Blogs | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/Blogs/kevin%20drum http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en Unsportsmanlike Conduct in the NBA Follows an Inverted U-Shaped Curve http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/04/unsportsmanlike-conduct-nba-follows-inverted-u-shaped-curve <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>Over at 538, Benjamin Morris asks <a href="http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/just-how-bad-were-the-bad-boys/" target="_blank">"Just How Bad Were the Bad Boys?"</a> The bad boys in question are the Detroit Pistons basketball team of the late 80s, who had a reputation for being unusually aggressive on the court. Did they deserve their reputation? To test this, Morris looks at how many technical fouls they racked up, a good measure of unsportsmanlike conduct. In fact, he takes a look at the total number of technical fouls for the entire league, and finds that the number rose steadily until 1995 and then started a long-term decline.</p> <p>I promise this is just for fun, but I've overlaid another line against Morris's chart. Not a perfect fit, granted, but not too far off, either. I'm sure a few of you can guess what it is, can't you?</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_bad_boys_lead_1.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 90px;"></p> </body></html> Kevin Drum Science Sports Wed, 16 Apr 2014 05:56:37 +0000 Kevin Drum 249916 at http://www.motherjones.com Medical Inflation Is Up, But It's Probably Just a Blip http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/04/medical-inflation-its-probably-just-blip <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>Sarah Kliff reports that health care spending <a href="http://www.vox.com/2014/4/15/5612900/health-spending-growth-fast" target="_blank">ticked upward at the end of 2013:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>A four-year slowdown in health spending growth could be coming to an end....Federal data suggests that health care spending is now growing just as quickly as it was prior to the recession.</p> <p>....The Altarum Institute in Ann Arbor, Mich. tracks health spending growth by month. It saw an uptick in late 2013 that has continued into preliminary numbers for 2014. Separate data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, which tracks the growth or consumer spending by quarter, shows something similar: health spending grew by 5.6 percent in the last quarter of 2013, the fastest growth recorded since 2004.</p> </blockquote> <p>Inflation in the final quarter of 2013 ran a little over 1 percent, which means health care spending rose 4.5 percent faster than the overall inflation rate. That's a lot. But it's also <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_healthcare_cost_growth_small.jpg" style="margin: 20px 5px 15px 30px;">only one quarter, and it's hardly unexpected. Take a look at the chart on the right, which shows how much per capita health care spending has increased over and above the inflation rate for the past 40 years. There are two key takeaways:</p> <ul> <li>Medical inflation has been on a striking long-term downward path since the early 80s.</li> <li>There's a ton of noise in the data, with every decline followed by a subsequent upward correction.</li> </ul> <p>The HMO revolution of the 90s sent medical inflation plummeting. Then a correction. Then another big drop. And another upward correction. Then another drop. If that's followed by an upward correction for a few years, it would hardly be a surprise.</p> <p>Nonetheless, the long-term trend is pretty clear, and it shows up no matter how you slice the data. For many years, medical inflation was running as much as 4-6 percent higher than overall inflation. Today that number is 1-2 percent, and the variability seems to be getting smaller. What's more, that 1-2 percent number matches the long-term trend during the entire postwar period (see chart below). There's good reason to think that it might be the natural rate of medical inflation, with the 80s and early 90s as an outlier. That's where I'd put my money, anyway.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_real_medical_inflation_long_view.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 5px 10px;"></p> </body></html> Kevin Drum Economy Health Care Wed, 16 Apr 2014 01:25:50 +0000 Kevin Drum 249911 at http://www.motherjones.com Donald Rumsfeld Will Never Overpay His Taxes http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/04/donald-rumsfeld-will-never-overpay-his-taxes <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>Via Steve Benen, I see that Donald Rumsfeld sends the IRS a letter every year when he files his taxes. <a href="http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/rumsfeld-and-sad-commentary-governance" target="_blank">Here it is:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>I have sent in our federal income tax and our gift tax returns for 2013. As in prior years, it is important for you to know that I have absolutely no idea whether our tax returns and our tax payments are accurate. I say that despite the fact that I am a college graduate and I try hard to make sure our tax returns are accurate.</p> <p>The tax code is so complex and the forms are so complicated, that I know I cannot have any confidence that I know what is being requested and therefore I cannot and do not know, as I suspect a great many Americans cannot know, whether or not their tax returns are accurate. As in past years, I have spent more money that I wanted to....</p> </blockquote> <p>Etc. Two things here:</p> <ul> <li>As a longtime feeder at the public trough, Rumsfeld is surely aware that the IRS isn't responsible for the complexity of the tax code. Congress is. He needs to write an annual letter to his representative in Congress instead. As a resident of Washington DC, of course, he doesn't really have one, but that's a whole different story. However, I'm sure Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton would be delighted to receive his letter anyway.</li> <li>The big reason taxes are complicated is because people do complicated things with their money&mdash;often with the express aim of lowering their taxes. Nobody is forced to do this. If you want, you can just add up all your income and pay the statutory rate without worrying about deductions and loopholes and capital gains rates and so forth. That will make your taxes easy. But if you're the kind of person who has enough money to hire expensive accountants to manage your carefully tailored investments, then you have enough money to pay those accountants to do your taxes too.</li> </ul> <p>In any case, none of this really matters. No matter how much Rumsfeld pays in taxes, it will never be enough to make up for the damage he's done to this country over his lifetime. He should stop whining. He owes us.</p> </body></html> Kevin Drum Regulatory Affairs Tue, 15 Apr 2014 21:52:21 +0000 Kevin Drum 249901 at http://www.motherjones.com Everyone on the Far Right Loves Militia-Backed Rancher Cliven Bundy—Except Glenn Beck http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/04/right-wing-loves-militia-rancher-cliven-bundy-except-glenn-beck <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>Conservative activists and media outlets have generally embraced the cause of Cliven Bundy, a Nevada cattle rancher who inspired a gang of protesters&mdash;many of them armed&mdash;to face off with federal law enforcement this weekend. But one figure on the right has taken a surprising stand against Bundy's supporters: former Fox News host Glenn Beck.</p> <p>On Saturday, a large group of anti-government protesters converged on a Bureau of Land Management base camp in rural Nevada to protest the federal government's seizure of Bundy's cows. Bundy had for years grazed hundreds of cattle on protected lands controlled by the federal government and refused to pay the resulting court-ordered fines. This month, after nearly 20 years of consistently beating Bundy in court, the BLM moved to confiscate his cattle. A judge ordered Bundy not to physically interfere. In response, Bundy assembled protesters to confront the BLM officers who were holding his livestock.</p> <p>After a dramatic, two-day standoff, federal officers backed down and handed the cows over to Bundy to avoid violence. Astonishing <a href="http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/nevada-rancher-feds-face-over-cattle-n79271" target="_blank">photos from the scene</a> show protesters perched on a highway overpass and hunkered down in the brush with long-range weapons; one photo appears to show a man on the bridge <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2014/04/15/everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-long-fight-between-cliven-bundy-and-the-federal-government/" target="_blank">aiming down at the BLM base camp.</a></p> <p>The involvement of armed militiamen&mdash;and Bundy's promise to "do whatever it takes" to reclaim his cattle&mdash;doesn't appear to phase conservative activists who have turned Bundy into a cause c&eacute;l&egrave;bre. Before this weekend's confrontation, <em>National Review Online</em>, <em>Fox &amp; Friends, </em>and <em>American</em><em> Thinker</em> all blamed the government for <a href="http://mediamatters.org/blog/2014/04/10/right-wing-media-are-throwing-gas-on-a-ranchers/198841" target="_blank">mounting tensions</a>. Two groups affiliated with Americans for Prosperity, a political organization funded primarily by the Koch brothers, spent the weekend tweeting their support for Bundy, <em>Media Matters</em> <a href="http://mediamatters.org/blog/2014/04/11/feds-turn-from-landlords-to-warlords-koch-group/198857" target="_blank">reported</a><em>.</em> Sean Hannity, who on Friday <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=armAcbEO1PE#t=255" target="_blank">hailed Bundy</a> as a capitalist hero&mdash;"When your cattle graze there, that keeps the price of meat down for every American consumer"&mdash;invited Bundy back on the air Monday for <a href="http://mediamatters.org/video/2014/04/14/hannity-gives-platform-for-lawless-rancher-to-d/198892" target="_blank">a second, easygoing interview</a> in which he made only glancing reference to the armed confrontation.</p> <p>Beck, though, in an episode of his show broadcast Monday, said he fully supports Bundy's principles but <a href="http://www.glennbeck.com/2014/04/14/inciting-violence-doesnt-solve-anything-glenn-denounces-violence-in-response-to-nevada-ranch-conflict/" target="_blank">couldn't look past</a> his supporters:</p> <blockquote> <p class="rteindent1">The problem here is that Bundy hasn't been all that clear on this&hellip;He's a rancher. And so he's not used to making his sound bite case in this sound bite world. But the problem with that lack of clarity is some of the supporters that he's attracting. He is drawing in the decent, small government proponents from groups such as the tea party&hellip;I know there's some people that listen [to] and watch me. And they are sick of the government regulations hampering themselves, small businesses, farming, I'm with you on that.</p> <p class="rteindent1">But when you're not really super clear, it also draws another element, drawing in the violent, anti-government groups. The, I think, right's version of Occupy Wall Street. We did some research online on PsyID [a social-media analysis tool] today, and found that there's about 10 to 15 percent of the people who are talking about this online that are truly frightening. They don't care what the facts are&mdash;they just want a fight. And you see it in some of these pictures.