Blogs | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/Blogs/2009/08/succession-politics-and-health-care-reform/politics/2002/11/.http%3A/www.boston.com/news/politics/2002/11/http%3A/www.%24www.bidpalace.com/photos/whitehouse/3818150328 http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en Abortion Is Not Murder http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/08/abortion-not-murder <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Ramesh Ponnuru comments on Planned Parenthood's <a href="http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/421967/utilitarian-defense-planned-parenthood-ramesh-ponnuru" target="_blank">sale of fetal tissue from the abortions it performs:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>A recent Sarah Silverman tweet distilled one argument many liberals are making about the Planned Parenthood videos into a few characters: <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_planned_parenthood_logo.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">&rdquo;Abortion is still legal in the great U.S of A. It would be insane not to use fetal tissue 4 science &amp; education in such cases. #StandwithPP.&rdquo;</p> <p>The death penalty is also still legal in our great country. Should we employ methods of execution so as to yield the highest number of usable organs?....</p> </blockquote> <p>Whenever I write about abortion, I usually get a bunch of tweets or emails asking if I even understand the conservative position. Answer: of course I do. Most conservatives say that abortion is murder. Given that premise, their opposition to funding abortion, legalizing abortion, using some day-after pills, selling fetal tissue, and so forth, makes sense.</p> <p>So I'm going to ask the mirror image question here: does Ponnuru understand the liberal position on abortion? Most of us don't think of fetuses as persons, which means abortion doesn't involve killing a human being in any meaningful sense. Given that premise, our support of funding abortion, legalizing abortion, promoting day-after pills, selling fetal tissue, and so forth, makes sense.</p> <p>To us lefties, the death penalty involves killing a human being. Abortion doesn't. So it's perfectly reasonable to have different views about how the remains are treated in each case.</p> <p><strong>POSTSCRIPT:</strong> There are, of course, nuances in these positions regarding abortion on both sides. We're all familiar enough with them that it seems unnecessary to repeat them here. That said, at its most basic, liberals don't generally consider aborting a fetus to involve killing a human being. Obviously the rest of our views follow from that.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 03 Aug 2015 19:49:49 +0000 Kevin Drum 281171 at http://www.motherjones.com Malaysia Announces Biggest "Donor Contribution" In History http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/08/malaysia-announces-biggest-donor-contribution-history <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/malaysia-agency-says-money-in-razaks-personal-account-isnt-from-1mdb-1438615126" target="_blank">From the <em>Wall Street Journal</em>:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Malaysia&rsquo;s anticorruption agency said Monday that 2.6 billion ringgit (about $700 million) was deposited into Prime Minister Najib Razak&rsquo;s personal account and that the money was from a &ldquo;donor contribution,&rdquo; not from 1Malaysia Development Bhd, a state investment fund also known as 1MDB.</p> </blockquote> <p>$700 million! That makes Sheldon Adelson look like a piker. I think American donors need to pick up their game.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 03 Aug 2015 18:42:19 +0000 Kevin Drum 281146 at http://www.motherjones.com Amy Schumer Announces Plan To Tackle Gun Control http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/08/amy-schumer-joins-gun-control-fight <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="true" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="360" mozallowfullscreen="true" scrolling="no" src="https://news.yahoo.com/video/amy-chuck-schumer-gun-violence-163113197.html?format=embed" webkitallowfullscreen="true" width="640"></iframe></p> <p>Amy Schumer just <a href="http://mashable.com/2015/08/03/amy-schumer-gun-control/" target="_blank">joined</a> the gun control fight.</p> <p>During a press conference on Monday, the comedian, along with her cousin New York Senator Chuck Schumer, unveiled a new initiative to tackle gun violence. Last month, 59-year-old John Russell Houser allegedly opened fire inside a Louisiana movie theater during a screening of Schumer's latest film "Trainwreck." He <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/07/mass-shooting-movie-theater-lafayette" target="_blank">killed three people,</a> including two women, before killing himself.</p> <p>"Unless something is done and done soon, dangerous people will continue to get their hands on guns," Schumer told reporters. "We need a background check system without holes and fatal flaws."</p> <p>The <a href="http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Sen-Schumer-comedian-Amy-Schumer-call-for-more-6421168.php" target="_blank">three-part legislative plan</a> will seek to limit gun access to the mentally ill and violent criminals by rewarding states that provide thorough background check information while penalizing states that fail to do so. The two also called on Congress to fund greater mental health and substance abuse programs.</p> <p>Over the weekend, Schumer responded to an open letter from a mother of a Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victim that urged her to speak out and support gun control legislation. The letter, <a href="https://medium.com/human-development-project/an-open-letter-to-amy-schumer-8f1fd3637d41" target="_blank">posted on <em>Medium</em></a>, asked Schumer to be a "voice for our generation and for women&mdash;two groups who make up most of the victims of the gun violence in our country."</p> <center> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en"><a href="https://twitter.com/cdickason11">@cdickason11</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/sfclem">@sfclem</a> Her name was Mayci, not Marci and I think about her and Jillian everyday. Don't worry I'm on it. You'll see.</p> &mdash; Amy Schumer (@amyschumer) <a href="https://twitter.com/amyschumer/status/627474594417381376">August 1, 2015</a></blockquote> </center> <p>"These are my first public comments on the issue of gun violence," Schumer said on Monday. "But I promise you they will not be my last."</p></body></html> Mixed Media Film and TV Guns Mon, 03 Aug 2015 16:56:08 +0000 Inae Oh 281121 at http://www.motherjones.com Obama's New Power Plant Regulations Are Modest, But Still a Big Deal http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/08/obamas-new-power-plant-regulations-are-modest-still-big-deal <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>President Obama is unveiling his plan to reduce carbon emissions from power plants today, and it's generally being hailed as the most important environmental regulation of his presidency. Tim McDonnell has the details <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2015/07/obama-epa-clean-power-plan" target="_blank">here.</a> Rebecca Leber outlines the probable legal attack on Obama's plan <a href="http://www.newrepublic.com/article/122444/last-defining-court-battle-obamas-presidency" target="_blank">here.</a></p> <p>But Michael Grunwald isn't buying the hype. He's not impressed with Obama's plan to <a href="http://www.politico.com/agenda/story/2015/08/why-obamas-epic-climate-plan-isnt-such-a-big-deal-000183" target="_blank">reduce power plant emissions 32 percent by 2030:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>That&rsquo;s nice, but by the end of this year, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, the power sector&rsquo;s emissions will already be down 15.4 percent from 2005 levels &mdash; about half the anticipated reductions in just a decade, and <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_power_plant_carbon_emission_reductions_0.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">before the plan goes into effect. <strong>In other words, even under the strengthened plan, the rate of decarbonization is expected to slow over the next 15 years.</strong> What, did you think the strongest action ever taken to combat climate change would actually accelerate the nation&rsquo;s efforts to combat climate change?</p> <p>....<strong>If you&rsquo;re really ranking them, the Clean Power Plan is at best the fourth-strongest action that Obama has taken to combat climate change,</strong> behind his much-maligned 2009 stimulus package, which poured $90 billion into clean energy and jump-started a green revolution; his dramatic increases in fuel-efficiency standards for cars and trucks, which should reduce our oil consumption by 2 million barrels per day; and his crackdown on mercury and other air pollutants, which has helped inspire utilities to retire 200 coal-fired power plants in just five years.</p> </blockquote> <p>This is a little unfair in two ways. First, the 15 percent reduction of the past decade was the low-hanging fruit. The initial cuts are always the easiest. The next 15 percent will be harder, and mandating that it happen at about the same rate is more stringent than it sounds.