Blogs | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/Blogs/2007/10/da http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en GOP Senate Candidate Takes a 9/11 Truther's Questions: "Things Like This Have to Be Asked" http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/04/greg-brannon-rand-paul-9-11-truther <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>In 2012, Greg Brannon, who is now a North Carolina Republican Senate candidate, wouldn't say whether he thought the attacks on September 11, 2001 were an inside job&mdash;but, he said, "Things like this have to be asked."</p> <p>Brannon, an OB-GYN endorsed by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and a leading contender in the GOP primary to challenge Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), <a href="http://billlumaye.blogspot.com/2012/11/dr-greg-brannon-on-constitution.html">made that comment</a> as a guest on a local conservative talk show. At the time, Brannon was running Founder's Truth, a North Carolina tea party organization. A caller offered up a conspiracy theory about September 11, and as the host, Bill LuMaye, tried to redirect the conversation, Brannon answered:</p> <blockquote> <p><strong>John, caller: </strong>I'm a 9/11 truther. And I had a friend of mine&hellip;tell me, look on the Internet, Google "the Pentagon" and show me where the plane hit the Pentagon. Where is the plane? There's all kinds of pictures of that building smoldering, and fire trucks everywhere. There's no plane. So I did research on the size of planes, of the engines that ran this plane. These things are 12,000 pounds, these engines that would have flown off&mdash;that's six tons&mdash;and put a hole in something. There's nothing there.</p> <p><strong>Bill LuMaye:</strong> Well, without getting into&mdash;</p> <p><strong>John:</strong> There's a hole in the building and there's no broken glass.</p> <p><strong>LuMaye:</strong> Well, I'd rather not get into a discussion on whether 9/11 was an inside job or not. I really, I mean, we can save that for another day, I have no problem with that, it's just&mdash;</p> <p><strong>Greg Brannon:</strong> These questions, again, actually, that's what [9/11 commission vice-chair] Lee Hamilton said. And he just said, there's other questions that need answering. The guy who got all the information&hellip;a Democrat and a Republican, were the co-chairmen of the 9/11 commission, and when they got done, they did not put their stamp of approval on the commission. They said, there's data that we did not put in there. So things like this have to be asked.</p> <p><strong>LuMaye: </strong>Well, I appreciate your call, John.</p> <p><strong>Brannon: </strong>Thanks, John.</p> </blockquote> <p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/145380222%3Fsecret_token%3Ds-VxePM&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p>It's true that Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, the chairman and vice chairman of the 9/11 commission, said that the commission's investigation of the September 11 plot was incomplete. But their <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/08/04/AR2006080401026_pf.html">complaint</a> was that government agencies blocked the commission from assessing how badly prepared the United States was for the attacks, and which US agencies were responsible for failing to prevent the attacks&mdash;not that the US was hiding its own involvement.</p> </body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/mojo/2014/04/greg-brannon-rand-paul-9-11-truther"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> MoJo Elections The Right Top Stories Embarrassing and Ridiculous Things Said by 2014 Candidates Mon, 21 Apr 2014 10:00:07 +0000 Molly Redden 250136 at http://www.motherjones.com Meaningful Music Meets Debauchery in the Desert: Anti-Flag Rocks Coachella http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/04/anti-flag-coachella-provide-meaningful-music <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>The sun had set on the first day of Coachella. Bright, colored lights adorning art installations and beaming from stages highlighted the plumes of smoke and dust clouds emitting from audiences at the Indio Fairgrounds. I hurried through the sweaty shoulders clustered&nbsp;in front of the main stage, excited to see a band that played a big part in my musical upbringing.</p> <p>Anti-Flag, which celebrated 20-years of punk rock in 2013, was set to play one of the smaller stages Friday, April 11,&nbsp;at midnight in the Gobi tent. <a href="http://www.coachella.com/" target="_blank">The Coachella Valley Arts and Music Festival</a> has consistently delivered on nostalgia, bringing out new artists along with acts audiences know and love. But I wondered what the Anti-Flag crowd would look like.</p> <p>The festival, which started small in Indio, California, in&nbsp;1999, has since grown to attract worldwide attention, <a href="http://www.coachella.com/festival-experiences/" target="_blank">amenities</a> such as craft beer, gourmet food, and<a href="http://valleymusictravel.com/coachella_safari2014.php" target="_blank"> luxury campsites</a>, along with a hefty price-tag (admission runs from $349-$799, not including transportation, housing, food, and a budget for the more nefarious activities commonly considered part of the festival experience).&nbsp;</p> <p>The aesthetic of the festival's&nbsp;attendees is often discussed (and criticized) more than the music, and it&nbsp;largely defines the brand and attraction of Coachella. This year, the throngs of festival-goers were styled as expected. Neon tanks blended with short skirts, a scattering of ironic Native American headdresses, and, of course, skin, skin, skin. Dressing for the heat of the desert doesn't leave much to the imagination.</p> <p>The hallmark of festival style, however, is a <a href="http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/floral-garland" target="_blank">flowered wreath</a>. A bouquet of large blooms wrapped in a crown, these wreaths&nbsp;adorned heads in every direction. Beautiful but cumbersome, their glamor began to wear thin the more often I saw them. They're worn as a&nbsp;nod to the "free-spirit" identity crafted by music festivals like Coachella, but in reality, they seem limiting. How can you head-bang with flowers in your hair? I didn't expect to see many of them at the Anti-Flag set that night.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"> <img alt="" class="image" src="/files/rsz_antiflagcoach5_0.jpg"><div class="caption"> <strong>Anti-Flag drummer Pat Thetic </strong>Megan Thompson</div> </div> <p>When I spoke to drummer Pat Thetic earlier that the day, he said he wasn&rsquo;t fazed by the notion that his punk band might be playing to a more eclectic, or at least a smaller audience at Coachella."There are a lot of people here and they are open to ideas," he said."We need to have a voice of dissent in every environment. Whether it is a place like Coachella or a place like Warped Tour or at a local football game&mdash;you have to have a voice of dissent."</p> <p>Anti-Flag is no stranger to the role. Hailing from Pittsburgh, the band started with a political aim, founded on their town&rsquo;s history of labor movements. Its two original members, Thetic and lead singer/guitar player Justin Sane, were joined by Chris Head (rhythm guitar, backing vocals) and Chris Baker or "Chris #2"&nbsp;(lead vocals, bass guitar) in the late nineties.</p> <p>Punk Rock was a venue for voicing their beliefs and rallying others."We were all trying to say something," Thetic says. "It did not necessarily mean that we were intelligent and had good things to say, but we were angry and activism and politics were a place to release that anger and frustration." His words perfectly described how I felt as a high school kid when I first discovered the band and punk rock. I loved the pounding rhythm that paralleled how I felt about the messages in the&nbsp;music.</p> <p>The band has remained dedicated&nbsp;to highlighting social ills and continues to be involved&nbsp;in important causes. Last year, they partnered with <a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/art-for-amnesty" target="_blank">Art For Amnesty</a>, the Amnesty International campaign inspired by the imprisonment of Russian activist punk band Pussy Riot. Their version of "Toast to Freedom" (below), featuring Donots, Ian D&rsquo;Sa of Billy Talent, and Bernd of Beatsteaks, is just one example of their musical advocacy efforts.</p> <p>They have raised funds for nonprofits championing an array of issues&mdash;from <a href="http://features.peta.org/never-be-silent/anti-flag.aspx" target="_blank">PETA </a>to Planned Parenthood, African Well Fund to the ACLU. Anti-Flag founded Military Free Zone to highlight problems with military recruitment in schools and Underground Action Alliance, a site that brings young activists together.