Blogs | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en Most Independent Voters Aren't, Really <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body> <p>I write from time to time about the myth of the independent voter, which goes something like this: there aren't any. Oh, lots of people <em>say</em> they're independent, but it turns out that most of them lean in one direction or another, and when Election Day rolls around the leaners vote just as reliably as stone partisans. <em>True</em> independents&mdash;the ones who switch between parties from election to election&mdash;make up only about 10 percent of the electorate.</p> <p>Still, 10 percent is 10 percent. It's not quite <em>nothing</em>. But it turns out that it really is. Today, Lynne Vavreck breaks things down a bit further and explains <a href="" target="_blank">just how these folks vote:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Only a small percentage of voters actually switched sides between 2008 and 2010. Moreover, there were almost as many John McCain voters who voted for a Democratic House candidate in 2010 as there were Obama voters who shifted the other <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_independent_voter.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 20px 15px 30px;">way....On average, across districts, roughly 6 percent of Obama voters switched and just under 6 percent of McCain voters switched.</p> </blockquote> <p>So, yes, there are some true switchers. But mostly they're going to cancel each other out. The net result from a huge push for swing voters is likely to be no more than 2 or 3 percentage points. In a few high-stakes states in a presidential election, that might make them worth going after. But in your average congressional election, it's a waste of time and money. So what does make the difference?</p> <blockquote> <p>On turnout, the numbers were not evenly balanced for Democrats and Republicans. Only 65 percent of Obama&rsquo;s 2008 supporters stuck with the party in 2010 and voted for a Democrat in the House. <strong>The remaining 28 percent of Mr. Obama&rsquo;s voters took the midterm election off. By comparison, only 17 percent of McCain&rsquo;s voters from 2008 sat out the midterms.</strong></p> <p>....It may seem hard to believe that the [2010] shellacking was more about who turned up than about who changed their minds between 2008 and 2010, but it lines up with a lot of other evidence about voters&rsquo; behavior. Most identify with the same political party their entire adult lives, even if they do not formally register with it. They almost always vote for the presidential candidate from that party, and they rarely vote for one party for president and the other one for Congress. And most voters are also much less likely to vote in midterm elections than in presidential contests.</p> </blockquote> <p>The problem is that going after turnout is every bit as hard as picking up the crumbs of the swing voters. Traditional Democratic constituencies&mdash;minorities, low-income voters, and the young&mdash;simply don't turn out for midterm elections at high rates. They never have, despite Herculean party efforts and biannual promises that this time will be different. But it never is. They'll vote for president, but a big chunk of them just aren't interested in the broader party.</p> <p>So what's the answer? Beats me.</p> </body></html> Kevin Drum Elections Wed, 23 Apr 2014 00:31:06 +0000 Kevin Drum 250391 at How Taxpayers Subsidize the Multi-Million Dollar Salaries of Restaurant CEOs <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body> <p>As the fight to raise the minimum wage has gained momentum, the restaurant industry has emerged as the biggest opponent. This is no surprise, since the industry claims the&nbsp;highest percentage of low-wage workers&mdash;60 percent&mdash;of any other business sector. Front-line fast-food workers earn so little money that about half of them rely on some form of public assistance, to the tune of <a href="" target="_blank">about $7 billion a year. </a>That hidden subsidy has helped boost restaurant industry profits to record highs. In 2013, the industry reaped&nbsp;$660 billion in profits, and it in turn channeled millions into backing efforts&nbsp;to block&nbsp;local governments from raising pay for low-wage workers and to keep the minimum wage for tipped workers at $2.13 an hour (exactly where it's been for the past 22 years). But public assistance programs aren't the only way taxpayers subsidize the restaurant industry.</p> <p>A <a href="" target="_blank">new report from the Institute for Policy Studies</a> finds that the public has been contributing to excessive CEO compensation as well, helping to widen the gap between the lowest-paid workers and their bosses. Thanks to a loophole in the tax code, corporations are allowed to deduct unlimited amounts of money from their tax bills for executive compensation, so long as it comes in the form of stock options or "performance pay." The loophole was the inadvertent result of an attempt by Congress to rein in CEO compensation by limiting the tax deduction for executive pay to $1 million a year. That law exempted pay that came&nbsp;in the form of stock options or performance pay.&nbsp;This&nbsp;loophole has proven lucrative for CEOs of all stripes, but it is particularly egregious in an industry&nbsp;that pays its workers so little that it is already heavily subsidized by taxpayers.&nbsp;</p> <p>According to IPS, the CEOs of the 20 largest companies that belong to the&nbsp;National Restaurant Association personally reaped more than $660 million over the past two years in performance pay&mdash;compensation that collectively ended up cutting their companies' tax bills by more than $230 million. That hefty subsidy is enough to cover the average cost of food stamps for 145,000 families for a year, according to IPS.</p> <p>Topping the list of executives raking in big bucks with help from the taxpayers is the CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, who was paid $236 million in performance pay and other deductible compensation over the past two years, an outlay that saved the company $82 million in taxes. That $82 million tax subsidy could easily translate into a living wage pay raise for more than 30,000 baristas, who now make on average $8.79 an hour.</p> <p>There's also&nbsp;Yum! brands CEO David Novak, who over the past 14 years&nbsp;has been the beneficiary of a special tax-deferred retirement plan not available to ordinary workers. His subsidized retirement assets now top more than $232 million. Meanwhile, his employees at Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and KFC earn so little money that they're estimated to rely on <a href="" target="_blank">$650 million in public assistance every year</a>. IPS&nbsp;figures that Novak's retirement benefits alone could save taxpayers $61 million in public assistance costs annually if they&nbsp;were instead used to raise the pay of 16,000 of Yum!'s low-wage workers to $15 an hour, a move that would take about 9 percent of the company's employees off the public dole. Instead, though, Yum! officials have been working behind the scenes to fend off legislation that might <a href="" target="_blank">give their workers a paid sick day</a> now and then. No wonder fast-food workers are<a href="" target="_blank"> going on strike</a>.</p> </body></html> MoJo Corporations Human Rights Income Inequality Tue, 22 Apr 2014 19:35:23 +0000 Stephanie Mencimer 250331 at Male Doctors Bill Medicare for More Services Than Female Doctors <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Via German Lopez,</a> today brings us an interesting study from Andrew Fitch of NerdWallet. Long story short, he finds that male doctors get paid a lot more by Medicare than female doctors.</p> <p>Obviously there are several reasons for this. Chief among them: Higher paid specialties tend to be dominated by men, and men see more Medicare patients than women. <a href="" target="_blank">But here's the most interesting bit:</a></p> <ul> <li> <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_medicare_services_male_female_doctors.