Blogs | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/Blogs/2011/08/liberals-have-been-played-chumps%22 http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en Chart of the Day: Oil Is Getting Harder and Harder to Find http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/07/chart-day-oil-getting-harder-and-harder-find <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Oil expert James Hamilton has an interesting summary of the current world oil market up today, and it's worth a read. His bottom line, however, is that <a href="http://econbrowser.com/archives/2014/07/the-changing-face-of-world-oil-markets" target="_blank">$100-per-barrel oil is here to stay:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The run-up of oil prices over the last decade resulted from strong growth of demand from emerging economies confronting limited physical potential to increase production from conventional sources. Certainly a change in those fundamentals could shift the equation dramatically. If China were to face a financial crisis, or if peace and stability were suddenly to break out in the Middle East and North Africa, a sharp drop in oil prices would be expected. But even if such events were to occur, the <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_oil_production_capex.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">emerging economies would surely subsequently resume their growth, in which case any gains in production from Libya or Iraq would only buy a few more years.</p> </blockquote> <p>The chart on the right shows the situation dramatically. In just the past ten years, capital spending by major oil companies on exploration and extraction has <em>tripled</em>. And the result? Those same companies are producing <em>less</em> oil than they were in 2004. There's still new oil out there, but it's increasingly both expensive to get and expensive to refine.</p> <p>(And all the hype to the contrary, the fracking revolution hasn't changed that. There's oil in those formations in Texas and North Dakota, but the wells only produce for a few years each and production costs are sky high compared to conventional oil.)</p> <p>In a hypertechnical sense, the peak oil optimists were right: New technology has been able to keep global oil production growing longer than the pessimists thought. But, it turns out, not by much. Global oil production is growing very slowly; the cost of new oil is skyrocketing; the quality of new oil is mostly lousy; and we continue to bump up right against the edge of global demand, which means that even a small disruption in supply can send the world into an economic tailspin. So details aside, the pessimists continue to be right in practice even if they didn't predict the exact date we'd hit peak oil. It's long past time to get dead serious about finding renewable replacements on a very large scale.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Economy Energy Wed, 23 Jul 2014 16:46:57 +0000 Kevin Drum 256826 at http://www.motherjones.com Lots of Americans Think Obamacare Has Benefited Nobody http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/07/lots-americans-think-obamacare-has-benefited-nobody <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Greg Sargent points us to an interesting new <a href="http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2014/images/07/22/rel7c.pdf" target="_blank">CNN poll</a> about Obamacare. It asks the usual question about favoring or opposing the law, with the usual results. The basic question shows that Obamacare is unpopular by 40-59 percent, but when you add in the folks who "oppose" it only because they wish it were more liberal, it flips to 57-38 percent. In other words, if you confine yourself to garden variety conservative opposition to Obamacare, there's not nearly as much as most polls suggest.</p> <p>But then there's another question: Has Obamacare helped you or your family personally? About 18 percent say yes. How about other families? <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2014/07/23/morning-plum-republicans-certain-obamcare-hasnt-helped-anyone-in-america/" target="_blank">Do you think Obamacare has helped <em>anyone at all</em>?</a></p> <blockquote> <p>And guess what: A huge majority of Republicans and conservatives don&rsquo;t think the law has helped anybody in this country.</p> <p>Among all Americans, the poll finds that 18 percent say the law has made them and their families better off....Meanwhile, 44 percent say the law hasn&rsquo;t helped anybody &mdash; a lot, but still a minority.</p> <p>Crucially, an astonishing 72 percent of Republicans, and 64 percent of conservatives, say the law hasn&rsquo;t helped anyone. (Only <em>one percent</em> of Republicans say the law has helped them!) By contrast, 57 percent of moderates say the law has helped them or others. Independents are evenly divided.</p> <p>Perhaps these numbers among Republicans and conservatives only capture generalized antipathy towards the law. Or perhaps they reflect the belief that Obamacare <em>can&rsquo;t</em> be helping anyone, even its beneficiaries, since dependency on Big Gummint can only be self-destructive. Either way, the findings again underscore the degree to which Republicans and conservatives inhabit a separate intellectual universe about it.</p> </blockquote> <p>Maybe I shouldn't be, but I'm a little more dismayed by the news that even a large number of moderates and independents don't think Obamacare has helped anyone. In a way, that's more disturbing than the dumb&mdash;but predictable&mdash;knee-jerk Republican view that automatically produces a "no" whenever the question relates to something positive about Obamacare.</p> <p>I guess the lesson is that liberals still haven't done a very good job of promoting the benefits of Obamacare. Maybe that's an impossible task since, after all, it's not as if you can expect the media to run endless identical stories about local folks who finally got health insurance. Still, it's a funny thing. If you passed a law that gave cars to 10 million poor Americans, pretty much everyone would agree that <em>some people</em> benefited from the program. But if you pass a law that gives health insurance to 10 million poor Americans, lots of people think it's just a gigantic illusion that's helped no one. What's more, the number of people who believe this has <em>increased</em> since last year's rollout.</p> <p>Why? Certainly not because they think health insurance is worthless. Just try taking away theirs and you'll find out exactly how non-worthless they consider it. Is it because they don't think Obamacare policies are "real" health insurance? Or that all these people had health insurance before and the whole thing is just a scam? Or what? It's a peculiar view that deserves a follow-up.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Health Care Wed, 23 Jul 2014 16:00:38 +0000 Kevin Drum 256816 at http://www.motherjones.com Nobody Knows What Makes a Good CEO http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/07/nobody-knows-what-makes-good-ceo <!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_ceo_pay_performance.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Bloomberg has done a bit of charting of CEO pay vs. performance, and their results are on the right. Bottom line: there's essentially no link whatsoever between how well CEOs perform and <a href="http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-07-22/for-ceos-correlation-between-pay-and-stock-performance-is-pretty-random" target="_blank">how well they're paid:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>An analysis of compensation data publicly released by Equilar shows little correlation between CEO pay and company performance. Equilar ranked the salaries of 200 highly paid CEOs. When compared to metrics such as revenue, profitability, and stock return, <strong>the scattering of data looks pretty random, as though performance doesn&rsquo;t matter. </strong>The comparison makes it look as if there is zero relationship between pay and performance.</p> </blockquote> <p>There are plenty of conclusions you can draw from this, but one of the key ones is that it demonstrates that corporate boards are almost completely unable to predict how well CEO candidates will do on the job. They insist endlessly that they're looking for only the very top candidates&mdash;with pay packages to match&mdash;and I don't doubt that they sincerely think this is what they're doing. In fact, though, they don't have a clue who will do better. They could be hiring much cheaper leaders and would probably get about the same performance.</p> <p>One reason that CEO pay has skyrocketed is that boards compete with each other for candidates who seem to be the best, but don't realize that it's all a chimera. They have no idea.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Economy Wed, 23 Jul 2014 14:51:11 +0000 Kevin Drum 256811 at http://www.motherjones.com We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for July 23, 2014 http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/07/were-still-war-photo-day-july-23-2014 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p class="rtecenter"><em>US Navy sailors honor <span id="yui_3_16_0_rc_1_1_1406123148702_1478">Pearl Harbor survivor Motor Machinist's Mate 3rd Class Wesley E. Ford at a memorial service at Pearl Harbor. (US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Diana Quinlan.)