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/WZ3VqR8xC34" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>That&rsquo;s why when I asked Thetic how music can solve the worlds problems I was surprised to hear him say it can&rsquo;t."Music doesn&rsquo;t change the world by any stretch," he said adamantly,"but the people who are changing the world are listening."</p> <p>I wondered if the people changing the world were even at Coachella. Thetic assured me that they were&mdash;even if they didn&rsquo;t know it yet."These kids are not being taught about these things but if they come to a festival like this maybe they will stop by and hear an Anti-Flag song," he explains.&nbsp;&ldquo;If they are like &lsquo;Who are these guys? Why are they so angry? What are they talking about? Should I be that angry?&rsquo;&nbsp;Those ideas can catch hold and spark a fire."</p> <p>I reached the Gobi tent right before Anti-Flag was scheduled to play. I looked around at the people trickling in and hoped to see a fire spark. The lights went up. The band took the stage. The crowd grew. The onlookers transformed into a sea of bobbing heads and thrashing arms. Some shouted along. Others just moved to the music.</p> <p>&ldquo;Welcome to the most right and righteous circle pit of all Coachella history!" Chris #2 shouted from the stage."It happens right here, right now. Everyone is running in a circle. If someone falls down we pick them up!" The crowd erupted into organized mayhem&mdash;a blur of circular motion cycling through the middle. The moshing continued throughout the set. People kept their phones put away, even when Thetic brought his drum kit into the crowd for the final song.</p> <p>By the time the band finished it was nearing 1 am. The dust from disbanded festival-goers was settling as workers made the rounds collecting&nbsp;trash left behind.</p> <p>As I made my way out of the tent I saw it. Crumpled, laying in the dirt near the stage, a flower&nbsp;wreath had been left behind by its wearer.&nbsp;I hoped it had been ripped off in triumph and danced into the ground&nbsp;while its owner was caught in&nbsp;the&nbsp;moment, hearing the message, and truly listening to the music. One can only guess how it landed there, but to me it was a symbol that someone&nbsp;left that night changed&mdash;if only in the smallest way.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> </body></html> Mixed Media Interview Music Mon, 21 Apr 2014 10:00:07 +0000 Gabrielle Canon 250021 at http://www.motherjones.com Quick Reads: "Authorisms" by Paul Dickson http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/04/quick-reads-authorisms-paul-dickson <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="Authorisms" class="image" src="/files/authorisms-250x300.png"></div> <p><strong>Authorisms</strong></p> <p>By Paul Dickson</p> <p>BLOOMSBURY</p> <p>Are you a literary <em>muscleman</em> or a <em>munchkin</em>? A word <em>ninja</em> or a spewer of <em>malaprops</em>? And who came up with these terms anyway? In <em>Authorisms</em>, Paul Dickson traces writerly <em>coinages</em> (a coinage of the Elizabethan scribe George Puttenham) of words and expressions ranging from <em>assassination </em>(Shakespeare's <em>Macbeth</em>) to <em>zombification</em> (the poet Andrei Codrescu). He takes things too far sometimes&mdash;while Jane Austen may have been the first to mention <em>base ball</em> in print&shy;, for instance, it wasn't the baseball we know. Yet I was fascinated to discover that sayings I'd mistaken for relatively recent&mdash;<em>blurb</em> (1907), <em>frenemy </em>(1953), <em>weapons of mass destruction </em>(1937), <em>wimp </em>(from an 1898 children's book by Evelyn Sharpe)&mdash;actually predated me. It's enough to drive an anxious magazine editor to <em>verbicide</em>.</p> <p><em>This review originally appeared in our May/June 2014 issue of</em> Mother Jones.</p> </body></html> Mixed Media Books Offbeat Mon, 21 Apr 2014 10:00:05 +0000 Michael Mechanic 248996 at http://www.motherjones.com Nope, There Are No Russians in Eastern Ukraine. Why Do You Ask? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/04/nope-there-are-no-russians-eastern-ukraine-why-do-you-ask <!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.nytimes.com/2014/04/21/world/europe/photos-link-masked-men-in-east-ukraine-to-russia.html?hp" target="_blank">Imagine my surprise:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>For two weeks, the mysteriously well-armed, professional gunmen known as &ldquo;green men&rdquo; have seized Ukrainian government sites in town after town, igniting a brush fire of separatist unrest across eastern Ukraine. Strenuous denials from the Kremlin have closely followed each accusation by Ukrainian officials that the world was witnessing a stealthy invasion by Russian forces.</p> <p>Now, photographs and descriptions from eastern Ukraine endorsed by the Obama administration on Sunday suggest that many of the green men are indeed Russian military and intelligence forces....More direct evidence of a Russian hand in eastern Ukraine is contained in a dossier of photographs provided by Ukraine to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, a Vienna-based organization now monitoring the situation in Donetsk and other parts of the country. It features pictures taken in eastern Ukraine of unidentified gunmen and an earlier photograph of what looks like the same men appearing in a group shot of a Russian military unit in Russia.</p> </blockquote> <p>Nope, nobody here but us surprisingly disciplined, well-trained, and Russian-armed guys in masks taking over government buildings. Anybody got a problem with that?</p> </body></html> Kevin Drum International Mon, 21 Apr 2014 05:59:00 +0000 Kevin Drum 250226 at http://www.motherjones.com "Veep" Just Aired Its Best Episode Yet http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/04/veep-season-three-hbo-best-episode-alicia-armando-iannucci-interview <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p><em>This post contains some spoilers.</em></p> <p>When I <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2013/06/armando-iannucci-interview-veep-hbo-joe-biden" target="_blank">spoke with <em>Veep </em>creator Armando Iannucci</a> last year, we had some fun discussing (among other topics) how he does his research for the HBO satire and why he would <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2013/06/armando-iannucci-interview-veep-hbo-joe-biden" target="_blank">never, ever, ever</a> allow Joe Biden on the show. But what really stood out to me was when Iannucci talked about his characters' professional and personal frustrations&mdash;and how those frustrations reflect his view of Washington's effect <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2013/06/armando-iannucci-interview-veep-hbo-joe-biden" target="_blank">on the soul</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>I don't want [the characters in <em>Veep</em>] to seem like caricatures&mdash;I want them to be viewed as <em>real</em> people, with their own problems, and hopes, and dreams, and frustrations...And it's that frustration and exasperation that I look for in comedy...What I want to do is show what the system can do to you, and to have [the audience] sympathize with the terrible set of circumstances these characters have to deal with every single day.</p> </blockquote> <p>Iannucci is a brilliant satirist and a clever political observer. His brand of comedy and commentary (also seen in British TV series <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8m3dFcNuAQ" target="_blank"><em>The Day Today</em></a> and <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cg-pnGFbwMQ" target="_blank"><em>The Thick of It</em></a>, and the latter's brilliant 2009 spin-off <a href="http://prospect.org/article/loops-and-parallels" target="_blank">film</a> <em><a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2KPUt01NKE" target="_blank">In the Loop</a></em>) is a mischievous deromanticization of political and media elites. It's smart, wildly funny stuff that's full of <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-20309441" target="_blank">carefully</a> constructed, linguistically acrobatic <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2013/04/tv-review-veep-hbo-season-2-julia-louis-dreyfus" target="_blank">profanity</a>.</p> <p>But with many of <em>Veep</em>'s episodes, that sympathy he mentions in the above quote doesn't always come through. Your average viewer might watch a random episode and come away with the impression that it was written by someone who despised Washington, DC, and all its inhabitants. (Iannucci is actually a self-described "politics geek" who finds DC "<a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2013/06/armando-iannucci-interview-veep-hbo-joe-biden" target="_blank">fascinating</a>.") However, in Sunday's episode, "Alicia" (directed by&nbsp;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Morris_%28satirist%29" target="_blank">Chris Morris</a>&nbsp;and guest-starring <a href="http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1139632/" target="_blank">Tracie Thoms</a>), Iannucci's humanist outlook is more apparent than it ever has been before in the series. This is the reason why "Alicia" is perhaps the finest episode <em>Veep </em>has yet to pull off.