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 20px 15px 30px;"><strong>Male doctors perform more services per patient treated.</strong>&nbsp; To explore this, NerdWallet Health devised a metric to calculate a physician&rsquo;s average &ldquo;service volume&rdquo; per patient. We found that male doctors billed Medicare, on average, for one more procedure per patient than female physicians (5.7 services performed per patient by male doctors vs. 4.7 services per patient by female doctors).</li> <li> <strong>This gap in service volume is true across specialties.</strong> Male doctors performed more services per patient than female doctors across nearly all specialties. In a specialty like pathology&nbsp;&mdash; where doctors infrequently provide services directly to patients&nbsp;&mdash; we found no variation in average service volume.</li> </ul> <p>On average, male doctors bill 5.7 services per patient vs. 4.7 for women! That's a huge gap. And it's not just that cardiologists tend to bill for more services than, say, pulmonologists. Even within specialties, men bill for more services than women.</p> <p>But why? Are they just generally more aggressive? Are they gaming the system? Do sicker patients prefer male doctors for some reason? If this analysis turns out to be true, it would sure be fascinating for someone to follow up and try to figure out what's going on.</p> </body></html> Kevin Drum Health Care Sex and Gender Tue, 22 Apr 2014 18:45:12 +0000 Kevin Drum 250351 at Martin Sheen Reprises His "West Wing" Roleā€”for a Sentencing Reform PSA <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body> <p>On Tuesday, Brave New Films released a <a href="" target="_blank">new PSA</a> calling on Congress to pass the <a href="" target="_blank">Smarter Sentencing Act</a>. The proposed sentencing-reform legislation aims to reduce prison populations and costs by creating less severe minimum terms for nonviolent drug offenders. (On Monday, <em>Yahoo News</em> <a href="" target="_blank">reported</a> that President Obama could grant clemency to "hundreds, perhaps thousands" of nonviolent drug offenders by the end of his second term.) The video was produced in partnership with the ACLU and Families Against Mandatory Minimums (<a href="" target="_blank">FAMM</a>), and stars actor <a href="" target="_blank">Martin</a> <a href="" target="_blank">Sheen</a>. It's titled "President Bartlet has a message for Congress," in reference to Sheen's role on <a href="" target="_blank">Aaron </a><a href="" target="_blank">Sorkin</a>'s political drama <a href="" target="_blank"><em>The West Wing</em></a>.</p> <p>Watch it here:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>"When BNF joined with FAMM and the ACLU to rally support for the Smart Sentencing Act, we couldn't think of a better spokesperson than Martin Sheen,"&nbsp;Brave New Films president Robert Greenwald said. "When he portrayed President Bartlett on <em>The West Wing</em>, his character commuted the sentences of nonviolent drug offenders. In the real world, Martin Sheen has been an <a href="" target="_blank">advocate</a> for sentencing reform and alternatives to the harsh, long prison sentences we give to nonviolent drug offenders."</p> <p>Sheen isn't the only one in Hollywood trying to raise awareness about this. Last year,&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Dwayne "The Rock"</a> <a href="" target="_blank">Johnson</a> starred in the drama <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Snitch</em></a>, a film about a father who reunites with his estranged son after the kid is thrown in prison due to draconian <a href=";;hl=en&amp;gl=us&amp;pid=bl&amp;srcid=ADGEESi0P6G3RmuKJ3EcsRw0N4vUF0BsionTVtKBKQzIGg_jwKvnnLkinzB0aPjNn-O_Gf-WzBZYjqPYRF98FP6dQZHMvceQ0tVo5Nn9YdBTzNH6zW4Apif_00gbTZoREUUgh-NHl3gE&amp;sig=AHIEtbQ4XdOvTPrFRJOiA7UOdRYtK_4FBQ" target="_blank">mandatory minimum sentencing laws</a>. The film is based on a <a href="" target="_blank">1999 episode</a> of PBS' <em>Frontline&nbsp;</em><a href="" target="_blank">titled</a>, "Snitch: How Informants Have Become a Key Part of Prosecutorial Strategy in the Drug War." (FAMM teamed up with Participant Media, the production company behind the film, to create <a href="" target="_blank">awareness</a> about the issues of mandatory-minimum drug sentencing.)</p> <p>Now, here's a clip of Sheen as Bartlet on <em>The West Wing</em>, talking about the failing War on Drugs and the American prison population:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> </body></html> Mixed Media Courts Crime and Justice Film and TV Tue, 22 Apr 2014 16:37:59 +0000 Asawin Suebsaeng 250336 at Chart of the Day: Wind Turbines Don't Kill Very Many Birds <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body> <p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_bird_fatalities.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 20px 15px 30px;">Tom Randall is fed up with hysteria over wind turbines being responsible for bird genocide. <a href="" target="_blank">The numbers just don't support it:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The estimates above are used in <a href="" target="_blank">promotional videos</a> by Vestas Wind Systems, the world's biggest turbine maker. However, they originally came from a study by the U.S. Forest Service and are similar to numbers used by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Wildlife Society&nbsp;&mdash; earnest defenders of birds and bats.</p> <p>....It&rsquo;s nice for wind-farm planners to take migration patterns and endangered habitats into account. But even if wind turbines were to double in size and provide 100 percent of our energy needs (both of which defy the laws of physics as we currently understand them), they still wouldn&rsquo;t compare to the modern scourges of high-tension power lines or buildings with glass windows. Not even close.</p> </blockquote> <p>Wind turbines can be noisy and they periodically kill some birds. We should be careful with them. But the damage they do sure strikes me as routinely overblown. It's bad enough that we have to fight conservatives on this stuff, all of whom seem to believe that America is doomed to decay unless every toaster in the country is powered with virile, manly fossil fuels. But when environmentalists join the cause with trumped-up wildlife fears, it just makes things worse. Enough.</p> </body></html> Kevin Drum Energy Tue, 22 Apr 2014 16:22:53 +0000 Kevin Drum 250341 at America's Middle Class is Losing Out <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body> <p>First, there was Wonkblog. Then came 538. Then Vox. And now we have <a href="" target="_blank">The Upshot,</a> a new venture from the <em>New York Times</em> that aims to present wonky subjects in more depth than you normally find them on the front page. Today, David Leonhardt and Kevin Quealy kick off the wonkiness with an interesting analysis of median income in several rich countries. Their aim is to estimate the gains of the middle class, and their conclusion is that America's middle class is losing out.</p> <p>Their basic chart is below. As you can see, in many countries the US showed a sizeable gap in 1990. Our middle class was much richer than most. By 2010, however, that gap had closed completely compared to Canada, and become much smaller in most other countries. Their middle classes are becoming more prosperous, but lately ours hasn't been:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_income_gap.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 15px 0px;"></p> <p>Germany and France show the same low-growth pattern for the middle class that we see in the United States, but countries like Norway, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Britain have shown much faster growth. <a href=";_r=0" target="_blank">What's going on?</a></p> <blockquote> <p>[The data] suggest that most American families are paying a steep price for high and rising income inequality. Although economic growth in the United States continues to be as strong as in many other countries, or stronger, a small percentage of American households is fully benefiting from it.