Blogs | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en Don't Do It, Paul! <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">REPORT:</a> John Boehner is personally asking Paul Ryan to step up and be Speaker. They have spoken twice today by phone....Boehner told Ryan he is the only person who can unite GOP at this crisis moment. Ryan undecided but listening, per source.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_young_guns_gone.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 140px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 08 Oct 2015 23:29:46 +0000 Kevin Drum 286566 at Smoking Will Kill 1 in 3 Chinese Men <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Smoking will kill one in three young men in China unless rates of tobacco use drop dramatically, according to a new <a href="" target="_blank">study</a> in the medical journal<em> The Lancet.</em></p> <p>The study, led by Oxford University epidemiologist Zhengming Chen, is full of eye-opening stats: In 2010 alone, smoking accounted for 1 million Chinese deaths, primarily of men. If the current trend continues, that number will double by 2030. (In the United States, cigarettes kill 480,000 people annually&mdash;a number that's been steadily declining over the last several decades and is expected to keep dropping.)<strong> </strong>"About two-thirds of young Chinese men become cigarette smokers, and most start before they are 20," explains Chen. "Unless they stop, about half of them will eventually be killed by their habit."</p> <p>The researchers came to these conclusions by conducting two nationally representative studies&mdash;the first in the 90s, the second 15 years later&mdash;that tracked the health outcomes of smoking among a total of 730,000 men and women.</p> <p>There is some good news: While smoking among men has increased dramatically in recent years, smoking among women has plummeted, to roughly 3 percent of the population. And the proportion of smokers overall who have chosen to quit rose from 3 percent to 9 percent between 1991 and 2006.</p> <p>The high smoking rates are fueled by low prices. "Over the past 20 years, tobacco deaths have been decreasing in Western countries, partly because of price increases," said Richard Peto, a co-author of the study. "For China, a substantial increase in cigarette prices could save tens of millions of lives." Pervasive myths don't help either, including beliefs that Asians are less susceptible to tobacco's effects and smoking is easy to quit. The World Health Organization <a href="" target="_blank">estimates</a> that only a quarter of Chinese adults have a "comprehensive understanding" of smoking's hazards.</p> <p>This lack of awareness is hardly surprising when you look into who's selling the cigarettes: An estimated 98 percent of the Chinese cigarette market is controlled by China National Tobacco Corporation, a government-owned conglomerate that runs more than 160 cigarette brands. According to a <a href="" target="_blank">Bloomberg Business feature</a> on the topic, the industry accounts for 7 percent of the country's revenue each year and employs roughly 500,000 people. In 2013, the company manufactured 2.25 trillion cigarettes. (Philip Morris International, the second-largest producer, manufactured 880 billion.)</p> <p>"The extent to which the government is interlocked with the fortunes of China National might best be described by the company&rsquo;s presence in schools," writes Bloomberg's Andrew Martin. "Slogans over the entrances to sponsored elementary schools read, 'Genius comes from hard work. Tobacco helps you become talented.'"</p></body></html> MoJo China Health International Thu, 08 Oct 2015 23:03:16 +0000 Julia Lurie 286516 at House Tea Partiers to the World: Burn, Baby, Burn. <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Chaos, chaos, and chaos. Rep. Kevin McCarthy's withdrawal from the speaker's race <a href="" target="_blank">has caused disarray</a>&mdash;that is, <em>greater </em>disarray&mdash;within the House GOP conference. Hours after McCarthy's announcement, there was no word of what comes next. Who might jump in? Would a caretaker candidate emerge? How long could Speaker John Boehner stay in the job? And, it seemed, the House tea partiers who had somewhat caused this crisis&mdash;they had succeeded in driving Boehner from the job and had deemed McCarthy insufficiently conservative&mdash;were yearning for more chaos. The House Freedom Caucus, the tea party GOPers, put out this statement:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/freedom630.png"></div> <p>Note that last sentence: "The next Speaker needs to yield back power to the membership for the sake of both the institution and the country." In other words, we don't want a speaker who is going to try to govern in a time of divided government; we don't want a speaker who will endeavor to forge a compromise on behalf of the GOP conference and make the system work; and, as a government shutdown looms and a possible debt ceiling crisis approaches, we want a speaker who will step to the side and let the chaos reign. This is the congressional equivalent of "burn, baby, burn."</p></body></html> MoJo Congress Thu, 08 Oct 2015 20:45:35 +0000 David Corn 286551 at Let These Awesome Transgender Kids Show You What Their Lives Are Really Like <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Despite the strides made by the transgender community in recent years, the lives of transgender people remain largely out of sight, even taboo, for most people.</p> <p>With all the misinformation, and often hateful noise, still present in society over the issue, <a href="" target="_blank">one British documentary series</a> is telling the real life stories of transgender youth in hopes to shed an empathetic light on what life is actually like for people making the incredibly challenging, but brave journey.</p> <p>Take the story of 7-year-old Paddy from Leicester, England and her father, also named Paddy. The two engage in a simple, remarkable conversation about Paddy's decision to transition into a girl. Watch below:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>But as told by Paddy's mother, Lorna, the transition hasn't exactly been easy for many family members. No matter how supportive of their children's decision, the experience for everyone involved can still be a difficult one. In the clip below, Lorna reads aloud a poem to Paddy describing a caterpillar's choice to become a butterfly to help describe her complex feelings,</p> <p>"I loved and supported still wondering why, till the day my boy said goodbye," she reads. "Sometimes I miss my caterpillar boy, but my butterfly girl fills my heart with joy."</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>"My Transgender Kid" is a part of Channel 4 in Britain's <a href="" target="_blank">"Born in the Wrong Body" series</a>, which will continue in the coming weeks with different personal stories. Next up is "Girls to Men" and it will feature 21-year-old Jamie Raines' stunning, three-year photo project in which he took a selfie everyday of his transition. That video has already catapulted to the number one viewed video on YouTube.