</p> </body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/mixed-media/2014/04/veep-season-three-hbo-best-episode-alicia-armando-iannucci-interview"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Mixed Media Elections Film and TV Top Stories Mon, 21 Apr 2014 03:00:06 +0000 Asawin Suebsaeng 250206 at http://www.motherjones.com Housekeeping Notes http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/04/housekeeping-notes <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>These are <em>real</em> housekeeping notes. That is, notes about stuff around my house. First topic: LED light bulbs.</p> <p>I've purchased several LED floods that are can-mounted in my ceiling. They're great. The quality of the light is good; they turn on instantly; they don't flicker; and they use hardly any electricity. There's only one problem: they seem to last less than a year. The LEDs themselves last for decades, of course, but the circuitry that drives the bulb doesn't. As <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_led_flood.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 20px 15px 30px;">near as I can tell, there's eventually enough heat buildup in the can to burn out the chip that controls the whole thing, and when the chip burns out, no more bulb.</p> <p>I'm just guessing here, but this has now happened three times out of five bulbs I've purchased, and in all three cases the case of the bulb was hot to the touch when I unscrewed it from the base. So here's my question: Does anyone know for sure what's going on here? Is my guess that a chip is burning out probably correct? Am I just buying cheap bulbs? Can anyone recommend a can-mounted flood that's reliable and will actually last for the 25 years that manufacturers so cheerfully promise?</p> <p>Second: a cell phone update. In last weekend's thread, the Google Nexus 5 got a lot of love, but so did the Motorola Moto X. I had actually made up my mind on the Nexus 5, but the T-Mobile store only sold it in a 16GB version, so I decided to go home and buy one online. But then I started dithering because of all the nice things people had said about the Moto X. Eventually, after far more dithering than makes sense for someone who doesn't use a cell phone much, I decided the slightly smaller Moto X was the better choice. So: thanks, folks! I don't think this would have come across my radar otherwise.</p> </body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 19 Apr 2014 15:50:28 +0000 Kevin Drum 250191 at http://www.motherjones.com The US Government Really Isn't Worried About "Transcendence" Happening in Real Life http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/04/transcendence-film-johnny-depp-government-plan-real-life <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p><em>This post contains spoilers, but the movie <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/04/everything-there-know-about-transcendence-film" target="_blank">is bad</a> so I don't think you'll care.</em></p> <p><em>Transcendence </em>is an <a href="http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/transcendence_2014/" target="_blank">awful</a> movie&mdash;two hours of squandered potential. (You can read my colleague Ben Dreyfuss' review <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/04/everything-there-know-about-transcendence-film" target="_blank">here</a>.) The film stars <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2013/07/disney-johnny-depp-lone-ranger-native-americans-racism" target="_blank">Johnny Depp</a>, <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJ9w1WmTXDE" target="_blank">Rebecca Hall</a>, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/02/lego-movie-political-corporate-satire" target="_blank">Morgan Freeman</a>, and <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/02/house-of-cards-season-2-molly-parker-jacqueline-sharp-war-crimes" target="_blank">Kate Mara</a>. It was&nbsp;executive-produced by <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/media/2012/07/film-review-dark-knight-rises-christian-bale-christopher-nolan" target="_blank">Christopher Nolan</a>, and marks the directorial debut of cinematographer Wally Pfister (the guy who made <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2012/07/the-reason-christopher-nolan-films-look-like-christopher-nolan-films/260087/" target="_blank">Christopher Nolan movies look like Christopher Nolan movies</a>). The plot goes something like this: Depp plays a renowned artificial-intelligence researcher named Will Caster. He gets assassinated by a terrorist group that fears super-intelligent, sentient machines will one day rule the world. Will's wife Evelyn (played by Hall) has the bright idea to upload his consciousness to a big computer thing, hoping he'll live on in cyberspace or something. It works, and this achieves technological singularity (when A.I. becomes greater than the human mind), which Will calls "transcendence."</p> <p>Things get really creepy and it starts to look like Johnny Depp The Omniscient Computer really is trying to take over the world. The US government begins to wage a secret war on him/it, and gets into bed with some shady, gun-toting characters in doing so.</p> <p>Anyway, that may sound like a cool premise, but the movie is really, very boring&mdash;but it did get me and my buddy thinking: What would our government do if this happened in real life? Does the government have a contingency plan <em>if </em>(as some believe is <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technological_singularity#Implications_for_human_society" target="_blank">possible</a>) sentient machines began outdoing mankind? What if the machines <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c4Jo8QoOTQ4" target="_blank">went to war</a> against us? <em>What would Barack Obama do???</em></p> <p>Okay, this is stupid. But if America once drew up legit <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/12/29/AR2005122901412.html" target="_blank">plans to invade Canada</a>, maybe there's a chance we have a plan for this. I called up the Department of Defense, and was transferred to spokesman Lt. Col. Damien Pickart. I asked him these questions, and if anyone working in cyber warfare had anything to say about this. His response:</p> <blockquote> <p>I'm gonna be frank with you. There is nobody here who is going to talk about that...There are currently no plans for this. It's just a completely unrealistic scenario. We have a lot of people working on this team on serious stuff, but this just isn't a real threat.</p> </blockquote> <p>"Well," he concluded, "at least not for now."</p> <p><em>For now.</em></p> <p>Obama's America.</p> <p>Here's the trailer for the Johnny Depp movie:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/VCTen3-B8GU" width="630"></iframe></p> </body></html> Mixed Media Film and TV Military Tech Fri, 18 Apr 2014 22:34:03 +0000 Asawin Suebsaeng 250181 at http://www.motherjones.com Review: "Transcendence" (2014) http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/04/everything-there-know-about-transcendence-film <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p><strong>"Transcendence"</strong></p> <p><strong>Released by: </strong>Warner Brothers Pictures</p> <p><strong>Starring:</strong> Johnny Depp, Morgan Freeman, Rebecca Hall</p> <p><strong>Directed by: </strong>Wally Pfister</p> <p><strong>Screenplay by: </strong>Jack Paglen</p> <p><strong>Release Date: </strong>April 18, 2014</p> <p><strong>Rating:</strong> PG-13</p> <p><strong>Runtime:</strong> 119 minutes</p> <p><strong>Review: </strong>Wow awful.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> </body></html> Mixed Media Film and TV Fri, 18 Apr 2014 21:29:15 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 250186 at http://www.motherjones.com Beloved Author Gabriel García Márquez Was Also a Go-Between for Colombian Guerrillas and the Government http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/04/gabriel-garcia-marquez-dead-87-go-between-colombian-rebels-government-shakira <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>Gabriel Garc&iacute;a M&aacute;rquez <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/18/books/gabriel-garcia-marquez-literary-pioneer-dies-at-87.html?_r=0" target="_blank">passed away</a> on Thursday at his home in Mexico City. He was 87. The Nobel Prize-winning Colombian novelist was celebrated for such works as <em>One Hundred Years of Solitude</em> and <em>Love in the Time of Cholera</em>. "The world has lost one of its greatest visionary writers&mdash;one of my favorites from the time I was young," President Obama <a href="https://twitter.com/lacasablanca/status/456918961272410112" target="_blank">said</a> on Thursday.