</p> </blockquote> <p>At this point, video played behind Beck of protesters scuffling with federal officers.</p> <blockquote> <p class="rteindent1">I don't know who these people are. They all might be great. But here they are, they're acting, they're enraged, they're enraged. And they're confronting the federal government officials. I get that. But this is not the way to win&hellip;I want to be clear, 100 percent clean on one thing all of us should agree on, and unfortunately, I don't believe we do, both left and right. And that is, we need to agree on, we condemn those who use violence. Inciting violence doesn't solve anything. I vehemently denounce anyone who even hints at such tactics&hellip;People can spot anger and vengeance from a mile away. And when I saw that video where they were lunging and jumping at the agents, calling them scumbags, I thought, this is our side's Occupy Wall Street. It's happening all over again, and it will end the same way.</p> </blockquote> <p>Beck didn't specifically call out the armed protesters, and the<em> Blaze</em>, a website that is part of his media empire, <a href="http://mediamatters.org/blog/2014/04/10/right-wing-media-are-throwing-gas-on-a-ranchers/198841" target="_blank">played up</a> the federal government's role in bringing the crisis to a head. Beck claims the facts of the federal government's actions against Bundy are "convoluted" (when they're <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2014/04/15/everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-long-fight-between-cliven-bundy-and-the-federal-government/" target="_blank">pretty well established</a>) and equates heavily armed protesters with Occupy Wall Street. But there's no doubt that he took a stand against the extreme elements among Bundy's supporters. And when Glenn Beck approximates a reasonable position on the same night that a blood moon rises, you've got to second-guess the folks who say <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/04/blood-moon-end-of-days-john-hagee" target="_blank">the world isn't coming to an end</a>.</p> </body></html> MoJo The Right Top Stories Tue, 15 Apr 2014 21:36:32 +0000 Molly Redden 249866 at http://www.motherjones.com This is the Best/Worst Campaign Video of 2014 http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/04/what-is-this-chris-mcdaniel-video <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>Depending on where you stand, this is either the best piece of political performance art of the 2014 election or the worst. Or maybe it's both. Supporters of <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/04/chris-mcdaniel-bryan-fischer-reparations" target="_blank">embattled</a> Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel, who is challenging longtime incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) in the June primary, have composed this charming jingle, asking Cochran to "please come home." These kinds of supporter-generated videos can often be tacky and amateurish, or woefully off-message. But this&mdash;this is art. Watch:</p> <p class="rtecenter"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="473" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/k27-HC90dzc" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Lyrics below:</p> <blockquote> <p>Won't you come home Thad Cochran,<br> Won't you come home,<br> You've been there way too long,<br> We sent you up there, to do what's right,<br> But now you done us wrong</p> <p>Remember that crazy health care, that gun control,<br> You voted for was oh so wrong,<br> Well, it's really a shame,<br> And you're partly to blame,<br> Thad Cochran won't you please come home.</p> <p>2nd Chorus</p> </blockquote> <blockquote> <p>Won't you come home Thad Cochran,<br> Won't you come home,<br> Our party's gone off track,<br> With Chris McDaniel, we've got a chance,<br> To bring our party back,</p> <p>So pack your suitcase, and grab your hat,<br> Then catch a ride and get here fast,<br> We know you did your best,<br> But it's time for a rest,<br> We hope this term be your last!</p> <p>3rd Chorus<br> Won't you come home Thad Cochran,<br> Won't you come home,<br> You're spending way too much,<br> You've raised the ceiling of debt so high,<br> This country can't catch up...</p> <p>And your pork barrel, is filled so full,<br> I think that it just may bust!<br> Please hear our call, as we plead one and all,<br> Thad Cochran, won't you please come home.</p> </blockquote> <p>Note: Thad Cochran doesn't wear a hat:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"> <img alt="" class="image" src="/files/cochran.jpg"><div class="caption">Pete Marovich/ ZumaPress</div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p> </body></html> MoJo Elections Music Offbeat Tue, 15 Apr 2014 20:54:19 +0000 Tim Murphy 249886 at http://www.motherjones.com Google Ponders Using Its Search Algorithms to Encourage Encryption http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/04/google-ponders-using-its-search-algorithms-encourage-encryption <!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://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2014/04/14/google-may-push-sites-to-use-encryption/?mod=e2tw" target="_blank">From the <em>Wall Street Journal</em>:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>In a move that experts say could make it harder to spy on Web users, <strong>Google is considering giving a boost in its search-engine results to websites that use encryption,</strong> the engineer in charge of fighting spam in search results hinted at a recent conference.</p> <p>The executive, Matt Cutts, is well known in the search world as the liaison between Google&rsquo;s search team and website designers who track every tweak to its search algorithms....Google uses its search algorithm to encourage and discourage practices among web developers. Sites known to have malicious software are penalized in rankings as are those that load very slowly, for instance. In total, the company has over 200 &ldquo;signals&rdquo; that help it determine search rankings, most of which it doesn&rsquo;t discuss publicly.</p> </blockquote> <p>I don't want to make too big a deal out of this, but I'm a little nervous about the power Google is demonstrating here. Google has a <a href="http://searchengineland.com/bing-ends-2013-with-all-time-high-in-us-market-share-but-google-also-up-comscore-181876" target="_blank">two-thirds share of the search market,</a> which makes it an effective monopoly in this space, and they're none too transparent about just how they exploit this dominance. Encrypting web sites is probably a good thing to encourage, but it's hardly necessary for every site. Nor is it clear just what Google would decide counts as proper encryption. Do some encryption standards and suppliers stand or fall based on whether Google's algorithm recognizes them?</p> <p>I haven't given this a ton of thought, so just take this as a bit of noodling. To the extent that Google's algorithms are genuinely aimed at producing the most useful results for people, it's hard to fault them. When they start to go beyond that, though, things get a little gray. What comes next after this? It's worth some thought.</p> </body></html> Kevin Drum Corporations Tech Tue, 15 Apr 2014 17:14:24 +0000 Kevin Drum 249821 at http://www.motherjones.com Fox News Is About to Get a New Pet Rock http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/04/fox-news-about-get-new-pet-rock <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>Oh man, a whole new set of conspiracy theories <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/16/us/politics/census-survey-revisions-mask-health-law-effects.html?hp&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">is about to take flight:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The Census Bureau, the authoritative source of health insurance data for more than three decades, is changing its annual survey so thoroughly that it will be difficult to measure the effects of President Obama&rsquo;s health care law in the next report, due this fall, census officials said.</p> <p>....An internal Census Bureau document said that the new questionnaire included a &ldquo;total revision to health insurance questions&rdquo; and, in a test last year, produced lower estimates of the uninsured. Thus, officials said, it will be difficult to say <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_conspiracy_theory.jpg" style="margin: 20px 5px 15px 30px;">how much of any change is attributable to the Affordable Care Act and how much to the use of a new survey instrument.</p> <p><strong>&ldquo;We are expecting much lower numbers just because of the questions and how they are asked,&rdquo; said Brett J. O&rsquo;Hara, chief of the health statistics branch at the Census Bureau.</strong> With the new questions, &ldquo;it is likely that the Census Bureau will decide that there is a break in series for the health insurance estimates,&rdquo; says another agency document describing the changes. This &ldquo;break in trend&rdquo; will complicate efforts to trace the impact of the Affordable Care Act, it said.</p> </blockquote> <p>I admit that this sure seems like a bad time to suddenly decide we need a new methodology for counting the uninsured, even if it has been in the works for a while. But it doesn't matter if it's almost certainly bureaucratic inertia at work here, not political skullduggery. The Fox News set is going to have a field day with this. <em>The feds are unskewing their own numbers! Probably on direct orders from the White House!</em> I expect Darrell Issa to commence hearings next week.</p> <p>Yeesh. Can't we just delay these changes for a year or two? Even if the old numbers were inaccurate, it would still be nice to keep a stable baseline for comparison through 2015 or so.</p> </body></html> Kevin Drum Health Care Obama The Right Tue, 15 Apr 2014 16:32:21 +0000 Kevin Drum 249816 at http://www.motherjones.com Is the Crisis in Ukraine About to Wind Down? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/04/crisis-ukraine-about-wind-down <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>I've been watching the unfolding events in Ukraine with the usual rising mix of apprehension and horror, but I haven't blogged about it much since I don't have anything to add in the way of insight or analysis. <a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/war_stories/2014/04/vladimir_putin_may_not_invade_ukraine_can_russia_s_president_succeed_without.html" target="_blank">So instead I'll turn the mike over to Fred Kaplan, who does:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Contrary to appearances, the crisis in Ukraine might be on the verge of resolution. The potentially crucial move came today when interim President Oleksandr Turchynov said that he would be open to changing the country&rsquo;s political system from a republic, with power centered in the capital Kiev, to a federation with considerable autonomy for the regional districts.</p> <p>That has been one of Russian President Vladimir Putin&rsquo;s key demands....If Putin can win this demand&mdash;and the political, economic, and cultural inroads it would provide&mdash;an invasion would be not just be unnecessary, it&rsquo;d be loony. War is politics by other means, and a revamping of Ukraine&rsquo;s power structure would accomplish Putin&rsquo;s political aims by less costly means.