</span></em><br> &nbsp;</p></body></html> MoJo Military Wed, 23 Jul 2014 13:51:31 +0000 256801 at http://www.motherjones.com That Antioxidant You're Taking Is Snake Oil http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2014/07/everything-we-know-about-antioxidants-and-vitamins-wrong <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Plants can't move. They're sitting targets for every insect, two- and four-legged creature, and air-borne fungus and bacteria that swirls around them. But they're not defenseless, we've learned. Under pressure from millions of years of attacks, they've evolved to produce compounds that repel these predators. Known as phyotochemicals, these substances can be quite toxic to humans. You probably wouldn't enjoy the jolt of <a href="http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/poison-ivy/basics/causes/con-20025866">urushiol</a> you'd get from a salad of <em>toxicodendron radicans</em> (poison ivy) leaves.</p> <p>But other phytochemicals have emerged as crucial elements of a healthful human diet. Indeed, they're the source of several essential vitamins, including A, C, and E. But according to an eye-opening <em><a href="http://nautil.us/issue/15/turbulence/fruits-and-vegetables-are-trying-to-kill-you">Nautilus </a></em><a href="http://nautil.us/issue/15/turbulence/fruits-and-vegetables-are-trying-to-kill-you">article</a> by the excellent science journalist Moises Velasquez-Manoff (author of a<a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/04/gut-microbiome-bacteria-weight-loss?page=2"> recent <em>Mother Jones</em> piece on the gut microbiome</a>), our view of how these defensive compounds benefit us might be wildly wrong.</p> <p>The accepted dietary dogma goes like this: The phytochemicals we ingest from plants act as antioxidants&mdash;that is, they protect us from the oxidative molecules, known as "free radicals," that our own cells produce as a waste product, and that have become associated with a range of degenerative diseases including cancer and heart trouble.</p> <p>It's true that many phytochemicals and the vitamins they carry have been proven in lab settings to have antioxidant properties&mdash;that is, they prevent oxidization. And so, Velasquez-Manoff shows, the idea gained currency that fruits and vegetables are good for us because their high antioxidant load protects us from free radicals. And from there, it was easy to leap to the conclusion that you could slow aging and stave off disease by isolating certain phytochemicals and ingesting them in pill form&mdash;everything from multivitamins to trendy antioxidants like resveratrol. "A supplement industry now worth $23 billion yearly in the U.S. took root," he notes.</p> <p>And yet, antioxidant pills have proven to be a bust. In February, a <a href="http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/">group of independent US medical researchers</a> assessed ten years of supplement research and found that pills loaded with vitamin E and beta-carotene (the stuff that gives color to carrots and other orange vegetables) pills are at <a href="http://consumer.healthday.com/vitamins-and-nutrition-information-27/beta-carotene-news-57/healthy-adults-should-not-take-vitamin-e-beta-carotene-expert-panel-685178.html">best useless and at worst harmful</a>&mdash;that is, they may trigger lung cancer in some people. Just this month, a <a href="http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMcibr1405701" target="_blank">meta-analysis</a> published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that antioxidant supplements "do not prevent cancer and may accelerate it."</p> <p>And a <a href="http://www.pnas.org/content/106/21/8665.long">2009 study</a> found that taking antioxidant supplements before exercise actually <em>negates</em> most of the well-documented benefits of physical exertion: That is, taking an antioxidant pill before a run is little better than doing neither and just sitting on the couch.</p> <p>So what gives? Velasquez-Manoff points to emerging science suggesting that phytochemicals' antioxidant properties may have thrown us off the trail of what really makes them good for us. He offers two key clues. The first is that plants produce them in response to stress&mdash;e.g., pathogenic bacteria, hungry insects. The second is that exercise itself is a form of self-imposed stress: You punish your body by exerting it, and it responds by getting stronger.&nbsp; Leaning on the work of Mark Mattson, Chief of the Laboratory of Neurosciences at the National Institute on Aging, and other researchers, Velasquez-Manoff proposes that phytochemicals help us not by repelling oxidant stresses, but by <em>triggering them</em>.</p> <p>Consider that exercise actually <em>generates</em> free radicals in our muscles&mdash;the very thing, according to current dogma, that makes us vulnerable to cancer and aging. But a while after a bout at the gym or on the running trail, these free radicals disappear, replaced by what Velasquez-Manoff calls "native antioxidants." That's because, he writes, "post-exercise, the muscle cells respond to the oxidative stress by boosting production of native antioxidants." And these home-grown chemicals, "amped up to protect against the oxidant threat of yesterday&rsquo;s exercise, now also protect against other ambient oxidant dangers" like ones from air pollution and other environmental stressors, he writes. In the exercise study, the supplements may have interrupted the process, the study's main author, Swiss researcher Michael Ristow, tells Velasquez-Manoff&mdash;they prevent the body from producing its antioxidants, but what they deliver doesn't offset the loss.</p> <p>Yet phytochemcials found in whole foods&mdash;"the hot flavors in spices, the mouth-puckering tannins in wines, or the stink of Brussels sprouts"&mdash;may work on our bodies much as exercise does. Velasquez-Manoff writes: "Our bodies recognize them as slightly toxic, and we respond with an ancient detoxification process aimed at breaking them down and flushing them out."</p> <p>To bolster his case, Velasquez-Manoff cites the example of sulforaphane, the compound that gives broccoli and other members of the <em>brassica</em> family of vegetables&mdash;such as Brussels sprouts&mdash;their sulfurous smell when they cook. It's what's known as an "antifeedant"&mdash;i.e., it's pungency discourages grazing (and makes many people hate Brussels sprouts, etc). Unlike many phytochemicals, sulforaphane isn't an antioxidant at all, but rather a mild oxidant&mdash;that is, it mimics free radicals and thus under the old dietary dogma, we should avoid it. And yet...</p> <blockquote> <p>When sulforaphane enters your blood stream, it triggers release in your cells of a protein called Nrf2. This protein, called by some the &ldquo;master regulator&rdquo; of aging, then activates over 200 genes. They include genes that produce antioxidants, enzymes to metabolize toxins, proteins to flush out heavy metals, and factors that enhance tumor suppression, among other important health-promoting functions. In theory, after encountering this humble antifeedant in your dinner, your body ends up better prepared for encounters with toxins, pro-oxidants from both outside and within your body, immune insults, and other challenges that might otherwise cause harm.</p> </blockquote> <p>In this theory, what causes cancer and general aging isn't oxidative stress itself, but rather a poor response to oxidative stress&mdash;"a creeping inability to produce native antioxidants when needed, and a lack of cellular conditioning generally." And that's where the modern Western lifestyle, marked by highly processed food and a lack of physical exertion, comes in.</p> <blockquote> <p>[The National Institute on Aging's] Mattson calls this the "couch potato" problem. Absent regular hormetic stresses, including exercise and stimulation by plant antifeedants, &ldquo;cells become complacent,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;Their intrinsic defenses are down-regulated.&rdquo; Metabolism works less efficiently. Insulin resistance sets in. We become less able to manage pro-oxidant threats. Nothing works as well as it could. And this mounting dysfunction increases the risk for a degenerative disease.</p> </blockquote> <p>While this emerging view of phytochemcials is compelling, Velasquez-Manoff acknowledges that it isn't fully settled. For one thing, it's unclear why isolated phytochemicals in pills don't seem to work the same magic as they do in the form of whole foods. Here's Velasquez-Manoff:</p> <blockquote> <p>Proper dosage may be one problem, and interaction between the isolates used and particular gene variants in test subjects another. Interventions usually test one molecule, but fresh fruits and vegetables present numerous compounds at once. We may benefit most from these simultaneous exposures. The science on the intestinal microbiota promises to further complicate the picture; our native microbes ferment phytonutrients, perhaps supplying some of the benefit of their consumption. All of which highlights the truism that Nature is hard to get in a pill.</p> </blockquote> <p>But human nutrition is a deeply interesting topic precisely because it resists being settled. As Michael Pollan showed in his 2008 book <em>In Defense of Food, </em>humans have adapted to a wide variety of diets&mdash;from the Mediterranean and Mesoamerican ones based mostly on plants, to the Inuit ones focusing heavily on fish. The one diet that hasn't worked very well is the most calibrated, supplemented, and "fortified" of all: the Western one.