</p> <p>When a literary figure as towering as Garc&iacute;a M&aacute;rquez dies, there are too many fascinating things to write about&mdash;his writing, his political history, his <a href="http://mentalfloss.com/article/25210/gabos-wild-ride-incredible-adventures-gabriel-garc%C3%ADa-m%C3%A1rquez" target="_blank">wild ride</a> of a life. (Hell, I could see myself writing an entire term paper on his friendly relationship with <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2002/jun/08/shopping.colombia" target="_blank">Colombian pop star Shakira</a>!) I'm not going to attempt anything close to a definitive obituary of a man who gave the world so much through his art. I'll leave that <a href="https://www.google.com/search?q=gabriel+garcia+marquez+obituary&amp;ie=utf-8&amp;oe=utf-8&amp;aq=t&amp;rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&amp;client=firefox-a&amp;channel=fflb" target="_blank">to others</a>.</p> <p>But I'd like to highlight one politically significant part of <a href="http://www.latimes.com/books/jacketcopy/la-et-jc-gabriel-garcia-marquez-nobel-prize-winning-author-dies-20140405,0,3445782.story" target="_blank">Gabo</a>'s life: Garc&iacute;a M&aacute;rquez wasn't just an acclaimed writer and passionate supporter of left-wing causes&mdash;for a time, he was an intermediary between Colombian leftist guerrillas and the government.</p> <p>Here's an excerpt from a 1999 <em>New Yorker </em><a href="http://www.themodernword.com/gabo/gabo_power.html" target="_blank">profile</a> written by Jon Lee Anderson:</p> <blockquote> <p>Garc&iacute;a M&aacute;rquez who has often referred to himself as "the last optimist in Colombia," has been closely involved in the peace negotiations. He introduced [Colombian president&nbsp;Andr&eacute;s] Pastrana to his old friend Fidel Castro, who could facilitate talks with the guerrillas, and he helped restore good relations between Washington and Bogot&aacute;. "I won't say that it was Gabo who brought all this about," <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2007/11/why-cant-bill-richardson-catch-fire" target="_blank">Bill Richardson</a>, the U.S. Secretary of Energy, said early this summer, "but he was a catalyst." Garc&iacute;a M&aacute;rquez was invited by the Clintons to the White House several times, and friends say he believed that he was going to not only carry off the immediate goal of getting some sort of negotiated settlement between the guerrillas and the government but also finally help bring about an improvement in relations between the United States and Cuba. "The U.S. needs Cuba's involvement in the Colombian peace talks, because the Cuban government has the best contacts with the guerrillas," he explained to me. "And Cuba is perfectly situated, only two hours away, so Pastrana can go there overnight and have meetings and come back without anyone knowing anything about it. And the U.S. wants this to happen." Then he smiled in a way that indicated he knew much more than he was telling me, as usual.</p> </blockquote> <p>The whole profile, which you can <a href="http://www.themodernword.com/gabo/gabo_power.html" target="_blank">check out here</a>, is definitely worth a read.</p> <p>I now leave you with this footage of Garc&iacute;a M&aacute;rquez visiting Shakira and <a href="http://jezebel.com/5716069/gabriel-garcia-marquez-shakes-it-to-shakira" target="_blank">dancing</a>:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/-3zIxuQlWeo" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>R.I.P.</p> </body></html> Mixed Media Books Human Rights International Music Fri, 18 Apr 2014 20:41:47 +0000 Asawin Suebsaeng 250156 at http://www.motherjones.com This Climate Scientist Just Won Another Victory in Court http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/04/michael-mann-foia-uva <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>Michael Mann, the <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/01/michael-mann-climategate-court-victory" target="_blank">perennially</a> <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2011/04/history-of-climategate" target="_blank">embattled</a> climate scientist best known for his "hockey-stick" temperature graph, came out victorious yesterday in a court battle against a Virginia legislator and a conservative think tank that had sought to obtain thousands of Mann's emails and research documents from his time as a University of Virginia professor.</p> <p>The Virginia Supreme Court <a href="http://www.courts.state.va.us/opinions/opnscvwp/1130934.pdf" target="_blank">ruled</a> that unpublished scientific research can be exempted from the state's Freedom of Information Act requirements, because disclosing such information would cut into the university's competitive advantage over other universities. As a result, some 12,000 of Mann's emails and papers won't be released to the <a href="http://eelegal.org/" target="_blank">Energy &amp; Environment Legal Institute</a> (formerly known as the American Tradition Institute) and Virginia Delegate Robert Marshall (R-Prince William), who had requested the documents in 2011.</p> <p>In a <a href="https://www.facebook.com/MichaelMannScientist/posts/688569971199208?stream_ref=10" target="_blank">statement</a> on his Facebook page, Mann called the decision "a victory for science, public university faculty, and academic freedom."</p> <p>Back in 2012, a lower Virginia court <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-state-of-nova/post/uva-wins-key-ruling-in-prince-william-global-warming-foia-case-involving-michael-mann/2012/09/18/6c422d98-0133-11e2-b257-e1c2b3548a4a_blog.html" target="_blank">ruled</a> that the documents in question were considered "proprietary," and thus shielded from FOIA requests. ATI appealed the decision, and the case <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/local/wp/2013/10/09/prince-william-foia-case-on-global-warming-headed-for-virginia-supreme-court/" target="_blank">landed</a> with the state's Supreme Court last October. The main question was whether research-related documents should get the same kind of protection as trade secrets and other information that could cause financial harm if released. ATI argued that Mann's emails didn't merit such protection, while Mann and U-Va. maintained that scientists should be able to hammer out their work behind closed doors before presenting a finished product to the public.&nbsp; &nbsp;</p> <p>In a <a href="http://www.rcfp.org/sites/default/files/2013-11-12-ATI-v-UVA.PDF" target="_blank">brief</a> filed with the Supreme Court late last year, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press argued that in protecting Mann's research, the lower court had actually set the scope too wide, leaving open the possibility that a university could claim virtually <em>any</em> document to be proprietary. But yesterday's Supreme Court ruling revised the exemption criteria so that non-research-related documents&mdash;things like budgets and communications between administrators&mdash;could still be accessed with a FOIA, said Emily Grannis, the Reporters Committee staffer who authored the brief.</p> <p>Of course, Grannis said, the ruling is only binding in the state of Virginia, but it could serve as a model for how other states set limits for what qualifies as proprietary if similar cases arise elsewhere.</p> </body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/blue-marble/2014/04/michael-mann-foia-uva"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Blue Marble Civil Liberties Climate Change Climate Desk Courts Fri, 18 Apr 2014 20:15:07 +0000 Tim McDonnell 250116 at http://www.motherjones.com Newly Released Clinton Doc: White House Aide Blasts Bill Clinton and Al Gore for "F***ing Stupid" Move http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/04/bill-clinton-white-house-carl-albert-funeral-email <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>Among the trove of Clinton-era documents <a href="http://clintonlibrary.gov/previouslyrestricteddocs.html" target="_blank">released Friday afternoon</a> by the former president's library is an email from an angry White House aide who blasts President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore for not attending the funeral of Oklahoma Democrat Carl Albert. Known as the "Little Giant from Little Dixie," Albert, who stood five feet four-and-a-half inches tall, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2000/02/06/us/carl-bert-albert-a-powerful-democrat-in-congress-for-three-decades-is-dead-at-91.html">served as speaker</a> of the House of Representatives from 1971 to 1976.</p> <p>Albert died on February 4, 2000, and many Democratic politicians attended his funeral five days later. But Clinton and&nbsp;Gore skipped the event. In an email, Tim Emrich, who worked on the White House's scheduling team, said "it's fucking stupid" that Clinton and Gore didn't attend. Emrich elaborated: "It's stupid that neither BC nor AG is attending this funeral. ESPECIALLY AG, it's such an easy home run in the largest democratic part of the state."