</p> <p>....Sending [NATO] fighter aircraft to Poland and the Baltic states, mobilizing warships to the Black Sea, ratcheting up sanctions with threats of more to come&mdash;all this sends a signal that the West won&rsquo;t stand by. In fact, Putin has done more to rivet the NATO nations&rsquo; attention, and perhaps get them to boost their defense budgets, than anything in the past decade.</p> <p>But Obama and the other Western leaders also know they&rsquo;re not going to go to war over Ukraine. Putin knows this, too. At the same time, if he&rsquo;s at all rational (and this is the worrying thing&mdash;it&rsquo;s not clear that he is), Putin would calculate that escalation is not a winning strategy for him. He could invade the eastern slices of Ukraine, especially around Donetsk, but he couldn&rsquo;t go much further. The move would rile the rest of Ukraine to take shelter under the EU&rsquo;s (and maybe NATO&rsquo;s) wing, and it would rouse the Western nations to rearm to an extent unseen in 20 years (and to a level that the Russian economy could not match).</p> </blockquote> <p>I keep thinking that even from a nationalistic Russian point of view, the cost of invading and holding eastern Ukraine is simply too large. The game isn't worth the candle. And yet....who knows? Rationality is sometimes in short supply. I'd still bet against a Russian invasion, especially if Putin can get much of what he wants without it, but it would be a pretty iffy bet.</p> <p>In any case, I wonder how long this "federation" will last? If Putin is smart, he can bide his time and just wait. A federated Ukraine could organically turn into eastern and western Ukraine with a bit of patience and without firing a shot. In the end, that would probably suit Russia's interests better than outright annexation.</p> </body></html> Kevin Drum International Tue, 15 Apr 2014 16:03:05 +0000 Kevin Drum 249806 at http://www.motherjones.com Cliven Bundy Exposes the Cravenness of the Modern Right http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/04/cliven-bundy-exposes-cravenness-modern-right <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>Like a lot of people, Ed Kilgore is distressed at the outpouring of support on the right for <a href="http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/political-animal-a/2014_04/tax_day_and_patriotism049898.php" target="_blank">Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Call it "individualism" or "libertarianism" or whatever you want, but those who declare themselves a Republic of One and raise their own flags are in a very literal sense being unpatriotic.</p> <p>That's why I'm alarmed by the support in many conservative precincts for the Nevada scofflaws who have been exploiting public lands for private purposes and refuse to pay for the privilege because they choose not to "recognize" the authority of the United States. Totally aside from the double standards involved in expecting kid-glove treatment of one set of lawbreakers as opposed to poorer and perhaps darker criminal suspects, fans of the Bundys are encouraging those who claim a right to wage armed revolutionary war towards their obligations as Americans. It makes me <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_bundy_nevada.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 20px 15px 30px;">really crazy when such people are described as "superpatriots." Nothing could be more contrary to the truth.</p> </blockquote> <p>The details of the Bundy case have gotten a lot of attention at conservative sites, but the details really don't matter. Bundy has a baroque claim that the United States has no legal right to grazing land in Nevada; for over a decade, every court has summarily disagreed. It's federal land whether Bundy likes it or not, and Bundy has refused for years to pay standard grazing fees&mdash;so a couple of weeks ago the feds finally decided to enforce the latest court order allowing them to confiscate Bundy's cattle if he didn't leave. The rest is just fluff, a bunch of paranoid conspiracy theorizing that led to last week's armed standoff between federal agents and the <a href="http://mediamatters.org/blog/2014/04/10/right-wing-media-are-throwing-gas-on-a-ranchers/198841" target="_blank">vigilante army created by movement conservatives.</a></p> <p>The fact that so many on the right are valorizing Bundy&mdash;or, at minimum, tiptoeing around his obvious nutbaggery&mdash;is a testament to the enduring power of Waco and Ruby Ridge among conservatives. The rest of us may barely remember them, but they're totemic events on the right, fueling Glenn-Beckian fantasies of black helicopters and jackbooted federal thugs for more than two decades now. Mainstream conservatives have pandered to this stuff for years because it was convenient, and that's brought them to where they are today: too scared to stand up to the vigilantes they created and speak the simple truth. They complain endlessly about President Obama's "lawlessness," but <em>this</em> is lawlessness. It's appalling that so many of them aren't merely afraid to plainly say so, but actively seem to be egging it on.</p> </body></html> Kevin Drum Crime and Justice Guns Regulatory Affairs Tue, 15 Apr 2014 15:12:04 +0000 Kevin Drum 249801 at http://www.motherjones.com GOP Senate Candidate Looks For Help From Radio Host Who Wants to Jail Gays http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/04/chris-mcdaniel-bryan-fischer-reparations <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>Mississippi GOP Senate candidate Chris McDaniel appeared&nbsp;on a radio program on Monday hosted by a controversial&nbsp;social conservative activist who has called for gay people to be <a href="http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/fischer-make-homosexuality-criminal-offense" target="_blank">imprisoned</a> and has said the "the spirit of the Antichrist is at work" in the Obama White House.</p> <p>McDaniel, a state senator who is challenging incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran for the GOP nomination, has taken heat over the last week for past comments he made on his own radio show, "The Right Side," which were&nbsp;<a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/01/mississippi-senate-candidate-laments-lack-muslim-movie-villains-audio" target="_blank">reported</a> by <em>Mother Jones</em> in January. The comments, recently picked up by the <a href="http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2014/04/10/miss-senate-hopeful-chris-mcdaniel-riffed-on-mamacita-reparations/" target="_blank"><em>Wall Street Journal</em></a>, featured a riff on the merits of using taxpayer funds to pay reparations to the&nbsp;descendants of slaves. "If they pass reparations, and my taxes are going up, I ain't paying taxes," the tea party favorite said in 2006. His appearance Monday on "Focal Point" with host Bryan Fischer, the issues director for the American Family Association, was an opportunity to clear the record.</p> <p>"They're desperate," McDaniel told Fischer. "And when these politicians and the establishment in Washington feels threatened, they always react with desperation. I was a conservative talk radio [host], actually it was a Christian conservative talk radio show for three and a half four years I hosted that. Two hours a day. And this is the best they've got? Most of it is way out of context anyway. They were talking about reparations, for example&mdash;let me be real clear, I'm against reparations. I don't know why that's a bad thing to say. Maybe Sen. Cochran's <em>for</em> reparations? He should clarify that for us. But I'm against it. And some of the other things, we were just sitting there, no harm was meant."</p> <p>In other clips from "The Right Side," McDaniel alleged that Democrats were plotting to make polygamy legal in all 50 states, and that Hollywood was <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/01/mississippi-senate-candidate-laments-lack-muslim-movie-villains-audio" target="_blank">whitewashing</a> the evils of Islam. He mocked San Francisco "elites" by alleging a correlation between IQ and "gender misidentification," and blamed an uptick of gun violence in Canada on hip-hop. Shootings, McDaniels&nbsp;claimed, are "a problem of a culture that values prison more than college; a culture that values rap and destruction of community values more than it does poetry; a culture that can't stand education."</p> <p>But Fischer's show&nbsp;is an unusual choice for a politician looking to launder his reputation as a conservative shock-jock. In March, Fischer <a href="http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/fischer-spirit-antichrist-work-obama" target="_blank">told</a> his listeners that while he didn't think President Obama is the antichrist, "the spirit of the Antichrist is at work" in the Oval Office. He has said that people turn to homosexuality (which he'd like criminalized) when the Devil <a href="http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/bryan-fischer-urges-gay-people-remove-satanic-force-their-brain-makes-them-gay" target="_blank">takes over their brains</a>. He once called for a Sea World Orca whale to be Biblically stoned after it killed its trainer. He <a href="http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/bryan-fischer-explains-why-he-only-hires-women-secretaries" target="_blank">said</a> the secretarial&nbsp;job in his office is "reserved for a woman because of the unique things that God has built into women." Even some Republicans have distanced themselves from Fischer&mdash;at the 2011 Values Voters Summit in Washington, D.C., Mitt Romney condemned Fischer's "poisonous language."</p> <p>McDaniel has received the backing of major Republican groups, including the Senate Conservatives Fund and Club for Growth, but still faces an uphill battle. An April survey from Harper Polling gave Cochran a double-digit edge over McDaniel, 52&ndash;35.</p> </body></html> MoJo Elections Gay Rights Religion Tue, 15 Apr 2014 14:36:20 +0000 Tim Murphy 249771 at http://www.motherjones.com We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for April 15, 2014 http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/04/were-still-war-photo-day-april-15-2014 <!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="" class="image" src="/files/0415-630x354.jpg"></div> <div id="meta"> <div class="photo-desc" id="description_div"> <p class="rtecenter"><em>Cpl. Rashawn Poitevien, 6th Marine Regiment, 3rd Battalion, Headquarters and Service Company, Scout Snipers Platoon, engages targets downrange with an M40A5 during the Talon Exercise at Yuma Proving Grounds, Ariz., March 28, 2014. (<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/marine_corps/13777949135/" target="_blank">U.S. Marine Corps photo</a> by Lance Cpl. Christopher A. Mendoza/Released)</em></p> </div> </div> </body></html> MoJo Tue, 15 Apr 2014 14:17:13 +0000 249786 at http://www.motherjones.com Tom's Kitchen: Stir-Fried Beef With Celery, Carrots, and Kohlrabi http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2014/04/toms-kitchen-vintage-str-fried-beef <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>This recipe owes its existence to the confluence of three unrelated events:</p> <p>&bull; At the very end of a busy recent trip to San Francisco, I ate lunch at a restaurant called <a href="http://missionchinesefood.com/" target="_blank">Mission Chinese</a>, a hipster homage to Americanized Chinese food. I had the "Kung Pao pastrami"&mdash;an expertly rendered twist on a venerable strip-mall standard.