Blogs | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/Blogs/2009/08/mojo/2007/07/senator-david-vitter-hurricane-sex-and-hypocrisy http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en Mexican Government: Freight Trains Are Now Off-Limits to Central American Migrants http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/07/mexico-central-american-migrants-train-beast <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>On Thursday, a <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/07/10/us-usa-immigration-mexico-idUSKBN0FF03M20140710" target="_blank">freight train derailed</a> in southern Mexico. It wasn't just any train, though: It was <em>La Bestia</em>&mdash;"the Beast"&mdash;the infamous train many Central American immigrants ride through Mexico on their way to the United States. When the Beast went off the tracks this week, some 1,300 people who'd been riding on top were stranded in Oaxaca.</p> <p>How do 1,300 people fit on a cargo train, you ask? By crowding on like this:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/la-bestia-on-board.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Central Americans on the Beast, June 20 </strong>Rebecca Blackwell/AP</div> </div> <p>After years of turning a blind eye to what's happening on La Bestia, the Mexican government claims it now will try to keep migrants off the trains. On Friday, Mexican Interior Secretary Miguel &Aacute;ngel Osorio Chong <a href="http://www.proceso.com.mx/?p=376951" target="_blank">said in a radio interview</a> that the time had come to bring order to the rails. "We can't keep letting them put their lives in danger," he said. "It's our responsibility once in our territory. The Beast is for cargo, not passengers."</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 id="mininav-header-text"> <p class="mininav-header-text" style="margin: 0; padding: 0.75em; font-size: 11px; font-weight: bold; line-height: 1.2em; background-color: rgb(221, 221, 221);"> More <em>MoJo</em> coverage of the surge of unaccompanied child migrants from Central America. </p> </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-252866"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/06/unaccompanied-kids-immigrants-deported-guatemala"> What's Next for the Children We Deport? </a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-253266"> <li><a href="/mojo/2014/06/surge-unaccompanied-child-migrant-shelters"> This Is Where the Government Houses the Tens of Thousands of Kids Who Get Caught Crossing the Border</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-255721"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/07/texas-we-dont-turn-our-back-children"> "In Texas, We Don't Turn Our Back on Children"</a></li> </span> </ul></div> <!-- footer content --> </div> <p>The announcement comes on the heels of President Obama's <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/07/obama-emergency-appropriations-unaccompanied-child-migrants" target="_blank">$3.7 billion emergency appropriations</a> request to deal with the ongoing surge of unaccompanied Central American child migrants arriving at the US-Mexico border. Many Central Americans take the trains to <a href="http://www.fronterasdesk.org/content/8932/riding-la-bestia-immigration-train" target="_blank">avoid checkpoints</a> throughout Mexico&mdash;and the <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/americas/02/24/mexico.migrant.kidnappings/" target="_blank">robbers and kidnappers</a> known to prey on migrants. But riding the Beast can be even more perilous. Migrants often must bribe the gangs running the train to board, and even then, the dangers are obvious: Many migrants have died falling off the train, or lost limbs after getting caught by its slicing wheels.</p> <p>Why, though, hasn't the Mexican government cracked down sooner? Adam Isacson, a regional-security expert at the nonprofit Washington Office on Latin America, says the responsibility of guarding the trains often has fallen to the rail companies&mdash;who usually turn around and argue that since the tracks are on government land, it should be the feds' problem. (Notably, the train line's concession is <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/homero-aridjis/migrants-train-of-death-america-_b_5568288.html" target="_blank">explicitly for freight</a>, not passengers.)</p> <p>In his radio interview, Osorio Chang also signaled a tougher stance against Central American migrants, in general. "Those who don't have a visa to move through our country," he said, "will be returned."</p> <p><strong><em>For more of </em></strong><strong>Mother Jones<em>'</em></strong><strong><em> reporting on unaccompanied child migrants, see all of our <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/topics/child-migrants" target="_blank">latest coverage here</a>.</em></strong></p></body></html> MoJo Crime and Justice Immigration International child migrants Sat, 12 Jul 2014 17:20:14 +0000 Ian Gordon 256001 at http://www.motherjones.com Here Is a Video Of a Crane Destroying a Truck http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/07/here-video-crane-destroying-truck <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>So, as the <em><a href="http://www.dailydot.com/lol/crane-operator-smash-truck/" target="_blank">Daily Dot</a> </em>points out, <a href="http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=ccd_1405124702" target="_blank">this video</a> is almost certainly staged, but who cares? It's nuts.