</p> <p>Here's the email:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/fucking-stupid-clinton-oklahoma-email.jpg"></div> </body></html> MoJo Elections Fri, 18 Apr 2014 18:58:21 +0000 Andy Kroll 250171 at http://www.motherjones.com READ: The Clinton Administration's Internal Memo on the "Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy" http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/04/hillary-clinton-white-house-conspiracy-report <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>In a 1995 internal memo, President Bill Clinton's White House Counsel's Office offered an in-depth analysis of the right-wing media mill that Hillary Clinton had dubbed the "vast right-wing conspiracy." Portions of the report, which was reported on by the <em>Wall Street Journal</em> and other outlets at the time, were included in a new trove of documents released to the public by the Clinton presidential library on Friday.</p> <p>The report traced the evolution of various Clinton scandals, such as Whitewater and the Gennifer Flowers affair allegations, from their origins at conservative&nbsp;think tanks&nbsp;or in British tabloids, until the point in which they entered the mainstream news ecosystem. Making matters even more complicated was new technology, the report explained:&nbsp;"[E]vidence exists that Republican staffers surf the internet, interacting with extremists in order to exchange the ideas and information." The administration even had a name for the process: "The Communication Stream of Conspiracy Commerce."</p> <p>Per the document:</p> <blockquote> <p>The Communication Stream of Conspiracy Commerce refers to the mode of communication employed by the right wing to convey their fringe stories into legitimate subjects of coverage by the mainstream media. This is how the stream works. Well funded right wing think tanks and individuals underwrite conservative newsletters and newspapers such as the <em>Western Journalism Center</em>, the <em>American Spectator</em> and the <em>Pittsburgh Tribune Review</em>. Next, the stories are re-printed on the internet where they are bounced all over the world. From the internet, the stories are bounced into the mainstream media through one of two ways: 1) The story will be picked up by the British tabloids and covered as a major story, from which the American right-of-center mainstream media (i.e. the <em>Wall Street Journal</em>, <em>Washington Times</em> and <em>New York Post</em>) will then pick the story up; or 2) The story will be bounced directly from the internet to the right-of-center mainstream American media. After the mainstream right-of-center media covers the story, Congressional committees will look into the story. After Congress looks into the story, the story now has the legitimacy to be covered by the remainder of the American mainstream press as a "real" story.</p> </blockquote> <p>Chief among the White House's frustrations was conservative reaction to the death of Vince Foster, the president's former chief of staff. Right-wing outlets alleged that the Clintons had murdered Foster (or hired someone to do it) and covered it up as a suicide. According to the report:</p> <blockquote> <p>The controversy surrounding the death of Vince Foster has been, in large part, the product of a well-financed right-wing conspiracy industry operation. The "Wizard of Oz" figure orchestrating the machinations of the conspiracy industry is a little-known recluse, Richard Mellon Scaife. Scaife uses his $800 million dollar inherited Mellon fortune to underwrite the Foster conspiracy industry. Scaife promotes the industry through his ownership of a small Pittsburgh newspaper, the<em> Tribune-Review</em>. Scaife's paper, under the direction of reporter Chris Ruddy, continually publishes stories regarding Foster's death. The stories are then reprinted in major newspapers all over the country in the form of paid advertisements. The Western Journalism Center (WJC), a non-profit conservative think tank, places the ads in these newspapers. The WJC receives much of its financial backing from Scaife.</p> </blockquote> <p>(Ruddy went on to found <em>Newsmax</em>, a conservative media outlet now <a href="http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/steve-malzberg-says-chelsea-clintons-pregnancy-was-deliberately-timed-benefit-hillarys-presi" target="_blank">promoting the theory</a> that Chelsea Clinton decided to have a baby in order to help her mother's 2016 presidential bid.)</p> <p>Read the document in all of its glory:</p> <div class="DV-container" id="DV-viewer-1115427-clinton-the-communication-stream-of-conspiracy">&nbsp;</div> <script src="//s3.amazonaws.com/s3.documentcloud.org/viewer/loader.js"></script><script> DV.load("//www.documentcloud.org/documents/1115427-clinton-the-communication-stream-of-conspiracy.js", { width: 630, height: 500, sidebar: false, text: false, container: "#DV-viewer-1115427-clinton-the-communication-stream-of-conspiracy" }); </script><noscript> <a href="http://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/1115427/clinton-the-communication-stream-of-conspiracy.pdf">Clinton Memos: "The Communication Stream of Conspiracy Commerce" (PDF)</a> <br><a href="http://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/1115427/clinton-the-communication-stream-of-conspiracy.txt">Clinton Memos: "The Communication Stream of Conspiracy Commerce" (Text)</a> </noscript> <p>&nbsp;</p> <noscript> &Acirc;&nbsp;<a href="http://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/1115427/clinton-the-communication-stream-of-conspiracy.pdf">Clinton Memos: "The Communication Stream of Conspiracy Commerce" (PDF)</a> &Acirc;&nbsp;<br> &Acirc;&nbsp;<a href="http://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/1115427/clinton-the-communication-stream-of-conspiracy.txt">Clinton Memos: "The Communication Stream of Conspiracy Commerce" (Text)</a> </noscript> </body></html> MoJo Elections Hillary Clinton Media Fri, 18 Apr 2014 18:43:43 +0000 Tim Murphy 250146 at http://www.motherjones.com Friday Cat Blogging - 18 April 2014 http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/04/friday-cat-blogging-18-april-2014 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>I have to leave early today for yet another pulmonary checkup, so Friday catblogging comes a little ahead of schedule this week. Here is Domino pretending she doesn't notice the fabulous feline shadow she's casting in the late afternoon sun. But it <em>is</em> fabulous, no?</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_domino_2014_04_18.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 105px;"></p> </body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 18 Apr 2014 17:50:04 +0000 Kevin Drum 250126 at http://www.motherjones.com Krauthammer Lights the Way for Tidal Waves of Secret Campaign Cash http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/04/krauthammer-lights-way-tidal-waves-secret-campaign-cash <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>Charles Krauthammer writes today that he used to think there was a simple and elegant solution to the fight over campaign finance reform: "For a long time, a simple finesse offered a rather elegant solution: no limits on giving &mdash; but with full disclosure." <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/charles-krauthammer-the-zealots-win-again/2014/04/17/ac0b6466-c654-11e3-8b9a-8e0977a24aeb_story.html" target="_blank">But now he's changed his mind:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>This used to be my position. No longer. I had not foreseen how donor lists would be used not to ferret out corruption but to pursue and persecute citizens with contrary views. Which corrupts the very idea of full disclosure.</p> <p>It is now an invitation to the creation of enemies lists. Containing, for example, Brendan Eich, forced to resign as Mozilla CEO when it was disclosed that six years earlier he&rsquo;d given $1,000 to support a referendum banning gay marriage. He was hardly the first. Activists compiled blacklists of donors to Proposition 8 and went after them. Indeed, shortly after the referendum passed, both the artistic director of the California Musical Theatre in Sacramento and the president of the Los Angeles Film Festival were hounded out of office.</p> <p>....The ultimate victim here is full disclosure itself. If revealing your views opens you to the politics of personal destruction, then transparency, however valuable, must give way to the ultimate core political good, free expression.</p> <p>Our collective loss. Coupling unlimited donations and full disclosure was a reasonable way to reconcile the irreconcilables of campaign finance. Like so much else in our politics, however, it has been ruined by zealots. What a pity.</p> </blockquote> <p>I wonder if Krauthammer feels the same way about free speech? Or gun rights. Or fair trials. The scope of zealots to abuse the system in those cases is infinitely greater than the sparse, weak-tea "harassment" he points to in the case of campaign finance disclosure.