</p> <p>....The struggles of the poor in the United States are even starker than those of the middle class. A family at the 20th percentile of the income distribution in this country makes significantly less money than a similar family in Canada, Sweden, Norway, Finland or the Netherlands. Thirty-five years ago, the reverse was true.</p> </blockquote> <p>Note that these figures are for after-tax income. Since middle-income taxes have been flat or a bit down in the United States, this isn't likely to have had much effect on the numbers.</p> </body></html> Kevin Drum Economy International Tue, 22 Apr 2014 14:20:23 +0000 Kevin Drum 250326 at We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for April 22, 2014 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/0422-630.jpg"></div> <div id="meta"> <div class="photo-desc" id="description_div"> <p class="rtecenter"><em>Marines with 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, Battalion Landing Team, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, participate in a Combined Arms Live Fire Exercise during Exercise Ssang Yong 14 at Su Seung-ri Range, Pohang, Republic of Korea, April 4, 2014. SY 14 is conducted annually in the Republic of Korea to enhance interoperability between U.S. and ROK forces by performing a full spectrum of amphibious operations while showcasing sea-based power projection in the pacific. (<a href="" target="_blank">U.S. Marine Corps photo</a> by Lance Cpl. Andrew Kuppers/Released)</em></p> </div> </div> </body></html> MoJo Tue, 22 Apr 2014 14:04:49 +0000 250321 at Quote of the Day: Here's How the GOP Shows Its Enviro Cred <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body> <p>Jonah Goldberg says it's unfair that environmental groups are <a href=",0,7790783.column#axzz2zch3TzR5" target="_blank">almost uniformly anti-Republican:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Contrary to what you may have heard, GOP politicians still care about the environment, but they take their cues from public opinion, not from the green lobby. This often means that when the green lobby denounces Republicans (or centrist Democrats) for supporting drilling or fracking, the greens are at odds with the majority of Americans.</p> </blockquote> <p>So there you go. Conservatives care deeply about the environment, and they demonstrate this commitment by ignoring "global warming hysteria" and instead pandering to public opinion polls at every turn. I'm glad we got that straightened out.</p> </body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 22 Apr 2014 13:58:22 +0000 Kevin Drum 250316 at Can the Democrats Mobilize Voters Without a 47% Video Moment? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body> <p>David Corn joined guest host Joy Reid on <a href="" target="_blank">MSNBC's Hardball</a> to discuss the Democrats' prospects in the upcoming midterm elections. Historically the Democratic coalition doesn't show up for midterm elections. Can the Dems use the Koch Bros to galvanize voters? How can the party attach the general issue of inequality to specific state races?</p> <p><iframe border="no" height="497" scrolling="no" src="" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><em>David Corn is </em>Mother Jones<em>' Washington bureau chief. For more of his stories, <a href="">click here</a>. He's also on <a href="">Twitter</a> and <a href="">Facebook</a>.</em></p> </body></html> MoJo Video Elections Tue, 22 Apr 2014 10:00:19 +0000 250311 at 6 Photos of the Oldest Living Things in the World <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body> <p>For the last decade, photographer and artist <a href="" target="_blank">Rachel Sussman</a> has traveled the world to document its oldest living organisms. Her photographs, stories, and essays are interwoven in her new book,&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank"><em>The Oldest Living Things in the World</em></a>.&nbsp;I talked with Sussman about her first encounter with a very old tree, climate change, and how she tracked down her ancient subjects.</p> <p><strong><em>Mother Jones</em>:</strong> How did you come up with the idea for this project?</p> <p><strong>Rachel Sussman:</strong> I had gone to Japan in 2004.&nbsp; I wasn't having the best time, and was even at one point thinking of going home. I had learned this one phrase, "<em>fundoshi o shimete kakaru" </em>which literally means "tighten your loin cloth"&mdash;a saying that basically means "buck up." I ended up taking that advice. A couple of people had told me that I should go visit this 7,000-year-old tree. So instead of going home, I went the opposite direction, to this island called Yakushima, where this tree lives. The funny thing is that I didn't have an epiphany standing in front of the tree. It was incredible and obviously had an impact. But it was over a year later, sitting at a restaurant in Soho, eating Thai food with some friends that I had my eureka moment.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"> <img alt="" class="image" src="/files/seagrassmaster.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>100,000-year-old sea grass, Baleric islands, Spain </strong></div> </div> <p><strong>MJ:</strong> What was the research process like?</p> <p><strong>RS:</strong> One thing that is really interesting is that there is no area that deals with longevity across species. For example, dendrochronologists study tree history, and mycologists study fungi. But they don't talk to each other. So there was no list of old organisms. Apart from a lot of Google searches, I would try to find the published scientific research. It might start out with a rumor in a local newspaper&mdash;"hey, here is this 100,000-year-old sea grass"&mdash;and I then track down some hard facts and contact the researchers, who nine out of 10 times, are so thrilled that someone is interested in their esoteric work.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"> <img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Baobab_parfurimaster.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>2,000-year-old Parfuri Baobab, Kruger Game Preserve, South Africa </strong></div> </div> <p><strong>MJ:</strong> What's the oldest thing you've photographed?</p> <p><strong>RS:</strong> Half-million-year-old bacteria found in Siberian permafrost. Unfortunately, I didn't get to go to Siberia. The research was done in the Neils Bohr institute in Copenhagen, so I went there and looked at a soil sample under the microscope and made some digital images.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"> <img alt="" class="image" src="/files/bacteriamaster.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Soil sample containing 400,000-600,000-year-old Siberian bacteria </strong></div> </div> <p><strong>MJ:</strong>&nbsp; How will climate change affect these organisms?</p> <p><strong>RS:</strong> On the one hand they are these amazing symbols of resilience and perseverance; on the other hand if you think of almost every marker of climate change, they are impacted&mdash;by rising temperatures, rising sea levels, ocean acidification, rising carbon dioxide, polar ice caps melting, basic human encroachment.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"> <img alt="" class="image" src="/files/coralmaster.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>2,000-year-old brain coral, Speyside, Tobago </strong></div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"> <img alt="" class="image" src="/files/pandomaster_0.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>80,000-year-old colony of Quaking Aspens, Fish Lake, Utah</strong></div> </div> <p><strong>MJ:</strong> What does it feel like to gaze at something that's so old and majestic?</p> <p><strong>RS:</strong> It's different for different ones. For the giant sequoias, of course, they take your breath away. Whereas some of these other things&mdash;the 3000 year old lichen living in Greenland&mdash;that does not take your breath away, I would walk right past it without even knowing the difference. Some of them, the fact that they're so diminutive and have been alive for millennia is just mind-blowing.