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"></iframe></p></body></html> Mixed Media Film and TV Gay Rights Sex and Gender Thu, 08 Oct 2015 20:28:50 +0000 Inae Oh 286541 at California Is About to Stop People From Pumping So Many Drugs Into Meat <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>After decades of ignoring a deadly problem, the Food and Drug Administration finally came out with <a href="" target="_blank">rules</a> restricting the meat industry's heavy reliance on antibiotics back in 2012. But the new regime had <a href="" target="_blank">two major flaws:</a> (1) It was voluntary, relying on the benevolence of two industries (pharmaceuticals and meat) with long records of lobbying hard for their own interests, and (2) it contained a loophole that allowed meat producers to maintain their old antibiotic habit if they so desired.</p> <p>Enter California, with new <a href="" target="_blank">legislation</a>&mdash;expected to be signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown any day now&mdash;that would retract those regulatory gifts from the state's teeming livestock farms.&nbsp;</p> <p>The bill would make California's regulation of animal antibiotic use more stringent than the federal government's simply because it's compulsory and not voluntary, according to Natural Resources Defense Council senior attorney Avinash Kar. But it also snaps shut the infamous "prevention" loophole in the FDA's policy, he adds.</p> <p>Antibiotics are used in three ways on factory livestock farms: (1) growth promotion&mdash;when animals get small daily doses of the the stuff, they grow faster; (2) disease prevention&mdash;animals stuffed together in stressful conditions are prone to infection, they pass diseases among themselves rapidly, and antibiotics provide a kind of pharmaceutical substitute for a natural robust immune system; and (3) disease treatment&mdash;an animal comes down with a bug and gets treated with antibiotics.</p> <p>The FDA's policy phases out growth promotion but leaves prevention intact&mdash;even though giving animals small daily doses of antibiotics to "prevent" disease is virtually indistinguishable from giving them small daily doses to promote growth. A 2014 <a href="" target="_blank">Pew analysis</a> found no fewer than 66 antibiotic products that the FDA allows to be used for "disease prevention" at levels that are "fully within the range of growth promotion dosages and with no limit on the duration of treatment." In other words, you change the language you use to describe the practice and continue giving your herd of 4,000 confined pigs the same old daily dose of antibiotics.</p> <p>The California bill, too, allows antibiotic use as "prophylaxis to address an elevated risk of contraction of a particular disease or infection," but it adds an important qualification, Kar points out: The drugs can't be used "in a regular pattern." In other words, no more daily, indiscriminate dosing based on some vague notion of "prevention." "We think this [the "regular pattern" language] puts serious restraint on the routine use of antibiotics," Kar said.</p> <p>The California law won't have an immediate&nbsp; impact on national policy, Kar said, but he pointed out that the bill's passage might embolden several other states with significant livestock production, including <a href="" target="_blank">Oregon</a> and Maryland, that are <a href="" target="_blank">considering similar legislation</a>. And California itself is a <a href=";location:US;year:2012" target="_blank">massive producer</a> of dairy, beef, and chicken.</p></body></html> Tom Philpott Food and Ag Thu, 08 Oct 2015 20:04:37 +0000 Tom Philpott 286526 at The Pharma Jerk We All Hated Last Month Still Hasn’t Dropped the Price of That Drug <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Two weeks ago, Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli promised to drop the price of Daraprim, a parasite-fighting drug, after <a href="" target="_blank">raising it</a> from $13.50 a tablet to $750 a tablet. But so far the price tag <a href="" target="_blank">hasn't budged</a>.</p> <p>Shkreli, a former hedge fund manager who acquired Turing in August, <a href="" target="_blank">first drew criticism</a> after a <em>USA Today</em> article <a href="" target="_blank">reported</a> the 5,000 percent price hike. He then told <a href="" target="_blank">ABC News</a> in September that the company would "lower the price of Daraprim to a point that is more affordable and is able to allow the company to make a profit, but a very small profit."</p> <p><em>Business Insider</em> <a href="" target="_blank">writes</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>That hasn't happened yet. <strong>A 30-day, 30-pill supply of Daraprim would cost me $27,006 at my local pharmacy.</strong></p> <p>That boils down to about $900 a pill, which includes the wholesale cost, along with specific pharmacy fees based on the zip code I gave the pharmacy.</p> <p>So while the price of the drug hasn't gotten any higher since Shkreli hiked it 5,000%, it hasn't gotten any lower since he promised to reduce it either. Turing did not respond to Business Insider's request for clarification about this price.</p> </blockquote></body></html> MoJo Health Care Pharma Science Thu, 08 Oct 2015 19:41:26 +0000 Madison Pauly 286546 at Ben Carson Links Gun Control to Hitler's Rise <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>As he defends a string of controversial <a href="" target="_blank">comments</a> he made in the wake of last week's mass shooting in Oregon, Ben Carson just keeps one-upping himself. Appearing on CNN on Thursday afternoon, Carson was questioned by Wolf Blitzer on a claim in his recent book, <em>A More Perfect Union</em>, in which he connects the rise of Hitler to gun control. "There were a number of countries where tyranny reigned,&nbsp;and before it happened, they disarmed the people," Carson said. "That was my point."&nbsp;</p> <p>When Blitzer&nbsp;pressed further and asked whether an absence of gun control laws in Europe would have saved six million Jews from being slaughtered, Carson responded: "I think the likelihood of Hitler&nbsp;being able to accomplish his goals would have been greatly diminished if the people had been armed."</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"></iframe></p></body></html> MoJo 2016 Elections Elections Guns Thu, 08 Oct 2015 19:23:36 +0000 Miles E. Johnson 286531 at Oops. Putin's Cruise Missiles Still Need a Little Work. <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>I guess Vladimir Putin's cruise missiles <a href="" target="_blank">aren't quite as awesome as he thought:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Cruise missiles fired by Russia from warships in the Caspian Sea at targets in Syria crashed in a rural area of Iran, senior United States officials said on Thursday.</p> </blockquote> <p>Bummer, dude. Can we now have at least one day where we don't have to hear about how Russia's crappy military is going to upend everything in the Middle East and send the US scurrying for cover?