Blogs | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/Blogs/2012/10/study-stupid-photos-adorable-cats-actually-improve-productivity/TheBlueMarble%20%28Mother%20Jones%20%7C%20The%20Blue%20Marble%29 http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en No, the Culture Wars Haven't Heated Up. It Just Seems Like They Have. http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/11/no-culture-wars-havent-heated-it-just-seems-they-have <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Andrew Sullivan cogitates today on the seemingly endless outpouring of outrage over <a href="http://dish.andrewsullivan.com/2014/11/20/quote-for-the-day-433/" target="_blank">relatively small lapses in decent behavior:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>I wonder also if our digital life hasn&rsquo;t made all this far worse. <strong>When you sit in a room with a laptop and write about other people and their flaws, and you don&rsquo;t have to look them in the eyes, you lose all incentive for manners.</strong></p> <p>You want to make a point. You may be full to the brim with righteous indignation or shock or anger. It is only human nature to flame at abstractions, just as the awkwardness of physical interaction is one of the few things constraining our rhetorical excess. When you combine this easy anonymity with the <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/images/blog_outrageous.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">mass impulses of a Twitterstorm, and you can see why manners have evaporated and civil conversations turned into culture war.</p> <p>I&rsquo;m as guilty of this as many....</p> </blockquote> <p>Why yes! Yes you are, Andrew.</p> <p>On a more serious note, I actually disagree with his diagnosis of the problem, which has become so common as to be nearly conventional wisdom these days. Here's why: I have not, personally, ever noticed that human beings tend to rein in their worst impulses when they're face to face with other human beings. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. Most often, they don't. Arguments with real people end up with red faces and lots of shouting constantly. I just flatly don't believe that the real problem with internet discourse is the fact that you're not usually directly addressing the object of your scorn.<sup>1</sup></p> <p>So what <em>is</em> the problem? I think it's mostly one of visibility. In the past, the kinds of lapses that provoke internet pile-ons mostly stayed local. There just wasn't a mechanism for the wider world to find out about them, so most of us never even heard about them. It became a big deal within the confines of a town or a university campus or whatnot, but that was it.</p> <p>Occasionally, these things broke out, and the wider world did find out about them. But even then, there was a limit to how the world could respond. You could organize a protest, but that's a lot of work. You could go to a city council meeting and complain. You could write a letter to the editor. But given the limitations of technology, it was fairly rare for something to break out and become a true feeding frenzy.</p> <p>Needless to say, that's no longer the case. In fact, we have just the opposite problem: things can become feeding frenzies even if no one really wants them to be. That's because they can go viral with no central organization at all. Each individual who tweets or blogs or Facebooks their outrage thinks of this as a purely personal response. Just a quick way to kill a few idle minutes. But put them all together, and you have tens of thousands of people simultaneously responding in a way that <em>seems</em> like a huge pile-on. And that in turn triggers the more mainstream media to cover these things as if they were genuinely big deals.</p> <p>The funny thing is that in a lot of cases, they aren't. If, say, 10,000 people are outraged over Shirtgate, <em>that's nothing</em>. Seriously. Given the ubiquity of modern social media, 10,000 people getting mad about something is actually a sign that almost nobody cares.</p> <p>The problem is that our lizard brains haven't caught up to this. We still think that 10,000 outraged people is a lot, and 30 or 40 years ago it would have been. What's more, it almost certainly would have represented a far greater number of people who actually cared. Today, though, it's so easy to express outrage that 10,000 people is a pretty small number&mdash;and most likely represents nearly everyone who actually gives a damn.</p> <p>We need to recalibrate our cultural baselines for the social media era. People can respond so quickly and easily to minor events that the resulting feeding frenzies can seem far more important than anyone ever intended them to be. A snarky/nasty tweet, after all, is the work of a few seconds. A few thousand of them represent a grand total of a few hours work. The end result may seem like an unbelievable avalanche of contempt and derision to the target of the attack, but in real terms, it represents virtually nothing.</p> <p>The culture wars are not nastier because people on the internet don't have to face their adversaries. They're nastier because even minor blowups <em>seem</em> huge. But that's just Econ 101. When the cost of expressing outrage goes down, the amount of outrage expressed goes up. That doesn't mean there's more outrage. It just means outrage is a lot more visible than it used to be.</p> <p><sup>1</sup>I'll concede that this is potentially a problem with a very specific subset of professional troll. Even there, however, I'd note that the real world has plenty of rough equivalents, from Code Pink to the Westboro Baptist Church lunatics.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tech Thu, 20 Nov 2014 19:15:18 +0000 Kevin Drum 265196 at http://www.motherjones.com This News Anchor Wore the Same Suit for an Entire Year and No One Noticed http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/11/news-anchor-same-suit-year <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Would you notice if your favorite newscaster wore the same outfit day after day for a whole calendar year? Based on an <a href="http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/tv-and-radio/karl-stefanovics-sexism-experiment-today-presenter-wears-same-suit-for-a-year-20141115-11ncdz.html" target="_blank">experiment</a> conducted by Karl Stefanovic of Australia's <em>Today</em> program, the answer largely depends on whether the subject is a man or a woman.</p> <p>Stefanovic recently revealed he had been doing just this, sporting the same blue suit for&nbsp;nearly every morning newscast for a year. But as he told his female co-anchors over the weekend, the stunt went virtually unnoticed.&nbsp;</p> <p>"I've worn the same suit on air for a year, except for a couple of times because of circumstance, to make a point," Stefanovic said. "I'm judged on my interviews, my appalling sense of humor &ndash;&nbsp;on how I do my job, basically. Whereas women are quite often judged on what they're wearing or how their hair is."&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 24px; ">Stefanovic's point is a well-documented problem. From the very lack of women represented in&nbsp;</span><a href="http://www.theguardian.com/media/2012/nov/27/women-fighting-sexism-media-page-3" style="line-height: 24px; " target="_blank">journalism</a><span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 24px; ">&nbsp;to blatantly sexist coverage of&nbsp;</span><a href="http://thinkprogress.org/election/2014/06/18/3450175/how-to-interview-a-female-candidate-without-being-sexist/" style="line-height: 24px; " target="_blank">female politicians</a><span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 24px; ">, we're plagued with countless examples of sexist scrutiny playing out in the media.&nbsp;</span>This<span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 24px; ">&nbsp;experiment is yet another&nbsp;clear instance of such.</span></p> <p><span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 24px; ">"No one has noticed; no one gives a shit. But women, they wear the wrong color and they get pulled up. They say the wrong thing and there's thousands of tweets written about them."</span></p> <p>Stefanovic&nbsp;goes on to explain the experiment started as a show of solidarity with co-anchor Lisa Wilkinson, who says she is routinely criticized for her fashion choices by viewers.&nbsp;</p> <p>Watch below:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/1h_wHRJ4o6g" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> Mixed Media Video Sex and Gender Thu, 20 Nov 2014 17:53:40 +0000 Inae Oh 265166 at http://www.motherjones.com We Just Had the Hottest October on Record http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/11/october-warmest-ever-map-noaa <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="october map" class="image" src="/files/october-map-630.jpg"><div class="caption">NOAA</div> </div> <p><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/11/buffalo-ny-wall-of-snow-lake-effect" target="_blank">It's cold outside</a>, which means it'll soon be time for the <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/01/climate-temperature-records-leon-cold" target="_blank">annual rousing chorus of climate change denial</a> from people who think snow means global warming is fake.