</p> <p>&bull; While on the plane home, I read a <em>New York Times</em> style <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/03/fashion/normcore-fashion-movement-or-massive-in-joke.html">piece</a> on "#normcore," an internet meme/elaborate joke/contrived fashion trend that involves the "less-ironic (but still pretty ironic) embrace of bland, suburban anti-fashion attire": stuff like "dad jeans" and Teva sandals.</p> <p>&bull; The night after I returned from my trip, my mother invited me over for dinner&mdash;a simple stir-fried pork dish familiar from my childhood. She brandished a book I hadn't seen in years: an opulently splattered first edition of <em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Joyce-Chen-Cook-Book/dp/0397002858" target="_blank">Joyce Chen Cookbook</a>, </em>the 1962 opus that taught a generation of Americans (including my mom) how to cook Chinese. Just like in the old days, she served it over white rice&mdash;a swerve from her decades-long fixation on brown.</p> <p>Sitting there, transported by that vintage stir-fry to my '70s childhood of <a href="http://www.retroland.com/toughskin-jeans/#.U0rLPoKQGB0">Toughskins</a> and pre-hipster <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chuck_Taylor_All-Stars">Chuck Taylors</a>, it hit me: old-school, US-inflected Chinese is a culinary embodiment #normcore. Plus, it's really good! (When made with decent ingredients.)</p> <p>It wasn't long before I was busy in my own kitchen, contriving my own #normcore stir fry. Since I was having a few friends over, I wanted to find the "less-ironic (but still pretty ironic)" sweet spot&mdash;and produce something delicious.</p> <p>From <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joyce_Chen" target="_blank">Joyce Chen</a>'s recipe for beef with green peppers&mdash;a childhood staple&mdash;I settled on a protein: "Flank steak is fairly inexpensive and easy to slice," Chen instructs. And she's as right in 2014 as she was in 1962. I found a beautiful cut of it at Austin's excellent neo-old-school, whole-animal butcher shop <a href="http://www.saltandtime.com/" target="_blank">Salt and Time</a>. I also borrowed from Chen the method for flavoring the stir fry: you marinate the meat in soy sauce sweetened with a little sugar and thickened with corn starch&mdash;which gives the finished product a lovely glaze&mdash;which I goosed up with ginger, green onions, garlic and chili pepper (Chen treats aromatics like ginger and garlic as potent substances to be used in tiny amounts, and her book is devoid of hot peppers.)</p> <p>For vegetables, green bell peppers felt too on-the-nose #normcore for me. So from that Kung Pao dish I had at Mission Chinese, I lifted the idea of&nbsp; celery, which strikes me as both a pretty #normcore vegetable itself, and also quite delicious and underused. Carrots, too, seemed right. But I only had a little of each, so I filled out the dish in decidedly un-normcore fashion: with a gorgeous bulb of kohlrabi leftover from the previous week's farmer's market run. That kohlrabi bulb sported a generous set of leaves&mdash;similar to kale, a related vegetable&mdash;so I threw those in, too.</p> <p>A vegetarian was among the guests, so I had to come up with a non-meat alternative protein. Tofu would have been the straight-ahead #normcore move, but all I had in the fridge was a block of tempeh, so I went with it. Here's what I came up. Enjoy with canned beer&mdash;Bud Light if you want to go full-on you-know-what, or a new-wave canned craft brew like <a href="http://brew.oskarblues.com/ob-beers/year-round/dales-pale-ale/" target="_blank">Dale's Pale Ale</a> if you want a twist.</p> <p><strong>Stir-Fried Beef With Vegetables</strong></p> <p>(Serves four, with leftovers.)</p> <p>4 spring onions<br> 2 cloves of garlic, crushed and peeled<br> 1 knuckle-sized nob of fresh ginger, peeled with the edge of a spoon<br> 1 tablespoon (organic) corn starch<br> 1 tablespoon sugar<br> 1 teaspoon of crushed red chili flakes<br> Freshly ground black pepper<br> 3 tablespoons of good soy sauce (my favorite is the Japanese brand Ohsawa Nama Shoyu)<br> 1 tablespoon rice vinegar<br> 1 pound of flank steak<br> 2 stalks of celery<br> 2 carrots<br> 1 bulb of kohlrabi<br> A few kohlrabi leaves (optional; kale will do as well).<br> Peanut oil, for stir frying<br> More soy sauce, rice vinegar, and black pepper, to taste</p> <p>First make the beef marinade. Cut the spring onions to separate the white and green parts. Slice the green parts into two-inch sections, set aside.&nbsp; Coarsely chop the white parts, and place them in the bowl of a mortar-and-pestle (a small food processor will also work here). Chop the ginger and garlic and add it to the mortar. Top with the corn starch, sugar, chili flakes, and a good grind of black pepper. Crush everything vigorously together into a paste.&nbsp; Add the soy sauce and vinegar, and mix it with the pestle. Dump the marinade into a medium-sized bowl. Cut the steak, against the grain, into quarter-inch strips about two inches long. Add the beef to the marinade, along with the green onion tops, and toss to coat well. Set aside.</p> <p>Now prep the vegetables. Slice the carrots, kohlrabi, and celery into two-inch matchsticks. (Here's a great <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6OOKNdwyuKA" target="_blank">Jamie Oliver video</a> that explains how to do that better than I ever could in words). Set the carrots and kohlrabi aside in one bowl, and the celery in another. Slice the kohlrabi or kale leaves, if using, into thin strips, and set aside.</p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/IMG_4729_0.JPG"></div> <p>Now the stir fry begins. Set a bowl large enough to incorporate all the ingredients by the stovetop. Put your biggest, heaviest skillet&mdash;or wok&mdash;over high heat and add enough oil to cover the bottom. When the oil shimmers, add the celery sticks and saut&eacute;, using two spatulas to keep them constantly moving. Continue until they're just cooked&mdash;they should retain a little crunch. Place them in the large bowl.</p> <p>Put a little more oil in the pan&mdash;still over high heat&mdash;and add the carrot and kohlrabi sticks. Cook them as you did the celery sticks, and then dump them in the same bowl when they're done. Repeat with the kale leaves, if using.</p> <p>Again, add a bit of oil to the hot pan. Dump in the meat, onion greens, and the marinade. Spread the meat out across the pan's bottom, so it forms a single layer. Let it sizzle for a minute&mdash;this will allow it to caramelize a bit, and then toss with the two spatulas as with the vegetables, until the meat is cooked through. Add the meat to the big bowl, and toss everything together&mdash;the glaze that coats the meat will also coat the veggies. Taste, add a bit more soy, pepper, and vinegar to taste. Serve over brown rice&mdash;or white.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"> <img alt="" class="image" src="/files/IMG_4762.JPG"><div class="caption"><strong>The tempeh version: #notsonormcore, but still delicious. </strong></div> </div> <p><strong>If there's a vegetarian coming to dinner:</strong> Before you start the vegetables for the main dish&mdash;in a medium-sized bowl, mix two tablespoons of olive oil, two of soy sauce, and a dash of maple syrup. Take a block of tempeh and cut it lengthwise into quarter-inch strips. Add the tempeh to the bowl and toss. letting it marinate for at least 5 minutes. (This is a twist on the tempeh technique from Heidi Swanson's great cookbook <em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Super-Natural-Every-Day-Well-Loved/dp/1580082777" target="_blank">Super Natural Every Day</a>.</em>) Put a separate skillet over medium heat, add a little peanut or coconut oil. When the oil shimmers, remove the tempeh from its marinade with a slotted spoon and stir fry until it's cooked through. Place it in a bowl. Then, as each round of veggies come off the main skillet, add a portion to the tempeh. When done, toss together, along with a bit of the marinade.</p> </body></html> Tom Philpott Food and Ag Tom's Kitchen Tue, 15 Apr 2014 10:00:10 +0000 Tom Philpott 249721 at http://www.motherjones.com The 2,000-Year History of GPS Tracking http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/04/you-are-here-book-hiawatha-bray-gps-navigation <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p><em>Boston Globe</em> technology writer <a href="http://www.bostonglobe.com/staff/bray" target="_blank">Hiawatha Bray</a> recalls&nbsp;the&nbsp;moment that&nbsp;inspired him to write his new book, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/You-Are-Here-Compass-Ourselves/dp/0465032850" target="_blank"><em>You</em> <em>Are Here: From the Compass to GPS, the History and Future of How We Find Ourselves</em></a>. "I got a phone around 2003 or so," he says.&nbsp;"And when&nbsp;you&nbsp;turned the phone on&mdash;it was a Verizon dumb phone, it wasn't anything fancy&mdash;it said 'GPS'. And I said, 'GPS? There's GPS in my phone?'" He asked around and discovered that yes, there was GPS in his phone, due&nbsp;to a <a href="http://transition.fcc.gov/Bureaus/Common_Carrier/Notices/1994/ntcc4002.txt" target="_blank">1994 FCC ruling</a>. At the time, cellphone usage was increasing rapidly, but 911 and other emergency responders could only accurately&nbsp;track the location of land line callers. So the FCC decided that cellphone providers like Verizon must be able to give emergency responders a more accurate location of cellphone users calling 911. After discovering this, "It hit me," Bray says.&nbsp;"We were about to enter a world in which&hellip;everybody had a cellphone, and that would also mean that we would know where everybody was.&nbsp;Somebody ought to write about that!"</p> <p>So he began researching transformative events that lead to our new ability to&nbsp;navigate (almost) anywhere. In addition, he&nbsp;discovered the military-led GPS and government-led mapping technologies that helped create new digital&nbsp;industries.&nbsp;The result of his curiosity is&nbsp;<em style="line-height: 2em;">You Are Here,</em> an&nbsp;entertaining, detailed history of how we evolved from primitive navigation tools to our current state of instant digital&nbsp;mapping&mdash;and, of course, governments' subsequent ability to track us. The book was finished prior to the recent disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight 370, but Bray says gaps in navigation and communication like that are now "few and far between."</p> <p>Here are 13&nbsp;pivotal moments in the history of GPS tracking and digital mapping&nbsp;that Bray points out in <em>You Are Here</em>:</p> <p><strong>1st century:</strong> The Chinese begin writing about mysterious ladles made of lodestone. The ladle handles always point south when used during future-telling rituals. In the following centuries, lodestone's magnetic abilities lead&nbsp;to the development of the first compasses.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"> <img alt="Image: ladle" class="image" src="/files/Compass-Ladel_0.jpg"><div class="caption"> <strong>Model of a Han Dynasty south-indicating ladle </strong><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Model_Si_Nan_of_Han_Dynasty.jpg" target="_blank">Wikimedia Commons</a> </div> </div> <p><strong>2nd century:</strong>&nbsp;Ptolemy's&nbsp;<em>Geography</em>&nbsp;is published and sets the standard for maps that use latitude and&nbsp;longitude.