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 08 Oct 2015 19:02:04 +0000 Kevin Drum 286536 at Put Frances Perkins on the Ten-Dollar Bill <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Wonkblog informs me that the Treasury Department really, really wants me to vote on which woman should replace Alexander Hamilton on the ten-dollar bill. OK. So how do I do that?</p> <p>Apparently I can use Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to submit my vote with the hashtag #TheNew10. So that takes care of all the people who are on social media. What about everyone else? Well, the Treasury still wants to hear from you! That's not immediately obvious, mind you,&nbsp; but it turns out that if you <a href="" target="_blank">click here,</a> provide your name and your email address, and then answer a <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_frances_perkins_ten_dollar_bill.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">question to prove you're a human, you can tell them your thoughts.</p> <p>FWIW, my choice is Frances Perkins. I feel like it's a good idea to keep up the tradition of having people on our currency who have been in government service (mostly presidents, but also cabinet members like Hamilton or key members of the constitutional convention like Benjamin Franklin). It also, for obvious reasons, ought to be somebody whose fame was gained at least 50 years ago. Perkins fits all those requirements. She was the first woman to serve in the cabinet, and more than that, her fame doesn't come merely from being first. She was also an unusually effective Secretary of Labor during a period when the labor movement was a tremendous and growing power in American politics. Add to that her authorship of the Social Security Act and her key role in a wide variety of other New Deal legislation, and she's not just the most influential Secretary of Labor of all time, but arguably one of the four or five most influential cabinet members ever.</p> <p>Sadly, the whole New Deal thing will probably make her too politicized to win. She's my choice, but my <em>prediction</em> is Rosa Parks. We'll find out next year.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 08 Oct 2015 18:46:36 +0000 Kevin Drum 286521 at Kevin McCarthy: "I'm Not the Guy" <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">Yesterday:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>North Carolina Rep. Walter Jones (R) sent a letter to the No. 4 House Republican saying any candidate for leadership who has committed any "misdeeds" since joining Congress should "withdraw" from the contest.</p> </blockquote> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Today:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Thursday abruptly dropped out of the race to replace John Boehner for speaker, a stunning move that further complicates an already chaotic House leadership contest....Said Rep. John Fleming (R-La.), a member of the conservative Freedom Caucus: &ldquo;I was shocked just like everyone else&hellip;he said something to the effect of I&rsquo;m not the guy.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>Ummm....WTF? I will put off further comment until I pick up my jaw from the floor.</p> <p><strong>UPDATE:</strong> From no less a conservative icon than Erick Erickson, <a href="" target="_blank">we get this:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>There&rsquo;s a guy out in America who has emails for a massive number of members of Congress and the email addresses of highly influential conservatives outside Congress.</p> <p>A few days ago, he emailed out to 91 people, including these members of Congress, an email with a series of links to stories <strong>alleging a relationship between Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) of North Carolina.</strong> It is worth nothing that the two deny a relationship.</p> <p><strong>But the email began circulating pretty heavily. Conservatives were buzzing about it.</strong> The first line pointed to the current scandal about Denny Hastert and concluded suggesting that if the rumor about McCarthy and his personal life were true, he was a national security risk.</p> </blockquote> <p>Okey dokey.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 08 Oct 2015 17:14:10 +0000 Kevin Drum 286506 at We Get It: Paul Krugman Has Been Right All Along <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_krugman_tired.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Here is Paul Krugman just in the past month:</p> <ul><li>It&rsquo;s now seven years since I warned....</li> <li>Who could have predicted such a thing? Well, me....</li> <li>Many of us warned from the beginning that the multiplier was probably much larger....</li> <li>Those of us who took our Hicks seriously calling the big stuff &mdash; the effects of monetary and fiscal policy &mdash; right, and those who went with their gut getting it all wrong....</li> <li>As I&rsquo;ve been trying to point out....</li> <li>As I&rsquo;ve written many times....</li> <li>Attacks on Keynesians in general, and on me in particular....</li> <li>Here&rsquo;s what I wrote three years ago....</li> </ul><p>And that's not even counting his print columns, which I didn't have the patience to plow through. I'm a pretty big fan of Krugman, but even for me this stuff has long since gotten old. Maybe it's time to go cold turkey on the whole "I was right" meme and just concentrate on the economics.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 08 Oct 2015 15:46:11 +0000 Kevin Drum 286491 at Quote of the Day: Japanese Mathematician Discovers Marvelous Brain-Altering Proof <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">From Davide Castelvecchi,</a> writing about an impenetrable 500-page mathematical proof that might change the field forever if it's verified:</p> <blockquote> <p>But so far, the few who have understood the work have struggled to explain it to anyone else. <strong>&ldquo;Everybody who I'm aware of who's come close to this stuff is quite reasonable, but afterwards they become incapable of communicating it,&rdquo;</strong> says one mathematician who did not want his name to be mentioned. The situation, he says, reminds him of the Monty Python skit about a writer who jots down the world's funniest joke. Anyone who reads it dies from laughing and can never relate it to anyone else.</p> </blockquote> <p>Apparently Shinichi Mochizuki essentially invented a whole new branch of arithmetic geometry in order to complete his proof of the <em>abc</em> conjecture. So you have to learn a whole new field of math and <em>then</em> work your way laboriously through the actual proof. There are, according to Castelvecchi, something like four or five people in the whole world capable of doing this. Good luck, guys!</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 08 Oct 2015 15:10:04 +0000 Kevin Drum 286476 at Image vs. Reality, Vladimir Putin Edition <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The <em>LA Times</em> writes today about <a href="" target="_blank">Russia's intervention in Syria:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The outcome of Vladimir Putin's bold military gamble in Syria is far from clear, but in the short term, one loser seems certain: President Obama.