</p> <p>Good thing NOAA is here to help. Today the agency released two new maps illustrating that even if you're cold right now, the planet is still getting hotter. In fact, 2014 is on track to be the warmest year on record.</p> <p>The map above shows where global temperatures for the month of October stood relative to the 20th century average. Overall, this was the warmest October since record-keeping began in 1880.</p> <p>And it's not just October that was remarkably warm. The entire year so far, since January, has also been the warmest on record&mdash;a good 1.22 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average. If the trend persists, 2014 will <a href="http://www.climatecentral.org/gallery/graphics/10-warmest-years-globally" target="_blank">beat out 2010</a> as the hottest year on record:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="year map" class="image" src="/files/year-map-630.jpg"><div class="caption">NOAA</div> </div></body></html> Blue Marble Maps Climate Change Climate Desk Science Thu, 20 Nov 2014 17:29:20 +0000 Tim McDonnell 265171 at http://www.motherjones.com A Follow-Up: Why the Working and Middle Classes Don't Like Obamacare Much http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/11/follow-why-working-and-middle-classes-dont-obamacare-much <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Here's an interesting chart that follows up on <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/11/can-we-talk-heres-why-white-working-class-hates-democrats" target="_blank">a post I wrote a few days ago</a> about Democrats and the white working class. Basically, I made the point that Democrats have recently done a lot for the poor but very little for the working and middle classes, and this is one of the reasons that the white working class is increasingly alienated from the Democratic Party.</p> <p>I got various kinds of pushback on this, but one particular train of criticism suggested that I was overestimating just how targeted Democratic programs were. Sure, they help the poor, but they also help the working class a fair amount, and sometimes even the lower reaches of the middle class. However, while there's some truth to this for certain programs (unemployment insurance, SSI disability), the numbers I've seen in the past don't really back this up for most social welfare programs.</p> <p>Obamacare seems like an exception, since its subsidies quite clearly reach upward to families in the working and middle classes. Today, however, <a href="http://theincidentaleconomist.com/wordpress/the-aca-is-working-so-why-is-the-opposition-to-it-so-strong-and-persistent/" target="_blank">Bill Gardner</a> points me to <a href="http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/research/files/papers/2014/01/potential%20effects%20affordable%20care%20act%20income%20inequality%20aaron%20burtless/potential%20effects%20affordable%20care%20act%20income%20inequality%20aaron%20burtless.pdf" target="_blank">a Brookings paper from a few months ago</a> that suggests just the <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_obamacare_winners_losers_0.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">opposite. The authors calculate net gains and losses from Obamacare, and conclude that nearly all its benefits flow to the poor. If I interpolate their chart a bit, winners are those with household incomes below $25,000 or so, and losers are those with incomes above $25,000.</p> <p>The authors are clear that their estimates are not definitive, thanks to difficulties in performing some of the calculations. And obviously they're just averages. Quite plainly, there are some families with higher incomes that benefit from Obamacare.</p> <p>Still, there are fewer than you think&mdash;partly because the subsidies decline at higher incomes and partly because people with higher incomes already have employer insurance and don't need Obamacare. That said, I don't want to make too much of this single chart, especially given the measurement difficulties it presents. But I do think it's illustrative. If you think of Obamacare as something that benefits the working and middle classes, you're probably wrong. It may benefit a few of them, but overall it's a cost to them&mdash;or, under more generous assumptions, perhaps a wash.</p> <p>Obviously there's more to this, and Gardner discusses some of the other electoral implications of Obamacare in his post. It's worth a read. But the bottom line is simple: like most of the social welfare programs championed by Democrats, Obamacare is primarily aimed at the poor. Once again, the working and middle classes are left on the outside looking in.</p> <p><strong>POSTSCRIPT:</strong> I'm sure many people will point out that middle class folks benefit from Obamacare in other ways. If they lose their jobs, for example, they can stay insured even if they have a preexisting condition. That's a benefit! However, as Gardner points out, an awful lot of middle-class voters don't know about these kinds of benefits, so it doesn't register with them. Basically, they take a look at who's getting the cash, and for the most part, it's not them.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Economy Health Care Thu, 20 Nov 2014 16:51:13 +0000 Kevin Drum 265181 at http://www.motherjones.com Al Franken Questions Uber Over Privacy http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/11/al-franken-uber-travis-kalanick <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Minnesota Sen. <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/11/al-franken-minnesota-senate-model-progressive-campaign" target="_blank">Al Franken</a> has taken a keen interest in tech policy since coming to Congress. As chairman of a Senate subcommittee that focuses on privacy, technology, and the law, Franken has been one of the more <a href="http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2014/11/16/3592811/al-franken-ted-cruz-wrong-net-neutrality/" target="_blank">vocal advocates</a> for net neutrality, <a href="http://thehill.com/policy/technology/203431-franken-blasts-comcast-merger" target="_blank">fought against</a> a proposed merger between Comcast and Time Warner, and <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-switch/wp/2013/09/20/al-franken-is-worried-the-new-iphone-fingerprint-scanner-might-be-a-privacy-menace/" target="_blank">wondered about the privacy implications</a> of fingerprint scanners on iPhones.</p> <p>Now Franken has set his sights on Uber, an on-demand car service that uses smartphone technology to match passengers who need rides with available drivers. On Wednesday, Franken <a href="https://www.franken.senate.gov/?p=press_release&amp;id=2986" target="_blank">wrote a letter</a> to Uber CEO Travis Kalanick posing a series of questions about how the company handles its users' information and how it plans to treat journalists.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/mojo/2014/11/al-franken-uber-travis-kalanick"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> MoJo Congress Tech Top Stories Thu, 20 Nov 2014 16:46:14 +0000 Patrick Caldwell 265151 at http://www.motherjones.com Jim Webb Wanted to Punch George W. Bush. Now He Wants His Old Job. http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/11/jim-webb-hillary-clinton-exploratory-committee <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Jim Webb is running for president. The former secretary of the Navy and Virginia senator launched a presidential exploratory committee on Thursday, becoming the first Democrat to formally dip his toe in the 2016 waters. Webb explained his candidacy <a href="http://webb2016.com/" target="_blank">in a video</a> that looks like it was filmed by the people who make commercials for personal-injury attorneys:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="473" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/oV3RnBaXIlk" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>A Republican for most of his life, Webb endeared himself to Democrats when he switched parties and beat incumbent GOP <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/05/george-allen-macaca-gop-comeback" target="_blank">Sen. George Allen</a> in 2006 by just a few thousand votes. Webb ran that campaign on an <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2006/09/jim-webbs-2002-op-ed-against-invading-iraq" target="_blank">anti-Iraq War message</a>, touting his own experience in Vietnam, but may have been pushed across the finish line by Allen, who called a Democratic volunteer "Macaca" (an obscure North African racial slur) at a campaign event.