</p> <p>Second, the decrease over the last decade happened mostly because gas-fired plants became cheaper than coal thanks to the boom in natural gas fracking. That's a one-time deal, and there's no guarantee that something similar will drive further decreases. Having a mandate in place forces it to happen regardless of future events in the energy market.</p> <p>That said, Grunwald has a point in a technical sense: the reductions mandated in the EPA plan are good but not great, and the mandates for renewable energy are pretty unambitious. Obama could have done better.</p> <p>Or could he? That's a never-ending source of disagreement. Should Obama have gotten a bigger stimulus? Should he have insisted on a public option in Obamacare? Could he have put in place stronger financial regulations than he got in Dodd-Frank? Could he have negotiated a stronger treaty with Iran?</p> <p>The answers are: maybe, maybe, maybe, and maybe. We'll never know the absolute maximum that Obama could have gotten in these situations. The same is true for the EPA regs. Congress and the courts&mdash;and the public&mdash;will have something to say about them, and it's not clear if Obama could have safely gone further than he did. We'll never know.</p> <p>In the meantime, Grunwald is right to say that the new mandates aren't really all that tough. At the same time, the fact that we have any power plant mandates at all really is a big deal. Just setting the precedent that the federal government should regulate carbon emissions from power plants is a critical first step, and if it survives court challenges and congressional temper tantrums it will likely lead to further cutbacks in the future. And <em>that's</em> a big deal.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 03 Aug 2015 16:51:25 +0000 Kevin Drum 281131 at http://www.motherjones.com Jeb Bush Takes on Lazy Bum Members of Congress http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/08/jeb-bush-takes-lazy-bum-members-congress <!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_jeb_congress_pay.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;"><a href="http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/jeb-bush-targets-lawmakers-who-skip-work" target="_blank">Steve Benen</a> points us to Jeb Bush's <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YBE3P2yD7so" target="_blank">latest YouTube video:</a> a cheap 15-second spot calling out members of Congress for being lazy bums and suggesting that the laziest ones deserve to have their pay docked. "Bush's proposed solution is quite foolish," Benen says, but is it? If Jeb were serious, then yes, it would be pretty dumb. But I'm sure he knows perfectly well that presidents aren't allowed to cut congressional pay any more than Congress can cut the president's pay. This is pretty clear from the oddness of his phrasing&mdash;is he talking about Congress or about individual members of Congress or what?&mdash;which means he's not really proposing anything at all.</p> <p>So what's the point? Once again, affinity marketing. Lots of people think Congress is doing a lousy job, and Jeb wants them to know that he agrees. But is it <em>good</em> affinity marketing? Well, the YouTube spot went up two weeks ago, and so far has gotten 767 views. That's about as well as my cat videos perform. So this is probably just a routine attempt to throw some mud on the wall and see if it sticks. If it does, great. It becomes a campaign message. If not, move on. After all, you don't think Jeb actually cares about this, do you?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 03 Aug 2015 16:01:51 +0000 Kevin Drum 281126 at http://www.motherjones.com Watch John Oliver Explain Why Washington D.C. Should Be the 51st State http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/08/john-oliver-dc-voting <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/4Z4j2CrJRn4" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>On Sunday, <em><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Z4j2CrJRn4" target="_blank">Last Week Tonight</a> </em>took on the issue of restricted voting rights for Washington D.C. residents, despite the fact they pay federal taxes and have a larger population than some entire states such as Vermont and Wyoming. Even the Dalai Lama once called the situation "quite strange."</p> <p>"The people of D.C. clearly deserve a greater voice in their own affairs and they've actually come tantalizingly close to getting a voting representative in Congress," John Oliver explained. "In 2009, a bill to give D.C. a vote was introduced in the Senate, and the Senate did the most dickish thing imaginable: passing it, but with a little addition."</p> <p>That controversial addition sought to repeal all of D.C.'s gun control laws, further illustrating the uphill battle that is granting D.C. statehood.</p> <p>"It was the kind of amendment NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre dreams about as he sleeps in his bullet-filled bathtub, I presume," Oliver said.</p> <p>As a result the bill was dropped.</p> <p>With the help of a group of singing children, Oliver continued his call for D.C.'s statehood with an amended tune about America's 50 states. Not convinced? The song ends with the suggestion, "Well then let's all kick out Florida cause no one thinks they're great."</p></body></html> Mixed Media Film and TV Media Mon, 03 Aug 2015 12:32:12 +0000 Inae Oh 281116 at http://www.motherjones.com One Pollster Has Stopped Polling the Republican Primary. Will Others Follow? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/08/one-pollster-has-stopped-polling-republican-primary-will-others-follow <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>I've been wondering for a while who the first pollster would be to stop polling the Republican primary. <a href="http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/election/article29787529.html" target="_blank">Today I got my answer:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>As candidates jostle to make the cut for the first GOP presidential debate this week, the McClatchy-Marist Poll has temporarily suspended polling on primary voter choices out of concern that public polls are being misused to decide who will be in and who will be excluded.</p> <p>....&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a problem when it&rsquo;s shaping who gets to sit at the table,&rdquo; said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute....&ldquo;It&rsquo;s making candidates change their behavior. Kasich is trying to get a big bounce. Rand Paul has a video with a chain saw. Lindsay Graham is hitting cell phones with golf clubs,&rdquo; Miringoff said. <strong>&ldquo;Now the public polls are affecting the process they&rsquo;re supposed to be measuring.&rdquo;</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Miringoff is also concerned that candidates may be excluded from the debate due to differences between 10th and 11th place that are so close they're within the margin of error. <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/07/foxs-poll-cutoff-republican-debate-works-better-rachel-maddow-suggested-last-nigh" target="_blank">I think those concerns are overblown,</a> but that doesn't mean they aren't real. There's clearly a certain amount of arbitrariness at work here.</p> <p>I doubt that very many outfits will pull out of primary polling. But a few more might, and of course that also affects which candidates will make the cut. In the end, then, McClatchy might be kidding itself here. There's just no way for news organizations that make editorial and placement judgments to avoid affecting the events they report on. It might be best to accept that and deal with it openly instead of pretending they can make it go away.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 03 Aug 2015 04:28:15 +0000 Kevin Drum 281111 at http://www.motherjones.com As Federal Aid Goes Up, College Costs Rise Enough to Gobble It All Up http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/08/federal-aid-goes-college-costs-rise-enough-gobble-it-all <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Josh Mitchell of the <em>Wall Street Journal</em> writes today about the <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/federal-aids-role-in-driving-up-tuitions-gains-credence-1438538582" target="_blank">spiraling cost of college:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The federal government has boosted aid to families in recent decades to make college more affordable. A new study from the New York Federal Reserve faults these policies for enabling college institutions to aggressively raise tuitions.</p> <p>....Conservatives have long held that generous federal-aid policies inflate higher-education costs, a viewpoint famously articulated by <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_higher_ed_costs.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 20px 15px 30px;">then-Education Secretary William Bennett in a 1987 column that came to be dubbed the Bennett Hypothesis.</p> </blockquote> <p>Regular readers know that I have <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2012/01/cost-college-probably-going-keep-going" target="_blank">at least a bit of sympathy for this view.