Blogs | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/Blogs/2011/06/%3Cb%3Epundits%3C/www.guttmacher.org/statecenter/spibs http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en 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 WATCH: Will George W. Bush's Art Show Be a Reflection of His Presidency? [Fiore Cartoon] http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/04/watch-george-w-bush-art-show-fiore-cartoon <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p></p> <div align="center"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="281" mozallowfullscreen="" src="//player.vimeo.com/video/92212448?title=0&amp;byline=0&amp;portrait=0&amp;color=c96134" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="500"></iframe></div> <p>Mark Fiore is a Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist and animator whose work has appeared in the <em>Washington Post, </em>the <em>Los Angeles Times, </em>the <em>San Francisco Examiner, </em>and dozens of other publications. He is an active member of the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists, and has a <a href="http://www.markfiore.com/" target="_newWindow">website</a> featuring his work.</p> </body></html> Mixed Media Cartoons Bush Media Thu, 17 Apr 2014 17:55:35 +0000 Mark Fiore 250051 at http://www.motherjones.com Americans Wildly Overestimate the Impact of Routine Mammographies http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/04/americans-wildly-overestimate-impact-routine-mammographies <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>Aaron Carroll passes along the following stunning chart about the actual efficacy of <a href="http://theincidentaleconomist.com/wordpress/this-is-why-we-cant-get-the-public-to-accept-changes-to-screening-mammograms/" target="_blank">routine breast cancer screening on 50-year-old women:</a></p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_mammography_effect.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 10px 5px;"></p> <p>Obviously, there are circumstances where routine screening is a good idea&mdash;perhaps if you have a family history of breast cancer or other specific risk factors. But the best recent evidence suggests that routine screening for all women has a negligible effect. At best, it's very slightly positive. At worst it's literally zero because false positives lead to interventions that themselves carry a risk of death.</p> <p>The problem is that people don't believe this. They think that routine screening has a far greater impact than it really does. The <em>perception</em> of 50-year-old women is that routine screening saves the lives of about 80 women out of a thousand:</p> <blockquote> <p>Therein lies the problem. If you think that breast cancer is going to kill 16% of all 50-year-old women in the next 10 years and that mammography makes a huge difference in the mortality rate, then you&rsquo;re going to demand a universal screening program. Hell, I&rsquo;d demand it if that were the case. Until we can change the perception of the public to more closely match reality, and make them realize that the harms may outweigh the benefits, we&rsquo;re going to get nowhere in trying to make changes.</p> </blockquote> <p>We're all complicit in the level of overdiagnosis in American health care. Over the past few weeks, I've probably gotten something like $20,000 worth of tests and other care&mdash;with more to come&mdash;in an effort to try and figure out why my breathing suddenly went south. I didn't push back on any of it, and the reason is obvious: when a doctor tells you that your problem <em>might</em> be an embolism or a bad heart or interstitial lung damage, then you damn well want to find out if it is. (It's not. We still don't know what's going on.)</p> <p>Obviously an acute problem like mine is not the same as routine testing. But I do that too. I've resisted the routine colonoscopy so far because my risk profile is low, but I do get a biannual echocardiogram. Why? Because I have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and a family history of cardio problems. Routine heart monitoring makes sense in my case.</p> <p>Routine mammographies make sense too&mdash;for some women. But for all of them? The best evidence says it doesn't.</p> </body></html> Kevin Drum Health Care Thu, 17 Apr 2014 16:46:30 +0000 Kevin Drum 250026 at http://www.motherjones.com "House of Cards" Veteran Wants To Make a Reality TV Show Starring Capitol Hill Staffers http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/04/house-cards-reality-tv-show-washington-dc-capitol-hill-staffers <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>Oh, boy.</p> <p>On Thursday, the <em>Washington Examiner</em>'s Betsy Woodruff <a href="http://washingtonexaminer.com/reality-show-starring-capitol-hill-staffers-in-the-works/article/2547349" target="_blank">reported</a> that a veteran of the Netflix political drama <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/02/house-of-cards-season-2-molly-parker-jacqueline-sharp-war-crimes" target="_blank"><em>House of Cards</em></a> is working to produce a reality TV show based in Washington, DC. The show would star local "up-and-comers," including Capitol Hill staffers ("the best and brightest on the hill") between the ages of 19 and 29.</p> <p>A casting session is set to be held on April 26. One source told the <em>Examiner</em> that the first round of casting has already occurred. (It's unclear how many Hill staffers would actually be up for this, since most Senate and House offices probably wouldn't allow employees to take part in a potentially revealing reality series.)</p> <p><em>Mother Jones </em>obtained the casting call, which is dated April 14. Check it out:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="House of Cards reality tv show casting call" class="image" height="790" src="/files/house-of-cards-reality-tv-show-casting-call.jpg" width="589"></div> <p>Sharon "Rocky" Roggio, who's apparently behind the project, was the <a href="http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2008867/" target="_blank">assistant property master</a> on this year's season of <em>House of Cards</em> and worked on <em>A Very Harold &amp; Kumar 3D Christmas</em> and the <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2012/11/red-dawn-remake-north-korea-foreign-policy-experts-reactions" target="_blank"><em>Red Dawn</em></a> remake. Jena Serbu served as a <a href="http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1672561/" target="_blank">production designer</a> on <a href="http://blog.pennlive.com/go/2012/12/amish_mafia_is_it_real_or_fake.html" target="_blank"><em>Amish Mafia</em></a> and <a href="http://articles.latimes.com/2013/aug/02/entertainment/la-et-st-matt-bristol-of-breaking-amish-los-angeles-talks-20130731" target="_blank"><em>Breaking Amish: LA</em></a>.