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"> <img alt="" class="image" src="/files/lichenmaster.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>3,000-year-old lichen, Southern Greenland </strong></div> </div> </body></html> Blue Marble Interview Photo Essays Books Climate Change Religion Tue, 22 Apr 2014 10:00:16 +0000 H.F. Bhojani 250211 at In America, Spending Cuts Are Driven by the Rich <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body> <p>Over at the Monkey Cage, Larry Bartels presents the remarkable chart on the right. Its message is simple: In most affluent countries, there's net support for government spending cuts, but it doesn't depend much on income. Not only is the level of <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_spending_cuts_rich_poor.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 20px 15px 30px;">support modest, but it's the same among rich and poor.</p> <p>But not in America. Here, demand for spending cuts is driven <a href="" target="_blank">almost entirely by the well-off:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>What accounts for the remarkable enthusiasm for government budget-cutting among affluent Americans? Presumably not the sheer magnitude of redistribution in the United States, which is modest by world standards. And presumably not a traditional aversion to government in American political culture, since less affluent Americans are exposed to the same political culture as those who are more prosperous. A more likely suspect is the entanglement of class and race in America, which magnifies aversion to redistribution among many affluent white Americans.</p> <p>....The U.S. tax system is also quite different from most affluent countries&rsquo; in its heavy reliance on progressive income taxes. The political implications of this difference are magnified by the remarkable salience of income taxes in Americans&rsquo; thinking about taxes and government....Income taxes seem to dominate public discussion of taxes and tax policy. For example, years of dramatic political confrontation culminated in a grudging agreement to shave a few percentage points off the Bush tax cuts for incomes over $400,000 per year; meanwhile, a major reduction in the payroll taxes paid by millions of ordinary working Americans expired with barely a whimper.</p> </blockquote> <p>It's no surprise that spending cuts are popular in other countries: most of them spend a lot of money, and they fund it with high tax rates on just about everyone. But that's decidedly not the case in the United States. Our government spending is relatively low and so are our tax rates. But none of that matters. Rich Americans don't like paying taxes, and as we know from <a href="" target="_blank">multiple lines of research</a>&mdash;in addition to plain old common sense&mdash;the opinions of the rich are what drive public policy in America. Add in longstanding grievances against providing benefits to people with darker skins, and you've got a big chunk of the middle class on your side too. This works great for the rich. For the rest of us, not so much.</p> </body></html> Kevin Drum Economy Race and Ethnicity Mon, 21 Apr 2014 20:15:04 +0000 Kevin Drum 250286 at Poll: More Than Half of America Doesn't Believe in the Big Bang <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body> <p>According to a <a href="" target="_blank">new poll,</a> 51 percent of Americans do not believe in the Big Bang. Fifty-one percent of Americans are <a href="" target="_blank">wrong</a>.</p> <p>Forty-two percent of Americans are not falling for this "evolution" mumbo jumbo. They too are <a href="" target="_blank">wrong</a>.</p> <p>Thirty-seven percent of Americans are not convinced that humans are causing global warming. <a href="" target="_blank">Wrong</a>.</p> <p>Thirty-six percent of Americans are not buying this whole "the Earth is 4.5 billion years old" thing. <a href="" target="_blank">Wrong wrong</a>.</p> <p>Fifteen percent of Americans are unsure that vaccinations are safe and effective. <a href="" target="_blank">Wrong wrong wrong.</a></p> <p>Have a nice day.</p> </body></html> Blue Marble Science Mon, 21 Apr 2014 19:33:34 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 250291 at A Criminologist Takes On the Lead-Crime Hypothesis <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body> <p>Dominic Casciani of the BBC has a good piece up today about the hypothesis linking lead exposure in small children to violent crime rates later in life. <a href="" target="_blank">Here's my favorite part:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>So why isn't this theory universally accepted?</p> <p>Well, it remains a theory because nobody could ever deliberately poison thousands of children to see whether they became criminals later in life. <strong>Lead theorists says that doesn't matter because the big problem is mainstream criminologists and policymakers who can't think outside the box.</strong></p> <p>But Roger Matthews, professor of criminology at the University of Kent, rejects that. He says biological criminologists completely miss the point. <strong>"I don't see the link," he says. "If this causes some sort of effect, why should those effects be criminal?</strong></p> <p>"The things that push people into crime are very different kinds of phenomena, not in the nature of their brain tissue. The problem about the theory is that a lot of these [researchers] are not remotely interested or cued into the kinds of things in the mainstream.</p> <p>"There has been a long history of people trying to link biology to crime&nbsp;&mdash; that some people have their eyes too close together, or an extra chromosome, or whatever. This stuff gets <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_crime_baseline_lead.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">disproved and disproved. But it keeps popping up. It's like a bad penny."</p> </blockquote> <p>If Matthews didn't exist, someone would have to invent him. He plays the role of closed-minded scientist to perfection here. He obviously hasn't read any of the literature about lead and crime; doesn't care about the evidence; and is interested only in sociological explanations of crime because he's ideologically committed to a particular sociological school of criminology. Beyond that, he apparently figures that because phrenology got debunked a century ago, there's no real point in reading up on anything more recent in the field of neuroscience. All this despite the fact that mainstream criminology is famously unable to reasonably account for either the epic crime wave of the 60s through the 80s or the equally epic decline since then.</p> <p>In any case, if anyone really wants to know why the lead theory isn't universally accepted, the answer is easy: it's not universally accepted because it's new and unproven. Nor does it pretend to be a monocausal explanation for all crime. However, there's pretty good reason to think that neurology might indeed mediate violent behavior, and there's <a href="" target="_blank">pretty good reason</a> to think that massive postwar exposure to lead may have been a very particular neurological agent mediating a large rise in violent crime starting in the mid-60s. The evidence isn't bulletproof, but it's pretty strong. It deserves more than cavalier dismissal.</p> </body></html> Kevin Drum Crime and Justice Science Mon, 21 Apr 2014 17:25:04 +0000 Kevin Drum 250221 at READ: Conspiracy Theorist Dick Morris Blasts Clinton Conspiracy Theorists in Unsealed '95 Memo <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body> <p>Dick Morris, the one-time adviser to President Bill Clinton, has carved out a strange, multi-faceted career in recent years, engaging in <a href="" target="_blank">questionable political dealings</a>, pitching misguided punditry (he <a href="" target="_blank">predicted</a> Mitt Romney would win in a landslide&nbsp;in 2012), and peddling conspiracy theories. On his website, Morris <a href="">argues</a> that the CIA, FBI, and the mob were behind the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. He <a href="">co-wrote a book</a> pushing right-wing conspiracy theories&nbsp;about the United Nations, international agencies, and the like. ("Black helicopters is the crazy word for the UN invading the United States," Morris <a href="" target="_blank">said</a> in previewing the book. "But it's really going to happen.")