&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"> <img alt="Image: Ptolemy map" class="image" src="/files/PtolemyWorldMap_0.jpg"><div class="caption"> <strong>Ptolemy's 2nd-century world map (redrawn in the 15th century) </strong><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:PtolemyWorldMap.jpg" target="_blank">Wikimedia Commons</a> </div> </div> <p><strong>1473:</strong>&nbsp;Abraham Zacuto begins working on solar declination tables. They <span style="line-height: 2em;">take him five years, but once finished, the tables allow sailors to determine their latitude on any ocean.</span></p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"> <img alt="Image: declination tables" class="image" src="/files/DeclinationTable_0.jpg"><div class="caption"> <strong><em>The Great Composition</em> by Abraham Zacuto. (A 17th-century copy of the manuscript originally written by Zacuto in 1491.) </strong>Courtesy of <a href="http://www.jtsa.edu/The_Library.xml" target="_blank">The Library of The Jewish Theological Seminary</a> </div> </div> <p><strong>1887:</strong> German physicist Heinrich Hertz creates electromagnetic waves, proof that electricity, magnetism, and light are related. His discovery inspires other inventors&nbsp;to experiment with radio and wireless transmissions.&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"> <img alt="Image: Hertz" class="image" src="/files/Hertz.jpg"><div class="caption"> <strong>The Hertz resonator </strong>John Jenkins. <a href="http://sparkmuseum.com/RADIOS.HTM" target="_blank">Sparkmuseum.com</a> </div> </div> <p><strong>1895:</strong> Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi, one of those inventors&nbsp;inspired by Hertz's experiment, attaches his radio transmitter antennae&nbsp;to the earth and sends telegraph messages miles away. Bray notes&nbsp;that there were many people before Marconi&nbsp;who had developed means of wireless communication.&nbsp;"Saying that Marconi invented the radio is like saying that Columbus discovered America," he writes. But sending messages over long distances was&nbsp;Marconi's great breakthrough.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"> <img alt="Image: Marconi" class="image" src="/files/Marconi_1901.jpg"><div class="caption"> <strong>Inventor Guglielmo Marconi in 1901, operating an apparatus similar to the one he used to transmit the first wireless signal across Atlantic </strong><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Guglielmo_Marconi_1901_wireless_signal.jpg" target="_blank">Wikimedia Commons</a> </div> </div> <p><strong>1958:</strong> Approximately six months after the Soviets launched Sputnik, Frank McLure, the research director at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, calls physicists William Guier and George Weiffenbach into his office. Guier and Weiffenbach used radio receivers to listen to Sputnik's consistent electronic beeping and calculate the Soviet satellite's location; McLure wants to know if the process could work in reverse, allowing a satellite to location their position on earth. The foundation for&nbsp;GPS tracking is born.</p> <p><strong>&acirc;&#128;&#139;1969:&nbsp;</strong>A pair of Bell Labs scientists named William Boyle and George Smith create a silicon chip that records light and coverts it into digital data. It is called a charge-coupled device, or CCD, and serves as the basis for digital photography used in spy and mapping satellites.</p> <p><strong>1976:</strong> The top-secret,&nbsp;school-bus-size KH-11 satellite is launched. It uses Boyle and Smith's CCD technology to take the first digital spy photographs. Prior to this digital technology, actual film was used for making spy photographs. It was a risky and dangerous venture for&nbsp;pilots like Francis Gary Powers, who was shot down while flying a U-2 spy plane and taking film photographs&nbsp;over the Soviet Union in 1960.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"> <img alt="Image: KH-11 image" class="image" src="/files/KH-11-best-SHIPYARD.jpg"><div class="caption"> <strong>KH-11 satellite photo showing construction of a Kiev-class aircraft carrier </strong><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:KH-11-best-SHIPYARD.jpg" target="_blank">Wikimedia Commons</a> </div> </div> <p><strong>1983:</strong> Korean Air Lines flight 007 is shot down after leaving Anchorage, Alaska, and veering into Soviet airspace. All&nbsp;269 passengers are killed, including Georgia Democratic Rep. Larry McDonald. Two weeks after the attack,&nbsp;President Ronald Reagan <a href="http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=41856" target="_blank">directs</a> the military's GPS technology to be made available for civilian use so that similar tragedies would not be repeated. Bray notes, however, that GPS technology had always been intended to be&nbsp;made public eventually. Here's Reagan's address to the nation following the attack:&nbsp;</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/9VA4W1wDMAk" width="629"></iframe></p> <p><strong>1989: </strong>The US Census Bureau releases (<a href="http://www.census.gov/geo/maps-data/data/pdfs/tiger/tgrshp2013/TGRSHP2013_TechDoc_Ch1.pdf" target="_blank">PDF</a>) TIGER&nbsp;(Topologically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing) into the public domain. The digital map data allows any individual or company to create virtual maps.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>1994:</strong> The FCC declares that wireless carriers must find ways for emergency services to locate mobile 911 callers. Cellphone companies choose to use&nbsp;their cellphone towers to comply. However,&nbsp;entrepreneurs begin to see the potential for GPS-integrated phones, as well. Bray highlights SnapTrack, a company that figures out early on how to squeeze GPS systems into phones&mdash;and is purchased by Qualcomm in 2000 for $1 billion.</p> <p><strong>1996:&nbsp;</strong>GeoSystems&nbsp;launches&nbsp;an internet-based mapping service called MapQuest, which uses&nbsp;the Census Bureau's public-domain mapping data. It attracts hundreds of thousands of users and is purchased by AOL four years later for $1.1 billion.</p> <p><strong>2004: </strong>Google buys Australian&nbsp;mapping startup&nbsp;Where 2 Technologies and American satellite photography&nbsp;company Keyhole for undisclosed amounts. The next year, they launch&nbsp;Google Maps, which is now the <a href="http://mashable.com/2013/08/05/most-used-smartphone-apps/" target="_blank">most-used</a> mobile app in the world.</p> <p><strong>2012:</strong>&nbsp;The Supreme Court ruling in <em>United States v. Jones</em> (<a href="http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/11pdf/10-1259.pdf" target="_blank">PDF</a>) restricts police usage of GPS to track suspected criminals. Bray tells the story of Antoine Jones, who was convicted of dealing cocaine after police placed a GPS device on his wife's Jeep to track his movements. The court's decision in his case is unanimous: The GPS device had been placed without a valid search warrant. Despite the unanimous decision, just five justices signed off on the majority opinion. Others wanted further privacy protections in such cases&mdash;a mixed&nbsp;decision that leaves future&nbsp;battles for privacy&nbsp;open to interpretation.</p> </body></html> Mixed Media Books Media Tech Top Stories Tue, 15 Apr 2014 10:00:08 +0000 Brett Brownell 249281 at http://www.motherjones.com Blood Moon! http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/04/blood-moon <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>It turns out that timing is everything with the blood moon. We had a thin little haze of clouds passing across the sky here in Irvine, so I couldn't get a very sharp image, but at 11:24 pm, the moon was still disappointingly moon-colored. By 12:03 am, however, it was satisfyingly florid. Enjoy.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_blood_moon_1.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 40px;"><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_blood_moon_2.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 40px;"></p> </body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 15 Apr 2014 07:35:31 +0000 Kevin Drum 249781 at http://www.motherjones.com Big Government Run Amok Decides to Back Down http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/04/big-government-run-amok-decides-back-down <!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.washingtonpost.com/politics/social-security-stops-trying-to-collect-on-old-taxpayer-debts/2014/04/14/9355c58e-c40f-11e3-bcec-b71ee10e9bc3_story.html?hpid=z1" target="_blank">The <em>Washington Post</em> gets results!</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The Social Security Administration announced Monday that it will immediately cease efforts to collect on taxpayers&rsquo; debts to the government that are more than 10 years old.</p> <p>....&ldquo;I have directed an immediate halt to further referrals under the Treasury Offset Program to recover debts owed to the agency that are 10 years old and older pending a thorough review of our responsibility and discretion under the current law,&rdquo; Social Security&rsquo;s acting commissioner, Carolyn Colvin, said in a statement.</p> </blockquote> <p>So there you have it. If your mother&mdash;<a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/04/file-one-under-big-government-run-amok" target="_blank">maybe, possibly</a>&mdash;got overpaid 40 years ago when you were a five-year-old child, the Social Security Administration will no longer seize your tax refund check in order to recover her alleged debt. Progress!</p> <p>Anyway, Eric Posner says the <a href="http://ericposner.com/can-the-government-recover-from-children-on-account-of-social-security-overpayments-to-their-parents/" target="_blank">government's legal position here was untenable all along.</a> That's good to know.</p> </body></html> Kevin Drum Regulatory Affairs Mon, 14 Apr 2014 22:46:51 +0000 Kevin Drum 249776 at http://www.motherjones.com No, the "Blood Moon" Does Not Mean the World Is Ending http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/04/blood-moon-end-of-days-john-hagee <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>Why is this night different from all other nights? Tonight the&nbsp;clouds will part, the heavens will open, the stars will shine, and the moon will bleed. <a href="http://www.cnet.com/news/total-lunar-eclipse-blood-moon-viewers-guide/" target="_blank">Groovy</a>! The blood moon, a deliciously named full lunar eclipse rendering the moon red, will be visible in the skies above <a href="http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/OH/OH2014.html#LE2014Apr15T" target="_blank">North America around 2 a.m. Eastern time.</a></p> <p>In the olden days the sudden appearance of a big red bloody moon probably sent&nbsp;people into a panic. Terrified, they probably ran around screaming, "Help me! Help me! My God, the moon has turned red! The moon has turned red! We're all going to die!" But then the moon would turn back to normal and they'd&nbsp;still be alive and probably a bit ashamed that they'd lost their heads and they'd warn their kids, "Look, kids, one day the moon might turn red for a little while, but don't worry. It's just a thing. Why does it happen? I don't know. Why does anything happen in this crazy world of ours! But if it does turn red, it'll be fine. Don't run around screaming. You'll feel very silly in the morning."