</p> <p>As a senator he was a bit of an iconoclast, defined mostly by his disdain for Washington (something most senators espouse but rarely act on). His first meeting with President George W. Bush ended with the senator walking away furiously, <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/11/28/AR2006112801582.html" target="_blank">reportedly</a> on the verge of throwing a punch, after Dubya asked Webb about his son serving in Iraq. He sought to carve out a niche for himself by working for criminal justice reform, but left office before any political momentum developed on the issue. And then he left, after one term, leaving Democrats to defend a purple seat against Allen. His most impressive resume item may be his <a href="http://projects.militarytimes.com/citations-medals-awards/recipient.php?recipientid=4226" target="_blank">Navy Cross citation</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>On 10 July 1969, while participating in a company-sized search and destroy operation deep in hostile territory, First Lieutenant Webb's platoon discovered a well-camouflaged bunker complex which appeared to be unoccupied. Deploying his men into defensive positions, First Lieutenant Webb was advancing to the first bunker when three enemy soldiers armed with hand grenades jumped out. Reacting instantly, he grabbed the closest man and, brandishing his .45 caliber pistol at the others, apprehended all three of the soldiers. Accompanied by one of his men, he then approached the second bunker and called for the enemy to surrender. When the hostile soldiers failed to answer him and threw a grenade which detonated dangerously close to him, First Lieutenant Webb detonated a claymore mine in the bunker aperture, accounting for two enemy casualties and disclosing the entrance to a tunnel. Despite the smoke and debris from the explosion and the possibility of enemy soldiers hiding in the tunnel, he then conducted a thorough search which yielded several items of equipment and numerous documents containing valuable intelligence data. Continuing the assault, he approached a third bunker and was preparing to fire into it when the enemy threw another grenade. Observing the grenade land dangerously close to his companion, First Lieutenant Webb simultaneously fired his weapon at the enemy, pushed the Marine away from the grenade, and shielded him from the explosion with his own body. Although sustaining painful fragmentation wounds from the explosion, he managed to throw a grenade into the aperture and completely destroy the remaining bunker.</p> </blockquote> <p>Webb has at least a few bumps to smooth over, though. He <a href="http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0608/10994.html" target="_blank">defended</a> the Confederate flag and "the venerable Robert E. Lee" in his book <em>Born Fighting</em>, about the Scots-Irish, and in 1979, he wrote an essay for <em>Washingtonian </em>titled "Why Women Can't Fight"&mdash;a spirited case against admitting women into service academies. As a senator from a major coal-producing state, he opposed proposals to combat climate change. And only last month expressed his <a href="http://www.timesdispatch.com/news/state-regional/virginia-politics/webb-on-meet-the-press-discusses-same-sex-marriage-foreign/article_645387e4-eab5-5250-af39-ca4a9e8470c3.html" target="_blank">support</a> for same-sex marriage. Beating an entrenched Republican in Virginia as a centrist in 2006 is one thing&mdash;but winning a Democratic presidential nomination requires winning Democratic primary voters.</p></body></html> MoJo Elections Top Stories Thu, 20 Nov 2014 16:44:54 +0000 Tim Murphy 265156 at http://www.motherjones.com Is Dianne Feinstein Crafting a Secret Water Deal to Help Big Pistachio? http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2014/11/feinstein-secret-water-deal-drought-california <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is negotiating a behind-closed-doors deal with Republican lawmakers to pass a bill that would ostensibly address California's drought&mdash;an effort that has uncorked a flood of criticism from environmental circles.</p> <p>Feinstein's quiet push for a compromise drought bill that's palatable to Big Ag-aligned House Republicans has been in the works for six months, Kate Poole, a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, told me. And it has accelerated recently, as the Senator hopes to pass it by year end, during the "lame duck" period of the outgoing Democratic-controlled Senate.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/tom-philpott/2014/11/feinstein-secret-water-deal-drought-california"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Tom Philpott Food and Ag Regulatory Affairs Top Stories Thu, 20 Nov 2014 11:00:07 +0000 Tom Philpott 265096 at http://www.motherjones.com Grandmothers Smoke Pot for First Time, Play Jenga, Are Perfect http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/11/grandmothers-smoke-pot-first-time-play-jenga-are-perfect <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Here is a video of three grandmothers in Washington smoking pot for the first time. It is wonderful.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/IRBAZJ4lF0U?rel=0" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>P.S. Smoking<a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/11/map-united-states-legal-marijuana-2014-2016" target="_blank"> pot is legal in the Evergreen state</a> so put your cuffs away.</p> <p><em><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/19/grandmas-smoke-pot_n_6188430.html" target="_blank">(via HuffPo)</a></em></p></body></html> Mixed Media Video Thu, 20 Nov 2014 00:23:47 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 265131 at http://www.motherjones.com Exclusive: Jay Leno Cancels Performance at Gun Lobby Trade Show Following Pressure from Newtown Group http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/11/jay-leno-newtown-gun-lobby-trade-show <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><em><strong>Update, 7:10 p.m. ET:</strong> Late Wednesday, Jay Leno said in a brief phone interview that he had called the National Shooting Sports Foundation to cancel his scheduled performance at the SHOT Show. He also said that he'd spoken with Po Murray of the Newtown Action Alliance to let her know. "I understand it's Newtown, and of course I get it," Leno told </em>Mother Jones<em>. "It's just sometimes, mistakes get made." (Read the original story below):</em></p> <p>Gun control advocates aren't laughing about Jay Leno's next move.</p> <p>On Tuesday, several gun violence-prevention groups called on the comedian to cancel his appearance at January's Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show (SHOT), an annual event put on by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which is based in Newtown, Connecticut. A <a href="http://csgv.org/action/tell-jay-leno-cancel-appearance-2015-shot-show/" target="_blank">petition</a> posted by the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence accuses Leno of "helping to legitimize a crass commercialism which values profit over human lives" by speaking to this group, which lobbied against the background checks bill in Congress following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. The drive is backed by the Campaign to Unload, which pushes for divestment from gun companies, and the Newtown Action Alliance, founded by residents of the Connecticut town who support gun-safety legislation. Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, which has <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/07/moms-demand-action-guns-madd-shannon-watts-nra" target="_blank">pushed corporate restaurants and retailers</a> to take a stand against open-carry activists in their stores, has also launched a social media <a href="http://momsdemandaction.org/ft/jokesonleno/" target="_blank">campaign</a> against Leno.</p> <p>"I'm not sure if Jay Leno has done his research and understands that NSSF is the corporate gun lobby and they spend a significant amount of money to lobby congressional leaders to not pass significant gun reform legislation," says Newtown Action Alliance chairman Po Murray, whose children previously attended Sandy Hook. "It's a disheartening as a Newtown resident to see him make this appearance at the SHOT Show. So we're urging him to cancel his appearance."</p> <p>Seats for the event, held at the Venetian hotel in Las Vegas, go for <a href="http://shotshow.org/state-industry-dinner/" target="_blank">$135 apiece</a>. Leno's publicist did not respond to a request for comment.</p></body></html> MoJo Guns Media Top Stories Wed, 19 Nov 2014 20:03:41 +0000 Tim Murphy 265046 at http://www.motherjones.com Watch a Wall of Snow Consume Buffalo, N.Y. http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/11/buffalo-ny-wall-of-snow-lake-effect <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Today it is <a href="http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2014/11/18/buffalo_snowstorm_70_inches_of_snow_as_winter_overpowers_america.html" target="_blank">literally freezing</a> in every state in America. But no where has been hit harder than Buffalo, New York, which yesterday got buried under 70 inches of snow. Yeah, seven-zero, as in nearly six feet. At least <a href="http://www.nbcnews.com/news/weather/snow-emergency-six-dead-100-trapped-monster-winter-storm-n251436" target="_blank">six people there have died</a>, and one hundred are still trapped.