</a>&nbsp; But Mitchell doesn't really explain how the data supports this hypothesis. So I'll give it a try. As you can see on the right, federal aid increased very modestly from 2000 to 2009. Then it went up sharply starting around 2010. If this aid were truly helping make college more affordable, out-of-pocket expenses for students (i.e., actual cash outlays net of loans and grants) would start to flatten out or even go down.</p> <p>But that hasn't happened. You can lay a straightedge on the red line in the bottom chart. Basically, families received no net benefit from increased federal aid. Actual cash outlays rose at exactly the same rate as they had been rising before.</p> <p>My guess is that this will continue until universities get to the point at which students and families simply don't value higher education enough to pay any more. That's the gating item, not aid programs. When out-of-pocket expenses finally equal the value that students put on a college degree, prices will stabilize.<sup>1</sup> That's my guess, anyway.</p> <p>The <em>Journal</em> article has more on this, and the Fed study is <a href="http://www.newyorkfed.org/research/staff_reports/sr733.pdf" target="_blank">here</a> if you want to read more about the methodology&mdash;much more sophisticated than mine&mdash;that the authors used to come to a similar conclusion.</p> <p><sup>1</sup>Actually, it's when the perceived value of a college degree equals current cash outlays plus whatever burden students associate with future loan paybacks. However, the latter is pretty tricky to quantify since it varies widely depending on the university, the student's major, and their subjective discount rate.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sun, 02 Aug 2015 21:46:36 +0000 Kevin Drum 281106 at http://www.motherjones.com Tell Us What You Really Think About Donald Trump http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/08/tell-us-what-you-really-think-about-donald-trump <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>I've sort of promised myself not to write about Donald Trump, but (a) it's a weekend, and (b) David&nbsp;Fahrenthold has a pretty entertaining piece about Trump in the <em>Washington Post</em> today. Here's a brief excerpt of some of the reactions Fahrenthold got to a <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/the-trump-platform-because-i-said-so/2015/08/01/4684802c-36f7-11e5-9739-170df8af8eb9_story.html?hpid=z1" target="_blank">variety of Trump's blatherings:</a></p> <blockquote> <p><strong>Mark Krikorian</strong>, a foe of illegal immigration, on Trump's immigration ideas: &ldquo;Trump is like your Uncle George at Thanksgiving dinner, saying he knows how to solve all the problems. It&rsquo;s not that he&rsquo;s always wrong. It&rsquo;s just that he&rsquo;s an auto mechanic, not a policy guy.&rdquo;</p> <p><strong>David Goldwyn</strong>, a former State Department official in the Obama administration, on Trump's plan to fight ISIS by simply bombing them and then taking all their oil: &ldquo;That is sheer lunacy on so many counts, it&rsquo;s hard to start.&rdquo;</p> <p><strong><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_donald_trump.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Some anonymous sources</strong> on the same idea: &ldquo;Oil-industry experts expressed skepticism about this plan. Skepticism, in fact, may not be a strong-enough word.&rdquo;</p> <p><strong>Michael Tanner</strong> of Cato, on Trump's endless vision of new building projects combined with his insistence on lowering taxes: &ldquo;You can&rsquo;t spend more and collect less. That&rsquo;s kind of basic math. You can argue about how the math adds up in the other people&rsquo;s plans. But there&rsquo;s math <em>there</em>. This, there&rsquo;s just no math.&rdquo;</p> <p><strong>Gary Hufbauer</strong> of the Peterson Institute on Trump's plan to jack up tariffs on countries he doesn't like: &ldquo;If you thought this had a ghost of a chance &mdash; which it doesn&rsquo;t &mdash; you would sell all your stocks,&rdquo; because of the damage that a trade war would do to the U.S. economy.</p> </blockquote> <p>You know, when Mark Krikorian is critical of your anti-immigration ideas; Michael Tanner is skeptical of your tax-cutting ideas; and oil companies want no part of your oil-stealing ideas, you just know there's something wrong.</p> <p>Anyway, Fahrenthold's piece is worth a weekend click. And you might as well do it while you can. We won't have Trump to kick around forever.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 01 Aug 2015 23:23:32 +0000 Kevin Drum 281101 at http://www.motherjones.com Our Anti-ISIS Program in Syria Is a Bad Joke http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/08/our-anti-isis-program-syria-bad-joke <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>So how are we doing in our efforts to train moderate Syrian allies to help us in the fight against ISIS? <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/31/world/middleeast/us-trained-islamic-state-opponents-reported-kidnapped-in-syria.html" target="_blank">Here's the <em>New York Times</em> two days ago:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>A Pentagon program to train moderate Syrian insurgents to fight the Islamic State has been vexed by problems of recruitment, screening, dismissals and desertions <strong>that have left only a tiny band of fighters ready to do battle.</strong></p> <p>Those fighters &mdash; <strong>54 in all</strong> &mdash; suffered perhaps their most embarrassing setback yet on Thursday. One of their leaders, a Syrian Army defector who recruited them, was abducted in Syria near the Turkish border, along with his deputy who commands the trainees....Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter has acknowledged the shortfalls, citing strict screening standards, <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_al_nusra.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">which have created a backlog of 7,000 recruits waiting to be vetted. Mr. Carter has insisted the numbers will increase.</p> </blockquote> <p>Okay, I guess 54 is a....start. So how good are they? <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/01/world/middleeast/nusra-front-attacks-us-backed-syrian-rebel-group.html" target="_blank">Here's the <em>New York Times</em> today:</a></p> <blockquote> <p><strong>A Syrian insurgent group at the heart of the Pentagon&rsquo;s effort to fight the Islamic State came under intense attack on Friday</strong>....The American-led coalition responded with airstrikes to help the American-aligned unit, known as Division 30, in fighting off the assault....<strong>The attack on Friday was mounted by the Nusra Front,</strong> which is affiliated with Al Qaeda. It came a day after the Nusra Front captured two leaders and at least six fighters of Division 30, which supplied the first trainees to graduate from the Pentagon&rsquo;s anti-Islamic State training program.</p> <p>....<strong>&ldquo;This wasn&rsquo;t supposed to happen like this,&rdquo;</strong> said one former senior American official, who was working closely on Syria issues until recently, and who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss confidential intelligence assessments....Division 30 said in a statement that five of its fighters were killed in the firefight on Friday, 18 were wounded and 20 were captured by the Nusra Front. It was not clear whether the 20 captives included the six fighters and two commanders captured a day earlier.</p> </blockquote> <p>Let's see, that adds up to either 43 or 51 depending on how you count. Starting with 54, then, it looks like Division 30 has either 11 or 3 fighters left, and no commanders. But apparently that's not so bad!</p> <blockquote> <p>A spokesman for the American military, Col. Patrick S. Ryder, wrote in an email statement that &ldquo;we are confident that this attack will not deter Syrians from joining the program to fight for Syria,&rdquo; and added that <strong>the program &ldquo;is making progress.&rdquo;</strong></p> <p>....[A senior] defense official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence reports, <strong>described what he called &ldquo;silver linings&rdquo; to the attack on Friday:</strong> that the trainees had fought effectively in the battle, and that coalition warplanes responded quickly with airstrikes to support them.</p> </blockquote> <p>The trainees fought effectively? There are no more than a dozen still able to fight. That's not the same definition of "effective" that most of us have. As for the US Air Force responding quickly, that's great. But the quality of the US Air Force has never really been in question.</p> <p>This is starting to make Vietnam look like a well-oiled machine. Stay tuned.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 01 Aug 2015 15:44:35 +0000 Kevin Drum 281096 at http://www.motherjones.com The Clinton Rules, Tax Record Edition http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/07/clinton-rules-round-587 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>I was sitting in the living room this afternoon and Hopper jumped into my lap. So I told Marian to turn the TV to CNN and I'd watch the news until Hopper released me. The first thing I saw was John Berman teasing a segment about Hillary Clinton releasing a <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_brianna_keilar.