/07/rand-paul-barack-obama-minimum-wage-109137.html" target="_blank"><em>Politico</em></a>:</span></p> <blockquote> <p>Speaking at a downtown conference for libertarian and conservative technology types, the Kentucky Republican and prospective 2016 White House contender said he had an "opposite" view from the Obamas when it comes to seeing his own sons work delivering pizzas and at call centers.</p> <p>"The minimum wage is a temporary" thing, Paul said. "It's a chance to get started. I see my son come home with his tips. And he's got cash in his hand and he's proud of himself. I don't want him to stop there. But he's working and he's understanding the value of work. We shouldn't disparage that."</p> </blockquote> <p>Paul, a libertarian, was echoing the argument made by those who oppose raising the minimum wage: That those jobs are largely filled by young adults just entering the job market&mdash;people who are taking these low-paying positions before moving on to the better-paying jobs&mdash;so it's no big deal if the compensation is at the bottom end of the scale. A low wage might even be beneficial, by providing an incentive to get to the next level. But this is not supported by the facts. Only a quarter of minimum wage workers are teenagers, according to the <a href="http://www.bls.gov/cps/minwage2013.pdf" target="_blank">Bureau of Labor Statistics</a>. Nearly half of minimum wage earners are over 25, and 585,000 (18 percent) are over 45. These aren't kids just learning the value of the buck; they're adults who need income to support themselves and their families. As <em>Mother Jones</em> has reported previously, the current minimum wage doesn't come close to doing that. Just take a spin on our <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/01/costco-vs-walmart-how-many-hours-do-you-need-work-survive" target="_blank">living-wage calculator</a>.</p> <p>If Paul truly believes a low wage is "temporary" for most minimum-wage workers, perhaps he should take the Obamas' advice for their daughters and spend some time working in a fast-food joint.</p></body></html> MoJo Congress Economy Income Inequality Mon, 21 Jul 2014 19:33:25 +0000 Tim Murphy 256581 at http://www.motherjones.com Watch: Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick's Emotional Speech on Child Migrants http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/07/deval-patrick-child-immigration-shelter-speech <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/H-7nySPVcOU?start=321" width="630"></iframe></p> <p></p><div id="mininav" class="inline-subnav"> <!-- header content --> <div id="mininav-header-content"> <div id="mininav-header-image"> <img src="/files/images/motherjones_mininav/migrants_225.jpg" width="220" border="0"></div> </div> <!-- linked stories --> <div id="mininav-linked-stories"> <ul><span id="linked-story-252671"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/06/child-migrants-surge-unaccompanied-central-america"> 70,000 Kids Will Show Up Alone at Our Border This Year. What Happens to Them?</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-255056"> <li><a href="/mojo/2014/06/map-unaccompanied-child-migrants-central-america-honduras"> Map: These Are the Places Central American Child Migrants Are Fleeing </a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-256016"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/07/immigration-courts-backlog-child-migrant-crisis"> Why Our Immigration Courts Can't Handle the Child Migrant Crisis</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-256341"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/07/are-kids-showing-border-really-refugees"> Are the Kids Showing Up at the Border Really Refugees?</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-256331"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/07/child-migrant-ellis-island-history"> Child Migrants Have Been Coming to America Alone Since Ellis Island</a></li> </span> </ul></div> <!-- footer content --> <div id="mininav-footer-content"> <div id="mininav-footer-text" class="mininav-footer-text"> <p class="mininav-footer-text" style="margin: 0; padding: 0.75em; font-size: 11px; font-weight: bold; line-height: 1.2em; background-color: rgb(221, 221, 221);"> See <em>MoJo</em>'s <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/topics/child-migrants">full coverage</a> of the surge of unaccompanied child migrants from Central America. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>On Friday, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2014/07/18/emotional-deval-patrick-explains-plan-to-shelter-undocumented-children-video/" target="_blank">announced a plan</a> for his state to temporarily shelter up to 1,000 unaccompanied children who have <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/06/child-migrants-surge-unaccompanied-central-america" target="_blank">recently fled</a> to the United States as part of the ongoing <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/topics/child-migrants" target="_blank">border crisis</a>. He cited America's history of giving "sanctuary to desperate children for centuries," the "blight on our national reputation" when we refused to accept Jewish children fleeing the Nazis in 1939, and his Christian faith as reasons for the decision. "My faith teaches," he said, fighting back tears, "that if a stranger dwells with you in your land, you shall not mistreat him but rather love him as yourself." The Joint Base Cape Cod and Westover Air Base are the two facilities being considered as <a href="http://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/blog/2014/07/18/immigrant-children-massachusetts-governor-patrick/" target="_blank">possible locations</a>.