</p> <p>The video below, from Buffalo-based producer Joseph DeBenedictis, shows yesterday's apocalyptic storm sweeping across the city. The insane snowfall was brought on by something called the "lake effect," which could grow more severe with global warming&mdash;our friend Eric Holthaus at <em>Slate</em> <a href="http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2014/11/19/lake_effect_snow_in_buffalo_climate_change_is_making_snowstorms_more_extreme.html" target="_blank">has the details on that</a>.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/KA9XNRHxKbg" width="630"></iframe></p></body></html> Blue Marble Video Climate Change Climate Desk Wed, 19 Nov 2014 17:59:13 +0000 Tim McDonnell 265056 at http://www.motherjones.com It Turns Out That Ferguson Is Pretty Typical of America http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/11/it-turns-out-ferguson-pretty-typical-america <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_irvine_arrest_rate.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">The Ferguson police department famously arrests blacks at a rate three times higher than other races. A <em>USA Today</em> investigation shows <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/11/18/ferguson-black-arrest-rates/19043207/" target="_blank">just how commonplace that is:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>At least 1,581 other police departments across the USA arrest black people at rates even more skewed than in Ferguson, a <em>USA TODAY</em> analysis of arrest records shows. That includes departments in cities as large and diverse as Chicago and San Francisco and in the suburbs that encircle St. Louis, New York and Detroit.</p> <p>Those disparities are easier to measure than they are to explain. They could be a reflection of biased policing; they could just as easily be a byproduct of the vast economic and educational gaps that persist across much of the USA &mdash; factors closely tied to crime rates. In other words, experts said, the fact that such disparities exist does little to explain their causes.</p> </blockquote> <p>Curious to know how your city fares? <a href="http://www.gannett-cdn.com/experiments/usatoday/2014/11/arrests-interactive/" target="_blank">Click here</a> and check out various places in your state. My hometown, it turns out, beats out Ferguson easily, arresting blacks at a rate nearly four times higher than other races. The difference, of course, is that Irvine is only 1.7 percent black to begin with, so there's hardly anyone here to complain about it. That makes it easy to ignore, but that's about all it means.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Civil Liberties Crime and Justice Race and Ethnicity Wed, 19 Nov 2014 17:40:33 +0000 Kevin Drum 265051 at http://www.motherjones.com Voter ID Laws: Terrible Public Policy, But Probably Pretty Feeble http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/11/voter-id-laws-terrible-public-policy-probably-pretty-feeble <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Republican-led voter-ID laws may be pernicious, but Nate Cohn says there are three reasons to think their <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/20/upshot/why-voter-id-laws-dont-swing-many-elections.html" target="_blank">actual electoral impact is overstated:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>To begin with, <strong>the true number of registered voters without photo identification is usually much lower than the statistics on registered voters without identification suggest</strong>. The number of voters without photo identification is calculated by matching voter registration files with state ID databases. But perfect matching is impossible and the effect is to overestimate the number of voters without identification.</p> <p>....<strong>People without ID are less likely to vote than other registered voters.</strong> The North Carolina study found that 43 percent of the unmatched voters &mdash; registered voters who could not be matched with a driver&rsquo;s license &mdash; participated in 2012, compared with more than 70 percent of matched voters.</p> <p>....There&rsquo;s no question that voter ID has a disparate impact on Democratic-leaning groups....<strong>[But] voters without an identification might be breaking something more like 70/30 for Democrats than 95/5.</strong> A 70/30 margin is a big deal, and, again, it&rsquo;s fully consistent with Democratic concerns about voter suppression. But when we&rsquo;re down to the subset of unmatched voters who don&rsquo;t have any identification and still vote, a 70/30 margin probably isn&rsquo;t generating enough votes to decide anything but an extremely close election.</p> </blockquote> <p><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/07/voter-suppression-kevin-drum?page=2" target="_blank">When I looked into this a couple of years ago,</a> I basically came to the same conclusion. Only a few studies were available at the time, but they suggested that the real-world impact of voter ID laws was fairly small. I haven't seen anything since then to suggest otherwise.</p> <p>None of this justifies the cynical Republican effort to suppress voting via ID laws. For one thing, they still matter in close elections. For another, the simple fact that they deliberately target minority voters is noxious&mdash;and this is very much <em>not</em> ameliorated by the common Republican defense that the real reason they're targeted isn't race related. It's because they vote for Democrats. If anything, that makes it worse. Republicans are knowingly making it harder for blacks and Hispanics to vote <em>because they vote for the wrong people</em>. I'm not sure how much more noxious a voter suppression effort can be.</p> <p>These laws should be stricken from the books, lock, stock and extremely smoking barrel. They don't prevent voter fraud and they have no purpose except to suppress the votes of targeted groups. The evidence on this point is now clear enough that the Supreme Court should revisit its 2008 decision in <em>Crawford v. Marion</em> that upheld strict voter ID laws. They have no place in a decent society.</p> <p>At the same time, if you're wondering how much actual effect they have, the answer is probably not much. We still don't have any definitive academic studies on this point, I think, but Cohn makes a pretty good case. It's possible that Kay Hagan might have lost her Senate race this year thanks to voter ID laws, but she's probably the only one.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Elections Wed, 19 Nov 2014 16:47:37 +0000 Kevin Drum 265041 at http://www.motherjones.com Why Scott Walker Might Be Our Next President http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/11/why-scott-walker-might-be-our-next-president <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>In 2012, I basically considered Mitt Romney a shoo-in for the Republican nomination. I figured that he'd hoover up most of the moderate votes&mdash;and despite all the breathless press accounts, moderates still account for at least half of GOP voters&mdash;plus a share of the tea partiers, and that was that. The rest of the field would destroy each other as they fought over their own sliver of the tea party vote, eventually leaving Romney battered and unloved, but triumphant.</p> <p>Sure enough, that's what happened. But I don't see a strong moderate in the field right now. I suppose Jeb Bush and Chris Christie come the closest, but even if they run, they strike me as having some pretty serious problems. Romney was willing to adopt tea party positions across the board, even as he projected a moderate, adult persona, but neither Christie nor Bush will kowtow in quite that way. That's going to cause them problems, and Christie's fondness for showy confrontations is going to be an additional millstone around his neck. Either one might win, but neither seems like an especially likely nominee to me.</p> <p>All this is a long way of explaining why I think Scott Walker is the frontrunner. He has a record of governance. His persona is generally adult. He doesn't say crazy stuff. Relatively speaking, he's attractive to moderates. But at the same time, <a href="http://nypost.com/2014/11/18/a-walker-16-boom-he-looks-great-on-paper/" target="_blank">the tea partiers love him too.</a> The big strike against him, of course, is that he's lousy on TV. He's a terrible public speaker. And he's just boring as hell. However, Ed Kilgore perfectly explains why this <a href="http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/political-animal-a/2014_11/walker_16_death_by_vanilla052997.php" target="_blank">doesn't make him another Tim Pawlenty or John Kasich:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>This is why Walker is so very commonly compared to Tim Pawlenty in 2012; the Minnesotan was perfectly positioned to become the most-conservative-electable-candidate nominee in a large but shaky field. And he wound up being the first candidate to drop out, before a single vote (other than in the completely non-official Ames Straw Poll) was cast. His sin was congenital blandness, and the defining moment of his campaign was when he all but repudiated his one great zinger: referring to the Affordable Care Act as "Obamneycare."