</p> <p>On a larger scale, I realize that the Koch brothers think they've suffered abuse akin to the Holocaust at the hands of Harry Reid, but that's what happens when you enter the political arena in a big way. You take your lumps. That's no reason to allow billions of dollars to influence the political system with not even the slightest shred of accountability for where it's coming from. With allies as weak as Krauthammer, ready to cave at the slightest provocation, campaign finance disclosure is now just the latest victim of conservative goal post moving.</p> </body></html> Kevin Drum Money in Politics Fri, 18 Apr 2014 17:03:55 +0000 Kevin Drum 250141 at http://www.motherjones.com How Will We Know If Obamacare Is a Success? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/04/how-will-we-know-if-obamacare-success <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>Will Obamacare be a success? Ross Douthat thinks we should all lay down some firm guidelines and hold ourselves to them. <a href="http://douthat.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/04/16/for-obamacare-what-counts-as-success/" target="_blank">Here are his:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>For my own part, I&rsquo;ll lay down this marker for the future: If, in 2023, the uninsured rate is where the C.B.O. currently projects or lower, health inflation&rsquo;s five-year average is running below the post-World War II norm, and the trend in the age-adjusted mortality rate shows a positive alteration starting right about now, I will write a post (or send out a Singularity-wide <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_obamacare_site_new.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 20px 15px 30px;">transmission, maybe) entitled &ldquo;I Was Wrong About Obamacare&rdquo; &mdash; or, if he prefers, just &ldquo;Ezra Klein Was Right.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>Let's take these one by one. I'd say a reduction in the uninsured of 25 million is a pretty good metric. If, by 2023, the number is substantially below that, it would be a big hit to the law's success. Getting people covered, after all, has always been the law's primary goal. What's more, I'd be surprised if more states don't expand Medicaid and get more aggressive about setting up their own exchanges by 2023. At some point, after all, Republican hysteria about Obamacare just has to burn out. (Doesn't it?)</p> <p>On health inflation, I think running <em>below</em> the post-WWII average is a pretty aggressive standard. That would require health care inflation of about 1 percent above overall inflation. If we manage to keep it to around 2 percent, I'd call that a reasonable result.</p> <p>But my biggest issue is with the age-adjusted mortality rate. I know this is a widely popular metric to point to on both left and right, but I think it's a terrible one. Obamacare exclusively affects those under 65, and mortality just isn't that high in this age group. Reduced mortality is a tiny signal buried in a huge amount of noise, and I very much doubt that we'll see any kind of clear inflection point over the next few years.</p> <p>So what to replace it with? I'm less sure about that. Maybe the TIE guys would like to weigh in. But this is a longtime hobbyhorse of mine. Medical care does people a ton of good even if it doesn't save their lives. Being able to afford your asthma inhaler, or getting a hip replacement, or finding an antidepressant that works&mdash;these all make a huge difference in people's lives. And that's not even accounting for reduced financial strain (and bankruptcies) and lower stress levels that come from the mere knowledge that a doctor is available if you need one&mdash;even if you don't have a life-threatening emergency that requires a trip to the ER.</p> <p>In addition, I'd probably add a few things. Douthat doesn't include any negative metrics, but critics have put forward a whole bunch of disaster scenarios they think Obamacare will be responsible for. It will get harder to see doctors. Pharmaceutical companies will stop innovating. Insurance companies will drop out of the exchanges. Premiums will skyrocket. Etc. Without diving into the weeds on all these possible apocalypses, they count as predictions. If, in 2023, we all have to wait months for a routine appointment, or we can't get the meds we need because drug companies have gone out of business, then Obamacare is a failure regardless of what else it does. I don't think these things will happen, but they're surely on my list of metrics for judging the law's success.</p> <p><strong>UPDATE:</strong> Whoops. It turns out that one of the TIE guys, Austin Frakt, has already weighed in on this. You can read his comments <a href="http://theincidentaleconomist.com/wordpress/were-all-a-little-awrong-about-obamacare/" target="_blank">here.</a></p> </body></html> Kevin Drum Health Care Fri, 18 Apr 2014 16:26:12 +0000 Kevin Drum 250131 at http://www.motherjones.com WATCH: GOP Candidate Whacks Obama Bobblehead in Weird New Ad http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/04/beau-mccoy-obama-bobblehead-ad <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <object height="354" width="630"><param name="movie" value="//www.youtube.com/v/nGFTRCSDVa8?hl=en_US&amp;version=3"> <param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"> <param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"> <embed allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/v/nGFTRCSDVa8?hl=en_US&amp;version=3" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="630"></embed></object> <p>Nebraska&nbsp;state Sen. Beau McCoy (R), who is campaigning for governor by driving around the state in a white pickup truck with a ladder rack, wants GOP primary voters to know that he'll push back against President Barack Obama's administration. In an ad that hit Nebraska airwaves this week, McCoy confronts an Obama bobblehead doll mounted on a fence post&mdash;and knocks it to the ground with a swift backhand. "More Obamacare in Nebraska? That's the last thing we need," he says before smacking&nbsp;the bobblehead.</p> <p>Then he rides off on his steed.</p> <p>McCoy&nbsp;is a serious underdog in the race to succeed GOP Gov. Dave Heineman. He grabbed just 4.7 percent in a February survey of the field by Harper Polling, well behind attorney general Jon Bruning and former Ameritrade COO Pete Ricketts, the son of big-time Republican <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2012/05/chicago-cubs-joe-ricketts-super-pac" target="_blank">super-PAC donor Joe Ricketts</a>.</p> </body></html> MoJo Elections Fri, 18 Apr 2014 15:18:38 +0000 Tim Murphy 250106 at http://www.motherjones.com It's Spring, So California Refineries Are Suddenly Having a Few Problems http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/04/its-spring-so-california-refineries-are-suddenly-having-few-problems <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>The swallows may no longer return to Capistrano, but don't worry. We still have an <a href="http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-gas-prices-20140418,0,3834291.story#axzz2zFaPt1xO" target="_blank">annual rite of spring here in California:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>A gallon of regular gasoline hit a statewide average of $4.196 on Thursday, up about 13 cents in a week, according to AAA. That's the highest price since March 2013....Problems at a few refineries in the Golden State undergoing routine spring maintenance have squeezed inventory and boosted prices, analysts said. And only a handful of refineries outside the state are capable of making the ultra-clean type of gasoline mandated in California.</p> <p>"A couple of refinery issues have started to flare up, which is fairly normal this time of the year," said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst at GasBuddy.com, a fuel price tracking website.</p> </blockquote> <p>I used to keep a file of clippings of this exact same story running each spring and summer. I mean, literally the exact same story. Every year, right at the point where the winter/summer switch squeezes supplies from out of state, there would suddenly be a bunch of "glitches" that took some local refinery capacity offline and prices would spike.</p> <p>I haven't bothered with that for a while, but seeing this story today brought back memories, so I just thought I'd share. It's an amazing annual coincidence, isn't it?</p> </body></html> Kevin Drum Energy Fri, 18 Apr 2014 15:11:54 +0000 Kevin Drum 250121 at http://www.motherjones.com Doctors Begin to Notice That Health Care Is Really Expensive http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/04/doctors-begin-notice-health-care-really-expensive <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>Andrew Pollack reports that some doctors are starting to notice that the health care they provide can be <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/18/business/treatment-cost-could-influence-doctors-advice.html?hp&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">really, really expensive:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Saying they can no longer ignore the rising prices of health care, some of the most influential medical groups in the nation are recommending that doctors weigh the costs, not just the effectiveness of treatments, as they make decisions about patient care....Traditionally, guidelines have heavily influenced <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_drug_cost.