</p> <p>....The White House has been poised for weeks to quietly shift more U.S. military support to seasoned Kurdish militias and other rebel fighters in northern Syria. But at this point, <strong>any change in policy will appear to be in response to <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_putin_chin.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">Putin's muscular moves,</strong> not a new initiative to help solve the multi-sided conflict.</p> </blockquote> <p>Putin is "bold" and "muscular." Obama is a "loser." Well, this piece is labeled as analysis, so I guess that's fair enough. But I hope that future articles continue to report the reality&mdash;that Obama has been planning for a while to shift his strategy in Syria&mdash;rather than merely parroting the tired judgment that he "appears" to be responding to the muscular Putin. In any case, let's continue:</p> <blockquote> <p>Middle Eastern allies who have chafed at Washington's reluctance to plunge into the 4-year-old civil war have been <strong>impressed by how the Russian president has come to an ally's defense,</strong> even if they don't like his goals or his ally, Arab officials say.</p> </blockquote> <p>Seriously? Sure, many of our Arab allies have been urging us for a long time to be more militantly anti-Assad. But are they really impressed by Putin's actions? He's allowed his "ally" Assad to twist in the wind with no apparent concern at all since 2011, and then after four years he finally enters the conflict in a small way&mdash;mainly because he was about to lose Assad for good. So far, he's launched a few air sorties and some cruise missiles. Are our Arab allies really that easily impressed? Onward:</p> <blockquote> <p>From the White House's perspective, the problem is not only that Russia is propping up a leader who they insist must step down as a part of a political deal to end the bloodletting. It is also that <strong>Putin's moves seem aimed at emphasizing American hesitation and signaling a lack of respect for the former Cold War foe.</strong></p> <p>....Over the last week, Moscow has seemed indifferent to the risk of a confrontation with Washington as Russian forces repeatedly attacked Syrian rebels armed by the CIA and allied spy services.</p> </blockquote> <p>Once again, Putin is the Donald Trump of world leaders: lots of showmanship and media attention for a very small price. It's impressive in a way. But the simple fact remains: Putin hasn't really done very much, and the fact that his Syria offensive seems aimed mostly at tweaking Obama is a show of childishness not strength. On Wednesday he even boasted that Russia's cruise missiles "hit all the targets," something the US hardly needs to bother with since everyone already knows we have plenty of cruise missiles that have a long history of hitting their targets.</p> <p>Finally, we end with this:</p> <blockquote> <p>Putin's gamble may accomplish several of his goals: <strong>increasing Russian influence in the Middle East and on the world stage, building his image at home, and shifting Western attention from his intervention in Ukraine.</strong></p> <p>But many analysts believe that neither Putin nor anyone else can wrest military victory from the bitter cauldron in Syria. And many expect Obama, who has made that argument since the conflict began in 2011, to continue to move cautiously. Obama "has been pretty good about resisting pressure to get in deeper," said Kupchan. "I don't think he's going to react to Putin's gambit by upping the ante."</p> </blockquote> <p>Maybe we should have started with that? Putin is essentially engaged in a PR campaign. Obama isn't taking the bait because he knows perfectly well it's a fool's errand. I hope everyone in Washington keeps that firmly in mind as Putin continues his Trump-esque rampage across the media landscape.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 08 Oct 2015 14:31:49 +0000 Kevin Drum 286471 at Old White Businessman Thinks Ben Carson Would Be a "Real Black President" <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>This morning, medial mogul and News Corp. overlord Rupert Murdoch was forced to retreat from a tweet he sent out last night addressing his notion of who does and does not qualify as a "real black president." That tweet, which also appeared to endorse Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson, looked like this:</p> <center> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Ben and Candy Carson terrific. What about a real black President who can properly address the racial divide? And much else.</p> &mdash; Rupert Murdoch (@rupertmurdoch) <a href="">October 8, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script></center> <p>The message sparked a wave of backlash on social media condemning Murdoch for inappropriately criticizing President Barack Obama&mdash;the first black president of the United States&mdash;and his work to address racial issues. In an attempt to justify his offensive remarks, he referred to a recent <a href="" target="_blank"><em>New York</em></a> magazine profile looking back at the president's legacy in the African American community. But, to no one's surprise except perhaps Murdoch's, the explanation did nothing to lessen the ridicule and the outrage.</p> <center> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en"><a href="">@rupertmurdoch</a> Answer your phone. It's your communications VP.</p> &mdash; pourmecoffee (@pourmecoffee) <a href="">October 8, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en"><a href="">@rupertmurdoch</a> Can you please regularly advise black Americans on which of them is "real", so they'll be free of doubt?</p> &mdash; Harry Shearer (@theharryshearer) <a href="">October 8, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script></center> <p>Hours later, and with a heavy meditation on the space key, Murdoch apologized.</p> <center> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Apologies! No offence meant. Personally find both men charming.</p> &mdash; Rupert Murdoch (@rupertmurdoch) <a href="">October 8, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script></center> <p>Looks like Murdoch, a noted Donald Trump detractor, is going to have to rethink how he attempts to advance Carson's presidential aspirations. It might also be helpful to remember who the sitting president actually is.</p></body></html> Mixed Media 2016 Elections Media Obama Thu, 08 Oct 2015 14:11:06 +0000 Inae Oh 286461 at Drunken Vegetarians Are Sometimes Secret Meat Eaters <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>A lot of people do things they regret when they are drunk. Maybe it's getting tanked and then incoherently divulging secret feelings for a colleague. Perhaps it's the slurred, eyes-shut karaoke rendition of Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You." Or it could be that after being sucked into an alcohol-fueled gluttonous rampage, the favorite option is diving face first into a meaty meal&mdash;even if you happen to be a socially conscious vegetarian.&nbsp;</p> <p>According to a <a href="" target="_blank">new study</a> conducted by <a href="" target="_blank"></a>, a discount code company based in the United Kingdom, more than one-third of vegetarians have become nonvegetarians after a night of drinking. When <a href="" target="_blank">Drunk Hungry</a> hits, they are quick to ditch their diets&mdash;and convictions.