</p> <p>But TPaw's demise does point up one big difference between these two avatars of the Republican revival in the Upper Midwest: <strong>nobody suspects Scott Walker may be too nice for his party. He may be bland, and a bad orator, but his bad intent towards conservatism's enemies is unmistakable.</strong> He's sorta Death by Vanilla, or a great white shark; boring until he rips you apart. I think Republican elites get that, and it excites them. But how about voters?</p> </blockquote> <p>Mitt Romney managed to base nearly his entire campaign on hating Barack Obama more than anyone else. It worked. Whenever someone started to score some points against his sometimes liberalish record in Massachusetts, he'd just launch into an over-the-top denunciation of Obama and the crowd would go wild. Walker can do the same thing, but without the artifice. Unlike Romney, he really has been fighting liberals tooth and nail for the past four years, and he has the scars to prove it. This will go a long, long way to make up for a bit of blandness.</p> <p>Besides, it's worth remembering that people can improve on the basics of campaigning. Maybe Walker will turn out to be hopeless. You never know until the campaign really gets going. But if he's serious, he'll get some media training and start working on developing a better stump speech. A few months of this can do wonders.</p> <p>Predictions are hard, especially about the future. But if he runs, I rate Walker a favorite right now. If his only real drawback is Midwestern blandness&mdash;well, Mitt Romney wasn't Mr. Excitement either. Walker can get better if he puts in the work. And if he does, he'll have most of Romney's upside with very little of the downside. He could be formidable.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum 2016 Elections Top Stories Scott Walker Wed, 19 Nov 2014 15:38:49 +0000 Kevin Drum 265026 at http://www.motherjones.com CNN's Don Lemon Tells Woman Accusing Bill Cosby of Rape She Could Have Bitten Her Way to Safety http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/11/don-lemon-joan-tarshis-bill-cosby <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Following weeks of renewed rape allegations against comedian Bill Cosby, CNN host Don Lemon wanted Joan Tarshis, who has accused Cosby of sexual assault, to know she could have escaped the alleged 1969 <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/16/bill-cosby-rape-accuser_n_6168858.html" target="_blank">attack</a>, if she had used her <a href="http://mediamatters.org/video/2014/11/18/cnns-don-lemon-to-cosby-rape-accuser-you-know-t/201625" target="_blank">teeth as a weapon</a> during oral sex.</p> <p>Lemon, insisting he was not trying to be "crude," suggested this tactic while interviewing Tarshis on <em>CNN Tonight</em>:</p> <blockquote> <p class="rteindent1">Lemon: You know, there are way not to perform oral sex if you didn't want to do it.</p> <p class="rteindent1">Tarshis: Oh, I was kind of stoned at the time, and quite honestly, that didn't even enter my mind. Now I wish it would have.</p> <p class="rteindent1">Lemon: Right. Meaning the using of the teeth, right?</p> <p class="rteindent1">Tarshis: Yes, that's what I'm thinking you're....</p> <p class="rteindent1">Lemon: As a weapon.</p> <p class="rteindent1">Tarshis: I didn't even think of it.</p> <p class="rteindent1">Lemon: Biting.</p> <p class="rteindent1">Tarshis: Ouch.</p> <p class="rteindent1">Lemon: Yes. I had to ask. I mean, it is, yeah.</p> </blockquote> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" class="video-embed" frameborder="0" height="360" scrolling="no" src="http://mediamatters.org/embed/201625" width="480"></iframe></p> <p>The awkward exchange followed an interview Tarshis gave to Lemon the day before, in which she claimed she had <a href="https://tv.yahoo.com/news/bill-cosby-accuser-joan-tarshis-alleges-did-much-092100511.html" target="_blank">lied to Cosby about having an STD</a> in order to convince him not to rape her. She alleged that Cosby then forced her perform oral sex on him. In the first interview, Lemon asked, "Why didn't you tell police?"</p> <p><strong>Update, Wednesday, November 19:</strong> Following the backlash incited by Lemon's comments, the CNN host issued the following <a href="http://www.mediaite.com/tv/don-lemon-im-sorry-if-my-rape-question-struck-anyone-as-insensitive/" target="_blank">statement </a>Wednesday afternoon: "As a victim myself I would never want to suggest that any victim could have prevented a rape. If my question struck anyone as insensitive, I&rsquo;m sorry as that was not my intention." In the past, Lemon has discussed being <a href="http://www.npr.org/2011/07/11/137766611/-award-winning-cnn-anchor-goes-transparent" target="_blank">sexually abused</a> as a child.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Video Wed, 19 Nov 2014 15:32:44 +0000 Inae Oh 265016 at http://www.motherjones.com Elizabeth Warren to Banks: Prove You Can Protect Customer Data From Hackers http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/11/elizabeth-warren-elijah-cummings-cybersecurity <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Elizabeth Warren is off to a running start in her new leadership role with the Senate Democratic caucus. She <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/11/elizabeth-warren-walmart-black-friday-protest" target="_blank">called out Walmart</a> for its terrible labor practices. She <a href="http://online.wsj.com/articles/elizabeth-warren-and-joe-manchin-the-fed-needs-governors-who-arent-wall-street-insiders-1416269808" target="_blank">wrote an op-ed this week</a> warning the president against appointing Wall Street insiders to the Federal Reserve. And Tuesday morning, she <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/11/18/us-usa-congress-cybersecurity-idUSKCN0J21HB20141118?feedType=RSS&amp;feedName=topNews" target="_blank">called on financial institutions</a> to prove that they can protect customer data from cybercriminals.</p> <p>Over the past year, cyber attackers have stolen roughly <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2014/10/20/secret-service-fbi-hack-cybersecuurity/17615029/" target="_blank">500 million records</a> from financial institutions, according to federal law enforcement officials. In a joint letter also signed by Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), Warren asked 16 firms&mdash;including Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley&mdash;for detailed information about cyberattacks they experienced over the past year and how they plan to prevent future breaches.</p> <p>"The increasing number of cyberattacks and data breaches is unprecedented and poses a clear and present danger to our nation&rsquo;s economic security," the lawmakers wrote in the letter. "Each successive cyberattack and data breach not only results in hefty costs and liabilities for businesses, but exposes consumers to identity theft and other fraud, as well as a host of other cyber-crimes."</p> <p>Warren and Cummings requested the firms provide information on the number of customers that may have been affected by breaches, data security measures the companies have taken in response, the value of the fraudulent transactions connected with the cyber attacks, and who is suspected to have carried them out. The letters also request that IT security officers at each firm brief the lawmakers on how they are protecting their data from cybervillains.</p> <p>The lawmakers hope to use the information the firms provide to inform new federal cybersecurity legislation. Current cybersecurity law is <a href="http://thehill.com/policy/cybersecurity/224484-lawmakers-target-banks-for-hacking-details" target="_blank">unclear</a> about when companies are required to notify the government about a data hack. Warren has previously <a href="http://thehill.com/policy/cybersecurity/224484-lawmakers-target-banks-for-hacking-details" target="_blank">called on Congress</a> to give the Federal Trade Commission more power to regulate data breaches.</p> <p>The American financial sector is one of the most targeted in the world, <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2014/10/20/secret-service-fbi-hack-cybersecuurity/17615029/" target="_blank">according</a> to the FBI and Secret Service officials. The hackers who stole data from JPMorgan Chase earlier this year&mdash;compromising information from 76 million households&mdash;also targeted 13 other financial institutions, <em>Bloomberg</em> <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-10-09/jpmorgan-hackers-said-to-probe-13-financial-firms.html" target="_blank">reported</a> last month.</p></body></html> MoJo Congress Corporations Tech Top Stories Wed, 19 Nov 2014 11:15:05 +0000 Erika Eichelberger 264956 at http://www.motherjones.com Today's Winner in Washington: The Filibuster http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/11/todays-winner-washington-filibuster <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Today, Democrats blocked action to approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. A few minutes later, Republicans blocked a bill to regulate the bulk collection of phone records by the NSA.