</p> <p>Notably, Patrick has said "<a href="http://www.bostonglobe.com/news/politics/2014/02/23/governor-patrick-says-maybe-presidential-run-after-election/vGG5tmuFRE7q2nbduEwrxL/story.html" target="_blank">maybe</a>" to a 2016 run for president.</p></body></html> MoJo Immigration International child migrants Mon, 21 Jul 2014 18:56:35 +0000 Brett Brownell 256606 at http://www.motherjones.com If the Left Wants Scapegoats, Just Look in the Mirror http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/07/if-left-wants-scapegoats-just-look-mirror <!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_obama_walk_water.jpg" style="margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Thomas Frank is convinced that Barack Obama single-handedly prevented America from becoming the lefty paradise it was on course for <a href="http://www.salon.com/2014/07/20/right_wing_obstruction_could_have_been_fought_an_ineffective_and_gutless_presidencys_legacy_is_failure/" target="_blank">after the financial meltdown of 2008:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The Obama team, as the president once announced to a delegation of investment bankers, was &ldquo;the only thing between you and the pitchforks,&rdquo; and in retrospect <strong>these words seem not only to have been a correct assessment of the situation at the moment but a credo for his entire term in office</strong>. For my money, they should be carved in stone over the entrance to his monument: Barack Obama as the one-man rescue squad for an economic order that had aroused the fury of the world. Better: Obama as the awesomely talented doctor who kept the corpse of a dead philosophy lumbering along despite it all.</p> <p>....In point of fact, <strong>there were plenty of things Obama&rsquo;s Democrats could have done that might have put the right out of business once and for all</strong>&mdash;for example, by responding more aggressively to the Great Recession or by pounding relentlessly on the theme of middle-class economic distress. Acknowledging this possibility, however, has always been difficult for consensus-minded Democrats, and I suspect that in the official recounting of the Obama era, this troublesome possibility will disappear entirely. Instead, the terrifying Right-Wing Other will be cast in bronze at twice life-size, and made the excuse for the Administration&rsquo;s every last failure of nerve, imagination and foresight. Demonizing the right will also allow the Obama legacy team to present his two electoral victories as ends in themselves, since they kept the White House out of the monster&rsquo;s grasp&mdash;heroic triumphs that were truly worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize. (Which will be dusted off and prominently displayed.)</p> </blockquote> <p>I see this kind of thing all the time on the right. <em>If only we had a candidate who refused to sell out conservative values! A candidate who could truly make the American public understand! Then we'd win in a landslide!</em></p> <p>It's easy to recognize this as delusional. Tea party types are always convinced that America is thirsting for true conservatism, and all that's needed is a latter-day Ronald Reagan to be its salesman. Needless to say, this misses the point that Americans aren't all reactionaries. In fact, as the embarrassing clown shows of the past two GOP primaries have shown, even most Republicans aren't reactionaries. There's been no shortage of honest-to-God right wingers to choose from, but they can't even win the nomination, let alone a general election.</p> <p>(Of course you never know. Maybe 2016 is the year!)</p> <p>But if it's so easy to see this conservative delusion for what it is, why isn't it equally easy to recognize the same brand of liberal delusion? Back in 2009, was Obama really the only thing that stood between bankers and the howling mob? Don't be silly. Americans were barely even upset, let alone ready for revolution. Those pathetic demonstrations outside the headquarters of AIG were about a hundredth the size that even a half-ass political organization can muster for a routine anti-abortion rally. After a few days the AIG protestors got bored and went home without so much as throwing a few bottles at cops. Even the Greeks managed that much.</p> <p>Why were Americans so obviously not enraged? Because&mdash;duh&mdash;<em>the hated neoliberal system worked</em>. We didn't have a second Great Depression. The Fed intervened, the banking system was saved, and a stimulus bill was passed. Did bankers get treated too well? Oh yes indeed. Was the stimulus too small? You bet. Nevertheless, was America saved from an epic collapse? It sure was. Instead of a massive meltdown, we got a really bad recession and a weak recovery, and even that was cushioned by a safety net that, although inadequate, was more than enough to keep the pitchforks off the streets.