</p></body></html> Tom Philpott Food and Ag Health Top Stories Wed, 23 Jul 2014 10:00:12 +0000 Tom Philpott 256746 at http://www.motherjones.com In Georgia, Perdue Win Ends One of the GOP's Craziest Senate Primaries http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/07/jack-kingston-david-perdue-georgia-senate <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>In the run-up to last May's primary to replace retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss, Georgia Republicans flirted with a large field of candidates that included Reps. Paul Broun (who once called evolution a lie "from the pit of hell") and Phil Gingrey (who once defended Todd Akin). But when the dust settled, it was <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/05/georgia-senate-david-perdue-gender-pay-discrimination-lawsuit" target="_blank">former Dollar General CEO</a> David Perdue and 11-term congressman Jack Kingston who went on to a top-two runoff&mdash;a decision framed at the time as a victory for the Chamber of Commerce Republican establishment over the tea party fringe. On Tuesday, after trailing in every poll, Perdue won a narrow victory to claim the GOP nomination. He will take on Democrat Michelle Nunn (the daughter of former Sen. Sam Nunn) in November.</p> <p>But the real story may be the lack of influence wielded by Kingston's biggest supporter, the US Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber backed Kingston to the tune of <a href="http://blogs.rollcall.com/moneyline/chamber-of-commerce-buys-636k-in-ads-supporting-jack-kingston/?dcz=" target="_blank">$2.3 million</a> in TV ads during the primary, only to see him use its most precious issues as mallets with which to bludgeon Perdue. Take the Common Core State Standards, a set of national math and language-arts benchmarks for public schools that have become a bogeyman for conservatives. The Chamber supports Common Core and recently poured $1.38 million into a PR campaign to promote it. But that didn't stop Kingston from characterizing Common Core as an abomination and <a href="http://politics.blog.ajc.com/2014/05/08/david-perdues-common-core-stance-attacked-in-jack-kingston-mailer/" target="_blank">attacking</a> Perdue&mdash;who himself has been highly critical of the standards&mdash;for supporting "the Obamacare of education." In the final days of the race, Perdue fought back, running ads depicting Kingston as soft on immigration because of his support from the Chamber, which backs comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship. "Kingston's pro-amnesty vote is bought and paid for," one ad <a href="http://politics.blog.ajc.com/2014/07/18/david-perdue-takes-u-s-chamber-attack-to-tv-with-amnesty-spot/" target="_blank">warned</a>. Kingston, in turn, had <a href="http://sat%20on%20a%20board%20promoting%20amnesty%20for%20illegal%20immigrants" target="_blank">falsely</a> accused Perdue of supporting amnesty during the runoff.</p> <p>Kingston will likely land on his feet&mdash;11-term congressmen beloved by the Chamber of Commerce tend to do pretty well in Washington!&mdash;but his days in Congress are now numbered. At least we'll always have this video of him explaining why evolution is a myth&mdash;because Jack Kingston is not descended from an ape.</p> <p class="rtecenter"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/hvsCVJA0v4E" width="630"></iframe></p></body></html> MoJo Congress Elections Top Stories Wed, 23 Jul 2014 08:11:03 +0000 Tim Murphy 256771 at http://www.motherjones.com Will Republicans Finally Find a Tax Cut They Hate? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/07/will-republicans-finally-find-tax-cut-they-hate <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Charles Gaba makes an interesting point about today's <em>Halbig</em> decision: if upheld, <a href="http://acasignups.net/14/07/22/gop-shoves-massive-tax-hike-down-middle-class-voters-throats" target="_blank">it would amount to a tax increase.</a> Everyone who buys insurance through a federal exchange would lose the tax credits they're currently entitled to, and losing tax credits is the same as a tax increase. This in turn means that if <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_grover_norquist.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">Democrats introduce a bill to fix the language in Obamacare to keep the tax credits in place, it will basically be a tax cut.</p> <p>This leaves Republicans in a tough spot, doesn't it? Taken as a whole, Obamacare represents a tax increase, which makes it easy for Republicans to oppose it. But if the <em>Halbig</em> challenge is upheld, all the major Obamacare taxes are unaffected. They stay in force no matter what. The <em>only</em> thing that's affected is the tax credits. Thus, an amendment to reinstate the credits is a net tax cut by the rules that Grover Norquist laid out long ago. And no Republican is allowed to vote against a net tax cut.</p> <p>I'm curious what Norquist has to say about this. Not because I think he'd agree that Republicans have to vote to restore the tax credits. He wouldn't. He's a smart guy, and he'd invent some kind of loophole for everyone to shimmy through. Mainly, I just want to know <em>what</em> loophole he'd come up with. I'm always impressed with the kind of sophistries guys like him are able to spin. It's usually very educational.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Health Care Supreme Court The Right Wed, 23 Jul 2014 01:38:50 +0000 Kevin Drum 256791 at http://www.motherjones.com Seven Hours of Sleep Is Just About Optimal http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/07/seven-hours-sleep-just-about-optimal <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>How much sleep does a normal, healthy adult need? <a href="http://online.wsj.com/articles/sleep-experts-close-in-on-the-optimal-nights-sleep-1405984970?mod=trending_now_1" target="_blank">The <em>Wall Street Journal</em> reports:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Several sleep studies have found that seven hours is the optimal amount of sleep&mdash;not eight, as was long believed&mdash;when it comes to certain cognitive and health markers, although many doctors question that conclusion.</p> <p>Other recent research has shown that skimping on a full night's sleep, even by 20 minutes, impairs performance and memory the next day. And getting too much sleep&mdash;not just too little of it&mdash;is associated with health problems including diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease and with higher rates of death, studies show.</p> </blockquote> <p>That's sort of interesting. In the past, I would have had no idea how to guess at this. I always slept exactly the same every night, so I always felt about the same every morning. Over the past couple of years, however, my sleeping habits have become far more erratic, spanning anywhere from six to eight hours fairly randomly. And sure enough, I've vaguely come to the conclusion that six hours makes me feel tired throughout the day, and so does eight hours. Seven hours really does seem to be pretty close to the sweet spot.</p> <p>Unfortunately, I don't seem to have much control over this. I wake up whenever I wake up, and that's that. Today I got up at 6, tried to get back to sleep, and finally gave up. There was nothing to be done about it. And right about now I'm paying the price for that.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Science Wed, 23 Jul 2014 00:11:04 +0000 Kevin Drum 256786 at http://www.motherjones.com 785 of This Year's Unaccompanied Migrants Were Under 6 Years Old http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/07/unaccompanied-child-migrants-younger-than-five-pew-research <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/migrants-age-pew630.png"><div class="caption">Pew Research Center</div> </div> <p>Little kids, including a troubling number of children age five or younger, make up the fastest-growing group of unaccompanied minors apprehended at the US border in fiscal year 2014. So far this year, nearly 7,500 kids under 13 have been caught without a legal guardian&mdash;and 785 of them were younger than six.</p> <p></p><div id="mininav" class="inline-subnav"> <!-- header content --> <div id="mininav-header-content"> <div id="mininav-header-image"> <img src="/files/images/motherjones_mininav/migrants_225.jpg" width="220" border="0"></div> </div> <!-- linked stories --> <div id="mininav-linked-stories"> <ul><span id="linked-story-252671"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/06/child-migrants-surge-unaccompanied-central-america"> 70,000 Kids Will Show Up Alone at Our Border This Year. What Happens to Them?</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-255056"> <li><a href="/mojo/2014/06/map-unaccompanied-child-migrants-central-america-honduras"> Map: These Are the Places Central American Child Migrants Are Fleeing </a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-256016"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/07/immigration-courts-backlog-child-migrant-crisis"> Why Our Immigration Courts Can't Handle the Child Migrant Crisis</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-256341"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/07/are-kids-showing-border-really-refugees"> Are the Kids Showing Up at the Border Really Refugees?