</p> <p>Nowadays, we have computers and microwaves and iPhones and&nbsp;telescopes and we're all very bright and evolved and we all watch <em>Cosmos</em> and the moon turning red is no big cause for alarm and&hellip;wait a second, <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/04/14/blood-moon-lunar-eclipse-john-hagee-end-of-world/7694331/" target="_blank">what's that</a>?</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Screen%20Shot%202014-04-14%20at%203.13.45%20PM.png"></div> <p>John Hagee, a best-selling author and evangelist who once claimed that <a href="http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2008/04/23/22152/hagee-katrina-mccain/" target="_blank">Hurricane Katrina was God's way of punishing New Orleans for allowing LGBT parades</a>, says that this is the dawning of the end of days. "God is literally screaming at the world: 'I'm coming soon.'" This is literally not true.</p> <p>The mega-church founder does not believe that the world is ending just because the moon is turning red. The moon turns red all the time. The last total lunar eclipse was was in <a href="http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/LEdecade/LEdecade2011.html" target="_blank">December 2011</a>. What makes this blood moon slightly more notable than your average run of the mill blood moon is that it is the first of a tetrad, a series of four lunar eclipses that will happen about six months apart. The next one is set for October 8. These are sort of uncommon insofar as the last one was <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/televangelist-claims-blood-moons-sign-world-shaking-event-article-1.1754601" target="_blank">in 1967</a>, but not <em>that</em> uncommon when you really think about the vastness of time, history, and space. <em>But</em> 1967 was also the year of the Six-Day War, Hagee would point out, and this blood moon is falling on the first night of Passover and even the most critical skeptic would have to admit that that coincidence is&hellip;well,&nbsp;utterly meaningless. As even the Young Earth Creationists at <a href="http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2013/07/12/lunar-eclipses-cause-blood-moons" target="_blank">Answers in Genesis </a>explain, "The timing of the eclipses&hellip;while interesting, falls far short of the sort of signs that will cause the heavens to shake (Matthew 24:29)."</p> <p>The End Times are not here. Sorry. Don't forget to file your taxes.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>UPDATE:</strong> Should the clouds fail to part, you will be able to see the blood moon here:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/S7aXzE5ZNH8" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><strong>UPDATE 2, April 15, 2014, 2:25am ET: </strong>This moon sure is taking its sweet time turning red, isn't it? While we wait, here's the music video for the Mando Diao song "Mr. Moon."</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/U76APDOWycM" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> </body></html> Blue Marble Science Mon, 14 Apr 2014 20:46:26 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 249756 at http://www.motherjones.com A Federal Judge Just Struck Down Part of Ohio's Gay Marriage Ban. See How Fast the Movement is Spreading. http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/04/federal-judge-struck-down-ohio-gay-marriage-ban-map-gif <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>Ohio made strides toward marriage equality on Monday when <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/04/14/ohio-gay-marriage-court/7691313/" target="_blank">a federal judge ruled</a> that the state's ban on recognizing same-sex marriages performed out of state is unconstitutional.</p> <p>The ruling, from US District Judge Timothy H. Black of Cincinnati, overturns part of a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and woman. Ohio voters approved the amendment in 2004. "The record before this court ... is staggeringly devoid of any legitimate justification for the state's ongoing arbitrary discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation," Black wrote in his opinion.</p> <p>Black didn't clear the way for same-sex couples to obtain marriage certificates in Ohio. But it does afford Ohio's same-sex couples the same rights under the law as any other married couple&mdash;so long as the ruling stands. On Tuesday, Black will decide whether to stay his ruling pending an appeal by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.&nbsp;</p> <p>Black announced that he would compel the state of Ohio to recognize existing marriages on April 4, after he heard <a href="http://www.wlwt.com/news/Judge-to-end-Ohio-ban-on-recognizing-gay-marriage/25321398" target="_blank">arguments</a> from three couples challenging the ban. The three lesbian couples were suing to place both parents' names on the birth certificates of their newborn children. For the couples, the ruling is a victory no matter what&mdash;Black has said he won't stay the part of the decision that compels Ohio to list both parents on their child's birth certificate.</p> <p>Ohio is the seventh state in the past six months where a federal judge has struck a blow to same-sex marriage bans. In March, a federal judge in <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/crime/michigan-begins-same-sex-marriages-ceremonies/2014/03/22/320ff2ba-b1c5-11e3-a49e-76adc9210f19_story.html" target="_blank">Michigan</a> handed down an opinion that would allow the state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and a federal judge in Kentucky <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/19/kentucky-gay-marriage_n_4995364.html" target="_blank">moved the state closer</a> to recognizing out-of-state marriages. Judges in Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, and Texas have also issued rulings striking down bans on same-sex marriage.</p> <p>We've added Ohio to our animated map illustrating how fast the right to marriage is sweeping the county:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"> <img alt="gay marriage map gif" class="image" src="/files/SSMgifEdited-0414.gif"><div class="caption">Matt Connolly and Molly Redden</div> </div> <p>A few things to note about the map: Michigan, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, and Texas are not issuing marriage licenses due to the appeals, although in <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/crime/michigan-begins-same-sex-marriages-ceremonies/2014/03/22/320ff2ba-b1c5-11e3-a49e-76adc9210f19_story.html" target="_blank">Michigan</a> and <a href="http://www.latimes.com/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-utah-marriage-rally-20140110,0,1238382.story#axzz2q9y0fDNs" target="_blank">Utah</a>, several hundred couples were married in the time it took the states to prepare appeals.</p> <p>The Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT advocacy organization, <a href="http://www.hrc.org/campaigns/marriage-center" target="_blank">characterizes Wisconsin's domestic partnerships</a> as limited&mdash;the state law <a href="http://www.examiner.com/article/madisons-pride-parade-garners-strong-uu-support-implicitly-asks-old-questions" target="_blank">enumerates</a> 43 rights same-sex partners enjoy, whereas married couples of the opposite sex are entitled to more than 200. Under Wisconsin law, <a href="http://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/statutes/statutes/765.pdf" target="_blank">it is illegal</a> for same-sex couples to travel out of state in order to marry; couples who do so, and continue living in Wisconsin, risk <a href="http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Justice/2014/0203/Same-sex-marriage-Four-Wisconsin-couples-challenge-state-ban-video" target="_blank">a $10,000 fine and nine months in prison</a>.</p> <p>The map does not show the District of Columbia, which has issued licenses to same-sex couples since March 2010. California issued marriage licenses beginning in June of 2008 but stopped doing so that November, when voters passed Proposition 8. A Supreme Court decision overturned Prop. 8 in June 2013.</p> </body></html> MoJo Maps Civil Liberties Gay Rights Top Stories gay marriage Mon, 14 Apr 2014 19:23:19 +0000 Molly Redden 249161 at http://www.motherjones.com Today Brings Good News/Bad News on Obamacare http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/04/today-brings-good-newsbad-news-obamacare <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>The CBO released a <a href="http://cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/attachments/45231-ACA_Estimates.pdf" target="_blank">small bit of good news/bad news about Obamacare today.</a> The good news: they now estimate that the 10-year cost of the program will be $104 billion less than they previously thought&mdash;which, in turn, was less than they had projected in <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_cbo_obamacare_cost.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 20px 15px 30px;">2010. This is primarily because exchange premiums have come in lower than CBO originally estimated, which means that federal subsidies will be lower.</p> <p>The bad news: the lower cost of premiums is primarily because the quality of the plans coming from insurers is lower than CBO originally estimated: "The plans being offered through exchanges in 2014 appear to have, in general, lower payment rates for providers, narrower networks of providers, and tighter management of their subscribers&rsquo; use of health care than employment-based plans do. Those features allow insurers that offer plans through the exchanges to charge lower premiums (although they also make plans somewhat less attractive to potential enrollees)."</p> <p>CBO didn't update its projection of Obamacare revenues, but if those don't change, it means that Obamacare will reduce the deficit even more than we thought.</p> <p>But here's an interesting thing: CBO continues to project that Obamacare will lead to no short-term change in employer-based insurance. But the latest Rand poll suggests that <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/04/heres-some-stunning-and-unexpected-good-news-about-obamacare" target="_blank">employer insurance has <em>increased</em> by about 7 million</a> since Obamacare enrollment started up last year. If that number turns out to be real, I wonder how that will affect CBO's budget estimates? It all depends on how this feeds into their models, but it seems like it would be a positive thing one way or the other.</p> </body></html> Kevin Drum Health Care Mon, 14 Apr 2014 18:02:13 +0000 Kevin Drum 249751 at http://www.motherjones.com LISTEN: Alleged Kansas Gunman Frazier Glenn Miller Discusses the Tea Party, Obama, and Ron Paul http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/04/frazier-glenn-miller-interview-tea-party-ron-paul-obama-kansas <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <object height="354" width="630"><param name="movie" value="//www.youtube.com/v/MBl7-Q1CMlE?hl=en_US&amp;version=3"> <param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"> <param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"> <embed allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/v/MBl7-Q1CMlE?hl=en_US&amp;version=3" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="630"></embed></object> <p>In a <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MBl7-Q1CMlE" target="_blank">2010 radio interview</a>, Frazier Glenn Miller, the man suspected&nbsp;of killing three people Sunday at a Jewish community center and a Jewish retirement center in Kansas, said he was interested in the tea party, voiced support for then-Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and spoke approvingly of Ron Paul, the Texas Republican congressman and presidential candidate. In late April&nbsp;2010, Miller, a former Ku Klux Klan Grand Dragon, was a guest on <em><a href="http://www.davidpakman.com/" target="_blank">The David Pakman Show</a></em>, a nationally syndicated left-of-center radio and television program. At the time, Miller was running for US Senate as an independent in his home state of Missouri with the slogan "It's the Jews, Stupid," and Pakman pressed Miller on his extreme views.