&nbsp;He's&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">banged</a> the IRS-scandal drum, insisting that Obama was secretly behind the agency's supposed scrutiny of conservative groups. He&nbsp;<a href="">pushed</a> anti-Obama Benghazi theories. He <a href="">backed</a> Donald Trump's birther talk.</p> <p>Morris wasn't always this, uh, unconventional. In fact, in a <a href="" target="_blank">newly released memo</a> from Clinton's presidential archives, Morris advised the president to call out the conspiracy theorists of the 1990s and to combat the widespread right-wing paranoia of that time&mdash;the same sort of paranoia that Morris now exploits to make a buck.</p> <p>Morris' May 1995 memo offered comments on a speech Clinton was to give at Michigan State University. It was just two weeks&nbsp;after the <a href="" target="_blank">Oklahoma City bombing</a>, and Morris urged the president to take a tough line against the right-wing militia crowd and those conservatives who had been asserting that the federal government was encroaching on their lives and eviscerating their civil liberties. Such incendiary rhetoric had been on the rise for several years, and the Oklahoma City attack was seen by some political observers as the culmination of this anti-government campaign.</p> <p>"I'd propose tougher language," Morris wrote. He suggested these lines: "How dare you say that the government is in a conspiracy to take your freedom. This is the government you helped elect and you can change... How dare you appropriate to your paranoid ways, our scared national symbols... How dare you invoke the Founding Fathers who created the elective government you claim as you persecutor."</p> <p>Clinton ended up using several of Morris' suggestions in his speech. "How dare you suggest that we in the freest nation on earth live in tyranny?" Clinton <a href="" target="_blank">asked</a>. "How dare you call yourselves patriots and heroes?"</p> <p>Read the full memo:</p> <div class="DV-container" id="DV-viewer-1145793-dick-morris-may-1995-memo">&nbsp;</div> <script src="//"></script><script> DV.load("//", { width: 630, height: 600, sidebar: false, text: false, pdf: false, container: "#DV-viewer-1145793-dick-morris-may-1995-memo" }); </script> </body></html> MoJo Congress Elections The Right Mon, 21 Apr 2014 17:15:41 +0000 Andy Kroll 250251 at Quote of the Day: Will Obamacare Deliver More Votes Than Medicare? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body> <p><a href="" target="_blank">From Jonathan Bernstein,</a> questioning whether Obamacare will ever be a vote winner for Democrats:</p> <blockquote> <p>After Medicare passed in 1965, voters &ldquo;rewarded&rdquo; Democrats for Medicare with big midterm losses in 1966 and then by putting Republicans in the White House in five of the next six presidential elections.</p> </blockquote> <p>Actually, that's....true, isn't it? Even granting that there was a lot of other stuff going on in 1966, let's hope that history doesn't repeat itself.</p> </body></html> Kevin Drum Health Care Mon, 21 Apr 2014 16:35:49 +0000 Kevin Drum 250266 at Paul Ryan Goes Small on Medicare Reform <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body> <p>If you have a good memory, you may recall that a couple of years ago I had an <a href="" target="_blank">unexpectedly positive reaction</a> to Paul Ryan's latest Medicare reform plan. His 2013 edition was still based on premium support (i.e., vouchers), but he'd made some changes. Instead of simply capping the vouchers at the rate of overall inflation, which wouldn't come close to keeping up with medical costs, Ryan proposed that insurers would bid for Medicare business. Vouchers would be set at the cost of the second-lowest bid, and seniors could use their vouchers to buy into traditional Medicare if they preferred.</p> <p>Not bad. In fact, it was basically Obamacare with a public option. But there were still problems. Ryan kept his inflation-based cap, which suggested he didn't really believe in the power of competition after all, and seniors would still end up paying more under his plan than they do now.</p> <p>But over at TPM, <a href="" target="_blank">Sahil Kapur points out something I missed:</a> Ryan's 2014 Medicare plan is different still. The voucher is now based on the average bid, not the second-lowest bid, and the inflation cap is gone. <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_cbo_ryan_medicare_2014_savings.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">The market will either produce savings or it won't.</p> <p>That's good news. But it also goes to show the difficulty of truly reforming Medicare, especially if you don't tackle the broader problems of health care costs at the same time. The CBO has <a href="" target="_blank">analyzed the effect of Ryan's 2014 changes,</a> and they conclude that by 2020 the Ryan plan would save a grand total of $15 billion per year. That's 2 percent of net Medicare spending.</p> <p>Now, this is nothing to sneeze at. Savings are savings. However, like the cost containment proposals that are part of Obamacare, this represents a highly speculative estimate. We might get the 2 percent, we might get nothing.</p> <p>The bottom line is this: Without root-and-branch changes to our health care system, you're simply not going to get big cost savings. If you make radical changes, as Ryan originally tried to do, it comes out of the pockets of seniors. If you keep seniors whole, you're going to get small savings at best. Ryan's 2014 plan might be a good one, but is it worth the experiment for such a small and questionable payback? Hard to say.</p> </body></html> Kevin Drum Health Care Mon, 21 Apr 2014 16:11:24 +0000 Kevin Drum 250216 at The Right Wing Trains Its Hysterical Eye on Renewable Energy <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body> <p>Evan Halper of the <em>LA Times</em> filed a story this weekend about new conservative efforts to fight America's biggest energy scourge: solar power. <a href=",0,2718030,full.story#axzz2zRPWf8ks" target="_blank">And they're dead serious:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The Koch brothers, anti-tax activist Grover Norquist and some of the nation's largest power companies have backed efforts in recent months to roll back state policies that favor green energy. The <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/images/blog_solar_installation.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 20px 15px 30px;">conservative luminaries have pushed campaigns in Kansas, North Carolina and Arizona, with the battle rapidly spreading to other states.</p> <p>....At the nub of the dispute are two policies found in dozens of states. One requires utilities to get a certain share of power from renewable sources. The other, known as net metering, guarantees homeowners or businesses with solar panels on their roofs the right to sell any excess electricity back into the power grid at attractive rates.</p> <p>....The American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, a membership group for conservative state lawmakers, recently drafted model legislation that targeted net metering. The group also helped launch efforts by conservative lawmakers in more than half a dozen states to repeal green energy mandates.</p> <p>"State governments are starting to wake up," Christine Harbin Hanson, a spokeswoman for Americans for Prosperity, the advocacy group backed by billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch, said in an email. The organization has led the effort to overturn the mandate in Kansas, which requires that 20% of the state's electricity come from renewable sources.