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">health statement plus eight years of tax records. In other words, pretty routine stuff for any serious presidential candidate. But when Berman tossed to Brianna Keilar, here's what she said:</p> <blockquote> <p><strong>KEILAR:</strong> When you think of a document dump like this, you normally think of, uh, in a way, sort of having something to hide. But the Clinton campaign trying to make the point that they're putting out this information and they're trying to be very transparent.</p> </blockquote> <p>Talk about the Clinton rules! Hillary Clinton releases nearly a decade's worth of tax records, and the first thing that pops into Keilar's mind is that this is probably an effort to <em>hide</em> something. But hey! Let's be fair. The Clinton campaign says it's actually so that people can see her tax records. But they would say that, wouldn't they?</p> <p>Unbelievable. If any other candidate released eight years of tax records, it would be reported as the candidate releasing eight years of tax records. But when Hillary does it, there's very likely something nefarious going on. God help us.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 31 Jul 2015 21:01:06 +0000 Kevin Drum 281086 at http://www.motherjones.com Huckabee Says He'd Consider Using Federal Troops to Stop Abortions http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/07/mike-huckabee-federal-troops-abortion <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee told supporters in Iowa on Thursday that if he were elected president he would consider using the FBI or National Guard <a href="http://cjonline.com/news/2015-07-31/mike-huckabee-republican-presidential-candidate-wont-rule-out-employing-us-troops" target="_blank">to end abortion by force</a>. Per the <em>Topeka Capital-Journal</em>:</p> <blockquote> <p>"I will not pretend there is nothing we can do to stop this," Huckabee said at the event, where a Topeka Capital-Journal correspondent was present.</p> <p>At his next stop, in Rockwell City, Huckabee answered follow-up questions from the correspondent, saying: "All American citizens should be protected."</p> <p>Asked by another reporter how he would stop abortion, and whether this would mean using the FBI or federal forces to accomplish this, Huckabee replied: "We'll see if I get to be president."</p> </blockquote> <p>That's crazy. The right to an abortion has been upheld by the Supreme Court. Huckabee is saying he might simply disregard the judicial branch and stop the practice unilaterally&mdash;that is, he'd remove the checks from "checks and balances." It's not the first time he's proposed a constitutional crisis as an antidote to things he doesn't like. Huckabee has also <a href="http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/mike-huckabee-fight-gay-marriage-dred-scott-ruling-civil-disobedience" target="_blank">said</a> states should practice civil disobedience by ignoring the Supreme Court's decision on same-sex marriage.</p> <p>And to think, we're still nearly a week away <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/07/gop-debate-cruz-paul-huckabee-trump-santorum" target="_blank">from the first primary debate</a>.</p></body></html> MoJo 2016 Elections mike huckabee Fri, 31 Jul 2015 20:48:25 +0000 Tim Murphy 281076 at http://www.motherjones.com Friday Cat Blogging - 31 July 2015 http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/07/friday-cat-blogging-31-july-2015 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Hopper (left) and Hilbert are so entranced by something or other that even my sister wants to know what they're looking at. My guess: a dust mote in the cat dimension.</p> <p>Speaking of my sister, she is promising some guest cat blogging for next week. Will she come through? Tune in next Friday to find out!</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_hopper_hilbert_2015_07_31.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 40px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 31 Jul 2015 18:50:05 +0000 Kevin Drum 281066 at http://www.motherjones.com The HPV Vaccine Prevents Cancer. So Why Aren't Most Teens Getting It? http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/07/cdc-reports-not-enough-HPV-vaccinations <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>According to latest National Immunization Survey, <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2015/p0730-hpv.html" target="_blank">released</a> by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Thursday, around 60 percent of teenage girls and 78 percent of teenage boys haven't received all three of the recommended doses of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, which helps prevent reproductive cancers and genital warts caused by the virus.</p> <p>Administered through three shots over a six month period, the vaccine protects against the most common types of the highly contagious virus, which is spread through sexual contact. Health officials recommend that adolescents receive the shots between the ages of 11 and 12 to boost the chances for immunity prior to any sexual activity, but the survey showed that 40 percent of girls and 60 percent of boys&nbsp;ages 13 to 17 hadn't received even the first dose.</p> <p>HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease&mdash;most people will contract one of the 40 strains at some point in their lives. Seventy-nine million people in the United States have HPV, and an additional 14 million people are infected annually. Many people don't even know they have the virus, and it often goes away on its own.</p> <p>But not everyone is so lucky: One in every 100 will develop genital warts and 23,000 are diagnosed with HPV-caused cancers each year. According to the CDC, the vaccine prevents almost all pre-cancers and warts caused by the virus in both males and females. Since the first HPV vaccine was developed <a href="http://www.cancer.gov/research/progress/discovery/hpv-vaccines" target="_blank">in 2006,</a> the vaccine has helped reduce HPV infections among teenage girls by 56 percent&mdash;even with vaccination rates as low as they are.</p> <p>Still, many parents are deciding to pass. A <a href="http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2013/03/12/peds.2012-2384.full.pdf+html" target="_blank">study published in <em>Pediatrics </em></a>in 2013 showed that the reasons most cited included unwarranted fears about vaccine safety and disbelief that their kids would be sexually active. Despite it's proven safety and effectiveness, the vaccine has become a politically divisive issue. In 2011, Texas Governor Rick Perry was the <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/rick-perry-reverses-himself-calls-hpv-vaccine-mandate-a-mistake/2011/08/16/gIQAM2azJJ_story.html" target="_blank">first in the country to order a mandate</a>, sparking <a href="http://scholarship.law.georgetown.edu/facpub/694/" target="_blank">outrage from the religious right.</a> During a 2011 debate, Michele Bachmann claimed that the vaccine was "very dangerous" and caused "mental retardation," and Rick Santorum called vaccine mandates, "just wrong."</p> <div id="stcpDiv" style="position: absolute; top: -1999px; left: -1988px;">HPV vaccine uptake has not kept pace with that of other adolescent vaccines and has stalled in the past few years. In 2012, only about one-third of 13- to 17-year-old girls received all three recommended doses. These levels fall considerably short of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services <span class="italic">Healthy People 2020</span> goal of having 80 percent of 13- to 15-year-old girls fully vaccinated against HPV. Immunization rates for U.S. boys are even lower than for girls. Less than 7 percent of boys ages 13 to 17 completed the series in 2012. This low rate is in large part because the ACIP recommendation for routine vaccination of boys was not made until 2011. However, it is even lower than what was observed for girls in 2007&mdash;the first year following the recommendation for females&mdash;suggesting that concerted efforts are needed to promote HPV vaccination of males. - See more at: http://deainfo.nci.nih.gov/advisory/pcp/annualReports/HPV/ExecutiveSummary.htm#sthash.R6gsTr6L.dpuf</div> <p>The National Cancer Institute <a href="http://deainfo.nci.nih.gov/advisory/pcp/annualReports/HPV/ExecutiveSummary.htm#sthash.R6gsTr6L.dpbs" target="_blank">has called</a> for an "urgency of action" in closing vaccination gaps , citing that current vaccine rates are falling short of the US Department of Health and Human Services Goal for 80 percent coverage among 13 to 15 year old girls by 2020.</p> <p>Though the focus is more often on girls, men are at also risk for HPV-caused cancers, including throat cancer, which may soon replace cervical cancer as the <a href="http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2015/04/13/hpv-vaccine-in-men-would-save-costs-of-treating-throat-cancer" target="_blank">most common</a> caused by the virus.</p> <p>The survey did show there had been big gains in some parts of the country&mdash;Illinois, Montana, North Carolina and Utah all averaged increases of roughly 20 percent&mdash;which health officials say is an encouraging sign.</p> <p>"The large increases in these diverse parts of the country show us it is possible to do much better at protecting our nation's youth from cancers caused by HPV infections," Dr. Anne Schuchat, assistant surgeon general and director of CDC&rsquo;s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said in a statement released with the report. "We are missing crucial opportunities to protect the next generation from cancers caused by HPV."