</p> <p>Both bills had majority support. Both failed thanks to filibusters. It's good to see that life is back to normal in Washington DC.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Civil Liberties Climate Change Congress Energy Wed, 19 Nov 2014 01:24:10 +0000 Kevin Drum 265006 at http://www.motherjones.com Today's Math You Can Use: Marijuana + Big Corporations = A Lot More Marijuana http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/11/todays-math-you-can-use-marijuana-big-corporations-lot-more-marijuana <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Here's a good example of how cavalier snark can get the better of you. <a href="http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/392922/youve-got-be-carefully-taught-kevin-d-williamson" target="_blank">This is Kevin Williamson writing at <em>National Review</em>:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>From the annals of issues that only intellectuals are capable of misunderstanding: Mark A. R. Kleiman, a professor of public policy at UCLA, is worried that the drug trade might end up being dominated by people who care about making money. <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/images/Blog_Marijuana_Dispensary.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">My experience with drug dealers suggests very strongly that they are a profit-seeking, entrepreneurial lot as it is.</p> </blockquote> <p>Har har. Mark is a friend of mine, so I guess I'd be expected to defend him, but I'm pretty sure he didn't mean his <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2014/11/17/is-big-marijuana-inevitable-4/marijuana-legalization-doesnt-have-to-lead-to-commercialization" target="_blank">short piece about the commercialization of pot</a> to be an attack on the free market. Quite the contrary. In fact, he has a powerful appreciation of the efficiency of the market, and knows very well that drug gangs are actually pitifully incompetent at the basics of modern distribution and logistics. Put them in competition with Philip Morris or RJ Reynolds and they'd go out of business in a few months. At the same time, with a truly modern, efficient multinational corporation at the helm, sales and consumption of marijuana would most likely skyrocket.</p> <p>Remember what happened to all those mom-and-pop stores when Walmart came into town? It would be about like that.</p> <p>I don't even know that I agree with Mark about trying to keep pot away from the commercial sector. My guess is that it's not really workable. Still, his argument is simple: The free market is powerful. Big corporations are far, far more efficient than a bunch of hoodlums. So if big corporations start selling drugs, then drug use (and abuse) is going to increase. Maybe a lot. You might still favor complete legalization, and that's fine. But you should at least recognize that it comes with a likely cost, just as it did with cigarettes and alcohol.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Economy Marijuana Tue, 18 Nov 2014 21:51:14 +0000 Kevin Drum 264991 at http://www.motherjones.com Neil deGrasse Tyson Has Some Pretty Great Advice For This First Grader http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/11/neil-degrasse-tyson-first-grader-earth <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>A <a href="http://time.com/3589261/neil-degrasse-tyson-advice-viral-video/" target="_blank">6-year-old girl</a> wearing a badass Albert Einstein t-shirt recently had the rare chance to ask everyone's favorite cosmologist, Neil deGrasse Tyson, what first graders like her can do to help the Earth.&nbsp;</p> <p>Tyson's response? Keep banging those pots, keep stomping in those muddy puddles.</p> <p>"You are making a splash crater," Tyson explained. "These are experiments. Just tell your parents they're experiments and you want to become a scientist and they won't stop you from doing anything you want."</p> <p>Basically, don't let the grown-ups squash your curiosity! Watch his heartwarming advice in full below:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/rVwQ9jBuoFA" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> Mixed Media Video Science Tue, 18 Nov 2014 20:55:08 +0000 Inae Oh 264981 at http://www.motherjones.com Watch This Adorable Hamster Celebrate Thanksgiving Dinner Wearing a Pilgrim Hat http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/11/hamster-thanksgiving <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/BrowserPreview_tmp-2_0.gif"></p> <p>Adding to our collection of adorable creatures delightfully feasting away on <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/10/watching-porcupine-taste-pumpkin-why-world-going-be-okay-today" target="_blank">autumnal foods</a>, is a magical clip featuring a hamster nibbling away at Thanksgiving dinner with his closest furry friends. They all wear tiny Pilgrim hats and dine on equally tiny portions of pie and turkey, thanks to the folks at <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iieQDN7l_Yw&amp;list=UUhTRw0OKvFG5k_RLBRmZ_sA" target="_blank">HelloDenizen</a>, the creators of the video.</p> <p>Just look at those cheeks.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/iieQDN7l_Yw" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><em><a href="http://www.buzzfeed.com/samimain/tiny-thanksgiving" target="_blank">(h/t Buzzfeed)</a></em></p></body></html> Mixed Media Video Tue, 18 Nov 2014 19:48:44 +0000 Inae Oh 264961 at http://www.motherjones.com Public Evenly Split on Immigration Action http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/11/public-evenly-split-immigration-action <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>So how does the public feel about President Obama changing immigration rules via executive action? Pretty evenly split, it turns out. <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2014/11/17/usa-today-poll-immigration-isis-keystone-pipeline/19165331/" target="_blank">According to a <em>USA Today</em> poll,</a> Democrats want action now; Republicans want <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_poll_immigration_2014_11.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">him to wait; independents are split down the middle; and the overall result is slightly in favor of waiting, by 46-42 percent.</p> <p>In other words, pretty much what you'd expect. Politically, then, this probably holds little risk for Obama or the Democratic Party. Especially in light of this:</p> <blockquote> <p>On one more issue, Americans are in agreement: The elections two weeks ago aren't going to make Washington work better. Just 15% predict Obama and the new Congress, now under solid Republican control, will work together more closely to reach bipartisan compromises.</p> </blockquote> <p>The American public is pretty politically astute, I'd say. They may not be up to speed on all the details of policymaking, but when it comes to the big picture, they know a lot more than the Beltway pundits seem to.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Immigration Tue, 18 Nov 2014 18:30:36 +0000 Kevin Drum 264966 at http://www.motherjones.com Isn't It About Time to Ask Republicans to Start Acting Like Adults? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/11/isnt-it-about-time-ask-republicans-start-acting-adults <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>David Brooks is unhappy that President Obama continues to be a liberal even though <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/18/opinion/david-brooks-obama-in-winter.html" target="_blank">Democrats lost in this year's midterm election:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The White House has not privately engaged with Congress on the legislative areas where there could be agreement. Instead, the president has been superaggressive on the one topic sure to blow everything up: the executive order to rewrite the nation&rsquo;s immigration laws.</p> <p>....I sympathize with what Obama is trying to do substantively, but the process of how it&rsquo;s being done is ruinous. <strong>Republicans would rightly take it as a calculated insult and yet more political ineptitude. Everybody would go into warfare mode.</strong> We&rsquo;ll get two more years of dysfunction that will further arouse public disgust and antigovernment fervor (making a Republican presidency more likely).</p> <p>This move would also make it much less likely that we&rsquo;ll have immigration reform anytime soon. White House officials are often misinformed on what Republicans are privately discussing, so they don&rsquo;t understand that many in the Republican Party are trying to find a way to <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/images/Blog_Party_Cranks.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">get immigration reform out of the way. This executive order would destroy their efforts.