</p> </blockquote> <p>There are, technically speaking, some colorable objections to the way net metering (or feed-in tariffs, a similar concept) operate. Sometimes the incentive schemes go awry, and sometimes the pricing goes awry. It's reasonable to insist that these programs be evaluated regularly and rigorously, and modified where necessary. Mandates need to be designed properly too, though in practice they tend to have fewer problems since they allow a lot of flexibility in implementation.</p> <p>But does anyone think this is what's going on here? A calm, technocratic effort to make sure these programs work better? Of course not. We've now entered an era in which affinity politics has gotten so toxic that even motherhood and apple pie are fair targets if it turns out that liberals happen to like apple pie. There are dozens of good reasons that we should be building out solar as fast as we possibly can&mdash;plummeting prices, overdependence on foreign oil, poisonous petrostate politics, clean air&mdash;but yes, global warming is one of those reasons too. And since global warming has now entered the conservative pantheon of conspiratorial hoaxes designed to allow liberals to quietly enslave the economy, it means that conservatives are instinctively opposed to anything even vaguely related to stopping it. As a result, fracking has become practically the holy grail of conservative energy policy, while solar, which improves by leaps and bounds every year, is a sign of decay and creeping socialism.</p> <p>Does it help that the Koch brothers happen to be oil barons who don't want to see the oil industry lose any of the massive government support it's gotten for decades? It sure doesn't hurt, does it?</p> <p>If there's anything that liberals and conservatives ought to be able to agree on, it's the benefit of renewable power. It's as close to a no-brainer as you can get. But President Obama made green programs part of his stimulus package, and that was that. When tea-party hysteria took over the conservative movement, renewable energy became one of its pariahs. Griping about Solyndra is ancient history. Today's conservatives oppose renewable energy for the same reason they've gone nuts over Benghazi and the IRS and Syrian rebels: to show solidarity to the cause. Welcome to modern American politics.</p> </body></html> Kevin Drum Energy The Right Mon, 21 Apr 2014 15:10:43 +0000 Kevin Drum 250256 at Cardinal Defends Hobby Lobby: "All You Have to Do Is Walk into a 7-11" for Contraceptives <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body> <p class="rtecenter"><embed allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always" background="#000000" flashvars="pType=embed&amp;si=254&amp;pid=vT5LesZ8cm3D&amp;url=" height="279" salign="lt" scale="noscale" src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="425"></embed></p> <p>On Sunday, New York's Cardinal Timothy Dolan, <a href="" target="_blank">culture warrior extraordinaire</a>, made a curious argument for why the Supreme Court should <a href="" target="_blank">allow Hobby Lobby</a> to eliminate the morning-after pill from its employee health care plan: if you want contraceptives, "all you have to do is walk into a 7-11 or any shop on any street in America and have access to them."</p> <p>The East Coast's top Catholic made his comments Sunday <a href="" target="_blank">on CBS's <em>Face the Nation</em></a>. "I think they're just true Americans," he told host Norah O&rsquo;Donnell of Hobby Lobby's owners, who claim that providing emergency contraceptive pills violates their religious beliefs. "Is the ability to buy contraceptives, that are now widely available&mdash;my Lord, all you have to do is walk into a 7-11 or any shop on any street in America and have access to them&mdash;is that right to access those and have them paid for, is that such a towering good that it would suffocate the rights of conscience?"</p> <p>Couple of things:</p> <ul> <li>The owners of Hobby Lobby are proposing to eliminate one kind of contraception from the company's employee health care plans: the morning-after pill. The Greens, who own the company, do not have a problem with <em>all</em> contraception. In fact, the company plan still covers birth control pills.</li> <li>Birth control pills are a form of contraception that <a href="" target="_blank">isn't available</a> without a prescription. They are not sold on any shop on any street in America.</li> <li>If Dolan is talking about <em>emergency</em> contraception, we would note that only <a href="" target="_blank">one type of morning-after pill</a> for sale in the US without a prescription: Plan B One Step and its generics.</li> <li>These are also not sold on any shop on any street in America.</li> <li>These are not sold at 7-11.</li> </ul> <p>It's almost as if Dolan doesn't know very much about the contraceptives he opposes. Either that, or he hasn't been to a 7-11 since giving up Go-Go Taquitos for Lent.</p> </body></html> MoJo Religion Reproductive Rights The Right Top Stories Mon, 21 Apr 2014 14:47:47 +0000 Molly Redden 250246 at We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for April 21, 2014 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/0421-630.jpg"></div> <div id="meta"> <div class="photo-desc" id="description_div"> <p class="rtecenter"><em>FORT CARSON, Colo. - A fireball engulfs a mortar round, March 19, 2014, during a mortar live-fire exercise. Soldiers of the 4th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, conducted mortar training as part of gunnery training and certifications executed by units across 3rd ABCT. (<a href="" target="_blank">U.S. Army photo</a> by Staff Sgt. Grady Jones, 3rd ABCT Public Affairs, 4th Inf. Div.)</em></p> </div> </div> </body></html> MoJo Mon, 21 Apr 2014 13:58:03 +0000 250241 at GOP Senate Candidate Endorses a 9/11 Truther's Questions: "Things Like This Have to Be Asked" <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body> <p>In 2012, Greg Brannon, who is now a North Carolina Republican Senate candidate, wouldn't say whether he thought the attacks on September 11, 2001, were an inside job&mdash;but, he said, "Things like this have to be asked."</p> <p>Brannon, an OB-GYN endorsed by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and a leading contender in the GOP primary to challenge Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), <a href="">made that comment</a> as a guest on a local conservative talk show. At the time, Brannon was running Founder's Truth, a North Carolina tea party organization. A caller offered up a conspiracy theory about September 11, and as the host, Bill LuMaye, tried to redirect the conversation, Brannon answered:</p> <blockquote> <p><strong>John, caller: </strong>I'm a 9/11 truther. And I had a friend of mine&hellip;tell me, look on the internet, Google "the Pentagon" and show me where the plane hit the Pentagon. Where is the plane? There's all kinds of pictures of that building smoldering, and fire trucks everywhere. There's no plane. So I did research on the size of planes, of the engines that ran this plane. These things are 12,000 pounds, these engines that would have flown off&mdash;that's six tons&mdash;and put a hole in something. There's nothing there.</p> <p><strong>Bill LuMaye:</strong> Well, without getting into&mdash;</p> <p><strong>John:</strong> There's a hole in the building and there's no broken glass.</p> <p><strong>LuMaye:</strong> Well, I'd rather not get into a discussion on whether 9/11 was an inside job or not. I really, I mean, we can save that for another day, I have no problem with that, it's just&mdash;</p> <p><strong>Greg Brannon:</strong> These questions, again, actually, that's what [9/11 commission vice-chair] Lee Hamilton said. And he just said, there's other questions that need answering. The guy who got all the information&hellip;a Democrat and a Republican, were the co-chairmen of the 9/11 commission, and when they got done, they did not put their stamp of approval on the commission. They said, 'There's data that we did not put in there.' So things like this have to be asked.