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="http://www.liveleak.com/ll_embed?f=96e4f3a03272" width="630"></iframe></p></body></html> Mixed Media Sat, 12 Jul 2014 16:37:25 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 256011 at http://www.motherjones.com There's New Information on What Happened in Benghazi and It Discredits GOP Claims http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/07/benghazi-stand-down-corn-hardball <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>David Corn and Michelle Bernard joined Chris Matthews on <a href="http://www.msnbc.com/hardball-with-chris-matthews/watch/new-benghazi-information-hurts-gop-claims-302555203939" target="_blank">MSNBC's Hardball</a> to discuss the latest Benghazi scandal bubble burst.</p> <p><iframe border="no" height="500" scrolling="no" src="http://player.theplatform.com/p/2E2eJC/EmbeddedOffSite?guid=n_hardball_4bengh_140711_259101" width="635"></iframe></p> <p><em>David Corn is </em>Mother Jones'<em> Washington bureau chief. For more of his stories, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/authors/david-corn">click here</a>. He's also on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/davidcorndc">Twitter</a>.</em></p></body></html> MoJo The Right Sat, 12 Jul 2014 10:00:07 +0000 256006 at http://www.motherjones.com Friday Cat Blogging - 11 July 2014 http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/07/friday-cat-blogging-11-july-2014 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>For a variety of reasons, fresh catblogging just didn't happen this week. So I'm going to do what everyone else does when they fail to meet an editorial deadline: run some old stuff and pretend it's an extra-special feature. So here you are: rarely seen archival footage from January 14, 2007, Domino's first day at home after we picked her up from the shelter. As you can see, she immediately made her way to a book about a magical cat who refrains from eating its shipmate. This was a good influence, I think.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_domino_2014_07_11.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 68px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 11 Jul 2014 18:53:44 +0000 Kevin Drum 255976 at http://www.motherjones.com This Is How HBO Makes the World of "Game Of Thrones" So Spectacularly Real http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/07/how-hbo-makes-world-game-thrones-so-spectacularly-real <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Season four of "Game of Thrones" is up for <a href="http://www.emmys.com/sites/default/files/Downloads/66th-nominations-list-v2.pdf" target="_blank">19 awards</a> at the 66th Emmys, including Outstanding Special and Visual Effects. This <a href="http://vimeo.com/100095868" target="_blank">recently released video</a> shows how HBO's visual effects wizards&mdash;led by VE Supervisors Joe Bauer and Joern Grosshans&mdash;make George R.R. Martin's books not only come alive but truly jump out of the screen.</p> <p><a href="http://vimeo.com/100095868" target="_blank">Watch</a>:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" mozallowfullscreen="" src="//player.vimeo.com/video/100095868" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="630"><br></iframe></p></body></html> Mixed Media Film and TV Fri, 11 Jul 2014 16:42:11 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 255951 at http://www.motherjones.com A Progress Report on "Reform Conservatism" http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/07/progress-report-reform-conservatism <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Does the new generation of "reform conservatives" represent real change for the Republican Party? In policy terms, not really. They've offered up a few variations on popular conservative themes (reducing taxes via child tax credits instead of cuts in top marginal rates, for example), but for the most part they've just nibbled around the edges. David Frum, however, <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/07/dont-knock-the-reform-conservatives/374247/" target="_blank">says this is still a good start:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>What matters most about the reformers is not the things they say but the things they don&rsquo;t. They don&rsquo;t abuse the long-term unemployed. They don&rsquo;t advocate tighter monetary policy in the midst of the worst slump since the 1930s. They don&rsquo;t urge an immigration policy intended to drive wages even lower than they have already tumbled.</p> <p>They don&rsquo;t pooh-pooh the risks of a government default on its obligations, as many conservatives did when radicals in the GOP forced debt-ceiling confrontations in 2011 and 2013. They don&rsquo;t blame budget deficits for the slow recovery from the crisis of 2009. They don&rsquo;t shrug off the economic and social troubles of 80 percent of the American nation.</p> </blockquote> <p>Fair enough. At the same time, there have always been successful conservatives who were tonally distinct from the tea party. Paul Ryan is the best-known example. He's mild-mannered and speaks in the language of an accountant. He always seems reasonable and willing to engage. He doesn't participate in tea party histrionics. In short, he doesn't say any of the things Frum mentions above.