</p> </blockquote> <p>I continue to not get this train of thought. In 2006, Republicans lost. President Bush's first action was to order a surge in Iraq, which infuriated Democrats. In 2008, Republicans lost. They responded by adopting a policy of obstructing every possible action by Democrats&mdash;including even a modest stimulus package during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. In 2012, Republicans lost. They responded with brinkmanship over the fiscal cliff, a flat refusal to fill open judicial positions on the DC circuit court, and an endless bellowing rage over Benghazi and other manufactured outrages.</p> <p>By comparison, all Obama is doing is something he's been saying he'll do for nearly a year. It's not even all that big a deal if you step back for a moment and think about it. Several million undocumented immigrants are going to be told they're <em>officially</em> free of the threat of deportation for a temporary period, as opposed to the status quo, in which they're <em>effectively</em> free of the threat of deportation. Don't get me wrong: it's a big deal for the immigrants affected. But in terms of actual impact on immigration policy writ large? It doesn't really do much.</p> <p>And yet, this single action is apparently enough to&mdash;rightly!&mdash;put Republicans into warfare mode. If that's true, I can only conclude that literally anything Republicans don't like is enough to justify going into warfare mode. That's certainly been how it's worked in the past, anyway.</p> <p>Look: Republicans can decide for themselves if they want to go to war. If they want to pass yet another bill repealing Obamacare, that's fine. If they want to sue the president over the EPA or immigration, that's fine. If they want to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, that's fine. I assume Obama will win some of these battles and lose others, but in any case will treat them as the ordinary cut and thrust of politics instead of declaring them calculated insults that have infuriated him so much he can't possibly ever engage with the GOP again. In other words, he'll act like an adult, not a five-year-old.</p> <p>This is what we expect from presidents. Why don't we expect the same from congressional Republicans? Why are they allowed to stamp and scream whenever something doesn't go their way, and everyone just shrugs? Once and for all, why don't we demand that they act like adults too?</p> <p><strong>POSTSCRIPT:</strong> I didn't bother with Brooks' claim that Republicans are "privately" discussing real, honest-to-goodness immigration reform, but color me skeptical. If they want to engage on this subject, they need to discuss it with Obama, not between themselves. They've had plenty of time for that, and have never been willing to buck the tea party to get something done. Why would it be any different now? For more, I think <a href="http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/political-animal-a/2014_11/wait_wait052971.php" target="_blank">Ed Kilgore has about the right take on this.</a></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Congress The Right Tue, 18 Nov 2014 16:53:57 +0000 Kevin Drum 264951 at http://www.motherjones.com Here's an Interesting Twist on Social Security That Might Be Worth Trying http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/11/heres-interesting-twist-social-security-might-be-worth-trying <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Via Matt Yglesias, here's a <a href="http://www.nber.org/papers/w20614" target="_blank">fascinating little study in behavioral economics.</a> It involves Social Security, which currently allows you to retire at age 62, but offers you a higher monthly payment if you retire later. For example, if you retire at 62, your monthly benefit might be $1,500, but if you delay a year, your monthly benefit might go up to $1,600. Given average lifespans, the total payout works out the same in both scenarios.</p> <p>But what if you offered retirees a different deal? What if, instead of a higher monthly benefit, you offered them a lump sum payout if they delayed retirement? In the example above, if you delay retirement to 63, you'll still <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_social_security_lump_sum.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">get $1,500 per month, but you'd also get a $20,000 lump sum payout. Delay to age 70 and you'd get a lump sum of nearly $200,000. How do people respond to that?</p> <p>It turns out that they delay retirement&mdash;or they say they would on a survey, anyway. Under the current scenario, people say they'd retire at 45 months past age 62, or 65 years and 9 months. Under the lump sum scenario, the average retirement age is about five months later. (A third scenario with a delayed lump sum payout motivates people to retire even later.)</p> <p>Would people do this in real life if they were offered these options? Maybe. And it would probably be a good thing, <a href="http://www.vox.com/2014/11/18/7237975/social-security-lump-sum" target="_blank">as Yglesias explains:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Since the benefits would be actuarially fair, this would not save the government any money. But since people would be working longer, the overall size of the economy and the tax base would be larger. That extends the life of the Social Security Trust Fund, and helps delay the moment at which benefit cuts or tax increases are necessary. The overall scale of the change is not enormous, but it's distinctly positive and it's hard to see what the downside would be.</p> </blockquote> <p>This is hardly the highest priority on anybody's wish list, but it's an intriguing study. And it would certainly be easy to implement. Maybe it's worth a try.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Economy Tue, 18 Nov 2014 15:29:17 +0000 Kevin Drum 264946 at http://www.motherjones.com Backstabbing in Hillaryland: Here We Go Again http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/11/hillary-clinton-robby-mook-marlon-marshall <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>We've seen this movie before, and it doesn't end well.</p> <p>On Friday, ABC News <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/exclusive-read-secret-emails-men-run-hillary-clintons/story?id=26898758&amp;singlePage=true" target="_blank">published a story</a> about a email listserv maintained by two Democratic operatives: Robby Mook, a former Howard Dean and Hillary Clinton campaign aide, and Marlon Marshall, an Obama White House staffer. The story's title&mdash;"EXCLUSIVE: Read the Secret Emails of the Men Who May Run Hillary Clinton's Campaign"&mdash;promised a juicy expos&eacute;. In reality, the substance of what members posted on this 150-member "secret" listserv, dubbed the "Mook Mafia," was far from explosive. The phrases "smite Republicans mafia-style" and "punish those voters" read badly out of context. But then, who hasn't dashed off a snarky email to friends that you wished you could take back and touch up a little?</p> <p>The real news isn't that Mook and Marshall had a listserv for fellow Democratic operatives. It's that someone on the listserv leaked its contents in an effort to hurt Mook's chances of becoming the manager of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. In other words, the Clinton '16 effort has yet to officially launch and already the backstabbing and infighting has begun.</p> <p>It's shades of Hillary '08 all over again.</p> <p>Internal battles notoriously plagued Clinton's first presidential run. A <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/05/AR2008030503621.html"><em>Washington Post</em> story in March 2008</a>&nbsp;described the "combustible environment within the Clinton campaign, an operation where internal strife and warring camps have undercut a candidate once seemingly destined for the Democratic nomination."</p> <p>The story went on:</p> <blockquote> <p>Many of her advisers are waging a two-front war, one against Sen. Barack Obama and the second against one another, but their most pressing challenge is figuring out why Clinton won in Ohio and Texas and trying to duplicate it. While [chief strategist Mark] Penn sees his strategy as a reason for the victories that have kept her candidacy alive, other advisers attribute the wins to her perseverance, favorable demographics, and a new campaign manager. Clinton won "despite us, not because of us," one said.</p> </blockquote> <p>The <em>Post</em> published this story after Clinton had <em>won</em> the crucial Ohio and Texas primaries. That is, even in victory, the Clinton camp was divided, its top aides in conflict with one another.</p> <p>In response to the <em>Post</em> story, Clinton adviser Bob Barnett wrote an email that was <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2008/09/the-front-runner-s-fall/306944/?single_page=true">later published by <em>The</em> <em>Atlantic</em></a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>STOP IT!!!! I have [held] my tongue for weeks. After this morning's WP story, no longer. This makes me sick. This circular firing squad that is occurring is unattractive, unprofessional, unconscionable, and unacceptable&hellip;It must stop.