</p> <p><strong>LuMaye: </strong>Well, I appreciate your call, John.</p> <p><strong>Brannon: </strong>Thanks, John.</p> </blockquote> <p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src=";color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p>It's true that Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, the chairman and vice chairman of the 9/11 commission, said that the commission's investigation of the September 11 plot was incomplete. But their <a href="">complaint</a> was that government agencies blocked the commission from assessing how badly prepared the United States was for the attacks, and which US agencies were responsible for failing to prevent the attacks&mdash;not that the US was hiding its own involvement.</p> </body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/mojo/2014/04/greg-brannon-rand-paul-9-11-truther"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> MoJo Elections The Right Top Stories Embarrassing and Ridiculous Things Said by 2014 Candidates Mon, 21 Apr 2014 10:00:07 +0000 Molly Redden 250136 at Meaningful Music Meets Debauchery in the Desert: Anti-Flag Rocks Coachella <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body> <p>The sun had set on the first day of Coachella. Bright, colored lights adorning art installations and beaming from stages highlighted the plumes of smoke and dust clouds emitting from audiences at the Indio Fairgrounds. I hurried through the sweaty shoulders clustered&nbsp;in front of the main stage, excited to see a band that played a big part in my musical upbringing.</p> <p>Anti-Flag, which celebrated 20-years of punk rock in 2013, was set to play one of the smaller stages Friday, April 11,&nbsp;at midnight in the Gobi tent. <a href="" target="_blank">The Coachella Valley Arts and Music Festival</a> has consistently delivered on nostalgia, bringing out new artists along with acts audiences know and love. But I wondered what the Anti-Flag crowd would look like.</p> <p>The festival, which started small in Indio, California, in&nbsp;1999, has since grown to attract worldwide attention, <a href="" target="_blank">amenities</a> such as craft beer, gourmet food, and<a href="" target="_blank"> luxury campsites</a>, along with a hefty price-tag (admission runs from $349-$799, not including transportation, housing, food, and a budget for the more nefarious activities commonly considered part of the festival experience).&nbsp;</p> <p>The aesthetic of the festival's&nbsp;attendees is often discussed (and criticized) more than the music, and it&nbsp;largely defines the brand and attraction of Coachella. This year, the throngs of festival-goers were styled as expected. Neon tanks blended with short skirts, a scattering of ironic Native American headdresses, and, of course, skin, skin, skin. Dressing for the heat of the desert doesn't leave much to the imagination.</p> <p>The hallmark of festival style, however, is a <a href="" target="_blank">flowered wreath</a>. A bouquet of large blooms wrapped in a crown, these wreaths&nbsp;adorned heads in every direction. Beautiful but cumbersome, their glamor began to wear thin the more often I saw them. They're worn as a&nbsp;nod to the "free-spirit" identity crafted by music festivals like Coachella, but in reality, they seem limiting. How can you head-bang with flowers in your hair? I didn't expect to see many of them at the Anti-Flag set that night.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"> <img alt="" class="image" src="/files/rsz_antiflagcoach5_0.jpg"><div class="caption"> <strong>Anti-Flag drummer Pat Thetic </strong>Megan Thompson</div> </div> <p>When I spoke to drummer Pat Thetic earlier that the day, he said he wasn&rsquo;t fazed by the notion that his punk band might be playing to a more eclectic, or at least a smaller audience at Coachella."There are a lot of people here and they are open to ideas," he said."We need to have a voice of dissent in every environment. Whether it is a place like Coachella or a place like Warped Tour or at a local football game&mdash;you have to have a voice of dissent."</p> <p>Anti-Flag is no stranger to the role. Hailing from Pittsburgh, the band started with a political aim, founded on their town&rsquo;s history of labor movements. Its two original members, Thetic and lead singer/guitar player Justin Sane, were joined by Chris Head (rhythm guitar, backing vocals) and Chris Barker or "Chris #2"&nbsp;(lead vocals, bass guitar) in the late nineties.</p> <p>Punk Rock was a venue for voicing their beliefs and rallying others."We were all trying to say something," Thetic says. "It did not necessarily mean that we were intelligent and had good things to say, but we were angry and activism and politics were a place to release that anger and frustration." His words perfectly described how I felt as a high school kid when I first discovered the band and punk rock. I loved the pounding rhythm that paralleled how I felt about the messages in the&nbsp;music.</p> <p>The band has remained dedicated&nbsp;to highlighting social ills and continues to be involved&nbsp;in important causes. Last year, they partnered with <a href="" target="_blank">Art For Amnesty</a>, the Amnesty International campaign inspired by the imprisonment of Russian activist punk band Pussy Riot. Their version of "Toast to Freedom" (below), featuring Donots, Ian D&rsquo;Sa of Billy Talent, and Bernd of Beatsteaks, is just one example of their musical advocacy efforts.</p> <p>They have raised funds for nonprofits championing an array of issues&mdash;from <a href="" target="_blank">PETA </a>to Planned Parenthood, African Well Fund to the ACLU. Anti-Flag founded Military Free Zone to highlight problems with military recruitment in schools and Underground Action Alliance, a site that brings young activists together.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>That&rsquo;s why when I asked Thetic how music can solve the worlds problems I was surprised to hear him say it can&rsquo;t."Music doesn&rsquo;t change the world by any stretch," he said adamantly,"but the people who are changing the world are listening."</p> <p>I wondered if the people changing the world were even at Coachella. Thetic assured me that they were&mdash;even if they didn&rsquo;t know it yet."These kids are not being taught about these things but if they come to a festival like this maybe they will stop by and hear an Anti-Flag song," he explains.&nbsp;&ldquo;If they are like &lsquo;Who are these guys? Why are they so angry? What are they talking about? Should I be that angry?&rsquo;&nbsp;Those ideas can catch hold and spark a fire."</p> <p>I reached the Gobi tent right before Anti-Flag was scheduled to play. I looked around at the people trickling in and hoped to see a fire spark. The lights went up. The band took the stage. The crowd grew. The onlookers transformed into a sea of bobbing heads and thrashing arms. Some shouted along. Others just moved to the music.</p> <p>&ldquo;Welcome to the most right and righteous circle pit of all Coachella history!" Chris #2 shouted from the stage."It happens right here, right now. Everyone is running in a circle. If someone falls down we pick them up!" The crowd erupted into organized mayhem&mdash;a blur of circular motion cycling through the middle. The moshing continued throughout the set. People kept their phones put away, even when Thetic brought his drum kit into the crowd for the final song.</p> <p>By the time the band finished it was nearing 1 am. The dust from disbanded festival-goers was settling as workers made the rounds collecting&nbsp;trash left behind.</p> <p>As I made my way out of the tent I saw it. Crumpled, laying in the dirt near the stage, a flower&nbsp;wreath had been left behind by its wearer.&nbsp;I hoped it had been ripped off in triumph and danced into the ground&nbsp;while its owner was caught in&nbsp;the&nbsp;moment, hearing the message, and truly listening to the music. One can only guess how it landed there, but to me it was a symbol that someone&nbsp;left that night changed&mdash;if only in the smallest way.