</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-256331"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/07/child-migrant-ellis-island-history"> Child Migrants Have Been Coming to America Alone Since Ellis Island</a></li> </span> </ul></div> <!-- footer content --> <div id="mininav-footer-content"> <div id="mininav-footer-text" class="mininav-footer-text"> <p class="mininav-footer-text" style="margin: 0; padding: 0.75em; font-size: 11px; font-weight: bold; line-height: 1.2em; background-color: rgb(221, 221, 221);"> See <em>MoJo</em>'s <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/topics/child-migrants">full coverage</a> of the surge of unaccompanied child migrants from Central America. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>It's still mostly teens who travel solo to the United States from countries like El Salvador and Honduras, as the <a href="http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/07/22/children-12-and-under-are-fastest-growing-group-of-unaccompanied-minors-at-u-s-border/" target="_blank">Pew Research Center</a> revealed today in a new analysis of US Customs and Border Protection data. But compared to 2013, Border Patrol apprehensions of kids 12 or younger already have increased 117 percent, while those of teens have jumped only 12 percent. Apprehensions of the youngest group of kids, those under six, have nearly tripled.</p> <p>These new stats reveal a trend made all the more startling as details of the journey continue to emerge. In his <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/06/child-migrants-surge-unaccompanied-central-america" target="_blank">feature story</a> about this influx of child migrants, for instance, <em>MoJo</em>'s Ian Gordon tells of Adri&aacute;n, a Guatemalan kid who dodged attackers armed with machetes, walked barefoot for miles through Mexico, and resorted to prostitution to reach sanctuary in America. And Adri&aacute;n was 17. For the increasing number of kids under 13 making this harrowing trek without parents, the vulnerability to exploitation is only magnified, the potential for trauma and even death only amplified.</p> <p>That so many young kids feel compelled to leave home, or that their parents feel compelled to send them, sends a grim message about the state of their home countries. As El Salvadoran newspaper editor Carlos Dada told <em>On the Media</em>'s Bob Garfield <a href="http://www.onthemedia.org/story/on-the-media-2014-07-18/" target="_blank">last week</a>, quoting a Mexican priest who runs a shelter in Oaxaca, Mexico: "If these migrants are willing to take this road, knowing everything they are risking, even their lives, I don't even want to imagine what they are running away from."</p> <p>Here's another Pew age breakdown, this time by country of origin:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/pew-kids-country310_0.png"><div class="caption">Pew Research Center</div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> MoJo Charts Immigration child migrants Tue, 22 Jul 2014 20:49:51 +0000 Maddie Oatman 256751 at http://www.motherjones.com Be Still, My Heart: Beyoncé As Rosie the Riveter http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/07/beyonce-rosie-the-riveter <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>On Tuesday, Beyonc&eacute;, a whisper of perfection in an otherwise cruel and inhumane world, posted this photo of her as Rosie the Riveter to <a href="http://instagram.com/p/qwWCsgPw7N/?modal=true" target="_blank">Instagram</a>.</p> <p><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="710" scrolling="no" src="//instagram.com/p/qwWCsgPw7N/embed/" width="612"></iframe></p> <p>Beyonc&eacute; has become somewhat of a feminist hero recently, putting overtly feminist lyrics into her songs, and making genuinely heartfelt public statements about women's rights. In January, she wrote an <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/01/beyonce-gender-inequality-essay-shriver-report-center-american-progress" target="_blank">essay about income inequality.</a> On the other side of the pop star aisle there is Lana del Rey who is more interested <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/06/lana-del-rey-feminism-spacex-tesla-intergalactic-possibilities" target="_blank">in Tesla and "intergalactic possibilities."</a></p></body></html> Mixed Media Music Tue, 22 Jul 2014 19:54:46 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 256766 at http://www.motherjones.com Study Finds Kids Prefer Healthier Lunches. School Food Lobby Refuses to Believe It. http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/07/school-lunch-study-student-perceptions <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>From all of the commotion around the new federal school lunch standards, you'd think they were really Draconian. Republican legislators have <a href="http://aderholt.house.gov/press-releases/congressman-aderholt-hosts-school-meal-forum-in-cullman-county/" target="_blank">railed against them</a>. Districts have <a href="http://www.jsonline.com/news/health/some-districts-balk-at-latest-serving-of-school-lunch-rules-b99288269z1-265421821.html" target="_blank">threatened</a> to opt out. The School Nutrition Association (SNA), the industry group that represents the nation's 55,000 school food employees, has officially <a href="http://www.schoolnutrition.org/uploadedFiles/Legislation_and_Policy/SNA_Policy_Resources/Implementation%20of%20Nutrition%20Standards.pdf" target="_blank">opposed</a> some of them&mdash;and <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2014/07/21/school-lunch-lobbying-michelle-obama/12964211/" target="_blank">doubled its lobbying</a> in the months leading up to July 1, when some of the new rules took effect.</p> <p>Here's who doesn't mind the new standards: kids. For a <a href="http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/chi.2014.0038" target="_blank">study</a> just published in the peer-reviewed journal <em>Childhood Obesity, </em>researchers asked administrators and food service staff at 537 public elementary schools how their students were liking the meals that conformed to the new standards. Half of those surveyed said that the students "complained about the meals at first," but 70 percent said that the students now like the new lunches. Rural districts were the least enthusiastic about the new meals&mdash;there, some respondents reported that purchasing was down and that students were eating less of their meals. But respondents from schools with a high percentage of poor students&mdash;those with at least two-thirds eligible for free or reduced-price meals&mdash;were especially positive about the new standards: They found that "more students were buying lunch and that students were eating more of the meal than in the previous year."</p> <p>"Kids who really need good nutrition most at school are getting it," says&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ihrp.uic.edu/researcher/lindsey-turner-phd" target="_blank">Lindsey Turner</a>, the <em>Childhood Obesity</em> study's lead author and a research scientist at the University of Illinois-Chicago. "That's really good news."</p> <p>SNA's response? To issue a <a href="http://www.schoolnutrition.org/5--News-and-Publications/2--Press-Releases/Press-Releases/SNA-Comments-on-New-Study-on-Perceptions-of-School-Meals/" target="_blank">statement</a> declaring that "these reported perceptions about school meals do not reflect reality." The group cites USDA data that participation in school meals has declined by 1.4 million since the new rules went into effect in 2012. But Turner, the <em>Childhood Obesity</em> study's lead author, notes that this is only about a 3 percent drop. She also points to a Government Accountability Office <a href="http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-104" target="_blank">study</a> that found that most of the drop-off was among students who pay full price for lunch.</p> <p>What makes SNA's stance on the new rules even stranger is that they actually are not all that strict. For example: Foods served must be whole grain rich, but as I <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/07/school-lunch-conference-cheetos" target="_blank">learned</a> from my trip to SNA's annual conference last week, that includes whole-grain Pop Tarts, Cheetos, and Rice Krispies Treats. Students are required to take a half cup of a fruit or vegetable&mdash;but <a href="http://rosatiice.com/products/" target="_blank">Italian ice</a>&mdash;in flavors like Hip Hoppin' Jelly Bean&mdash;are fair game.</p> <p>Not all members of SNA consider the task of tempting kids with healthy foods onerous. As I reported last week, Jessica Shelly, food director of Cincinnati's diverse public schools, has <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/07/pity-poor-school-food-professional" target="_blank">shown</a> that all it takes is a little creativity.</p> <p>HT <a href="http://www.thelunchtray.com/sna-challenges-study-kids-like-healthier-school-food/" target="_blank">The Lunch Tray</a>.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Food and Ag Tue, 22 Jul 2014 19:29:37 +0000 Kiera Butler 256741 at http://www.motherjones.com What Happens If Obama Loses the Halbig Case? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/07/what-happens-if-obama-loses-halbig-case <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>So let's suppose the <em>Halbig</em> case goes up to the Supreme Court and they rule for the plaintiffs: in a stroke, everyone enrolled in Obamacare through a federal exchange is no longer eligible for subsidies. What happens then? Is Obamacare doomed?</p> <p>Not at all. What happens is that people in blue states like California and New York, which operate their own exchanges, continue getting their federal subsidies. People in red states, which punted the job to the feds, will suddenly have their subsidies yanked away. Half the country will have access to a generous entitlement and the other half won't.</p> <p>How many people will this affect? The earliest we'll get a Supreme Court ruling on this is mid-2015, and mid-2016 is more likely. At a guess, maybe 12 million people will have exchange coverage by 2015 and about 20 million by 2016. Let's split the difference and call it 15 million. About 80 percent of them qualify for subsidies, which brings the number to about 12 million. Roughly half of them are in states that would be affected by <em>Halbig</em>.</p> <p>So that means about 6 million people who are currently getting subsidies would suddenly have them yanked away. It's even possible they'd have to <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_obamacare_site_new.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">pay back any tax credits they'd received previously.</p> <p>So what's the political reaction? The key point here is that people respond much more strongly to <em>losing</em> things than they do to <em>not getting them in the first place</em>. For example, there are lots of poor people in red states who currently aren't receiving Medicaid benefits thanks to their states' refusal to participate in Obamacare's Medicaid expansion. This hasn't caused a revolt because nothing was taken away. They just never got Medicaid in the first place.</p> <p>The subsidies would be a different story. You'd have roughly 6 million people who would suddenly lose a benefit that they've come to value highly. This would cause a huge backlash. It's hard to say if this would be enough to move Congress to action, but I think this is nonetheless the basic lay of the land. Obamacare wouldn't be destroyed, it would merely be taken away from a lot of people who are currently benefiting from it. They'd fight to get it back, and that changes the political calculus.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Health Care Top Stories Tue, 22 Jul 2014 18:54:34 +0000 Kevin Drum 256756 at http://www.motherjones.com The (Possibly) Frightening Implications of the Halbig Case http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/07/possibly-frightening-implications-halbig-case <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>In the <em>Halbig</em> case that struck down subsidies on federal Obamacare exchanges earlier today, one of the key issues was deference to agency interpretation of the law. Longstanding precedent holds that courts should generally defer to agency interpretations as long as they're plausible. They don't have to be perfect. They don't even have to be the best possible interpretations. They merely have to make sense.</p> <p>The DC circuit court decided that there really wasn't any serious ambiguity in the law, and therefore no deference was due to the IRS's interpretation that state and federal exchanges were meant to be treated the same. The dissent was scathing about this, since the record pretty clearly showed tons of ambiguity. So if and when this case makes it up to the Supreme Court, what's going to happen? A lawyer buddy of mine is pessimistic:</p> <blockquote> <p>Sadly, I think the Supreme Court will eagerly uphold the challenge because it gets to an issue that conservatives have generally despised: deference to administrative agencies' interpretation of statutes.</p> <p>It's long been a fundamental principle in administrative law that an agency's interpretation of a federal statute that they are charged with enforcing is entitled to judicial deference, unless such deference is unreasonable. Conservatives would prefer that courts not defer to the government because #biggovernment. Thus, they want to weaken the deference standard and <em>Halbig</em> gives them basically a two-fer. Or a three-fer since the agency interpreting the statute is the IRS: Take out Obamacare, knock back the deference standard, and punch the IRS. This invariably will help advance the conservatives' legal goals because with a lower deference standard, their eccentric theories (such as on tax issues) have a better chance of surviving.</p> <p>In normal times, the deference standard would likely be left intact because weakening it raises serious issues with government enforcement across all agencies, and courts are loath to send the country into a tailspin. But those days are apparently long past. Truly frightening times.</p> </blockquote> <p>So what's next? <a href="http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2014/07/22/breaking-fourth-circuit-panel-unanimously-upholds-obamacare-subsidies-for-all-eligible-purchasers/" target="_blank">In breaking news,</a> the Fourth Circuit court has just upheld the federal subsidies in Obamacare, ruling squarely on deference grounds&mdash;and disagreeing completely with the DC circuit opinion, which held that the legislative language in Obamacare was clear and plain. In fact, said the Fourth Circuit, the statute <em>is</em> ambiguous, and therefore the court owes deference to the IRS interpretation. This is good news for Obamacare, especially if today's DC circuit decision by a three-judge panel is overturned by the full court, thus giving the government two appellate court wins. If that happens, it's even possible that the Supreme Court would decline to hear an appeal and simply leave the lower court opinions in place.</p> <p>But I'd say an eventual Supreme Court date still seems likely. There's no telling if my friend's read of the politico-legal climate among the Supreme Court's conservative majority is correct, but I thought it was worth sharing.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Supreme Court Tue, 22 Jul 2014 17:07:36 +0000 Kevin Drum 256726 at http://www.motherjones.com Europe Agrees to Levy Moderate New Sanctions Against Russia http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/07/europe-agrees-levy-moderate-new-sanctions-against-russia <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Europe has agreed to further sanctions against Russia <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-28415248" target="_blank">in response to the shootdown of MH17:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The EU will widen its sanctions against Russia to include more individuals and consider targeting the defence sector, the Dutch foreign minister says. Frans Timmermans said "unanimous" and "forceful" decisions had been taken on enhanced sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine conflict.</p> <p>....A new sanctions list naming individuals and organisations will be drawn up by EU ambassadors by Thursday, Mr Timmermans told reporters after meeting his EU colleagues in Brussels. He said there was also agreement that the European Commission would look at further measures to be taken against Russia in the fields of defence, concerning "dual-use goods in the field of energy", and in financial services.</p> </blockquote> <p>The <em>Telegraph</em> reports that <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/ukraine/10974050/Malaysia-Airlines-plane-crashes-on-Ukraine-Russia-border-live.html" target="_blank">not everyone is impressed:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>[The sanctions] are not likely to satisfy not the United States and more hawkish members of the EU, including Poland and the Baltic states, who lobbied for tough sanctions against the Russian economy. In their conclusions, the ministers said they would only ask the 28-nation bloc's executive arm to prepare for more forceful economic sanctions&nbsp;&mdash; including targeting the arms, energy and financial sectors.</p> </blockquote> <p>No surprises here. Most European leaders are willing to do more, but not too much more. They simply have too much invested in their economic ties with Russia to take more drastic steps.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum International Tue, 22 Jul 2014 16:38:04 +0000 Kevin Drum 256716 at http://www.motherjones.com DC Circuit Court Kills Federal Subsidies for Obamacare. Next Stop Is Probably the Supreme Court. http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/07/dc-circuit-court-kills-federal-subsidies-obamacare-next-stop-probably-supreme-cou <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Well, the DC circuit court has ruled 2-1 that <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/23/us/court-rules-against-obamacare-exchange-subsidies.html?hp&amp;action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;version=LedeSum&amp;module=first-column-region&amp;region=top-news&amp;WT.nav=top-news&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">Obamacare subsidies apply only to exchanges set up by states,</a> not to exchanges set up by the federal government. This is because one section of the law says that taxpayers can receive tax credits only if they enroll in a plan "through an Exchange established by the State under section 1311 of the [ACA]." The court ruled that a <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_prettyman_courthouse.