</p></body></html> Blue Marble Health Top Stories Fri, 31 Jul 2015 18:37:41 +0000 Gabrielle Canon 280986 at http://www.motherjones.com It's Republicans, Not Obama, Who Want to Bust the Sequestration Deal http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/07/its-republicans-not-obama-who-want-bust-sequestration-deal <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The <em>LA Times</em> reports today that we might be headed for another government shutdown. Big surprise. <a href="http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-budget-standoff-20150730-story.html" target="_blank">But these paragraphs are very peculiar:</a></p> <blockquote> <p><strong>President Obama has signaled his intention to bust, once and for all, the severe 2011 spending caps known as sequestration.</strong> He's vowed to reject any GOP-backed appropriation bills that increase government funding for the military without also boosting domestic programs important to Democrats such as Head Start for preschoolers.</p> <p>The Republican-controlled Congress is also digging in. Since taking control in January, GOP leaders had promised to run Congress responsibly and prevent another shutdown like the one in 2013, but their spending proposals are defying the president's veto threat by bolstering defense accounts and leaving social-welfare programs to be slashed.</p> </blockquote> <p>It's true that Obama has proposed doing away with the sequestration caps. But his budgets have routinely been described as DOA by Republican leaders, so his plans have never gotten so much as a hearing. What's happening right now is entirely different. Republicans are claiming they want to keep the sequestration deal, but they don't like the fact that back in 2011 they agreed it would cut domestic and military spending equally. Instead, Republicans now want to <em>increase</em> military spending and <em>decrease</em> domestic spending. They're doing this by putting the additional defense money into an "emergency war-spending account," which technically allows them to get around the sequester caps. Unsurprisingly, Obama's not buying it.</p> <p>So how does this count as <em>Obama</em> planning to "bust" the sequestration caps? I don't get it. It sounds like Obama is willing to stick to the original deal if he has to, but he's quite naturally insisting that this means sticking to the entire deal. It's Republicans who are trying to renege. What am I missing here?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 31 Jul 2015 18:21:51 +0000 Kevin Drum 281061 at http://www.motherjones.com A Supermarket Tabloid Company is Funding Chris Christie's Super PAC http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/07/chris-christie-super-pac-american-media <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The pro-Chris Christie super-PAC America Leads raised $11 million in the first quarter of 2015, according to filings released by the Federal Election Commission on Friday. <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/10/13/empire-edge" target="_blank">Controversial hedge-fund manager</a> Steven A. Cohen gave $1 million. Cleveland Cavaliers owner (and Quicken Loans chief) Dan Gilbert gave $750,000. Home Depot co-founder Ken Langone and WWE magnate Linda McMahon each dropped $250,000. New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon dropped $100,000 that his team's fans dearly wish he'd spent on an outfielder.</p> <p>Oh, and it's hardly the biggest donation on the list, but America Leads also got $10,000 from an unusual source&mdash;a media company. The check came from American Media Inc., the parent company of supermarket tabloids like the <em>National Enquirer</em>, <em>OK!</em>, and <em>Star; </em>and fitness publications like <em>Men's Fitness</em>, <em>Muscle &amp; Fitness</em>; and <em>Flex</em>. What's the Christie connection? In June, the governor named American Media Inc.'s chairman, David Pecker, to his presidential leadership team.</p> <p>We can't speak for <em>Flex</em>, but the normally scandal-happy <em>Enquirer</em> has been bullish about Christie's chances. Last April, it <a href="http://www.nationalenquirer.com/celebrity/exclusive-chris-christies-white-house-dream-alive" target="_blank">published</a> an "EXCLUSIVE!" boasting that the governor's White House dreams were "alive" because "American politics is full of comeback stories." And in February, it <a href="http://www.nationalenquirer.com/celebrity/oval-office-dream-alive-republican-frontrunner-chris-christie-clear-over-hatchet-job" target="_blank">published</a> another item touting Christie's chances despite "hatchet job" corruption claims.</p></body></html> MoJo 2016 Elections Money in Politics Chris Christie Fri, 31 Jul 2015 17:06:50 +0000 Tim Murphy 281036 at http://www.motherjones.com California Really Doesn't Need to Worry About Losing Jobs to Texas http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/07/california-really-doesnt-need-worry-about-losing-jobs-texas <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Is California losing jobs to Texas, thanks to California's stringent anti-business regulations vs. Texas's wide-open business-friendly environment? It's a question I have only a modest interest in, since there are lots of reasons for states to gain or lose business. California has nice weather. Texas has cheap housing. Recessions hit different states at different times and with different intensities. Business regulations might be part of the mix, but it's all but impossible to say how much.</p> <p>But now I care even less. Lyman Stone ran some numbers and confirmed that, in fact, California has been losing jobs and Texas has been gaining jobs over the past couple of decades. But by itself that isn't very interesting. The real question is, how many jobs? <a href="https://medium.com/migration-issues/companies-migrate-too-e10b71462a57" target="_blank">Here is Stone's chart:</a></p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_net_job_migration_california_texas.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 15px 0px;"></p> <p>Stone comments: "Net migration isn&rsquo;t 1% or 2%. <strong>It&rsquo;s plus or minus 0.05% in most cases.</strong> Even as a share of total change in employment, migration is massively overwhelmed by employment changes due to local startups and closures, and local expansions and contractions. The truth is, net employment changes due to firm migration are within the rounding error of total employment. Over time they may matter, but overall they&rsquo;re pretty miniscule."</p> <p>What's more, these numbers are for migration to and from every state in the union. They're far smaller if you look solely at California-Texas migration.</p> <p>Bottom line: An almost invisible number of workers are migrating from California to Texas each year due to firm relocation, probably less than .02 percent. The share of that due to burdensome business regulation is even less, probably no more than .01 percent. That's so small it belongs in the "Other" category of any employment analysis. No matter how you look at it, this is just not a big deal.</p> <p><strong>UPDATE:</strong> In a Twitter conversation, Stone makes it clear that this is solely a look at job migration tied to firm relocation. The idea is to test the theory that Texas is "poaching" companies from California thanks to its anti-business climate, and it seems pretty clear that this just isn't happening in numbers large enough to be noticeable.</p> <p>There are lots of other things to say about this, including the number of new startup firms in each state, where existing firms choose to expand, and so forth. Those would be interesting things to look at, but for another day. This is strictly a look at the supposed poaching phenomenon.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 31 Jul 2015 16:54:29 +0000 Kevin Drum 281046 at http://www.motherjones.com The New York Times Needs to do a Better Job of Explaining Its Epic Hillary Clinton Screw-Up http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/07/new-york-times-needs-do-better-job-explaining-its-epic-hillary-clinton-screw <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>As you probably know, the <em>New York Times</em> screwed up epically last week by publishing a story claiming that Hillary Clinton was the target of a criminal probe over the mishandling of classified information in her private email system. In the end, virtually everything about the story turned out to be wrong. Clinton was not a <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_nyt_hillary_criminal_referral.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">target. The referral was not criminal. The emails in question had not been classified at the time Clinton saw them. When the dust settled, it appeared that the whole thing was little more than a squabble between State and CIA over whether certain emails that State is releasing to the public should or shouldn't be classified. In other words, just your garden-variety bureaucratic dispute. Hardly worth a blurb on A17, let alone a screaming headline on the front page.