</p> <p>And yet, Ryan remains a tea party darling, and for good reason: his budget is a radically right-wing enterprise. Perhaps the most genuinely radical, genuinely right-wing enterprise in all of Washington.</p> <p>So the question for the reform conservatives is: What's next? Are they trying to build credibility with conservatives so they can later nudge them in a new direction? Or are they mostly just trying to put a friendly veneer on an essentially tea partyish agenda? We don't know yet, because so far they haven't been willing to take many risks. And with good reason. As a friend emailed just a few minutes ago, "The reformers are one bad suggestion away from being fully Frumanized out of the party."</p> <p>I wish the reformers luck. And I don't really blame them for their timidity so far. Still, it's far too early to tell how serious they are. We'll just have to wait and see.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum The Right Fri, 11 Jul 2014 16:40:03 +0000 Kevin Drum 255966 at http://www.motherjones.com Lebron James Is Going Back to Cleveland http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/07/lebron-james-going-back-cleveland <!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.si.com/nba/2014/07/11/lebron-james-cleveland-cavaliers" target="_blank">Boom. </a></p></body></html> Mixed Media Sports Fri, 11 Jul 2014 16:39:17 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 255961 at http://www.motherjones.com Does Financial Literacy Matter? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/07/does-financial-literacy-matter <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>We recently received the grim news that American schoolkids are behind their international peers when it comes to financial literacy. We can add this to the pile of grim news about American schoolkids being behind their international peers in math, science, reading, and every other subject imaginable.</p> <p>Is this actually true? Well, it depends on which tests you rely on and which countries you compare to. And when you disaggregate by income and race you often end up with different results. Still, it's a good horror story, and one <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_financial_literacy.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">we can't seem to get enough of. The financial literacy debacle fits right in.</p> <p>But forget for a moment whether American high school students really suck at financial literacy. The <em>Economist</em> raises an entirely different question: <a href="http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2014/07/financial-literacy?fsrc=rss" target="_blank">does it even matter?</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Perhaps most important, courses in personal finance do not appear to have an impact on adult behaviour. As Buttonwood has pointed out, the knowledge that students acquire in school when they are in their teens does not necessary translate into action when they have to deal with mortgages and credit-card payments later in life. One study, for example, found that financial education has no impact on household saving behaviour. As a paper by Lewis Mandell and Linda Schmid Klein suggests, the long-term effectiveness of high-school classes in financial literacy is highly doubtful. It may simply be the case that the gap in time is too wide between when individuals acquire their financial knowledge, as high-school students, and when they're in a position to apply what they have learned.</p> </blockquote> <p>Now, I've long had my doubts whether <em>any</em> of the actual knowledge I learned in high school matters. Habits matter. Basic skills matter. The ability to figure out how to figure out stuff matters. Learning to sit still and concentrate for half an hour at a time matters. But trigonometry? <em>Catcher in the Rye</em>? The history of the Gilded Age? That's not so clear. Maybe financial literacy falls into the same category.</p> <p>Alternatively, it may be that education has little impact on our behavior in general. We all know that the way to lose weight is to eat less and exercise more, and yet that knowledge does us little good. Most of us overeat anyway. Likewise, even if we know that interest charges on credit card debt can eat us alive, we might just go ahead and buy that snazzy new big-screen TV anyway.</p> <p>Who knows? Maybe education outside of (a) basic skills and (b) highly specific skills used in our professions really doesn't matter much. If that turned out to be true, I can't say it would surprise me an awful lot. Being a Renaissance Man may be overrated.