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">state is a state, and as far as that goes, it's reasonable enough. Even if this was merely a drafting error, it's pretty clear that the federal government isn't a state.</p> <p>The problem is that there's more to it than that. The court is also required to ensure that its interpretation of a single clause doesn't make a hash out of the entire statutory construction of a law. The majority opinion makes heavy weather of this for a simple reason: virtually everything in the language of the law assumes that subsidies are available to everyone. Why, for example, would federal exchanges have to report detailed subsidy information if no one even gets subsidies on federal exchanges in the first place? The court blithely waves this off, suggesting that it's merely to allow the IRS to enforce the individual mandate. But that's pretty strained. Enforcing the mandate requires only a single piece of information: whether a taxpayer is insured. It doesn't require detailed information about eligibility for subsidies and the amount of the subsidies each taxpayer gets. The fact that all these details are required certainly suggests that Congress assumed everyone was getting subsidies.</p> <p>The court, following the arguments of the plaintiffs, also makes a brave effort to figure out <em>why</em> Congress might have done something so transparently ridiculous as limiting subsidies to state exchanges. Their conclusion is that Congress deliberately withheld subsidies from federal exchanges as an incentive for states to set up exchanges of their own. On this point, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/documents/1225631-halbig-dccircuit-20140722" target="_blank">Judge Harry Edwards was scathing in his dissent:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Perhaps because they appreciate that no legitimate method of statutory interpretation ascribes to Congress the aim of tearing down the very thing it attempted to construct, Appellants in this litigation have invented a narrative to explain why Congress would want health insurance markets to fail in States that did not elect to create their own Exchanges. Congress, they assert, made the subsidies conditional in order to <em>incentivize</em> the States to create their own exchanges. This argument is disingenuous, and it is wrong. <strong>Not only is there no evidence that anyone in <em>Congress</em> thought &sect; 36B operated as a condition, there is also no evidence that <em>any State</em> thought of it as such. And no wonder: The statutory provision presumes the existence of subsidies and was drafted to establish a formula for the payment of tax credits, not to impose a significant and substantial condition on the States.</strong></p> <p>It makes little sense to think that Congress would have imposed so substantial a condition in such an oblique and circuitous manner....The simple truth is that Appellants&rsquo; incentive story is a fiction, <strong>a <em>post hoc</em> narrative concocted to provide a colorable explanation for the otherwise risible notion that Congress would have wanted insurance markets to collapse in States that elected not to create their own Exchanges.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>There's no evidence that Congress ever thought it needed to provide incentives for states to set up their own exchanges. Certainly they could have made that clear if that had been their intention. As Edwards says, this claim is simply made up of whole cloth. In fact, he says acerbically, the entire suit is little more than a "not-so-veiled attempt to gut the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ":</p> <blockquote> <p>The majority opinion evinces a painstaking effort&nbsp;&mdash; covering many pages&nbsp;&mdash; attempting to show that there is no ambiguity in the ACA. The result, I think, is to prove just the opposite. <strong>Implausible results would follow if &ldquo;established by the State&rdquo; is construed to exclude Exchanges established by HHS on behalf of a State.</strong> This is why the majority opinion strains fruitlessly to show plain meaning when there is none to be found.</p> <p>....This court owes deference to the agencies&rsquo; interpretations of the ACA. Unfortunately, by imposing the Appellants&rsquo; myopic construction on the administering agencies without any regard for the overall statutory scheme, the majority opinion effectively ignores the basic tenets of statutory construction, as well as the principles of <em>Chevron</em> deference. <strong>Because the proposed judgment of the majority defies the will of Congress and the permissible interpretations of the agencies to whom Congress has delegated the authority to interpret and enforce the terms of the ACA, I dissent.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Will the Supreme Court agree? Given the obviously political motivations of most Supreme Court justices these days, I think that's hard to predict. A lot will depend on John Roberts. Having already betrayed his fellow conservatives by voting to uphold Obamacare, will he side with the government in order to show that he meant what he said and doesn't want to invite an endless series of desperate attempts to kill the law? Or has he had second thoughts, and will therefore welcome this as a chance to essentially reverse himself? I can't read his mind, so I don't know. We'll find out soon enough.</p> <p><strong>POSTSCRIPT:</strong> This ruling will, I assume, be stayed during appeal, so it has no immediate impact. The next step is for the Obama administration to either ask for an emergency en banc review from the entire DC circuit court, or to appeal directly to the Supreme Court. Either way, it will end up at the Supreme Court sooner or later.</p> <p><strong>POSTSCRIPT 2:</strong> White House press secretary Josh Earnest has <a href="https://twitter.com/aterkel/status/491604394165534722" target="_blank">confirmed</a> that the administration will ask for an en banc review. Since the full court now has a liberal majority, they presumably hope they'll get a more favorable ruling before heading to the Supreme Court.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Health Care Regulatory Affairs Tue, 22 Jul 2014 15:35:07 +0000 Kevin Drum 256706 at http://www.motherjones.com For Republicans, It's All Going According to Plan http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/07/republicans-its-all-going-according-plan <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Steve Benen draws a contrast today between an activist president who's at least trying to get things done, and a dysfunctional Congress than <a href="http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/day-the-life" target="_blank">can't even make the attempt:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Remember the VA crisis? Lawmakers quickly approved a reform bill, which now appears likely to fail because of House Republicans&rsquo; reluctance to compromise. Remember the plan to address the border crisis? The plan was for Congress to act before taking August off, but that now appears unlikely, too.</p> <p>The effort to extend unemployment benefits is dead. So is raising the minimum wage. So is ENDA. No one even talks about gun background checks anymore. The Highway Trust Fund will probably benefit from a stopgap measure, but even this hardly represents real governing.</p> </blockquote> <p>Unfortunately, I think Republicans would call this a big win. Getting things done doesn't really do them any good at the ballot box. Making the government appear impotent and incompetent does. So that's the path they've chosen.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Congress Tue, 22 Jul 2014 14:07:57 +0000 Kevin Drum 256701 at http://www.motherjones.com We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for July 22, 2014 http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/07/were-still-war-photo-day-july-22-2014 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p class="rtecenter"><em>Former US Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Pitts joins President Barack Obama in the East Room of the White House to be honored as the 9th living recipient of the Medal of Honor from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. <span class="meta-field photo-desc ">(Department of Defense News photo by EJ Hersom)</span></em></p></body></html> MoJo Military Tue, 22 Jul 2014 13:23:13 +0000 256691 at http://www.motherjones.com Quick Reads: "Do Not Sell at Any Price" by Amanda Petrusich http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/07/quick-reads-do-not-sell-any-price-amanda-petrusich <!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="Do Not Sell at Any Price" class="image" src="/files/do-not-sell-at-any-price-270.jpg"></div> <p><strong>Do Not Sell at Any Price</strong></p> <p>By Amanda Petrusich</p> <p>SCRIBNER</p> <p>Once you get past the overexplaining of vinyl-era terms (gatefold album cover, etc.), Amanda Petrusich's first-person foray into the weird world of 78 rpm collectors is an engrossing romp that illuminates this cartoonish slice of nerddom so aptly portrayed in the movie <em>Crumb</em>. She catches the bug, too, embarking on a quest for 100-year-old Paramount blues 78s that takes her to flea markets and record swaps, although not, like one of her sources, to the bottom of the Milwaukee River. This obsession, Petrusich ultimately divines, is rooted as much in the (perhaps unattainable) sense of authenticity and passion crackling up from those vinyl grooves as in the earthly desire to own something rare.