</p> <p>During the interview, Miller was unabashed about his anti-Semitic positions. When asked whether he thought the United States would be better off if Hitler had succeeded, Miller responded, "Absolutely, the whole world would&hellip;Hitler would have created a paradise on Earth, particularly for white people. But he would have been fair to other people as well." He added, "Germans are blamed collectively because of the alleged so-called Holocaust."</p> <p>Not surprisingly, Miller denigrated most American politicians, but cited one positively: "If I had my way [all US senators] would be in jail right now for treason, if not hung from a sturdy oak tree&hellip;Ron Paul is the only independent politician, representative in Washington." He also spoke highly of another conservative: "Patrick Buchanan, he's a great man, he's a great historian, he's one of the very few journalists who has the courage to speak out against Jewish domination in the country." Miller called Howard Stern&nbsp;"a Jew liar." When asked whether he supported the tea party, Miller replied, "The school's still out on them.&nbsp;They're a new movement.&nbsp;I'm watching them closely.&nbsp;I suspect, however, they'll be infiltrated by the Jews and therefore led into defeat."</p> <p>During the interview, Pakman asked Miller whom he would "elect, deport, and waterboard"&mdash;given the choices of President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and former Fed chair Alan Greenspan. Miller answered, "I like Obama more than the other two, by far." He chose to elect Obama, deport Greenspan, and waterboard Biden. Miller said, "I have a great deal of admiration [for] Louis Farrakhan," and he called Ahmadinejad "a great man" because he "has guts and he tells the truth about the Jews."</p> <p>"I'm a convicted felon and I'm proud of it," Miller boasted, noting that he "was convicted of declaring war on the federal government and possession of illegal weapons." He added that Jews "were responsible for my conviction that prompted me to go underground and declare war&hellip;Morris Dees mainly, he's a Jew that runs the Southern Poverty Law Center." (The SPLC monitors hate groups.)</p> <p>In November 2013, Pakman had an exchange of <a href="http://www.davidpakman.com/glenn-miller-arrested-suspected-of-multiple-murders/" target="_blank">emails</a> with Miller in which Miller noted that he was "close friends" with Craig Cobb, a white supremacist who had attempted to form an all-white town in Leith, North Dakota. According to Miller, the two had worked together "on several White Nationalist projects, including the <em>Aryan Alternative</em> newspaper." Referring to the recent <a href="http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21591876-hardly-anyone-shares-craig-cobbs-dream-white-christmas-racist-mob-two" target="_blank">news</a> that a DNA test indicated that Cobb had African ancestry, Miller told Pakman, "I can't believe a man as intelligent as you, actually believes Craig Cobb is an octoroon. Surely, you know it's just another jewsmedia fraud."</p> </body></html> MoJo Guns Race and Ethnicity Top Stories Mon, 14 Apr 2014 17:23:26 +0000 Tim Murphy and Dana Liebelson 249711 at http://www.motherjones.com The Lawyer Behind the Supreme Court's Latest Campaign Finance Decision Has a New Cause: Sarah Palin for Senate http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/04/sarah-palin-senate-alaska-dan-backer-mccutcheon <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>When the Supreme Court recently&nbsp;<a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/03/supreme-court-mccutcheon-citizens-united">demolished yet another</a>&nbsp;chunk of the nation's campaign finance laws, Dan Backer&nbsp;arguably&nbsp;cheered louder than anyone. It was Backer, a <a href="http://www.dbcapitalstrategies.com" target="_blank">Washington, DC-area attorney</a> active in conservative politics, who had <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2014/03/10/dan-backer-campaign-finance-mccutcheon-supreme-court/6259863/">convinced</a> an Alabama businessman named Shaun McCutcheon to challenge the government's limit on the number of candidates, party committees, and political action committees an individual&nbsp;can contribute to in a single election cycle. (The basic limits on <em>how much </em>money that donor can give to each candidate, party, or PAC remain intact.) Backer, who represented McCutcheon, responded to the news of the Supreme Court's decision by <a href="https://twitter.com/DBCapStrategies/status/451359993896656896">tweeting</a>&nbsp;(in apparent reference to William Wallace in <em>Braveheart)</em>: "FREEEEDOMMMMM!!!!"</p> <p>Backer's victory is shining some light&nbsp;on another high-profile cause of his: Convincing Sarah Palin to run for US Senate.</p> <p>In an email headlined "Palin for Senate" recently blasted out by a PAC called the <a href="http://www.theteapartyleadershipfund.com/about/" target="_blank">Tea Party Leadership Fund</a>, Backer writes, "Sarah's the proven leader we need." He goes on, "She has a better grasp on world politics, and she knows what it means to cherish and protect our American freedoms far better than THE MAN WHO IS SUPPOSED TO BE LEADING THE FREE WORLD." Backer slams incumbent Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) for spending "too much time in Washington, DC, begging the Obama administration for favors rather than representing the good people of Alaska." Palin supporters need to act quick, Backer warns:&nbsp;The window for her to get into the race "has almost closed."&nbsp;And so Backer asks recipients to sign a petition and gather enough signatures to "to push Sarah Palin over the top in a critical run for Alaska's Senate seat in 2014."</p> <p>In an interview, Backer said almost 100,000 people had signed the Palin for Senate petition. If Palin did enter the race,he said the Tea Party Leadership PAC would bolster her candidacy with&nbsp;direct mail and radio ads. "Nobody's going to be a greater agent for change than Sarah Palin from Alaska," Backer told me.&nbsp;"She will bring something to the race and she will disrupt the Senate. And disruption is good."</p> <p>Read the email:</p> <div class="DV-container" id="DV-viewer-1112091-backer-palin-senate-email">&nbsp;</div> <script src="//s3.amazonaws.com/s3.documentcloud.org/viewer/loader.js"></script><script> DV.load("//www.documentcloud.org/documents/1112091-backer-palin-senate-email.js", { width: 630, height: 500, sidebar: false, text: false, pdf: false, container: "#DV-viewer-1112091-backer-palin-senate-email" }); </script><p>Backer's plea isn't entirely out of left field.&nbsp;Palin has made noises&nbsp;about running for Senate in Alaska. Last summer, she said on Sean Hannity's radio show that she was considering a run. "I've considered it because people have requested me considering it," she&nbsp;<a href="http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2013/07/sarah-palin-may-run-for-senate.html">said</a>. "But I'm still waiting to see what the lineup will be and hoping that...there will be some new blood, new energy, not just kind of picking from the same old politicians in the state." But this email comes when it's getting late for a possible Palin campaign.&nbsp;(The filing deadline is six weeks away.) Right now, the much-watched Alaska Senate race pits Begich against Republican Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell.&nbsp;Most polling <a href="http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2014/senate/ak/alaska_senate_treadwell_vs_begich-3659.html">shows</a> Begich in the lead, but the seat is <a href="http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/fivethirtyeight-senate-forecast/">considered</a> a toss-up Senate race that could determine which party ends up controlling the upper chamber.</p> <p>Backer's email asks for more than just a signature; it includes a plea to donate $5 or more to the Tea Party Leadership Fund PAC. (Backer is the PAC's treasurer.)&nbsp;A cynical political observer might wonder if this "Palin for Senate" effort could be more of a fundraising ploy than a realistic attempt to get Palin into the race. Campaign records show that the Tea Party Leadership Fund has so far raked in $3.8 million in the 2013-14 election cycle, and most of that money&mdash;almost $9&nbsp;of every $10&mdash;has gone to fundraising, legal fees (to Backer's own firm),&nbsp;consulting, and other related expenses.</p> <p>But Backer says the Tea Party Leadership PAC has spent so much non-electoral money because it was building its donor lists during 2013, an off year. This year, he says, the PAC plans to be a counterweight to the outside money from corporations and trade associations backing establishment Republican candidates. "We knew this was going to be a tough cycle and&nbsp;a tough year," he said.&nbsp;"You need resources you can put on the ground when you need them."</p> </body></html> MoJo Congress Dark Money Elections Money in Politics The Right Mon, 14 Apr 2014 16:23:11 +0000 Andy Kroll 249696 at http://www.motherjones.com How to Lose Money and Come Out OK Anyway http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/04/how-lose-money-and-come-out-ok-anyway <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>TIAA-CREF is buying Nuveen Investments for $6.25 billion from Madison Dearborn, a private equity shop that bought Nuveen in 2007. Nuveen has performed poorly since then, but insiders say that the TIAA-CREF deal ensures that the Madison Dearborn will at least break even on its investment. Felix Salmon is gobsmacked <a href="http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2014/04/14/private-equity-math-nuveen-edition/" target="_blank">after running through the numbers:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>So here&rsquo;s my back-of-the-envelope math: you buy a company for $2.7 billion in cash, plus debt which you refinance a few times. While you&rsquo;re running the company, it loses a total of $2.4 billion. And then you sell the company for $1.75 billion in cash. Total going out the door: $5.1 billion. Total coming in, at exit: $1.75 billion. Net loss: some $3.35 billion, give or take.</p> <p>All of which raises some big questions about the WSJ&rsquo;s claim that Madison Dearborn &ldquo;will have at least broken even on its Nuveen investment&rdquo;. If that claim is even close to being true, then at the very least we can&rsquo;t take Nuveen&rsquo;s public filings at face value at all....This is worth remembering, when private-equity types (think Mitt Romney) claim that their interests are aligned with the interests of the companies they buy. That certainly doesn&rsquo;t seem to have been the case here. Nuveen is being sold with about $1.5 billion more debt than it started with, and with cumulative losses under Madison Dearborn&rsquo;s ownership of some $2.4 billion. That&rsquo;s not a great legacy for TIAA-CREF to inherit. <strong>If Madison Dearborn really is breaking even on this deal, that only goes to show the enormous disconnect between the economics of private equity companies &mdash; the wealthy rentiers of society &mdash; versus the economics of the real-world companies they buy and sell.