</p> <p>And, these drunken, carnivorous vegetarians aren't even honest about falling off the wagon. Close to 70 percent have kept their boozy burger-eating a secret. The next morning they go right back to pretending to be full-time vegetarians&mdash;at least until the next happy hour.</p> <p>While most respondents did say they stand by their vegetarian principles even when they are crocked, George Charles, the founder of VoucherCodesPro, told the <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Morning Advertiser</em></a> he was surprised by the results. He emphasized that people should offer more support for their drunken vegetarian buddies in times of temptation: "I think it's important," he says, "for friends of these vegetarians to support them when drunk and urge them not to eat meat, as I'm sure they regret it the next day!"</p> <p>Friends don't ever let friends go on drunken meat binges they will regret.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Food and Ag Thu, 08 Oct 2015 13:55:07 +0000 Gabrielle Canon 286446 at Quote of the Day: "The Republican Party Left Me" <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">From former Fed chairman Ben Bernanke,</a> in his new memoir, <em>The Courage To Act</em>:</p> <blockquote> <p>[I] lost patience with Republicans&rsquo; susceptibility to the know-nothing-ism of the far right. <strong>I didn&rsquo;t leave the Republican Party. I felt that the party left me.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>This is, of course, a deliberate echo of Ronald Reagan's famous line about the Democratic Party leaving him. And it's hard to blame Bernanke. The know-nothing wing of the Republican Party rebelled against the TARP rescue package at the height of the economic meltdown. They howled that low interest rates would lead to imminent hyperinflation. They resolutely refused to consider fiscal stimulus despite Bernanke's repeated pleas (see helpful illustration below from 2011). They wanted to audit the Fed. They wanted to end the Fed. They wanted to put us back on the gold standard. When Bernanke told them that spending cuts would lead to higher unemployment, Rep. Kevin McCarthy refused to believe him. Now he's about to become Speaker of the House.</p> <p>Bernanke was no leftist, he was just a mainstream economist&mdash;and a cautious one. It didn't matter. Republicans didn't want to hear anything that interfered with their hard-money frenzy, even from one of their own. So they abandoned him.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/images/blog_bernanke_congressometer_0.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 5px 5px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 08 Oct 2015 04:17:31 +0000 Kevin Drum 286456 at Ben Carson Apparently Doesn't Know What the Debt Limit Is <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_carson_laughing.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Ladies and gentlemen, <a href="" target="_blank">Dr. Ben Carson:</a></p> <blockquote> <p><em>Ryssdal:</em> As you know, Treasury Secretary Lew has come out in the last couple of days and said, "We're gonna run out of money, we're gonna run out of borrowing authority, on the fifth of November." Should the Congress then and the president not raise the debt limit?<strong> Should we default on our debt?</strong></p> <p><em>Carson:</em> Let me put it this way: if I were the president, I would not sign an increased budget. Absolutely would not do it. They would have to find a place to cut.</p> <p><em>Ryssdal:</em> <strong>To be clear, it's increasing the debt limit, not the budget,</strong> but I want to make sure I understand you. You'd let the United States default rather than raise the debt limit.</p> <p><em>Carson:</em> No, I would provide the kind of leadership that says, "Get on the stick guys, and stop messing around, and cut where you need to cut, because we're not raising any spending limits, period."</p> <p><em>Ryssdal:</em> <strong>I'm gonna try one more time, sir.</strong> This is debt that's already obligated. Would you not favor increasing the debt limit to pay the debts already incurred?</p> <p><em>Carson:</em> What I'm saying is what we have to do is restructure the way that we create debt. I mean if we continue along this, where does it stop? It never stops. You're always gonna ask the same question every year. And we're just gonna keep going down that pathway. That's one of the things I think that the people are tired of.</p> <p><em>Ryssdal:</em> <strong>I'm really trying not to be circular here, Dr. Carson, but if you're not gonna raise the debt limit and you're not gonna give specifics on what you're gonna cut,</strong> then how are we going to know what you are going to do as president of the United States?</p> </blockquote> <p>It sure <em>sounds</em> as if Carson doesn't know what the debt limit is, doesn't it? Kai Ryssdal tries manfully to get a straight answer out of him, and after the fourth try Carson rambles into a long disquisition on the infinite-time-horizon fiscal gap, at which point Ryssdal finally gives up. I guess I don't blame him.</p> <p>On the other hand, I'll give Carson credit for something Ryssdal doesn't: telling him what he'd cut in order to balance the budget. Carson is pretty clear about this: he would cut the government across the board by 3-4 percent via the simple expedient of keeping spending flat for everything. In real terms, this gets you to Carson's 3-4 percent decrease. He says he'd do this for three or four years, and boom! Balanced budget.</p> <p>Ryssdal badgers Carson about this, but doesn't ask the obvious follow-ups: You'd cut Social Security 3-4 percent each year? Medicare? Defense? Veterans? If the answer is no&mdash;as it probably would be&mdash;<em>then</em> you ask Carson how he's going to balance the budget with just the stuff that's left over.</p> <p>In any case, it's pretty scary that a guy this ignorant of the basics of governance is doing so well in the Republican primary. Not surprising, maybe, but still scary.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 08 Oct 2015 00:35:36 +0000 Kevin Drum 286451 at Hillary Clinton Announces Opposition to TPP, But Her Reasons Are Pretty Weak <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Hillary Clinton, who was once a fan of the TPP trade deal, announced today that she's now opposed to it. That's fine. But her reasons seem <a href="" target="_blank">less than compelling:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>In her statement, Clinton said she is "continuing to learn about the details of the new Trans-Pacific Partnership, including looking hard at what&rsquo;s in there to crack down on currency manipulation, which kills American jobs, and to make sure we&rsquo;re not putting the interests of drug companies ahead of patients and consumers."</p> <p>She had said months ago that the currency provision would be a key test for her.</p> </blockquote> <p>The pharmaceutical provisions are indeed a point of considerable controversy, but the final draft of the agreement <em>weakens</em> them compared to what the US was asking for back when Hillary was involved. As for currency manipulation, TPP doesn't address that at all.