</p> <p>As for Obama, could he have done more? I suppose he probably could have, but it's a close call. Even with his earnest efforts at bipartisanship at the beginning of his presidency, he only barely passed <em>any</em> stimulus at all. If instead he'd issued thundering populist manifestos, even Susan Collins would have turned against him and the stimulus bill would have been not too small, but completely dead. Ditto for virtually everything else Obama managed to pass by one or two votes during his first 18 months. If that had happened, the economy would have done even worse, and if you somehow think this means the public would have become more sympathetic to the party in the White House, then your knowledge of American politics is at about the kindergarten level. Democrats would have lost even more seats in 2010 than they did.</p> <p>Look: Obama made some mistakes. He should have done more about housing. He shouldn't have pivoted to deficit-mongering so quickly. Maybe he could have kept a public option in Obamacare if he'd fought harder for it. Maybe, maybe, maybe. But probably not. Like it or not, America was not poised for a huge liberal wave in 2008. It just wasn't. It was poised for a fairly routine cycle of throwing out the old bums and electing new bums, who would, as usual, be given a very short and very limited honeymoon. Democrats actually accomplished a fair amount during that honeymoon, but no, they didn't turn American into a lefty paradise. That was never in the cards.</p> <p>All of us who do what Thomas Frank does&mdash;what I do&mdash;have failed. Our goal was to persuade the public to move in a liberal direction, and that didn't happen. In the end, we didn't persuade much of anyone. It's natural to want to avoid facing that humiliating truth, and equally natural to look for someone else to blame instead. That's human nature. So fine. Blame Obama if it makes you feel better. That's what we elect presidents for: to take the blame.</p> <p>But he only deserves his share. The rest of us, who were unable to take advantage of an epic financial collapse to get the public firmly in favor of pitchforks and universal health care, deserve most of it. The mirror doesn't lie.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Obama Top Stories Mon, 21 Jul 2014 17:31:59 +0000 Kevin Drum 256601 at http://www.motherjones.com Fighting in Gaza Bad for Mankind, Great for Right-Wing Website http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/07/fighting-gaza-bad-humans-great-right-wing-website <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Israel's ground offensive into Gaza, which began last Thursday after a week of air strikes, has come with a heavy price: 20 Israelis and 445 Palestinians have now died since the conflict flared up two weeks ago. But at least one group is happy about the news&mdash;<em>WorldNetDaily</em>, the far-right website, which <a href="http://www.wnd.com/2014/07/hamas-rockets-boon-to-israel-tour/" target="_blank">reports</a>, in a story titled "Hamas Rockets Boon to Israel Tour," that the ground offensive has been good for business:</p> <blockquote> <p>WASHINGTON &ndash; During the week Hamas fired thousands of rockets on Israel, interest in WND's Israel tour with Joseph Farah and Jonathan Cahn spiked, with 68 signups in seven days, the most in a one-week period since registration began in February,&nbsp;WND announced.</p> <p>"I thought news of thousands of rockets raining down on Israel would be a deterrent to Americans who were thinking about joining us on WND's Israel tour," said Farah. "It wasn't at all. In fact, it seems like Americans are eager to show solidarity with the Jewish state at this time."</p> <p>The second annual tour is on pace to match last year&rsquo;s size, with nearly 400 participants, most originating in the U.S.</p> </blockquote> <p>Congrats, guys.</p></body></html> MoJo Human Rights International Military Mon, 21 Jul 2014 15:59:58 +0000 Tim Murphy 256591 at http://www.motherjones.com High School Kids Brave the Anti-Vax Jihadists http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/07/high-school-kids-brave-anti-vax-jihadists <!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 heartwarming story for you. Prompted by the decline in vaccination rates among children in San Diego, a group of students at Carlsbad High School decided to make a short documentary about "the science of disease and the risks <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/images/blog_see_no_evil.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">facing a society that is under-vaccinated." You can probably guess <a href="http://www.latimes.com/health/la-me-vaccines-movie-20140721-story.html#page=1" target="_blank">what happened next:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Complaints began to arise when a local newspaper reported that the students were tackling "the issue of immunizations." A blogger who saw the article contended that the movie, still a work in progress, was sure to be "propaganda." <strong>That led to a flurry of frightening phone calls and Internet comments directed at CHSTV, [advisor Lisa] Posard said.