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> </body></html> Mixed Media Interview Music Mon, 21 Apr 2014 10:00:07 +0000 Gabrielle Canon 250021 at Quick Reads: "Authorisms" by Paul Dickson <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="Authorisms" class="image" src="/files/authorisms-250x300.png"></div> <p><strong>Authorisms</strong></p> <p>By Paul Dickson</p> <p>BLOOMSBURY</p> <p>Are you a literary <em>muscleman</em> or a <em>munchkin</em>? A word <em>ninja</em> or a spewer of <em>malaprops</em>? And who came up with these terms anyway? In <em>Authorisms</em>, Paul Dickson traces writerly <em>coinages</em> (a coinage of the Elizabethan scribe George Puttenham) of words and expressions ranging from <em>assassination </em>(Shakespeare's <em>Macbeth</em>) to <em>zombification</em> (the poet Andrei Codrescu). He takes things too far sometimes&mdash;while Jane Austen may have been the first to mention <em>base ball</em> in print&shy;, for instance, it wasn't the baseball we know. Yet I was fascinated to discover that sayings I'd mistaken for relatively recent&mdash;<em>blurb</em> (1907), <em>frenemy </em>(1953), <em>weapons of mass destruction </em>(1937), <em>wimp </em>(from an 1898 children's book by Evelyn Sharpe)&mdash;actually predated me. It's enough to drive an anxious magazine editor to <em>verbicide</em>.</p> <p><em>This review originally appeared in our May/June 2014 issue of</em> Mother Jones.</p> </body></html> Mixed Media Books Offbeat Mon, 21 Apr 2014 10:00:05 +0000 Michael Mechanic 248996 at Nope, There Are No Russians in Eastern Ukraine. Why Do You Ask? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Imagine my surprise:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>For two weeks, the mysteriously well-armed, professional gunmen known as &ldquo;green men&rdquo; have seized Ukrainian government sites in town after town, igniting a brush fire of separatist unrest across eastern Ukraine. Strenuous denials from the Kremlin have closely followed each accusation by Ukrainian officials that the world was witnessing a stealthy invasion by Russian forces.</p> <p>Now, photographs and descriptions from eastern Ukraine endorsed by the Obama administration on Sunday suggest that many of the green men are indeed Russian military and intelligence forces....More direct evidence of a Russian hand in eastern Ukraine is contained in a dossier of photographs provided by Ukraine to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, a Vienna-based organization now monitoring the situation in Donetsk and other parts of the country. It features pictures taken in eastern Ukraine of unidentified gunmen and an earlier photograph of what looks like the same men appearing in a group shot of a Russian military unit in Russia.</p> </blockquote> <p>Nope, nobody here but us surprisingly disciplined, well-trained, and Russian-armed guys in masks taking over government buildings. Anybody got a problem with that?</p> </body></html> Kevin Drum International Mon, 21 Apr 2014 05:59:00 +0000 Kevin Drum 250226 at "Veep" Just Aired Its Best Episode Yet <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body> <p><em>This post contains some spoilers.</em></p> <p>When I <a href="" target="_blank">spoke with <em>Veep </em>creator Armando Iannucci</a> last year, we had some fun discussing (among other topics) how he does his research for the HBO satire and why he would <a href="" target="_blank">never, ever, ever</a> allow Joe Biden on the show. But what really stood out to me was when Iannucci talked about his characters' professional and personal frustrations&mdash;and how those frustrations reflect his view of Washington's effect <a href="" target="_blank">on the soul</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>I don't want [the characters in <em>Veep</em>] to seem like caricatures&mdash;I want them to be viewed as <em>real</em> people, with their own problems, and hopes, and dreams, and frustrations&hellip;And it's that frustration and exasperation that I look for in comedy&hellip;What I want to do is show what the system can do to you, and to have [the audience] sympathize with the terrible set of circumstances these characters have to deal with every single day.</p> </blockquote> <p>Iannucci is a brilliant satirist and a clever political observer. His brand of comedy and commentary (also seen in British TV series <a href="" target="_blank"><em>The Day Today</em></a> and <a href="" target="_blank"><em>The Thick of It</em></a>, and the latter's brilliant 2009 spin-off <a href="" target="_blank">film</a> <em><a href="" target="_blank">In the Loop</a></em>) is a mischievous deromanticization of political and media elites. It's smart, wildly funny stuff that's full of <a href="" target="_blank">carefully</a> constructed, linguistically acrobatic <a href="" target="_blank">profanity</a>.</p> <p>But with many of <em>Veep</em>'s episodes, that sympathy he mentions in the above quote doesn't always come through. Your average viewer might watch a random episode and come away with the impression that it was written by someone who despised Washington, DC, and all its inhabitants. (Iannucci is actually a self-described "politics geek" who finds DC "<a href="" target="_blank">fascinating</a>.") However, in Sunday's episode, "Alicia" (directed by&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Chris Morris</a>&nbsp;and guest-starring <a href="" target="_blank">Tracie Thoms</a>), Iannucci's humanist outlook is more apparent than it ever has been before in the series. This is the reason why "Alicia" is perhaps the finest episode <em>Veep </em>has yet to pull off.</p> </body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/mixed-media/2014/04/veep-season-three-hbo-best-episode-alicia-armando-iannucci-interview"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Mixed Media Elections Film and TV Top Stories Mon, 21 Apr 2014 03:00:06 +0000 Asawin Suebsaeng 250206 at Housekeeping Notes <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body> <p>These are <em>real</em> housekeeping notes. That is, notes about stuff around my house. First topic: LED light bulbs.</p> <p>I've purchased several LED floods that are can-mounted in my ceiling. They're great. The quality of the light is good; they turn on instantly; they don't flicker; and they use hardly any electricity. There's only one problem: they seem to last less than a year. The LEDs themselves last for decades, of course, but the circuitry that drives the bulb doesn't. As <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_led_flood.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 20px 15px 30px;">near as I can tell, there's eventually enough heat buildup in the can to burn out the chip that controls the whole thing, and when the chip burns out, no more bulb.</p> <p>I'm just guessing here, but this has now happened three times out of five bulbs I've purchased, and in all three cases the case of the bulb was hot to the touch when I unscrewed it from the base. So here's my question: Does anyone know for sure what's going on here? Is my guess that a chip is burning out probably correct? Am I just buying cheap bulbs? Can anyone recommend a can-mounted flood that's reliable and will actually last for the 25 years that manufacturers so cheerfully promise?</p> <p>Second: a cell phone update. In last weekend's thread, the Google Nexus 5 got a lot of love, but so did the Motorola Moto X. I had actually made up my mind on the Nexus 5, but the T-Mobile store only sold it in a 16GB version, so I decided to go home and buy one online. But then I started dithering because of all the nice things people had said about the Moto X. Eventually, after far more dithering than makes sense for someone who doesn't use a cell phone much, I decided the slightly smaller Moto X was the better choice. So: thanks, folks! I don't think this would have come across my radar otherwise.</p> </body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 19 Apr 2014 15:50:28 +0000 Kevin Drum 250191 at