</p> <p>So one provision she mentions has been improved, and the other does no harm because it's not addressed. If the deal looked OK a year ago, it should still look OK today. Likewise, if it looks bad today, it should have looked bad a year ago. So what really changed? Bernie Sanders, most likely. Just as the Republican side of things has been buffeted by the Trump Effect, the Democratic race has been been influenced by the Bernie Effect&mdash;which is just what he wanted, since I don't think he entered the race because he truly believed he had a chance to become president. He just wanted to move the conversation to the left, and he's succeeded at that.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 07 Oct 2015 22:12:22 +0000 Kevin Drum 286431 at New Dietary Guidelines Won't Include Sustainability <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>When the USDA's Dietary Guidelines&nbsp;are released later this year, they're sure to make waves in the nation's food economy. Updated every five years, the rules&mdash;the government's official line on what Americans should eat to stay healthy&mdash;inform decisions on everything from agricultural subsidies to government food assistance programs to school lunch.</p> <p>But there's one thing the new guidelines won't touch: the health of our environment.</p> <p>In a <a href="" target="_blank">statement</a> posted Tuesday on the USDA website, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwel announced that the guidelines will not include recommendations about how to choose foods with the lightest impact on the planet.&nbsp;The dietary guidelines, they wrote, are not "the appropriate vehicle for this important policy conversation."</p> <p>The decision came despite the fact that in its February <a href="" target="_blank">report</a>, the <a href="" target="_blank">Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee</a>&mdash;the team that reviews scientific and medical evidence and offers advise on what should be included&mdash;highlighted the ties between environmental impact and healthy eating. "Access to sufficient, nutritious, and safe food is an essential element of food security for the US," the report stated. "A sustainable diet ensures this access for both the current population and future generations."</p> <p>As my colleague Maddie Oatman <a href="" target="_blank">noted</a> when the committee released its recommendations, those ideas didn't go over well with Big Ag backers. Industry groups sent <a href="" style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); text-decoration: none; border-bottom-width: 1px; border-bottom-style: dotted; border-bottom-color: rgb(0, 0, 0);" target="_blank">letters </a>to Secretary Vilsack arguing that environmental impact is outside the scope of the Dietary Guidelines and spent millions of dollars trying to dissuade the USDA from including sustainability in its update.</p> <p>Director of the Earth Institute <span class="xn-person" itemscope="" itemtype=""><span itemprop="name">Jeffrey Sachs, who is </span></span><span>a Special Advisor to UN Secretary-General <span class="xn-person" itemscope="" itemtype=""><span itemprop="name">Ban </span></span><span class="xn-person" itemscope="" itemtype=""><span itemprop="name">Ki</span></span>-moon, <a href="" target="_blank">called </a></span>Tuesday's announcement a "shameful abnegation of political responsibility," after heralding <span>the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee report as a key breakthrough. </span></p> <p><span>"For US government officials to suggest that this chapter should be deleted would be to argue for deleting science itself; a shameful abnegation of political responsibility in the face of lobbying pressure," he said</span> in a <a href="" target="_blank">press release</a><span>. "Secretaries Burwell and Vilsack will be remembered for whether they stand up for science or for corporate lobbies."</span></p></body></html> Blue Marble Health Wed, 07 Oct 2015 20:36:18 +0000 Gabrielle Canon 286356 at People Magazine Just Made an Unprecedented Push for Gun Control Solutions <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><em>People </em>magazine, one of the country's largest publications, with a circulation of more than <a href="" target="_blank">3.5 million readers</a>, just threw its weight behind the push for increased gun control by publishing contacts for every member of Congress, and urging their readers to lobby for action.</p> <p>In an editorial on Wednesday, the magazine's editorial director Jess&nbsp;Cagle explained the unprecedented decision to enter the gun debate after the latest <a href="" target="_blank">mass shooting</a> at a community college in Oregon.</p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><a href="" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/threats_0_0_0.png"></a> <div class="caption"><a href="" target="_blank"><strong>The early warning signs that could stop the next shooting rampage </strong></a></div> </div> <blockquote> <p>As President Obama said, our responses to these incidents&mdash;from politicians, from the media, from nearly everyone&mdash;have become "routine." We all ask ourselves the same questions: How could it happen again? What are we doing about gun violence in America? There are no easy answers, of course. Some argue for stricter gun laws, others say we should focus on mental health issues, some point to a culture that celebrates violence.</p> <p>But this much we know: As a country we clearly aren't doing enough, and our elected officials' conversations about solutions usually end in political spin.</p> <p>In this issue we pay tribute to the nine Oregon victims, as well as 22 other men, women and children who've lost their lives in mass shootings&mdash;incidents where a murderer has opened fire on a crowd&mdash;in the U.S. during the past 12 months.</p> </blockquote> <p>The move by <em>People</em> is remarkable considering the magazine&mdash;a staple at every newsstand and doctor's office in America&mdash;is traditionally associated with <a href="" target="_blank">celebrity gossip</a> and general <a href=",,20785838,00.html" target="_blank">human interest </a>stories that carry little risk of being offensive or overtly political, meaning its message could reach many more Americans outside the DC echo chamber, in which action on gun violence has completely stalled.</p> <p>Read <em>People</em>'s <a href="" target="_blank">entire announcement here.</a></p></body></html> Mixed Media Guns Media Wed, 07 Oct 2015 19:58:18 +0000 Inae Oh 286371 at Microsoft Announced Some Stuff Yesterday <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Yesterday really highlighted the difference between Apple PR and Microsoft PR. Last month, I started hearing about Apple's big product announcement at least a week before it happened. By the time Der Tag rolled around I had read at least a dozen previews, and on the day itself practically everyone was not just reporting on it, but liveblogging it, tweeting it, Instagramming it, and just generally going bananas. And that was for an announcement that turned out to be fairly unexciting.