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 20px 15px 30px;">the practice of medicine, and the latest ones are expected to make doctors more conscious of the economic consequences of their decisions &mdash; even though there is no obligation to follow them.</p> <p>....Some doctors see a potential conflict in trying to be both providers of patient care and financial overseers. &ldquo;There should be forces in society who should be concerned about the budget, about how many M.R.I.s we do, but they shouldn&rsquo;t be functioning simultaneously as doctors,&rdquo; said Dr. Martin A. Samuels, the chairman of the neurology department at Brigham and Women&rsquo;s Hospital in Boston. He said doctors risked losing the trust of patients if they told patients, &ldquo;I&rsquo;m not going to do what I think is best for you because I think it&rsquo;s bad for the health care budget in Massachusetts.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>Generally speaking, this is overdue. Some doctors are highly sensitive to patient costs, but some aren't. I'm often surprised at how little doctors know about how much their treatment recommendations cost or how they're delivered. Even if you have the presence of mind to ask, sometimes they simply don't know their own systems well enough to find out.</p> <p>That said, I'd recommend baby steps. First, plenty of doctors are already very cost conscious&mdash;but in the wrong direction, pushing lucrative, highly expensive treatments because it's good for their own bottom line. Sometimes it's because they have a part ownership in a diagnostic facility. Other times they're just gaming the system, as some high-volume ophthalmologists do by routinely prescribing Lucentis ($120 reimbursement from Medicare) vs. Avastin ($3 reimbursement from Medicare) for treatment of macular degeneration. Guidelines that rein in this kind of behavior are an obvious target.</p> <p>Second, Congress could allow Medicare more discretion about how much it pays for various drugs. It's flatly crazy that taxpayers are the only people in the entire medical system who, by law, have virtually no leverage to negotiate pricing with pharmaceutical manufacturers.</p> <p>Third, doctors should be more proactive about simply being aware of costs and sharing this information with patients. Some patients care more than others, depending on their incomes and quality of insurance coverage. But every doctor should have at least a basic idea of what different treatment options cost their patients, and they should have it quickly available right in the exam room. Nobody should get stuck with a huge bill&mdash;or even just a large bill&mdash;simply because they got sent to an out-of-network specialist or got prescribed a drug that turned out to be off their provider's formulary.</p> <p>I suspect this is harder than I think. It could only be done by computer, and the software would have to have access to a ton of information. Doctors alone couldn't get it done. But electronic medical records are already taking over the profession, and with some help from the federal government I'll bet this kind of thing could be done. One way or another, cost transparency is the first step toward cost reduction.</p> </body></html> Kevin Drum Health Care Fri, 18 Apr 2014 14:46:23 +0000 Kevin Drum 250111 at http://www.motherjones.com Please Donate to Our Fundraiser http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/04/please-donate-our-fundraiser <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>For those of you who missed it in last week's catblogging post, we haven't yet reached our $100,000 goal, so how about donating a few bucks to our investigative reporting fundraiser? We're a reader-supported nonprofit, which means those dollars aren't going to come from big corporations or super-rich political donors. They'll be small contributions from regular people who read <em>Mother Jones</em>. If you value our reporting&mdash;or even if you only value our catblogging&mdash;please donate $5 to the Mother Jones Investigative Fund. If you can afford it, make it $10. We'll put it to good use. Here's how to make a contribution:</p> <ul> <li>Credit card donations: <a href="https://secure.motherjones.com/fnp/?action=SUBSCRIPTION&amp;list_source=7Z44DRU&amp;extra_don=1" target="_blank">Click here</a> </li> <li>PayPal donations: <a href="https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&amp;hosted_button_id=DA2WBARE3WZDG" target="_blank">Click here</a> </li> </ul> <p>Thanks!</p> </body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 18 Apr 2014 13:00:05 +0000 Kevin Drum 250096 at http://www.motherjones.com We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for April 18, 2014 http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/04/were-still-war-photo-day-april-18-2014 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/0418-630x354.jpg"></div> <div id="meta"> <div class="photo-desc" id="description_div"> <p class="rtecenter"><em>A Soldier guides the driver of an Avenger weapon system before they fired the .50-caliber machine gun April 8, 2014 as part of the Avenger Master Gunner Course at Fort Sill, Okla. (<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/soldiersmediacenter/13779845874/" target="_blank">Photo</a> by Marie Berberea, Cannoneer staff)</em></p> </div> </div> </body></html> MoJo Fri, 18 Apr 2014 10:00:22 +0000 249851 at http://www.motherjones.com The Economy Is Improving, But Not for Everyone http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/04/economy-improving-not-everyone <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>The BLS <a href="http://www.bls.gov/news.release/wkyeng.nr0.htm" target="_blank">reported today</a> that weekly earnings for full-time wage and salary workers rose 3 percent in the first quarter of 2014 compared to a year ago. Since inflation is running at 1.4 percent, <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_earnings_production_2014_q1.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">that's good news. Earnings are going up.</p> <p>But wage gains are pretty unevenly distributed. Jeffrey Sparshott passes along a recent Labor Department note which concludes that <em>all</em> of the wage gains since 2009 have <a href="http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2014/04/17/wealthiest-households-accounted-for-80-of-rise-in-incomes-in-recessions-aftermath/" target="_blank">gone to the top 40 percent.</a> The poor, the working class, and the middle class have seen no gains at all. This is reflected in the chart on the right, which shows weekly earnings for production and nonsupervisory workers. Weekly earnings for this group have been rising at a rate slightly above inflation for the past year, but not by much. Nor is that number getting better: In the first quarter of 2014, weekly earnings rose only 1.8 percent.</p> <p>There are some positive signs that the labor market is tightening a bit&mdash;decent job creation rates, fewer unemployment claims, rising earnings for full-time workers&mdash;but not everyone is benefiting. This remains a pretty uneven recovery.</p> </body></html> Kevin Drum Economy Fri, 18 Apr 2014 05:08:30 +0000 Kevin Drum 250101 at http://www.motherjones.com The Good News on Obamacare Just Keeps Rolling In http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/04/good-news-obamacare-just-keeps-rolling <!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_obamacare_site_new.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">The open enrollment period for Obamacare is finally (almost) over, and today the White House announced the <a href="http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/04/17/president-obama-8-million-people-have-signed-private-health-coverage" target="_blank">final figures for signups via the exchanges:</a></p> <blockquote> <p><strong>8 million people signed up for private insurance in the Health Insurance Marketplace.</strong> For states that have Federally-Facilitated Marketplaces, 35 percent of those who signed up are under 35 years old, and 28 percent are between 18 and 34 years old, virtually the same youth percentage that signed up in Massachusetts in its first year of health reform.</p> </blockquote> <p>That's a little better than I expected. I was figuring the final number would be around 7.7 million or so. We Americans sure do like to procrastinate, don't we?