</p> <p><em>This review originally appeared in our <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/toc/2014/07" target="_blank">July/August issue</a> of</em> Mother Jones.&nbsp;</p></body></html> Mixed Media Books Music Tue, 22 Jul 2014 10:00:06 +0000 Mark Murrmann 253011 at http://www.motherjones.com The Way We Live Now http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/07/way-we-live-now <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Methinks someone on the EPA's social team is logged into the department's brand account on their iPhone...</p> <p><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Screen%20Shot%202014-07-21%20at%2010.48.30%20PM.png"></p> <p>If someone gets fired over this harmless mistake I will be genuinely outraged but I think it's ok for all of us to have a harmless chuckle.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Tue, 22 Jul 2014 03:05:21 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 256686 at http://www.motherjones.com Obama Planning to Retire to Rancho Mirage? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/07/obama-planning-retire-rancho-mirage <!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.latimes.com/business/realestate/hot-property/la-fi-hotprop-barack-obama-20140721-story.html" target="_blank">Let the speculation begin!</a></p> <blockquote> <p>President Obama and his wife, Michelle, could be the owners of a home in Rancho Mirage listed at $4.25 million before the month is out. The First Family is believed to be in escrow on a contemporary home in a gated community <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_obama_rancho_mirage.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">where entertainers Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby once maintained estates.</p> <p>The White House said rumors regarding a home in Rancho Mirage are not true.</p> <p>....The 8,232-square-foot compound in question sits adjacent to a bighorn sheep preserve on a 3.29-acre hilltop with panoramic views. The custom-built main house, constructed in 1993 and designed for entertaining, includes a gym, four bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms. A 2,000-square-foot casita has three bedrooms and three bathrooms. Over-the-top exterior features include a pool with a 20-foot waterfall, a rock lagoon, two spas, a misting system and a putting green with a sand trap.</p> </blockquote> <p>I have to say that the Obamas don't really strike me as Rancho Mirage kind of people, but who knows? Maybe I've misjudged them.</p> <p><em>Photo by <a href="http://clarkdugger.com/" target="_blank">Clark Dugger Photography</a></em></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Obama Tue, 22 Jul 2014 01:01:52 +0000 Kevin Drum 256676 at http://www.motherjones.com Wage Stagnation Is No Illusion http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/07/wage-stagnation-no-illusion <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Bloomberg has a long article today wondering whether wage stagnation is <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-07-21/yellen-wage-gauges-blurred-by-boomer-millennial-workforce-shift.html" target="_blank">mainly due to demographic shifts:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>25- to 34-year-olds will make up 22.5 percent of the workforce by 2022, compared with 21.6 percent in 2012....Meanwhile, the share of 45- to 54-year-olds in their best earning years will drop by 3.3 percentage points in the decade ending 2022.</p> <p>....Hollowing out the middle-aged working population could cut median earnings because such employees bring home the biggest paychecks. The median 45- to 54-year-old household earns $66,400 a year, compared with $51,400 for 25- to 34-year-old households.</p> </blockquote> <p>Well, sure. Compared to 30 years ago, the theory goes, we have more young workers bringing down the average and fewer prime age workers raising the average. As a result, the average is declining. But all that means is that <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_median_wage_age_25-34_0.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">baby boomers are aging out of the workforce, not that wages are necessarily in bad shape.</p> <p>That makes sense. At least, it <em>would</em> make sense if it were true. The thing is, in an article more than a thousand words long, we never learn that we can look at this directly. The chart on the right shows the median wages of just 25-34 year olds, and as you can see, they've been declining for more than a decade. This has nothing to do with demographics because it's measuring wages for the same age group the entire time.</p> <p>Now, these figures don't include health insurance, and they only go through 2012. So they aren't of much help if, say, the Fed is trying to gauge the tightness of the labor market in the second quarter of 2014. Nonetheless, they certainly show a long-term trend of wage stagnation that plainly has nothing to do with demographics. This makes it vanishingly unlikely that wage stagnation over the past six months is merely due to demographic shifts.</p> <p>It's a nice fairy tale to pretend that wage stagnation might just be an artifact of boomers retiring, but easily available data quite clearly shows otherwise. It's real.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Economy Mon, 21 Jul 2014 23:00:30 +0000 Kevin Drum 256661 at http://www.motherjones.com Watch John Oliver Explain the Insanity of Our Prison System With Puppets http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/07/john-oliver-prison-system-sesame-street-puppets <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The United States imprisons too many people for too long for too many things. As <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Pz3syET3DY&amp;app=desktop" target="_blank">John Oliver summed it up</a> last night, "We are doing a terrible job taking care of people that it is very easy for all of us not to care about."</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/_Pz3syET3DY" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Oliver outlines a few of the prison system's flagrant injustices:</p> <ul><li>African Americans are sent to prison for drug offenses at <a href="http://www.naacp.org/pages/criminal-justice-fact-sheet" target="_blank">10 times the rate of white people</a>, despite similar levels of drug use.</li> <li>Solitary confinement, which <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/10/solitary-confinement-shane-bauer" target="_blank"><em>Mother Jones </em>has covered</a> extensively, is "one of the most mentally excruciating things prisoners can be subjected to." Yet when&nbsp;a senator asked the director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons about <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/10/solitary-cell-graphic" target="_blank">the size of the average isolation cell</a> during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing this past February, the prison official had no idea, stalling awkwardly before <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/25/bop-director-prison-cell-size_n_4855865.html" target="_blank">making a wildly incorrect guess</a>.</li> <li>One in 25 prison inmates <a href="http://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&amp;iid=4654" target="_blank">reported being sexually victimized</a> in the past year, yet prison rape is culturally-acceptable joke material that crops up in pop culture regularly: from <em>SpongeBob</em> to <em>Friends </em>to <em>Puss in Boots</em>.</li> <li>In an effort to cut costs, many states outsource food, health care, and even prison operations to private contractors. These cost-saving techniques have lead to <a href="http://www.freep.com/article/20140713/NEWS06/307130099/aramark-prison-food-privatization-michigan" target="_blank">maggot-infested food</a> in Michigan prisons and <a href="http://america.aljazeera.com/watch/shows/america-tonight/articles/2014/5/27/whistleblower-arizonainmatesaredyingfrominadequatehealthcare.html" target="_blank">50 inmates dying in one 8-month stretch</a> in Arizona.</li> <li>Prisoner rehabilitation isn't exactly the system's focal point: Publicly-traded private prison giant Corporate Corrections of America (CCA) <a href="http://file:///Users/hlevintova/Downloads/CCA%20Q1%202011%20Investor%20Presentation%20(1).pdf" target="_blank">actually touted</a> "high recidivism" as a reason private prisons are a "unique investment opportunity."</li> </ul><p>He closes the segment by recapping the horrors of the US prison system with mock Sesame Street puppets: The PBS show has recently made <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/05/watch-amazing-sesame-street-video-about-having-parent-prison" target="_blank">efforts to reach out</a> to the <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/05/mothers-day-visit-prison-incarcerated-distance" target="_blank">1 in 28 US children</a> growing up with a parent behind bars.</p> <p>The segment's bottom line: Prisoners are not treated humanely in the United States. They're viewed as a nuisance, a problem to be tucked away in a cell and never thought of again. But when nearly <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/28/us/28cnd-prison.html?