</p> <p>The Clinton campaign has now officially asked the <em>Times</em> to account for how it could have bollixed this story so badly. <a href="https://www.hillaryclinton.com/p/briefing/updates/2015/07/30/letter-to-nyt/" target="_blank">Here are the most interesting paragraphs:</a></p> <blockquote> <p><em>Times'</em> editors have attempted to explain these errors by claiming the fault for the misreporting resided with a Justice Department official whom other news outlets cited as confirming the <em>Times'</em> report after the fact. This suggestion does not add up. <strong>It is our understanding that this Justice Department official was not the original source of the <em>Times'</em> tip.</strong> Moreover, notwithstanding the official's inaccurate characterization of the referral as criminal in nature, this official does not appear to have told the <em>Times</em> that Mrs. Clinton was the target of that referral, as the paper falsely reported in its original story.</p> <p><strong>This raises the question of what other sources the <em>Times</em> may have relied on for its initial report.</strong> It clearly was not either of the referring officials&nbsp;&mdash; that is, the Inspectors General of either the State Department or intelligence agencies&nbsp;&mdash; since the <em>Times'</em> sources apparently lacked firsthand knowledge of the referral documents. It also seems unlikely the source could have been anyone affiliated with those offices, as it defies logic that anyone so closely involved could have so severely garbled the description of the referral.</p> </blockquote> <p>Yes indeedy. Who was the person who first tipped off the <em>Times</em> reporters? And does that source still deserve anonymity? Clinton's letter seems to be pretty clearly implying that it might have been Trey Gowdy or someone on his staff, who are currently running the Benghazi investigation that's recently morphed into a Hillary Clinton witch hunt. Apparently they knew about this DOJ referral a day before the <em>Times</em> story ran, so maybe they're the ones who passed along the garbled version.</p> <p>The Clinton campaign can't say that, of course, since they have no proof. Neither do I. But it sure seems to be the plain implication of their response. Pretty clearly, someone who didn't have direct access to the referral&mdash;but knew of its existence&mdash;was the original source, and it's a pretty good guess that this source was someone unfriendly to Clinton. In other words, someone whose word shouldn't have been accepted without the most stringent due diligence.</p> <p>But when you get oppo research, it's a pretty good bet that others are getting it too. So you have to publish quickly if you want to be first. But that's not all: you also have to be pretty willing to accept dirt on Hillary Clinton at face value and you have to care more about being first than being right. The authors of the story, Michael Schmidt and Matt Apuzzo, really ought to address these issues in public at a press conference. After all, the press loves press conferences, right?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 31 Jul 2015 14:27:54 +0000 Kevin Drum 281016 at http://www.motherjones.com Why Has Maine Turned Into Crackpot Central? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/07/why-has-maine-turned-crackpot-central <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Yesterday, Steve Benen got me up to date on the latest lunacy from Maine Gov. Paul LePage. A few weeks ago, LePage decided to ignore a bunch of bills he didn't like, figuring he would "pocket veto" them <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_paul_lepage.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">by simply withholding his signature. Unfortunately, he didn't understand how the Maine constitution works, which means that all the bills became law. So now he says he just won't enforce any of them. Uh huh.</p> <p>Next, a private school hired Democratic House Speaker Mark Eves, a man LePage especially loathes, so he told the school to either fire Eves or else they'd lose their state money. Unless Maine law is truly extraordinary, this is so blatantly illegal that only someone completely out of control would even try it. Unsurprisingly, Eves is suing LePage, <a href="http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/just-when-things-couldnt-get-worse-paul-lepage" target="_blank">and this is LePage's defense:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The Tea Party governor hasn&rsquo;t actually denied the allegations, and neither have LePage&rsquo;s allies. The Maine Republican did argue this morning, however, that when he threatened the school it was comparable to LePage intervening in a domestic-violence dispute.</p> <p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s just like one time when I stepped in &hellip; when a man was beating his wife,&rdquo; the governor said. &ldquo;Should have I stepped in? Legally, no. But I did. And I&rsquo;m not embarrassed about doing it.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>Um, what? This is Sarah-Palin quality gibberish. And it's hardly the first sign that <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/07/theres-some-serious-weirdness-state-maine" target="_blank">LePage isn't playing with a full deck.</a> (You can find much, much more like this with any old Google search.) So here's what I don't get. It's one thing to elect the guy once. But how did he manage to get reelected last year? It's not because it was a 3-way race. He won 48 percent of the vote and probably would have won even without a third-party spoiler. But by then his lunacy should have been obvious to all. Are Maine residents really that attracted to kooks? Did the Democratic candidate threaten to outlaw lobster rolls? Or what? What the hell is going on up in Maine?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 31 Jul 2015 13:48:30 +0000 Kevin Drum 281011 at http://www.motherjones.com Fumes From Iowa Hog-Manure Pit Kill Father and Son http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2015/06/hog-cafo-fumes-deadly <!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 href="http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2015/07/video-were-hog-producer-world-yay-usa" target="_blank">another reason</a> why Americans should think twice about how the United States is <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2015/07/bacon-jbs-cargill-pork" target="_blank">emerging as the globe's hog farm</a>: concentrating thousands of hogs in one place means concentrating huge amounts of their shit, too; and that shit puts off gases that are so noxious that they can kill people who work near them. Think I'm exaggerating? Get this, from the <a href="http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/money/agriculture/2015/07/28/iowa-father-son-die-manure-pit-fumes/30809037/" target="_blank"><em>Des Moines Register</em></a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>A father and his son who were so close that they were &ldquo;like glue&rdquo; were killed Saturday by noxious fumes from a northwest Iowa hog manure pit&mdash;the second father and son in the Midwest to die of poisonous manure pit gases this month.</p> </blockquote> <p>These large, indoor facilities confine hogs above their own waste on a slatted floor&mdash;the waste falls through the slats and collects in a pit below. An incredibly putrid aroma&mdash;I've smelled it&mdash;shrouds these facilities. The air <a href="http://www.ecochem.com/t_hoginfo.html" target="_blank">contains</a> hydrogen sulfide, methane, ammonia, carbon dioxide, and&nbsp;volatile organic compounds. Hogs can live above these poison-gas cesspools because giant fans keep the air moving. But when something goes wrong beneath the slats, workers have to venture into places where there is no effective ventilation. And that's what happened on this Iowa hog farm, to heartbreaking effect.</p> <blockquote> <p>The two were repairing a pump at a hog confinement when a piece of equipment they were using fell into the manure pit, Wempen [a relative] said. Austin Opheim went into the pit first to retrieve the equipment, and his father followed him after realizing his son had been overcome by gases, Wempen said. ...&nbsp; &ldquo;(Gene) was carrying Austin on his back and bringing him up and he got almost to the top and he got overcome, and down they went,&rdquo; she said.</p> </blockquote> <p>An <a href="http://www.thebullvine.com/news/wisconsin-father-and-son-died-after-falling-into-a-manure-pit-at-their-family-farm/" target="_blank">eerily similar father-son tragedy</a> occurred in Wisconsin earlier in July.</p> <p>Such disasters can usually be averted by donning proper breathing equipment when venturing beneath the slats. But in recent years, Midwestern hog facilities have been beset by a <a href="http://www.extension.org/pages/63144/manure-foaming#.VbqgA7c3wdt" target="_blank">mysterious foam</a> that settles at the surface of manure pits, which creates a <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2013/05/menace-manure-foam-still-haunting-huge-hog-farms" target="_blank">buildup of volatile gases</a> that that has caused many explosions. Back in June, two workers at a Minnesota hog farm <a href="http://www.porknetwork.com/news/two-workers-killed-hog-barn-fire" target="_blank">died in a fire</a> that erupted after they had been cleaning the slats of an empty hog facility&mdash;<a href="http://www.porknetwork.com/community/brumm-speaks-out-safety-when-power-washing-above-foaming-pits" target="_blank">apparently the result</a> of "power-washing activities bursting the foam bubbles in the manure pit" below. And last year, <a href="http://www.porknetwork.com/news/two-workers-killed-hog-barn-fire" target="_blank">reports</a> the trade journal <em>Pork Network</em>, a "similar fire in<a href="http://www.porknetwork.com/pork-news/Former-IPPA-president-injured-in-hog-barn-fire-277243841.html" target="_blank"> Iowa severely burned Leon Sheets</a>, a past president of the Iowa Pork Producers Association, as he power-washed one of his hog barns."