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Of course, one possibility is that Madison Dearborn is just putting a brave face on things and reporters are taking it at face value. More likely, though, there are tax games of some kind that allowed Madison Dearborn to strip a ton of value out of Nuveen over the past seven years. I suppose they're also benefiting from low interest rates, which means that Nuveen's refinanced debt is less onerous now than it was in 2007.</p> <p>In any case Salmon's point is well taken. If you can break even after running a company as disastrously as Madison Dearborn has, there's something pretty badly rotten about the entire world of high finance. But then, you knew that already, didn't you?</p> </body></html> Kevin Drum Economy Mon, 14 Apr 2014 15:37:55 +0000 Kevin Drum 249716 at http://www.motherjones.com We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for April 14, 2014 http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/04/were-still-war-photo-day-april-14-2014 <!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="" class="image" src="/files/0414-630x354.jpg"></div> <p class="rtecenter"><em>FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. UH 60 Black Hawk helicopters from 5th Battalion, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade "Wings of Destiny" transport Soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team "Rakkasans" 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), on to Landing Zone Red Crow during Operation Golden Eagle here April 8, 2014. The four-day exercise was the first brigade-size air assault operation conducted by the 101st Abn. Div. in more than a decade and featured Soldiers from 3rd BCT and 101st CAB moving more than 1,100 Soldiers and sling-loading more than 20 pieces of equipment. (<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/soldiersmediacenter/13846390423/" target="_blank">Photo</a> by Staff Sgt. Joel Salgado, 3rd BCT Public Affairs)</em></p> </body></html> MoJo Mon, 14 Apr 2014 13:48:37 +0000 249706 at http://www.motherjones.com Pop on Steroids and Blistering Punk in EMA's and Screaming Females' New Releases http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/04/new-album-ema-futures-void-screaming-females-live-hideout <!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="Screaming Females" class="image" src="/files/ScreamingFemales630_0.jpg"><div class="caption"> <strong>Screaming Females </strong>Don Giovanni Records</div> </div> <p><strong>EMA</strong><br><strong><em>The Future's Void</em></strong><br><strong>Matador</strong></p> <p><strong>Screaming Females<br><em>Live at the Hideout</em><br> Don Giovanni</strong></p> <p>In pop music, there's plain old noise, which can be plenty of fun, and then there's smart noise, which can be even more fun. On <em>The Future\'s Void</em>, her stunning s<em>equel to Past Life Martyred Saints</em>, EMA (Erika M. Anderson) unleashes a thrilling sonic firestorm that defies simple categories. Think Kate Bush's luminous chamber pop on steroids, turned inside-out by a healthy dose of punk aggression and filtered through damaged electronic effects. Howling, snarling and sometimes singing, the South Dakota-bred Anderson rails against cultural norms ("So Blonde"), takes a cue from cyber-prophet William Gibson ("Neuromancer") and embraces the bizarre ("Cthulu"), with consistently riveting results.</p> <p>Staking out more familiar turf, Screaming Females' blazing <em>Live at the Hideout</em> finds fleet-fingered guitar goddess Marissa Paternoster, the New Jersey band's only female member, in stellar form at a Chicago club. Screaming Females' furious attack suggests an old-fashioned power trio tempered by a less heavyhanded indie-rock sensibility, often recalling the late, great <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/riff/2010/03/interview-carrie-brownstein-sleater-kinney" target="_blank">Sleater-Kinney</a>. As a singer, Paternoster shouts with engaging flair, but when she rips off a series of blistering licks&mdash;check out "It All Means Nothing" or "Baby Jesus"&mdash;she's flat-out amazing.</p> </body></html> Mixed Media Music Mon, 14 Apr 2014 10:00:10 +0000 Jon Young 249536 at http://www.motherjones.com Exclusive Video: Kithkin's Soundtrack for the Apocalypse: http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/04/exclusive-video-kifkin-premiere-altered-beast <!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/t-gx65Esb1Y?rel=0" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Civilization as we know it is going to collapse&mdash;someday at least. Judging by what climate scientists are saying&mdash;or what some are <a href="http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/604242-yellowstone-supervolcano-volcano-fleeing-bison-rumors-persist-park-fighting-them/" target="_blank">gleaning</a> from the buffalo running around Yellowstone&mdash;it could be a lot sooner than we&rsquo;d like.</p> <p><a href="http://kithkin.bandcamp.com/" target="_blank">The band Kithkin</a>, hailing from the frigid (and fictitious), tree-worshiping Northwestern nation of <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cascadia_%28independence_movement%29" target="_blank">Cascadia</a> (consisting of Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia), plans to make the most of it by offering audiences the chance to go down dancing.</p> <p>With their aptly named debut album,<em> Rituals, Trances &amp; Ecstasies for Humans in the Face of Collapse</em> coming May 20, the (actually) Seattle band is hoping to highlight the role of humans in our own demise&mdash;and help us think about how we can prevent it.</p> <p>Kithkin was inspired by <em>Ishmael, </em>a philosophical novel by <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DhUz9guvrno" target="_blank">Daniel Quinn</a> that reframes civilization and its end by means of a Socratic dialogue between the narrator and a telepathic gorilla. "It talks about climate change, sustainability, resource distribution, food, and all these big, kind of hard-to-digest topics in a really engaging and streamlined way," explains Kelton Sears, one of the band's lead singers.&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"> <img alt="" class="image" src="/files/KithTotem.jpg" style="width: 330px; height: 452px;"><div class="caption">by Hayley Young</div> </div> <p>Though Kithkin was founded on a mutual affinity for drums and rhythmic music shared by Sears (who also plays bass) and his fellow frontman Ian McCutcheon, Quinn's ideas shaped the band's identity and moved its members to make positive music about negative things. "It is a very apocalyptic book that's kind about how the way that humans live isn't working anymore, and that things are going to crumble," Sears says. "You don&rsquo;t pay attention to because it is sort of hard to comprehend and think about."</p> <p>At Seattle University, the two met up with Alex Barr (guitar) and Bob Martin (keys and theremin), and Kithkin was born. Every member plays the drums as well as their other instruments, which explains the complex layers of rhythms that give their charged lyrics an upbeat quality.</p> <p>But the bandmates aren't all serious and earnest. They are self-proclaimed "fantasy nerds," and Sears says a lot of the tree-centric Cascadia imagery is just for fun. Still, Kithkin hopes to get listeners thinking. "Singing about that stuff just makes us as honest with ourselves as possible," Sears says. "You are naturally more passionate about it if it has that deeper meaning to you."</p> <p>The exclusive video at the top of this post, titled "W (Upturned Moon)," is set to Kithkin's single "Altered Beast" and depicts a coven of women in a forest attacking a pile of trashed consumer goods&mdash;one metric ton of it, if you want to get specific.</p> <p>"Thinking about the video, we were also interested in this idea of the witch," Sears explains. "This archetype is interesting to us, and this idea of women as agents of change, breaking all this stuff that is symbolic of all the stuff humans are doing that is contributing to the demise of civilization. And in a way, making it a celebratory thing instead of a scary thing."</p> <p>Check out the video and catch the band on its first official <a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/838736062819895/?ref=5" target="_blank">tour</a> this spring. Who knows when civilization will collapse? In the meantime&nbsp;Kithkin has created an album of great songs, laced with ideas all need to ponder. If the Apocalypse is coming, at least it won't sound that bad.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> </body></html> Mixed Media Music Mon, 14 Apr 2014 10:00:09 +0000 Gabrielle Canon 249496 at http://www.motherjones.com An Economist Answers Some of My Questions About "Capital in the 21st Century" http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/04/economist-answers-some-my-questions-about-capital-21st-century <!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_capital_2st_century_english.jpg" style="margin: 8px 25px 15px 35px;"><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/04/some-follow-notes-thomas-pikettys-capital-21st-century" target="_blank">On Thursday</a> I posted a couple of very rudimentary comments regarding Thomas Piketty's blockbuster new book, <em>Capital in the 21st Century</em>. I had questions about Piketty's estimates of <em>r</em> (return on capital) and <em>g</em> (economic growth) in the past and&mdash;much more importantly&mdash;how they were likely to play out in the future. But all I had were amateur musings because I am, after all, only an amateur.</p> <p>However, yesterday <a href="http://equitablegrowth.org/2014/04/12/notes-finger-exercises-thomas-pikettys-capital-twenty-first-century-honest-broker-week-april-12-2014/" target="_blank">Brad DeLong tackled some of the questions I asked</a> in a far more rigorous and disciplined way, teasing out a lot of unstated implications along the way&mdash;including the importance of various measures of <em>r</em> and how they relate to the probability of increasing future wealth concentration in the real world. It's a long post, and complex in places, but highly recommended. If you're willing to work your way through it, DeLong provides a framework for thinking about Piketty's model that helps you start to make sense of both the book and its conclusions.</p> <p><strong>POSTSCRIPT:</strong> I've gotten a couple of questions about why I seem unduly skeptical, or even harsh, about Piketty's book. It's obviously a landmark work, I don't really mean to be unfair. But it's a book with innovative and untested ideas that has obvious appeal to anyone left of center, and I think this is precisely the time to avoid unquestioning hosannas. Affinity bias makes us all sympathetic to Piketty's arguments, and that's why we should instead question it carefully and thoroughly.</p> </body></html> Kevin Drum Books Economy Sun, 13 Apr 2014 16:40:15 +0000 Kevin Drum 249691 at http://www.motherjones.com