</p> </blockquote> <p>Neither Mark Penn nor Clinton's first choice of campaign manager, Patti Solis Doyle, lasted the entire campaign. Penn left the campaign after the <em>Wall Street Journal</em> <a href="http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/040408PennClinton.doc">reported</a> that he had lobbied in support of a trade deal with Colombia that Clinton opposed. Solis Doyle was once so close to Clinton that she liked to say, "When I speak, Hillary is speaking." But by the time of her firing, Solis Doyle and Clinton were on such bad terms that Clinton let her go <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/07/29/AR2008072902451.html?sub=AR" target="_blank">by email</a>.</p> <p>Even after Penn's departure, as the <em>Atlantic</em> story illustrated, the acrimony continued:</p> <blockquote> <p>Geoff Garin, the new leader, soon encountered the old problems. Obama remained the front-runner, and Clinton's communications staff disagreed on how to turn back the tide of tough stories. Garin was appalled at the open feuding and leaking. "I don't mean to be an asshole," he wrote in an e-mail to the senior staff. "But&hellip;Senator Clinton has given Howard Wolfson both the responsibility and the authority to make final decisions about how this campaign delivers its message." On the strategic front, Garin sided with the coalition opposed to Penn's call to confront Obama, and he had numbers to support his reasoning. Polls showed that a majority of voters now distrusted Clinton.</p> </blockquote> <p>The strategic leaking of Mook's and Marshall's listserv emails wouldn't have been at all out of place during Clinton's '08 campaign, as her aides bickered and backstabbed their way to defeat against a more cohesive&mdash;or at least functional&mdash;Obama campaign.</p> <p>Over the past few years, I have interviewed a number of folks who have worked on various campaigns with Mook, dating back to Howard Dean's 2004 presidential bid. I heard nothing but admiration and respect for someone routinely described to me as a smart and honest operative who kept his head down and disliked publicity. He and Obama organizing guru Jeremy Bird helped create Dean's pioneering volunteer-powered ground game in New Hampshire&mdash;a model Mook took with him to Clinton's '08 bid and Bird applied to Obama's first presidential run. And in 2013, Mook, using part of the Obama playbook, helped longtime Democratic fundraiser Terry McAuliffe win a tough fight for governor in Virginia. This victory, which impressed the Democratic political class, got people talking about Mook helming a Clinton campaign. But obviously not everyone is keen on that.</p> <p>It's not known who was behind the Mook email dump. But for Democrats this prankish move raises a troubling question: Is it possible to avoid conflict within Hillaryland? In 2008, Clinton demonstrated she could not head a cohesive, effective, and drama-free operation. Democrats who yearn for her to do better this time might be forgiven for looking at this episode and wondering, here we go again?</p></body></html> MoJo 2016 Elections Elections Hillary Clinton Top Stories Tue, 18 Nov 2014 11:00:09 +0000 Andy Kroll 264841 at http://www.motherjones.com Congressional Democrats Back Obama on Immigration Reform http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/11/congressional-democrats-back-obama-immigration-reform <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>With the election safely over, congressional Democrats have regained their courage on immigration and are now urging President Obama to go ahead with an executive action on immigration reform. Here's an excerpt from a letter that <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/1362380-letter-to-white-house-on-immigration-with.html#document/p1" target="_blank">several Democratic leaders in the Senate sent today:</a></p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_democrats_immigration_letter.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 15px 30px;"></p> <p>The principle behind most of what Obama plans to do falls under the category of "prosecutorial discretion," which means he can decide where best to use the government's limited law enforcement resources. Just like previous presidents, he can decide that resources should be directed in a certain way, which effectively means that certain immigrants will be free to stay in the country simply because no one will be targeting them for deportation.</p> <p>We can argue about just how far presidents should be allowed to go down this road, but basically it's something with a fair amount of precedent. This is clearly the focus of the letter from Senate Democrats, and although I'm not a lawyer, I'm pretty confident that the Justice Department will produce an adequate legal defense of Obama's constitutional authority in this area.</p> <p>But what's probably most important goes unsaid&mdash;or perhaps merely implied&mdash;in the Senate letter: if you qualify for "deferred action," you can also get a work permit and a Social Security number. I don't quite understand the legal authority for this, but it's part of the mini-DREAM executive action Obama signed in 2012, so apparently it's on firm legal ground.</p> <p>In any case, it now looks like Obama is not just firmly committed to this, but has the public support of key congressional Democrats as well. It's coming whether Republicans like it or not.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Immigration Obama Mon, 17 Nov 2014 23:00:37 +0000 Kevin Drum 264936 at http://www.motherjones.com Elizabeth Warren's Next Target: Walmart http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/11/elizabeth-warren-walmart-black-friday-protest <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has it out for Walmart. On Tuesday, the freshman senator will hold an event on Capitol Hill calling out the retail giant for its low wages and terrible employment practices. The briefing will be held a week ahead of the nationwide anti-Walmart protests planned for Black Friday.</p> <p>Warren will be joined by Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.); members of <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/02/our-walmart-black-friday-union" target="_blank">OUR Walmart</a>, a union-backed group helping organize Walmart workers; and representatives from other labor groups. Warren and her colleagues also plan to discuss legislation that could help Walmart employees and other low-wage workers around the country, including measures that would <a href="http://www.raisetheminimumwage.com/pages/fair-minimum-wage-act-of-2013" target="_blank">raise the federal minimum wage</a> to $10.10 an hour, forbid <a href="http://democrats.edworkforce.house.gov/press-release/miller-harkin-warren-delauro-introduce-legislation-establish-fair-work-scheduling" target="_blank">unpredictable irregular work schedules</a> for part-time workers, and <a href="https://www.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/senate-bill/84" target="_blank">help prevent employers from retaliating</a> against workers who share wage information.</p> <p>Roughly <a href="http://www.demos.org/publication/higher-wage-possible-walmart-2014-update" target="_blank">825,000</a> of Walmart's hourly store employees earn less than $25,000 a year. About <a href="http://www.fayobserver.com/news/business/wal-mart-to-trim-health-care-benefits-for-part-time/article_1590fc80-a4cf-5ed1-87f6-ddf1f0184edc.html" target="_blank">600,000 Walmart workers</a> are part-time, and many <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/02/our-walmart-black-friday-union" target="_blank">rely on food stamps and Medicaid</a>. Walmart, the largest private employer in the US, <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com.au/wal-mart-black-friday-protests-2014-11" target="_blank">says its average full-time hourly wage is $12.83</a>, though OUR Walmart has calculated it as <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com.au/wal-mart-black-friday-protests-2014-11" target="_blank">closer to $9 an hour</a>.</p> <p>Walmart has retaliated against employees who have protested these low wages. In January, the National Labor Relations Board <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/news/nlrb-says-walmart-retaliated-against-workers/" target="_blank">ruled</a> that the company illegally fired, threatened, or disciplined more than 60 workers in 14 states for publicly complaining about wages and working conditions.</p> <p>OUR Walmart is <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/11/14/us-walmart-labor-idUSKCN0IY1RU20141114" target="_blank">planning</a> on holding a wave of protests at 1,600 Walmart stores the day after Thanksgiving to call for a $15 minimum wage and more opportunities for full-time hours. Last year, the group held demonstrations at more than 1,200 stores.</p> <p>"The Walmart economy&mdash;a business model where a few profit significantly on the backs of the working poor and a diminishing middle class&mdash;perpetuates the income inequality problems that are devastating our country," OUR Walmart and the United Food and Commercial Workers union said in a statement Monday.</p></body></html> MoJo Congress Corporations Economy Mon, 17 Nov 2014 22:22:02 +0000 Erika Eichelberger 264901 at http://www.motherjones.com