</p> <p>On Tuesday, Microsoft put on its big product announcement show. I had no idea it was on the calendar. I hadn't read a word about it beforehand. On the day itself, my Twitter feed was silent. The front pages of newspapers were busy with other <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_surface_pro_4.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">things. And that's despite the fact that Microsoft was actually introducing some fairly cool stuff.</p> <p>(Note: this is not meant as an Apple vs. Windows fight. If you think nothing related to Windows could ever be cool, that's fine.)</p> <p>But it also highlighted how far from the mainstream my tastes seem to be. One of Microsoft's announcements, for example, was a new notebook with a detachable screen that can be used as a tablet. Ho hum. There are dozens of those around. Except for one thing: this notebook screen has 267 ppi resolution, which means you can actually use it as a tablet without your eyes going cockeyed. But that got hardly any attention at all. Why? Am I the only one who's been waiting for a genuinely high-res Windows tablet? And even if I am, why else would anyone even care about this new laptop? It's expensive and otherwise not especially noteworthy.</p> <p>Ditto for the new Surface Pro 4. It's slightly bigger and a bit lighter than the old Surface Pro, and it sports faster processors. That's all fine, though nothing to shout about. But! Its screen is super high-res, just like the notebook. I've been pining away for this for years. I want one. And I have a birthday coming up.</p> <p>So that's question #1: Does the rest of the world think that 200 ppi is basically fine? I mean, it <em>is</em> fine, in a way. I use a 200 ppi tablet all the time, and it's OK. But it's not great. Surely this deserves more attention, especially since Retina displays have been a selling point on iPads for a long time.</p> <p>Question #2: Still no GPS? Come on. What would it take, a ten-dollar chip plus an antenna? On a tablet that costs a thousand bucks, you'd think Microsoft could spring for this. But maybe no one cares. Am I the only person who thinks it's sometimes useful to use a big tablet rather than a tiny phone to display maps? Unfortunately, I can rarely do that because you need GPS for it to work. (Or, alternatively, some way to tap into my phone's GPS, the same way I tap into its internet connection via WiFi.)</p> <p>And now for Question #3. Let's let <em>Slate's</em> Will Oremus <a href="" target="_blank">set the stage:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The Surface Pro 4 nominally starts at $899, but that&rsquo;s without a keyboard, or the fast processor, or any of the other goodies that make the Surface a viable PC. Realistically, it&rsquo;s going to run you well over $1,000 and will top $1,500 fully loaded. So, yes, it had <em>better</em> replace your PC.</p> </blockquote> <p>What's the deal with the continuing obsession over fast processors? I've been using Windows tablets with crappy Atom processors for a couple of years, and never had any complaints. I could easily use any of them as my primary desktop machine. The lowest-end processor on the Surface 4 is quite a bit faster than an Atom SOC, so why all the angst over needing something even better?</p> <p>Obviously there are exceptions. If you're doing software builds or heavy-duty video editing or high-end gaming, you'll want lots of memory and the fastest processor you can get. But you're probably not going to do any of those things on a tablet anyway, no matter how good it is. For all the ordinary stuff we white-collar worker types do&mdash;spreadsheets, word processing, email, web browsing, etc.&mdash;just about any modern processor will work fine. Why sweat it?</p> <p>(More generally,&nbsp;Oremus is right about the price, though. You'll need a keyboard and a docking station if you plan to use a tablet as your primary machine. That will push the Surface Pro 4 up to $1,200 or so even at the low end.)</p> <p>And what the hell, as long as I'm on the subject, here's Question #4: why are Macs so popular among journalists? Back in the day, Macs had real advantages in display graphics, which led to the development of lots of image editing and page makeup software for Macs. That made them very popular with graphic artists. But writers? Word processing is word processing. A cheap notebook does it as well as an expensive one. So why did journalists migrate to Macs in such numbers? Anyone have any idea?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 07 Oct 2015 19:53:54 +0000 Kevin Drum 286376 at Quote of the Day: You'd Have to Be Nuts to Want a Leadership Role in the Republican Party <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>We all know that John Boehner quit the speakership because he was finally fed up trying to deal with the lunatics in his own party. But how about some of the tea party darlings, like Trey Gowdy or Paul Ryan? <a href="" target="_blank">Apparently they feel about the same:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>[Gowdy] insists he&rsquo;s not interested in joining leadership, not in any capacity. He is funny, and biting, about the chaos of the present House.</p> <p><strong>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t have a background in mental health, so I wouldn&rsquo;t have the right qualifications to lead right now,&rdquo;</strong> he says. Who wants you to be in leadership? &ldquo;No friend does,&rdquo; he says.</p> <p>....&ldquo;To me, just speaking as one member, the smartest kid in the class is Paul Ryan,&rdquo; Gowdy said. &ldquo;If I had one draft choice and I was starting a new country, I would draft Paul to run it. Not because I agree with him on everything, but because <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_squirrel_2015_10_07.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">he&rsquo;s super, super smart. <strong>And when someone is super, super smart and is not interested, that tells you something. It tells me a lot.</strong>&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>By coincidence, this is sort of related to the conservative fantasy I talked about in the <a href="" target="_blank">previous post.</a> Folks like Gowdy and Ryan are smart enough to see it too, even though they're both stone conservatives themselves. A leadership role wouldn't give them the power to actually implement the conservative agenda, but too many conservatives these days don't care. They're living the fantasy that if only their leaders fought hard enough, they could win. So when they don't win, it must mean that they didn't fight very hard. Right now, there's just no way to puncture that fantasy.</p> <p>And why the squirrel illustration? Nothing to do with Gowdy or Ryan or the tea party or conservatives being squirrely or nuts. Honest! This is just our household squirrel, who was outside feeding his face a few minutes ago. So I went out and took his picture. And speaking of squirrels, here's an interesting squirrel factlet: if you Google "squirrel saying," 7 of the top 20 hits are about the difficulties that German speakers have saying "squirrel."