</p> <p>Other attempts at reality TV in Washington include MTV's <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Real_World:_D.C." target="_blank"><em>The Real World: D.C.</em></a> and Bravo's <em>The Real Housewives of DC</em>. In 2011, <a href="http://www.wtop.com/41/2611711/Jersey-Shore-mastermind-casting-reality-show-for-politicos-" target="_blank">Doron Ofir Casting</a> (the company behind such reality-TV hits as <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2011/09/chris-christie-vetoes-snooki-subsidy-jersey-shore" target="_blank"><em>Jersey Shore</em></a>) put out a <a href="http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1211/70854.html" target="_blank">casting call for</a> "young hot politicos who care about America [and] follow the heated debates, rallies, protests and scandals!" Last month, the <em>Washington Post </em><a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/reliable-source/wp/2014/03/18/a-new-reality-show-could-be-on-its-way-to-d-c/" target="_blank">reported</a> that Leftfield Pictures, the Manhattan production company behind Bravo's hit show, <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2b0Wq4AB4Gg" target="_blank"><em>Blood, Sweat and Heels</em></a>, is considering launching a DC version of the series. TV dramas and comedies set in Washington, DC, include <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2013/09/funny-or-die-obamacare-jennifer-hudson-scandal-spoof" target="_blank"><em>Scandal</em></a>, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2013/06/armando-iannucci-interview-veep-hbo-joe-biden" target="_blank"><em>Veep</em></a>, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/03/americans-fx-joe-weisberg-joel-fields-contra-war-sandinistas-afghanistan-soviets" target="_blank"><em>The Americans</em></a>, and the attempted sitcom <a href="http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/citydesk/2012/07/09/h-street-sitcom-creator-its-not-about-h-street/" target="_blank"><em>H Street</em></a>.</p> </body></html> Mixed Media Congress Film and TV Thu, 17 Apr 2014 16:21:58 +0000 Asawin Suebsaeng 249981 at http://www.motherjones.com Latest Gallup Result: 9-10 Million Newly Insured Under Obamacare http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/04/latest-gallup-result-12-million-newly-insured-under-obamacare <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>Speaking of the uninsured, I inexplicably failed to blog about the <a href="http://www.gallup.com/poll/168548/newly-insured-2014-represent-adults.aspx" target="_blank">latest Gallup results yesterday.</a> Based on polling that goes through mid-April, Gallup now estimates that about 9-10 million people have gained insurance since Obamacare rolled out last year. If you assume that perhaps a million people lost insurance, that's a net increase of 8-9 million. Of this, about half gained insurance through the exchanges. The rest gained it through Medicaid and increased participation in employer plans.</p> <p>I'm not going to try to analyze this number any further. It basically represents good news, since it's a higher estimate than we've seen before, and it also jibes with the recent Rand numbers suggesting a large rise in people covered by employer plans. Apparently the individual mandate is having a bigger impact on this than anybody predicted. However, it's one data point in a noisy series, and I suspect we still have to wait another month to get a reliable set of numbers from all the polling outfits. By the end of May, unless the various polls are in wild disagreement, I imagine we'll have a fairly good idea of just how big the impact of Obamacare has been so far.</p> <p><strong>UPDATE:</strong> Sorry, everyone else has been leading with a number of 12 million, so that's what I used. But the Gallup poll estimates that 4 percent of US <em>adults</em> are newly insured, not 4 percent of the entire country. That's in the range of 9-10 million. I've corrected the text.</p> <p>Note, however, that this ignores children who are newly insured, either via exchanges or Medicaid. So the real number is probably a bit higher. Maybe in the 10-11 million range? It's hard to say. There are a lot of different surveys that are all measuring slightly different things, and they're all working on data that's still incomplete. That's why it's probably wise to wait another month or two before we get too confident in any of these numbers.</p> </body></html> Kevin Drum Health Care Thu, 17 Apr 2014 15:38:43 +0000 Kevin Drum 250006 at http://www.motherjones.com Rand Paul Really Doesn't Want to Talk About His McConnell Endorsement http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/04/rand-paul-mcconnell-endorsement <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>A tea party revolutionary four years ago, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has bucked many of his old supporters by backing Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, in McConnell's primary against Matt Bevin, a hedge fund executive backed by the Senate Conservatives Fund. Why would Paul do such a thing? He has been cagey, to say the least. "He asked me when there was nobody else in the race, and I said yes," the junior senator <a href="http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/rand-paul-mitch-mcconnell-reelection-glenn-beck-interview" target="_blank">told</a> Glenn Beck in February. Evidently even that was too verbose. Per the <a href="http://www.glasgowdailytimes.com/local/x360404491/U-S-Sen-Rand-Paul-visits-Edmonton" target="_blank"><em>Glasgow (Ky.) Daily Times</em></a>, Paul has now taken his answer off the record:</p> <blockquote> <p>After addressing about 30 people who turned out to hear him, the senator opened the floor for questions.</p> <p>One constituent asked him why he came out in support of Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Louisville.</p> <p>Paul declined to answer the question publicly, saying he would speak with her in private and explain his reason for supporting the senior senator.</p> </blockquote> <p>Paul family political guru Jesse Benton, who is now managing McConnell's re-election campaign, told a tea party activist in a <a href="http://www.economicpolicyjournal.com/2013/08/mitch-mcconnell-campaign-manager-im.html" target="_blank">secretly-recorded conversation</a> last year that, "between you and me, I'm sort of holdin' my nose for two years because what we're doing here is going to be a big benefit to Rand in '16, so that's my long vision."</p> <p>One reason Paul might decide to keep his explanation private: His answer sounds a lot like Benton's.</p> </body></html> MoJo Elections Thu, 17 Apr 2014 15:31:13 +0000 Tim Murphy 249986 at http://www.motherjones.com