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Education Fri, 11 Jul 2014 15:56:14 +0000 Kevin Drum 255956 at http://www.motherjones.com Prior Experience Doesn't Matter (Much) http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/07/prior-experience-doesnt-matter-much <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Tyler Cowen points to yet another story today about how HR departments are using big data to hire and manage employees, and it's fairly interesting throughout. However, my appreciation for the power of this approach was certainly enhanced <a href="http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/2/e3561cd0-dd11-11e3-8546-00144feabdc0.html#axzz373wnekp7" target="_blank">when I read the following:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>For Xerox this means putting prospective candidates for the company&rsquo;s 55,000 call-centre positions through a screening test that covers a wide range of questions....The results are surprising. Some are quirky: employees who are members of one or two social networks were found to stay in their job for longer than those who belonged to four or more social networks (Xerox recruitment drives at gaming conventions were subsequently cancelled). Some findings, however, were much more fundamental: <strong>prior work experience in a similar role was not found to be a predictor of success.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>This was something I always scratched my head about back when I was a hiring manager. Obviously you want someone with work experience that's related to the job you're trying to fill, but an awful lot of my fellow managers seemed pretty obsessed with finding candidates with almost identical experience. I understood the attraction of hiring someone who seemed like they could be slotted in immediately and hit the ground running, but it still seemed misplaced. Which would you rather hire? Someone fairly good with exactly the right experience, or someone really good who might take a month or two to learn some new things? I'd choose the latter in a heartbeat.</p> <p>On the other hand, I suppose valuing experience highly might be a good idea if you really had no faith in your ability to distinguish good from really good. And the truth is that most of us probably don't. So maybe finding perfect fits makes more sense than I gave it credit for. After all, back in the Middle Ages we didn't have access to Xerox's whiz-bang big data.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tech Fri, 11 Jul 2014 14:53:58 +0000 Kevin Drum 255946 at http://www.motherjones.com We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for July 11, 2014 http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/07/were-still-war-photo-day-july-11-2014 <!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>A group of US Marines, the Silver Eagles, say goodbye and prepare to deploy to the Western Pacific. <span class="meta-field photo-desc " id="yui_3_16_0_rc_1_1_1405087576232_1379">(US Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Sarah Cherry.)</span></em></p></body></html> MoJo Military Fri, 11 Jul 2014 14:10:54 +0000 255941 at http://www.motherjones.com New Study: Lobbying Doesn't Help Company Profits—But It's Great For Executive Pay http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/07/lobbying-executive-pay <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Who really profits when companies drop millions on lobbying? A <a href="http://mercatus.org/sites/default/files/Sobel-Relationship-Political-Connections.pdf" target="_blank">new paper</a> by Russell Sobel and Rachel Graefe-Anderson of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University suggests a surprising answer: Corporate America's record expenditures on political influence may be doing little for the companies doing the spending, but a lot for their executives' pocketbook.</p> <p>"Our main finding suggests that the top executives of firms are the ones who are able to capture the benefits of firm political connections," the paper says. The researchers mined a trove of PAC contributions and lobbying <a href="http://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/top.php?showYear=2013&amp;indexType=i" target="_blank">data</a> from the Center for Responsive Politics and matched it with a variety of standard corporate performance indicators. They found that no matter how much lobbying or political contributions a company pays for, there's almost no significant rise in the company's overall performance&mdash;but executive compensation does rise significantly.&nbsp;The only exceptions were the banking and finance industries, where companies also appear to gain some benefits.</p> <p>Regardless of who benefits, influence spending still registers in the billions of dollars: As the chart below shows, the amount of money spent on lobbying annually more than doubled to $3.3 billion between 1998 and 2013. In 2012 alone, the two leading spenders, the pharmaceuticals and insurance sectors, dropped more than $409 million on lobbying and more than $107 million on political contributions.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="400" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="http://cf.datawrapper.de/vgJyB/1/" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> MoJo Charts Congress Corporations Economy Income Inequality Fri, 11 Jul 2014 07:00:12 +0000 Alex Park 255876 at http://www.motherjones.com Here Are the Court Records of the Restraining Order Against Alleged Texas Murderer Ronald Lee Haskell http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/07/restraining-order-ronald-lee-haskell <!