</strong></p> <p>Posard said she hadn't realized that vaccines were such a controversial subject. She and CHSTV teacher Douglas Green wanted to shut down production, she added. But the students, angered by what they saw as bullying, insisted on completing the film.</p> <p>The final version of "Invisible Threat," completed in spring 2013 but shown only to select audiences, took a strong pro-vaccine position.</p> <p>Critics, who said they hadn't been allowed to see the movie, leaped back into action about a year later, when the film was set to be screened on Capitol Hill.</p> <p><strong>Focus Autism and AutismOne organizations complained about the movie's Rotary Club backing and about the involvement of Dr. Paul Offit, a University of Pennsylvania pediatrician and immunization proponent.</strong> They argued that "Invisible Threat" was "scripted with industry talking points" and that the movie seemed to be the work of adults operating under false pretenses, not students.</p> </blockquote> <p>Thanks to the McCarthyite cretins in the murderous vaccinations-cause-autism movement, to this day the documentary has barely been seen outside the confines of the school. It will finally get posted on the Web on August 1st. Maybe it will save some lives.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Health Care Science Mon, 21 Jul 2014 15:41:31 +0000 Kevin Drum 256596 at http://www.motherjones.com More Pointless Bluster on Foreign Policy, Please http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/07/more-pointless-bluster-foreign-policy-please <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Via <em>Politico,</em> Here's the latest on <a href="http://www.politico.com/story/2014/07/politico-poll-ukraine-middle-east-109155.html" target="_blank">American attitudes toward foreign policy:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Asked whether the U.S should do more to counter Russian aggression in Ukraine, just 17 percent answered in the affirmative....More than three-quarters of likely voters say they support plans to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2016....Forty-four percent of likely voters favor less involvement in Iraq&rsquo;s civil war....Likely voters prefer less involvement in Syria&rsquo;s civil war over more involvement, 42 percent to 15 percent.</p> </blockquote> <p>Based on this, can you figure out which party is more trusted on foreign policy? You guessed it: Republicans, by a margin of 39-32 percent.</p> <p>Bottom line (for about the thousandth time): Americans prefer the <em>actual</em> foreign policy of Democrats, but they prefer the <em>rhetorical</em> foreign policy of Republicans. They want lots of bluster and chest thumping, but without much in the way of serious action. In other words, pretty much what Reagan did.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Foreign Policy Mon, 21 Jul 2014 14:51:16 +0000 Kevin Drum 256576 at http://www.motherjones.com We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for July 21, 2014 http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/07/were-still-war-photo-day-july-21-2014 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p class="rtecenter"><em>Two US Marines alongside two Japan Ground self-defense soldiers practice techniques at Kin Blue beach in Japan. <span class="meta-field photo-desc " id="yui_3_16_0_rc_1_1_1405949962974_1412">(US Marine Photo by Cpl. Henry Antenor)</span></em></p></body></html> MoJo Military Mon, 21 Jul 2014 13:47:11 +0000 256561 at http://www.motherjones.com "Country Funk Volume II" Is the Perfect Summer Soundtrack http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/07/country-funk-volume-ii-1967-1974-summer-soundtrack-review <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><strong>Various Artists<br><em>Country Funk Volume II 1967-1974</em><br> Light in the Attic</strong></p> <p><img alt="Country Funk" class="image" src="/files/LITA116_Highres_Cover_thumb_325.jpg" style="height: 230px; width: 230px; float: right;">Like its predecessor, the beguiling <em>Country Funk Volume II, 1967-1974</em> is a collection of rebels, reprobates and other outsiders blurring genres and donning different guises. Ranging from big names to cult favorites, this dud-free, 17-track romp captures Kenny Rogers in his pre-crooner, almost-psychedelic phase and the chameleon-like Bobby Darin (here billed as Bob) in his down-home hippie groove. R&amp;B greats Larry Williams and Johnny Watson team up for freaky rock and roll, while Willie Nelson tries out his outlaw persona&mdash;and likes it. Elsewhere, former Byrd Gene Clark puts a rootsy spin on the Beatles, and sleepy JJ Cale mines a deep, soulful groove. And there's plenty more to dig on this scruffy, lovably offbeat set, which makes a perfect summer soundtrack.