</p> <p>Anyway, once some of these new enrollees drop out for not paying their premiums, the final number will be around 7 million, which matches the CBO's original estimate&mdash;the one they made <em>before</em> the website debacle. That's pretty amazing. It suggests that either the CBO was overly pessimistic or else that the website problems really didn't have any effect at all. I suppose the latter is plausible if you assume that hardly anyone was ever going to sign up in the first couple of months anyway.</p> <p>And the 28 percent number for young enrollees is pretty good too. It's below the administration's goal, but Jon Cohn points out that what really matters is whether it <a href="http://www.newrepublic.com/article/117410/obamacare-enrollment-hits-8-million-age-mix-looks-massachusetts" target="_blank">matches what insurance companies expected:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The worry has always been that older and sicker people would sign up in unusually high numbers, forcing insurers to raise their prices next year and beyond.</p> <p>But insurance companies didn&rsquo;t expect young people to sign up in proportion to their numbers in the population. They knew participation would be a bit lower and they set premiums accordingly. Only company officials know exactly what they were projecting&mdash;that&rsquo;s proprietary information&mdash;but one good metric is the signup rate in Massachusetts, in 2007, when that state had open enrollment for its version of the same reforms. According to information provided by Jonathan Gruber, the MIT economist and reform architect, 28.3 percent of Massachusetts enrollees were ages 19 to 34, a comparable age group.</p> </blockquote> <p>So what <em>were</em> insurance companies expecting? As Cohn says, we don't know for sure, but there's good reason to think that it was around 28 percent. First, there's the Massachusetts precedent. And second, <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/04/16/lower-rise-in-health-care-costs/7515185/" target="_blank">we learned yesterday</a> that insurance companies are now expected to raise premiums a modest 7 percent next year. This suggests that that the age and health profile of exchange enrollees is pretty close to their projections.</p> <p>All in all, another day of pretty good news for Obamacare.</p> </body></html> Kevin Drum Health Care Thu, 17 Apr 2014 21:08:05 +0000 Kevin Drum 250081 at http://www.motherjones.com NASA Just Found the Most Earth-Like Planet Yet http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/04/nasa-earth-cousin-planet-kepler-186f <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>Hello. Good day.</p> <p>NASA just announced that astronomers have discovered the most Earth-like planet yet. <a href="http://www.sciencemag.org/content/344/6181/277" target="_blank">Kepler-186f </a>is the first <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goldilocks_planet" target="_blank">Goldilocks planet</a>&mdash;not too hot for water, not too cold for water&mdash;ever identified that is roughly the same size as Earth. (It's a bit larger.)</p> <p>So, is there life on that planet? It hasn't been disqualified yet. So, maybe! But probably not. But maybe! But almost certainly not. But maybe! And even if there's not its mere existence means there are very likely more planets like it out there, meaning Earth is maybe not necessarily unique, meaning life is maybe not necessarily unique to Earth. But basically, we don't know much about this new planet. Take it away, <em><a href="http://www.wired.com/2014/04/earth-two-not-quite/" target="_blank">WIRED</a></em>:</p> <blockquote> <p>[S]cientists have fairly little information about this new exoplanet, including its mass and composition. From what they can tell, the place is similar to our own world, though not quite Earth&rsquo;s twin.&nbsp;</p> <p>"We consider it more of an Earth cousin," said astronomer <a href="http://kepler.nasa.gov/Mission/team/soc/elisaquintana/" target="_blank">Elisa Quintana</a> of NASA's Ames Research Center, lead author of <a href="http://www.sciencemag.org/lookup/doi/10.1126/science.1249403" target="_blank">a paper about the finding</a> appearing today in <em>Science</em>. "It's got the same size and characteristics, but a very different parent star."</p> </blockquote> <p>The planet is about 500 light years away, so it's close, but not <em>that</em> close. This is all fun and exciting, but here's the annoying bit: It was discovered by the Kepler space telescope which means we're in for a cliffhanger:</p> <blockquote> <p>Though Kepler is <a href="http://www.wired.com/2013/05/end-of-kepler/" target="_blank">out of commission</a> and won&rsquo;t be able to provide any more information about this newest exoplanet, future telescopes could give us new insight. NASA is planning to launch the <a href="http://space.mit.edu/TESS/TESS/TESS_Overview.html" target="_blank">Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite</a> (TESS) in 2017, which will watch bright nearby stars, including M dwarfs, for more exoplanets and be able to determine their masses. Follow up observations with the agency&rsquo;s J<a href="http://www.bizjournals.com/washington/blog/fedbiz_daily/2014/04/4-billion-over-budget-four-years-past-schedule.html" target="_blank">ames Webb Space Telescope</a>, currently slated to launch in 2018, could even look at the atmospheres of these worlds, providing definitive proof that they have chemicals like oxygen and water on their surfaces.</p> </blockquote> <p>See you in 2017, possible Earth cousin!</p> </body></html> Blue Marble Science Thu, 17 Apr 2014 20:12:41 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 250066 at http://www.motherjones.com It Turns Out That the Beautiful People Really Do Look Down on the Rest of Us http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/04/it-turns-out-beautiful-people-really-do-look-down-rest-us <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>It turns out that beautiful people really do look down on the rest of us. Danielle Kurtzleben reports on a new study that assessed the attitudes of people after asking them to <a href="http://www.vox.com/2014/4/17/5623976/attractiveness-related-to-views-on-economic-inequality" target="_blank">rate their own attractiveness:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Participants who perceive themselves as attractive also tend to not only believe they are of higher social status but also to believe in group dominance &mdash; that some groups are just inferior. They also were more likely to believe in ideas that legitimized their status, like the idea that all Americans have equal shots at making it to the top.</p> <p>....People who thought they were more attractive also tended to think that America's steadily growing inequality came about because of individual characteristics, like talent and hard work. People who thought they were uglier, meanwhile, thought outside factors &mdash; discrimination, political power &mdash; had more to do with inequality.</p> </blockquote> <p>People have a well-known cognitive bias in which they attribute positive outcomes to internal factors (hard work, smarts) and negative outcomes to external factors (bad luck, enemies who have it in for you). This is a similar kind of thing. People who are attractive tend to do better in life, but they resist the idea that this is partly due to the simple good luck of being tall or having regular features. And yet, there's abundant evidence that physical attractiveness makes a difference. <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2010/10/how-they-win" target="_blank">Just ask political candidates.</a></p> <p>Ditto for being white, male, healthy, middle class, etc. A lot of people might dislike the invocations of "privilege" that seem so endless these days, but it's a real thing. And it's everywhere.</p> </body></html> Kevin Drum Science Thu, 17 Apr 2014 18:29:25 +0000 Kevin Drum 250061 at http://www.motherjones.com Corn on Hardball: The GOP's Dangerous Decision to Support and Encourage Cliven Bundy http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/04/david-corn-hardball-gop-dangerous-decision-support-cliven-bundy <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>Washington bureau chief David Corn spoke on MSNBC's "Hardball" about the <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/04/right-wing-loves-militia-rancher-cliven-bundy-except-glenn-beck" target="_blank">Right's support</a> of <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/04/cliven-bundy-exposes-cravenness-modern-right" target="_blank">Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy</a>, who has refused to pay standard grazing fees on federal land for the past 20 years. He pointed out the irony of the GOP supporting Bundy's fight for a free ride, as well as the danger of encouraging and validating potentially violent extremists.<br> &nbsp;</p> <p class="rtecenter"><iframe border="no" height="494" scrolling="no" src="http://player.theplatform.com/p/2E2eJC/EmbeddedOffSite?guid=n_hardball_2bundy_140416" width="630"></iframe></p> </body></html> MoJo Video Food and Ag The Right Thu, 17 Apr 2014 18:11:54 +0000 250041 at http://www.motherjones.com