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.click2houston.com/news/deputies-at-least-six-killed-in-shooting-in-spring-area/26871346">On Wednesday evening</a>, Ronald Lee Haskell, disguised as a Fed-Ex delivery man, gained entry to the&nbsp;home of his sister-in-law and her spouse, Stephen and Katie Stay, demanding the whereabouts of his estranged ex-wife. Haskell would go on to shoot the Stays and their five children, killing everyone except his 15-year-old niece, and only surrendering to police after <a href="http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_HOUSTON_SUBURBAN_SHOOTING?SITE=MYPSP&amp;SECTION=HOME&amp;TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&amp;CTIME=2014-07-09-23-22-34">a three-and-a-half hour standoff</a>.</p> <p>In July of&nbsp;2013, Haskell's wife <a href="http://www.nbcnews.com/news/crime-courts/wife-texas-slaying-suspect-had-protection-order-against-him-n152696">filed a protective order</a> against him in Cache County, Utah, where they lived at the time. In October 2013, Haskell's protective order was converted to a "mutual&nbsp;restraining order<strong>"</strong> as part of their divorce and custody proceedings. This crucial step likely meant that Haskell was legally allowed to have guns again under both state and federal law<strong>.</strong></p> <p>Read the full docket of Haskell's protective order proceedings below. Read the full details of the case, as well <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/07/domestic-violence-guns-bills-texas-haskell-stay-murder" target="_blank">our analysis of domestic-violence-related gun laws here</a>.</p> <div class="DV-container" id="DV-viewer-1215826-2014-07-10-14-45-56-4-copy">&nbsp;</div> <script src="//s3.amazonaws.com/s3.documentcloud.org/viewer/loader.js"></script><script> DV.load("//www.documentcloud.org/documents/1215826-2014-07-10-14-45-56-4-copy.js", { width: 630, height: 550, sidebar: false, container: "#DV-viewer-1215826-2014-07-10-14-45-56-4-copy" });</script><noscript> <a href="http://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/1215826/2014-07-10-14-45-56-4-copy.pdf">Court Record of Protective and Restraining Orders Against Ronald Lee Haskell (PDF)</a> <br><a href="http://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/1215826/2014-07-10-14-45-56-4-copy.txt">Court Record of Protective and Restraining Orders Against Ronald Lee Haskell (Text)</a></noscript></body></html> MoJo Guns Fri, 11 Jul 2014 00:45:29 +0000 Hannah Levintova 255921 at http://www.motherjones.com Boehner's First Lawsuit: Obamacare is the Lucky Winner http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/07/boehners-first-lawsuit-obamacare-lucky-winner <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>I am pleased to report that John Boehner has taken my advice. He introduced a House resolution today that would give him authority to sue the president, and <a href="http://docs.house.gov/meetings/RU/RU00/20140716/102507/BILLS-113pih-HRes___.pdf" target="_blank">here's what it says:</a></p> <blockquote> <p><em>Resolved,</em> That the Speaker may initiate or intervene in one or more civil actions on behalf of the House of Representatives...to seek appropriate ancillary relief...with respect to implementation of (including a failure to implement) any provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act....</p> <p>Blah blah blah.</p> </blockquote> <p>And just which provision of Obamacare does Boehner plan to target? <a href="http://www.latimes.com/nation/politics/politicsnow/la-pn-house-lawsuit-obamacare-20140710-story.html" target="_blank">Here you go:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>"In 2013, the president changed the healthcare law without a vote of Congress, <strong>effectively creating his own law by literally waiving the employer mandate and the penalties for failing to comply with it</strong>," Boehner said in a statement. "That's not the way our system of government was designed to work. No president should have the power to make laws on his or her own."</p> </blockquote> <p>Well, Obama didn't "literally waive" the employer mandate, he just delayed it for two years. But close enough!</p> <p>Now, there are two sides to this. On the positive side for Boehner, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/03/obama-announces-yet-another-delay-part-obamacare" target="_blank">it's fairly defensible as these things go.</a> It's not a slam dunk, but you can make a decent case that Obama really did overstep the plain text of the law. However, the downside is that Obama probably doesn't care much about this. It's a fairly minor provision of the law, and if he loses the case it doesn't do any serious damage to Obamacare. In fact, the only damage it does is to the small employers who asked for the delay. So really, Boehner is only setting himself up to oppose the interests of small businesses.</p> <p>But here's the really interesting thing about this: Boehner is suing over a provision of the law that's been delayed until 2016. But a lawsuit like this takes a while. It'll take a while to file the documents, and then a while longer to get on the calendar of a district court. Then another while for a hearing and a ruling, and then yet another while for an appeal. Then yet another while if the White House asks for an en banc review. And then finally yet another while as it goes up to the Supreme Court. How long altogether? I'd guess a minimum of a year and a half, and probably more like two years. So the best case for conservatives is that the Supreme Court takes it up in late 2015. By the time they're ready to rule, it's moot because the mandate has taken effect and Obama is out of office.