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="473" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/eCMZIA5dK4c" width="630"></iframe></p></body></html> Mixed Media Music Mon, 21 Jul 2014 10:00:19 +0000 Jon Young 256231 at http://www.motherjones.com Fast Tracks: Reigning Sound's "You Did Wrong" http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/07/fast-tracks-reigning-sounds-you-did-wrong <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/cQaZ4hhghQo" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><strong>TRACK 5</strong></p> <p>"You Did Wrong"</p> <p>From Reigning Sound's <em>Shattered</em></p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/shattered-300x300.gif"></div> <p>MERGE</p> <p><strong>Liner notes:</strong> "Where have you been, my friend? I've been calling you for days," croons Greg Cartwright, comforting a heartbroken pal in this bracing garage-soul lament.</p> <p><strong>Behind the music:</strong> The Memphis multitasker has a slew of other bands on his r&eacute;sum&eacute;, such as the Oblivians and Compulsive Gamblers.</p> <p><strong>Check it out if you like:</strong> Retro floor-shakers like the Deadly Snakes and King Khan &amp; the Shrines.</p> <p><em>This review originally appeared in the </em><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/toc/2014/07" target="_blank">July/August 2014 Issue</a> <em>of </em>Mother Jones.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Media Music Mon, 21 Jul 2014 10:00:18 +0000 Jon Young 252796 at http://www.motherjones.com Armed With a Backpack Studio and a Plane Ticket, Beat Making Lab Sows Global Activism http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/07/premiere-pbs-digital-studios-beat-making-lab-sets-diy-studios-around-world <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/TnKSXkUtKW0" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>In Goma, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, fences as far as the eye could see were topped with barbed wire. Glass bottle shards protruded from concrete walls so that no one could scale them. Some buildings were even corralled by electric barriers. They resembled fortresses&mdash;all but one. "At Yole!Africa, the walls were completely bare. Students were sitting on them," recalls Pierce Freelon, one of the founders of <a href="http://www.beatmakinglab.com/" target="_blank">Beat Making Lab</a>.</p> <p>Beat Making Lab, a project that began in 2011 as a music production and entrepreneurship class at University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, had morphed into an international expedition to teach kids how to make beats and set up makeshift studios for around the world. Yole!Africa, a Congolese Center for Art and Cultural Exchange, was their first stop. "When you came in, there were two concrete slabs where artists are dancing," Freelon adds. "You don't need a dance studio with hardwood floors, with windows and a ballet bar, to put in work and do dance. You can do it in the dirt."</p> <p>They had come to lend that DIY mentality to an art-form not yet represented at Yole!Africa. With just a backpack full of gear&mdash;USB microphone, keyboard, laptop, MIDI controllers, headphones, and software&mdash;Freelon and BML cofounder, the producer/DJ Stephen Levitin (who has worked with the likes of Azealia Banks, Camp Lo, Mos Def, and Wale) set up shop in a storage room and launched their first two-week workshop. "In terms of where [art] can happen?" Freelon says, "the answer is anywhere and everywhere."</p> <p>In 2013, the duo helped produce songs from a prison in Panama. They brought beat-making tools to the beaches of Fiji. They held sessions on the streets of Senegal and Ethiopia. Along the way, they documented their experiences and created videos for the songs their students created. Here's one from Ethiopia:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/4SfwcYVUYyA" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Before long, the project caught the attention of PBS, which signed on to help produce a web series. Season 2, which launches today, kicks off in Nairobi with the video at the top of this post. The beatmakers have taken a more political turn this time around. In Kenya, they partner with <a href="https://www.therules.org/en/actions/movement--2" target="_blank">/The Rules</a> (a "global movement to bring power back to people, and change the rules that create inequality and poverty around the world"), interweaving recording sessions with spoken word workshops led by Jamaican poet Staceyann Chin, and digital power-mapping workshops led by Ann Daramola (a.k.a. Afrolicious). The goal: to encourage participants to deploy art in the cause of activism.</p> <p>&ldquo;It was the ill-est thing ever," Freelon says. "Those same students who have been thinking about tax havens and queerness and patriarchy are now coming into our Beat Making Lab and making beats."</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/L_Nq5FCbd0E" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Freelon and Levitin hope to keep expanding into new territory. Up next on their wish list are Palestine, Israel, India, and China. "We left Kenya saying we need not ever go back to what we were doing in 2013," Freelon says. "From this time forward we are going to have a deeper, more intentional process."</p> <p><em>Subscribe to BML's <a href="https://www.youtube.com/user/beatmakinglab" target="_blank">YouTube channel</a> to see the story unfold.</em></p></body></html> Mixed Media International Music Mon, 21 Jul 2014 10:00:18 +0000 Gabrielle Canon 255306 at http://www.motherjones.com