</p></body></html> Tom Philpott Food and Ag Thu, 30 Jul 2015 22:56:19 +0000 Tom Philpott 280991 at http://www.motherjones.com For a Week, Walter Palmer Is the Worst Human Being Ever in History http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/07/week-walter-palmer-worst-human-being-ever-history <!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_lion.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Max Fisher argues that the social media jihad against Walter Palmer, the Minnesota dentist who killed Cecil the lion, <a href="http://www.vox.com/2015/7/30/9074865/cecil-lion-palmer-mob-justice" target="_blank">is wildly out of control:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Web users uncovered Palmer's personal information, including about his family, and published it online. They went after his business, a private dental practice, posting thousands of negative reviews on Yelp and other sites. The practice has since shut down. Users also went after professional websites that host his profile, leading the sites to remove his information. On Twitter and on his practice's public Facebook page, people made threats of physical violence.</p> <p>....Maybe you loved Cecil the lion, and believe that Palmer deserves all of this suffering. Maybe you believe that his family and employees also deserve to have their livelihoods threatened. But even if you believe that this particular mob made the correct decision in both identifying the targets and meting out punishments, the way its members reached these decisions &mdash; arbitrarily, based on what they thought would feel good to punish &mdash; should worry you.</p> </blockquote> <p>Social media is, famously, decentralized. With a few exceptions, this means that every individual blast at Palmer is just that: one person getting something off their chest. The problem is that there's no governor on a decentralized attack like this, no one leading the charge. That means it can easily spiral into a lynch mob regardless of whether anyone meant it to in the first place.</p> <p>But mob justice, Fisher says perceptively, "is not primarily about punishing the crime or the criminal, but rather about indulging the outrage of the mob and its thirst for vengeance. Sometimes that leads the mob to target people who perhaps legitimately deserve punishment, but typically it does not. And there is no reason to expect it to. That's not what mobs are about." That's right. Too often, mob justice is flatly misdirected, and even when it's not, it's frequently far out of proportion to the offense.</p> <p>Before the internet, for example, if a university student said something stupid, it would cause a few days of distress among a smallish group of people. Lesson learned. Young people say dumb things all the time. Today, <a href="http://gawker.com/5527355/meet-stephanie-grace-the-harvard-law-student-who-started-a-racist-email-war" target="_blank">if the student is unlucky,</a> it becomes a social media virus. Within a few days the entire world knows about it and the student is a pariah. This is far out of proportion to the offense. And it's even worse, as Fisher says, when the outrage is misdirected completely, as in the case of Sunil Tripathi's family, which was terrorized for weeks after the Boston bombing by a mob convinced he had been a part of the plot&mdash;which supposedly explained why he had gone missing. But it turned out that his absence was actually explained by something else: he had committed suicide.</p> <p>Maybe Walter Palmer deserves what he's gotten, maybe he doesn't. But I doubt the internet mob actually cares. It's just a spectacle, and when they get bored they'll train their sights on whatever the next shiny object is. Maybe it's somebody or something that deserves the spotlight. Maybe it's not. Who cares, right? I mean, have you seen the asshole in that video?</p> <p>In the end, I suppose this is yet another plea to tone down the volume on outrage culture, which has lately defined the internet more than either porn or cat videos. It's what I used to jokingly call the "death penalty for parking tickets" problem. Unfortunately, it's not so much of a joke anymore, because it turns out that Andy Warhol was wrong. Everybody doesn't get 15 minutes of fame these days. Instead, each week some randomly chosen schmo gets an onslaught of withering, life-destroying shame&mdash;whether they deserve it or not. It's not really an improvement.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 30 Jul 2015 21:11:23 +0000 Kevin Drum 280971 at http://www.motherjones.com Watch Activists Dangle Off a Portland Bridge to Block Shell's Arctic-Bound Ship http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/07/activists-dangle-portland-bridge-block-shell-arctic-ship <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><strong>Update 7/31/15</strong>: Thursday evening, Shell's MSV Fennica made another attempt to pass through protestors on Portland's Willamette River. This time, the icebreaker was successful; the Fennica is now on its way back up to the Arctic. The video below shows the dramatic confrontation between the ship and the environmental activists:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/JA8rXG4BH2A" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Environmental activists have taken to <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/05/kayaktavistsv-take-over-seattles-elliott-bay-protest-shell-oil-rig" target="_blank">kayak</a>, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2015/06/shell-protestors-arctic-challenger-oil-drilling" target="_blank">chain</a>, and even <a href="https://twitter.com/strangerslog/status/608324008203964416" target="_blank">rocking chair</a> to slow down Royal Dutch Shell's <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/05/obama-just-gave-shell-green-light-drill-arctic" target="_blank">plans to drill for oil in the Arctic</a> this summer. For the past two days, they took their protest to a new extreme. Early Wednesday morning, around <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jul/29/activists-hang-from-bridge-portland-block-shells-arctic-oil-vessel" target="_blank">a dozen Greenpeace activists rappelled off a bridge</a> over the Willamette River in Portland, Ore. to stop a Shell ship stationed there for repairs from returning to the Arctic. This morning, it appears <a href="http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2015/07/greenpeace_protest_icebreaker.html#incart_gallery" target="_blank">they caused the ship to turn around</a> after it tried to rejoin Shell's fleet in the Arctic's Chukchi Sea.</p> <p>The ship, called the MSV Fennica, went all the way up to the Arctic only <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/07/13/us-usa-shell-arctic-idUSKCN0PN2IQ20150713" target="_blank">to find a 39-inch-long gash in its side</a>. The damage was so serious, the ship had to travel all the way back to Portland for repairs. The Fennica is an icebreaker, but also carries Shell's capping stack, needed to stop an underwater well leak; Shell can't begin its exploring until the Fennica and its equipment is back and functioning in the Arctic.</p> <p>In an effort to stop it from rejoining Shell's fleet in the Chukchi Sea, and delay the oil giant's drilling plans there, Greenpeace organized protestors to dangle from Portland's St. John's bridge and physically stop the ship from traveling down the Willamette River and back out to the Pacific. We reached out to Shell to confirm if the protestors have affected the Fennica's schedule, but have not heard back.</p> <p>Below, we collected some Twitter photos of the dramatic protest:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">The ship is headed towards us <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/shellno?src=hash">#shellno</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/youshellnotpass?src=hash">#youshellnotpass</a> <a href="http://t.co/oXs4jsQsBX">pic.twitter.com/oXs4jsQsBX</a></p> &mdash; Dan Cannon (@DanEnviroCannon) <a href="https://twitter.com/DanEnviroCannon/status/626748320958943232">July 30, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">The fennica is headed back to its dock where it belongs - not the arctic! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ShellNo?src=hash">#ShellNo</a> <a href="http://t.co/wCwByWhgHD">pic.twitter.com/wCwByWhgHD</a></p> &mdash; Dan Cannon (@DanEnviroCannon) <a href="https://twitter.com/DanEnviroCannon/status/626767619228471296">July 30, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">We have a beautiful view over the water. Supporters on the shore and in kayaks, and NO Fennica in sight. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ShellNo?src=hash">#ShellNo</a> <a href="http://t.co/JkJqD61bGh">pic.twitter.com/JkJqD61bGh</a></p> &mdash; Kristina N. Flores (@KristinaNFlores) <a href="https://twitter.com/KristinaNFlores/status/626789090738831360">July 30, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en"><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ShellNo?src=hash">#ShellNo</a> protesters cheer as the icebreaker backs down, turns around: <a href="http://t.co/YCFh5cFvxS">http://t.co/YCFh5cFvxS</a> <a href="http://t.co/h5mlh3BQb6">pic.twitter.com/h5mlh3BQb6</a></p> &mdash; The Seattle Times (@seattletimes) <a href="https://twitter.com/seattletimes/status/626774550823497728">July 30, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">These 13 folks are what stands between Shell and the Arctic. Many thanks for their courage and skill <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/shellno?src=hash">#shellno</a> <a href="http://t.co/ZzkyMQRfgO">pic.twitter.com/ZzkyMQRfgO</a></p> &mdash; Bill McKibben (@billmckibben) <a href="https://twitter.com/billmckibben/status/626495189742436352">July 29, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">.<a href="https://twitter.com/OregonGovBrown">@OregonGovBrown</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/MayorPDX">@MayorPDX</a> say <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ShellNo?src=hash">#ShellNo</a> to drilling in the Arctic and let the St Johns climbers stay! <a href="http://t.co/FHLuE7rjk4">http://t.co/FHLuE7rjk4</a></p> &mdash; Mark Ruffalo (@MarkRuffalo) <a href="https://twitter.com/MarkRuffalo/status/626583774424354816">July 30, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Demonstrators hang from Portland bridge to block Shell ship <a href="http://t.co/6ha2pbJsO4">http://t.co/6ha2pbJsO4</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/KATUNews">@katunews</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ActOnClimate?src=hash">#ActOnClimate</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ShellNo?src=hash">#ShellNo</a> <a href="http://t.co/ubTXyn0xGk">pic.twitter.com/ubTXyn0xGk</a></p> &mdash; Pipe Up Network (@PipeUpNetwork) <a href="https://twitter.com/PipeUpNetwork/status/626782116596953088">July 30, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Shell's icebreaker was supposed to leave for the Arctic last night. Then <a href="https://twitter.com/greenpeaceusa">@GreenpeaceUSA</a> climbers said <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ShellNo?src=hash">#ShellNo</a>: <a href="http://t.co/Ygj6jsKXPe">pic.twitter.com/Ygj6jsKXPe</a></p> &mdash; 350 dot org (@350) <a href="https://twitter.com/350/status/626368250557919232">July 29, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Energy Thu, 30 Jul 2015 18:59:44 +0000 Luke Whelan 280966 at http://www.motherjones.com Here Are Some Photos of Rep. John Lewis Holding Some Adorable Puppies http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/07/john-lewis-puppies <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Shortly after commemorating the <a href="http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc-quick-cuts/watch/john-lewis--the-vote-is-almost-sacred-494198851513" target="_blank">50th anniversary</a> of the landmark Voting Rights Act on Thursday, Rep. John Lewis stopped by the ASPCA's Paws for Celebration event on Capitol Hill to meet some adorable puppies. Fortunately for the rest of us, cameras were present:</p> <center> <div id="fb-root">&nbsp;</div> <script>(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.3"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script><div class="fb-post" data-href="https://www.facebook.com/RepJohnLewis/posts/10153411338078405" data-width="500"> <div class="fb-xfbml-parse-ignore"> <blockquote cite="https://www.facebook.com/RepJohnLewis/posts/10153411338078405"> <p>It was good to spend a little time with the wonderful puppies that the ASPCA brought to Capitol Hill.</p> Posted by <a href="https://www.facebook.com/RepJohnLewis">John Lewis</a> on&nbsp;<a href="https://www.facebook.com/RepJohnLewis/posts/10153411338078405">Thursday, July 30, 2015</a></blockquote> </div> </div> </center> <p>That's right. It doesn't get much better than everyone's favorite congressman and iconic civil rights leader holding puppies.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Animals Congress Thu, 30 Jul 2015 18:42:48 +0000 Inae Oh 280961 at http://www.motherjones.com Will the Tea Party Shoot Itself in the Foot Yet Again? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/07/will-tea-party-shoot-itself-foot-yet-again <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Paul Waldman notes today that although Jeb Bush is substantively pretty conservative, his tone on the campaign trail has remained resolutely moderate and affable. Waldman explains how this leads to <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2015/07/30/maybe-jeb-bush-doesnt-have-to-pander-to-the-right-wing-after-all/" target="_blank">Bush winning the nomination:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>If you&rsquo;re Bush, your path to victory looks like this: Trump soaks up all the attention for a while, but eventually gets bored (and hasn&rsquo;t bothered to mount an actual campaign that can deliver votes), and either fades or just packs it in. <strong>Meanwhile, the conservative vote is split. Once the voting starts, the failing candidates will begin to fall away one by one. But by the time most of them are gone and their supporters have coalesced around a single candidate like Scott Walker, it&rsquo;s too late</strong> &mdash; Jeb has built his lead and is piling up delegates, <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/images/blog_tea_party_patriots.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">has all the money in the world, and can vanquish that last opponent on his way to the convention in Cleveland.</p> </blockquote> <p>In other words, a repeat of 2012, when all the hard-core conservatives split the tea party vote ten ways while Mitt Romney quietly vacuumed up the entire moderate vote. By the time Rick Santorum was the last tea partier standing, it was too late. Romney coasted to victory.</p> <p>This is the great conundrum of the tea-party wing of the Republican Party. What they <em>should</em> do is coalesce immediately around Scott Walker. He's the most plausible winner among the tea partiers, and if the race was basically between him and Bush from the start, there's a pretty good chance he could win. On the other hand, if he has to fight off a dozen challengers for months on end, it'll just be a rerun of 2012. He'll get a share of the tea party vote, but it won't be nearly enough to fend off Bush, who will have his own share of the tea partiers plus the vast majority of the moderate wing of the GOP, which is disgusted that their party has been taken over by loons. There are still quite a few of those folks around.</p> <p>I guess this is where a smoke-filled room would come in handy. This is a classic collective action problem, but without party bosses who can step in and take charge, there's really no answer to it. The tea-party candidates keep thinking that they can run and win because there are so many tea partiers among the Republican primary electorate. Unfortunately, there are too many of them who think so. The end result is that they tear each other to shreds and end up with John McCain, Mitt Romney, and Jeb Bush. And then they whine and complain about how "the party" has betrayed the conservative cause yet again.</p> <p>This isn't inevitable, of course. It's possible that Walker or one of the other mean-boy candidates will break out and become the de facto tea party standard bearer. It's just not as likely as it should be. It's a shame the tea partiers can't get their act together, isn't it?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 30 Jul 2015 17:21:45 +0000 Kevin Drum 280951 at http://www.motherjones.com ISIS Is Losing the War, But That Doesn't Mean We're Winning It http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/07/isis-losing-war-doesnt-mean-were-winning-it <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Zack Beauchamp says that ISIS is losing the war. His evidence is the map on the right. ISIS may have taken over Ramadi in Iraq and Palmyra <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_isis_losses_2015.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 27px 0px 15px 30px;">in Syria, but overall they've lost about 9 percent of the territory <a href="http://www.vox.com/2015/7/30/9069705/isis-map-10-percent" target="_blank">they controlled at the beginning of the year:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>This points to one of ISIS's most fundamental problems: It has too many enemies....ISIS's fighters might be skilled, but they can't fight everyone at once.</p> </blockquote> <p>True enough. What may be more interesting, though, is <em>who</em> they lost that territory to. Here are the numbers for territorial gains:</p> <ul><li>+11% &mdash; Syrian rebels</li> <li>+10% &mdash; Kurdish forces</li> <li>+4.5% &mdash; Iraqi government</li> </ul><p>In other words, Iraqi forces were responsible for less than a fifth of the total gains from ISIS. Add to that their humiliating loss in Ramadi, about an hour's drive from Baghdad, and there's still not much evidence that the Iraqi government has a clue about how to fight ISIS. It remains unclear how and when that will change.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 30 Jul 2015 16:05:29 +0000 Kevin Drum 280946 at http://www.motherjones.com