_r=0" target="_blank">1 in 100 American adults is behind bars</a>, our broken system of mass incarceration is a human rights abuse that should not be ignored.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Video Crime and Justice Human Rights Media Prisons Mon, 21 Jul 2014 20:45:25 +0000 Katie Rose Quandt 256571 at http://www.motherjones.com Do We Need More Business Folks In Congress? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/07/do-we-need-more-business-folks-congress <!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.washingtonmonthly.com/political-animal-a/2014_07/we_want_more_of_everything051303.php" target="_blank">Ed Kilgore</a> points to a new Gallup poll that asks what kind of people <a href="http://www.gallup.com/poll/174002/americans-say-business-background-best-governing.aspx" target="_blank">you'd like to see in Congress:</a></p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_gallup__governed_better.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 15px 15px;"></p> <p>So is this a vote for more business experience? Or even&mdash;shudder&mdash;a retroactive yearning for Mitt Romney? Like Kilgore, I'm skeptical. At a guess, people who answered the question about business experience were implicitly contrasting it with lawyers or career politicians, and that's a rigged deck. Of course business leaders will come out ahead compared to those two despised professions.</p> <p>Which makes it too bad that Gallup screwed up this question. Instead of throwing out a kitchen sink of qualities (occupation, religion, ideology, etc.) they should have asked specifically about a list of occupations. Do you think the country would be better governed if our legislatures had more:</p> <ul><li>Business folks</li> <li>Teachers</li> <li>Lawyers</li> <li>Doctors</li> <li>Retired people</li> <li>Military leaders</li> <li>Scientists</li> <li>Etc.</li> </ul><p><em>That</em> would be kind of an interesting poll. Personally, I'd vote for more kindergarten teachers. I suspect that's a pretty appropriate background for serving a few years in Congress.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Congress Mon, 21 Jul 2014 20:08:04 +0000 Kevin Drum 256646 at http://www.motherjones.com Rand Paul Flubs the Facts on the Minimum Wage http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/07/rand-paul-obama-minimum-wage <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) says the minimum wage, like Trix, is for kids. Speaking in San Francisco over the weekend, the likely 2016 presidential candidate took issue with the president and first lady over an interview they gave to <a href="http://parade.condenast.com/306214/parade/the-president-and-michelle-obama-on-work-family-and-juggling-it-all/" target="_blank"><em>Parade</em></a>, in which the Obamas suggested their daughters should work minimum wage jobs because "<span data-parade-clicks="false" data-parade-location-ids="article" data-parade-location-types="promoarea" data-parade-mouseovers="false" data-parade-touches="false" data-parade-type="promoarea" data-parade-views="false">that's what most folks go through every single day." It was a fairly innocuous comment. But Paul argued it sent the wrong message. Per <a href="http://www.politico.com/story/2014/07/rand-paul-barack-obama-minimum-wage-109137.html" target="_blank"><em>Politico</em></a>:</span></p> <blockquote> <p>Speaking at a downtown conference for libertarian and conservative technology types, the Kentucky Republican and prospective 2016 White House contender said he had an "opposite" view from the Obamas when it comes to seeing his own sons work delivering pizzas and at call centers.</p> <p>"The minimum wage is a temporary" thing, Paul said. "It's a chance to get started. I see my son come home with his tips. And he's got cash in his hand and he's proud of himself. I don't want him to stop there. But he's working and he's understanding the value of work. We shouldn't disparage that."</p> </blockquote> <p>Paul, a libertarian, was echoing the argument made by those who oppose raising the minimum wage: That those jobs are largely filled by young adults just entering the job market&mdash;people who are taking these low-paying positions before moving on to the better-paying jobs&mdash;so it's no big deal if the compensation is at the bottom end of the scale. A low wage might even be beneficial, by providing an incentive to get to the next level. But this is not supported by the facts. Only a quarter of minimum wage workers are teenagers, according to the <a href="http://www.bls.gov/cps/minwage2013.pdf" target="_blank">Bureau of Labor Statistics</a>. Nearly half of minimum wage earners are over 25, and 585,000 (18 percent) are over 45. These aren't kids just learning the value of the buck; they're adults who need income to support themselves and their families. As <em>Mother Jones</em> has reported previously, the current minimum wage doesn't come close to doing that. Just take a spin on our <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/01/costco-vs-walmart-how-many-hours-do-you-need-work-survive" target="_blank">living-wage calculator</a>.</p> <p>If Paul truly believes a low wage is "temporary" for most minimum-wage workers, perhaps he should take the Obamas' advice for their daughters and spend some time working in a fast-food joint.</p></body></html> MoJo Congress Economy Income Inequality Mon, 21 Jul 2014 19:33:25 +0000 Tim Murphy 256581 at http://www.motherjones.com Watch: Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick's Emotional Speech on Child Migrants http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/07/deval-patrick-child-immigration-shelter-speech <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/H-7nySPVcOU?start=321" width="630"></iframe></p> <p></p><div id="mininav" class="inline-subnav"> <!-- header content --> <div id="mininav-header-content"> <div id="mininav-header-image"> <img src="/files/images/motherjones_mininav/migrants_225.jpg" width="220" border="0"></div> </div> <!-- linked stories --> <div id="mininav-linked-stories"> <ul><span id="linked-story-252671"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/06/child-migrants-surge-unaccompanied-central-america"> 70,000 Kids Will Show Up Alone at Our Border This Year. What Happens to Them?</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-255056"> <li><a href="/mojo/2014/06/map-unaccompanied-child-migrants-central-america-honduras"> Map: These Are the Places Central American Child Migrants Are Fleeing </a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-256016"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/07/immigration-courts-backlog-child-migrant-crisis"> Why Our Immigration Courts Can't Handle the Child Migrant Crisis</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-256341"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/07/are-kids-showing-border-really-refugees"> Are the Kids Showing Up at the Border Really Refugees?</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-256331"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/07/child-migrant-ellis-island-history"> Child Migrants Have Been Coming to America Alone Since Ellis Island</a></li> </span> </ul></div> <!-- footer content --> <div id="mininav-footer-content"> <div id="mininav-footer-text" class="mininav-footer-text"> <p class="mininav-footer-text" style="margin: 0; padding: 0.75em; font-size: 11px; font-weight: bold; line-height: 1.2em; background-color: rgb(221, 221, 221);"> See <em>MoJo</em>'s <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/topics/child-migrants">full coverage</a> of the surge of unaccompanied child migrants from Central America. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>On Friday, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2014/07/18/emotional-deval-patrick-explains-plan-to-shelter-undocumented-children-video/" target="_blank">announced a plan</a> for his state to temporarily shelter up to 1,000 unaccompanied children who have <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/06/child-migrants-surge-unaccompanied-central-america" target="_blank">recently fled</a> to the United States as part of the ongoing <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/topics/child-migrants" target="_blank">border crisis</a>. He cited America's history of giving "sanctuary to desperate children for centuries," the "blight on our national reputation" when we refused to accept Jewish children fleeing the Nazis in 1939, and his Christian faith as reasons for the decision. "My faith teaches," he said, fighting back tears, "that if a stranger dwells with you in your land, you shall not mistreat him but rather love him as yourself." The Joint Base Cape Cod and Westover Air Base are the two facilities being considered as <a href="http://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/blog/2014/07/18/immigrant-children-massachusetts-governor-patrick/" target="_blank">possible locations</a>.</p> <p>Notably, Patrick has said "<a href="http://www.bostonglobe.com/news/politics/2014/02/23/governor-patrick-says-maybe-presidential-run-after-election/vGG5tmuFRE7q2nbduEwrxL/story.html" target="_blank">maybe</a>" to a 2016 run for president.</p></body></html> MoJo Immigration International child migrants Mon, 21 Jul 2014 18:56:35 +0000 Brett Brownell 256606 at http://www.motherjones.com