</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 07 Oct 2015 18:36:04 +0000 Kevin Drum 286366 at How Our Constitution Indulges the Great Conservative Fantasy <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">A few days ago</a> Matt Yglesisas wrote a #Slatepitch piece arguing that Hillary Clinton "is clearly more comfortable than the average person with violating norms and operating in legal gray areas"&mdash;and that's a <em>good</em> thing. In a nutshell, Democrats can't get anything done through Congress, so they need someone willing to do whatever it takes to get things done some other way. And that's Hillary. "More than almost anyone else around, she knows where the levers of power <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_hillary_tough.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 24px 0px 15px 30px;">lie, and she is comfortable pulling them, procedural niceties be damned."</p> <p>Unsurprisingly, conservatives were shocked. Shocked! Liberals are fine with tyranny! Today Matt responded <a href="" target="_blank">in one of his periodic newsletters:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>A system of government based on the idea of compromises between two independently elected bodies will only work if the leaders of both bodies want to compromise. Congressional Republicans have rejected any form of compromise, so an effective Democratic president is going to try to govern through executive unilateralism. I don't think this is a positive development, but it's the <em>only possible</em> development.</p> </blockquote> <p>I don't think I'm as pessimistic as Yglesias, but put that aside for a moment. Look at this from a conservative point of view. They want things to move in a conservative direction. But compromise doesn't do that. In practice, it always seems to move things in a more liberal direction, with a few conservative sops thrown in that eventually wither away and die. This leaves them with little choice except increasingly hard-nosed obstructionism: government shutdowns, debt ceiling fights, filibusters for everything, voter ID laws, etc. etc.</p> <p>And there's a lot of truth to this to this view. The entire Western world has been moving inexorably in a liberal direction for a couple of centuries. It's a tide that can't be turned back with half measures. Conservative parties in the rest of the world have mostly made their peace with this, and settle for simply slowing things down. American conservatives actually want to <em>reverse</em> the tide.</p> <p>That's all but impossible in the long term. It's just not the way the arc of history is moving right now. But American conservatives are bound and determined to do it anyway.</p> <p>This is the fundamental problem. British conservatives, in theory, could turn back the clock if they wanted to, but they don't. Their parliamentary system allows them to do it, but public opinion doesn't&mdash;which means that if they want to retain power, there's a limit to how far they can fight the tide. If American conservatives were in the same situation, they'd probably end up in the same place. Once they actually got the power to change things, they'd very quickly moderate their agenda.</p> <p>It's in this sense that our system of governance really is at fault for our current gridlock. Not <em>directly</em> because of veto points or our presidential system or any of that, but because these features of our political system allow conservatives to live in a fantasy world. They dream of what they could do if only they had the political power to do it, and they really believe they'd do it all if they got the chance. Thanks to all those veto points, however, they never get the chance. Full control of the government would disabuse everyone very quickly of just how far they're really willing to go, but it never happens.</p> <p>We are living through an era in which conservatives are living a fantasy that can never be. But our system of governance denies them the chance to test that fantasy. So it continues forever. It will stop eventually, either because conservatives somehow <em>do</em> gain total political power and are forced to face up to its limits, or because it burns itself out through continual head banging that gets them nowhere combined with demographic changes that decimate their base. Probably the latter. It's only a question of how long it takes.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 07 Oct 2015 17:52:27 +0000 Kevin Drum 286361 at Let's Experiment With the Minimum Wage and EITC <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_state_eitc.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">When you add up the minimum wage and the Earned Income Tax Credit, Brad DeLong thinks <a href="" target="_blank">it should add up to a living wage:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Of course, minimum-wage advocates are fearful of the following: We say raise the minimum wage, they say increase the earned income tax credit instead. We say increase the earned income tax credit, they say it is more important to reduce the deficit. We say fund the earned income tax credit by raising taxes, they say lower taxes promote entrepreneurship. We say cut defense spending, they say ISIS and Iran. The shift of attention to the earned income tax credit is then seen as&mdash;which it often is&mdash;part of the game of political Three Card Monte to avoid doing anything while not admitting you are opposed to doing anything.</p> <p>That is all very true.</p> <p>So raise the minimum wage, and then bargain back to a lower minimum wage and a higher income tax credit if it turns out that there are significant disemployment affects.</p> </blockquote> <p>Well, yes, that would be fine except that the same people who refuse to increase the EITC are the same ones who refuse to raise the minimum wage. We're no more likely to get a $15 (or $12 or $13 or $14) minimum wage than we are to get a more generous EITC. Ditto for wage subsidies, which are popular in some conservative circles. The excuses may vary depending on the circumstances, but they will always add up to No.</p> <p>Perhaps a better bet is to focus on the state level. <a href="" target="_blank">Plenty of states</a> have an EITC that piggybacks on the federal EITC, and that means there are plenty of laboratories of democracy where we could try different combinations of EITC and minimum wage to see what works best. Who knows? Maybe a few states could even be talked into trying out wage subsidies.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 07 Oct 2015 16:16:24 +0000 Kevin Drum 286336 at Folks in West Virginia Aren't Getting Enough Sleep <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">Over at Wonkblog,</a> Christopher Ingraham passes along the results of a new study about where people sleep the best and the worst. It turns out I'm in pretty good shape: Orange County reports generally excellent sleep. But if you live in the Insomnia Belt, stretching down the Appalachians from West Virginia into eastern Texas, you may be in trouble. Why? Apparently no one knows. But it might explain why they're so cranky these days.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_sleep_map.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 5px 6px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 07 Oct 2015 15:32:20 +0000 Kevin Drum 286326 at