<sup>1</sup></p> <p>Boehner is smart enough to know all this perfectly well. In other words, he knows that this is purely a symbolic gesture. Not only does Obama not really care much about it, but it's vanishingly unlikely that the Supreme Court will ever hear the case. That makes it an almost perfect piece of theater. Neither side cares much, and it will never be decided. Boehner gets to say he's doing something, Obama gets some mileage out of mocking him, and that's it. The real-world impact is literally zero.</p> <p>And that might be just what Boehner wants.</p> <p><sup>1</sup>This assumes that any court is willing to grant Boehner standing to sue in the first place.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Congress Health Care Obama Fri, 11 Jul 2014 00:25:42 +0000 Kevin Drum 255931 at http://www.motherjones.com Watch the Ads Obama Is Airing in Central America to Keep Kids From Coming to the US http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/07/unaccompanied-child-migrants-us-government-tv-ads <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><div align="center"> <p><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="300" scrolling="no" src="http://www.dvidshub.net/video/embed/347898" style="border: none; overflow: hidden; width: 500px; height: 300px;" width="500"></iframe></p> </div> <p>Preparing for his dangerous trip north, a Central American teen stops to pen a letter to his uncle in the United States. He writes that his mom is telling him to think hard about the risks: the gangs on the trains, the cartels that kidnap migrants, the days of walking through the desert. But those roadblocks, he writes, are worth it: "I see myself earning a bunch of money in the United States, and my mom here without any worries."</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 id="mininav-header-text"> <p class="mininav-header-text" style="margin: 0; padding: 0.75em; font-size: 11px; font-weight: bold; line-height: 1.2em; background-color: rgb(221, 221, 221);"> More <em>MoJo</em> coverage of the surge of unaccompanied child migrants from Central America. </p> </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-252866"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/06/unaccompanied-kids-immigrants-deported-guatemala"> What's Next for the Children We Deport? </a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-253266"> <li><a href="/mojo/2014/06/surge-unaccompanied-child-migrant-shelters"> This Is Where the Government Houses the Tens of Thousands of Kids Who Get Caught Crossing the Border</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-255721"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/07/texas-we-dont-turn-our-back-children"> "In Texas, We Don't Turn Our Back on Children"</a></li> </span> </ul></div> <!-- footer content --> </div> <p>So begins a new public service announcement aimed at keeping Central American kids from joining the <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/06/child-migrants-surge-unaccompanied-central-america" target="_blank">tens of thousands of unaccompanied child migrants</a> who have been apprehended by US authorities in the last year. The PSA soon turns dark, though: After the teen says goodbye to his mother, and his uncle puts down the letter he's been reading, the camera pulls back from a close-up of the boy, dead on the desert floor. A narrator urges viewers: "They're our future. Let's protect them."</p> <p>US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) developed the TV ads, as well as <a href="http://www.cbp.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Dangers%20Poster%202.pdf" target="_blank">posters</a> and marimba-infused <a href="http://www.cbp.gov/video/opa/la-bestia-norte.wav" target="_blank">radio spots</a>, as part of its million-dollar Dangers Awareness Campaign. Rolled out shortly after Vice President Joe Biden's <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2014/06/20/politics/us-central-american-immigration/" target="_blank">trip to Guatemala</a> in June, the campaign is an attempt to counter rumors that unaccompanied kids will be allowed to stay in the United States. The ads emphasize that the journey is extremely dangerous and that children won't get legal status if they make it across the border.</p> <p>The campaign will run for 11 weeks, CBP spokesman Jaime Ruiz told the <a href="http://bigstory.ap.org/article/us-launches-media-campaign-immigration-dangers" target="_blank">Associated Press</a>. "We want a relative that is about to send $5,000, $6,000 to a relative in El Salvador to see this message and say, 'Oh my God, they're saying that the journey is more dangerous,'" Ruiz said. "We try to counter the version of the smuggler."</p> <p>Here's the other televised PSA, in which two silhouettes&mdash;a would-be migrant and a smuggler&mdash;discuss heading north, the smuggler turning increasingly aggressive and his shadow occasionally turning into that of a coyote, the slang word for a smuggler:</p> <div align="center"> <p><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="300" scrolling="no" src="http://www.dvidshub.net/video/embed/347904" style="border: none; overflow: hidden; width: 500px; height: 300px;" width="500"></iframe></p> </div> <p>(Notably, CBP created slightly different versions of each of the stories for El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, the three countries that have sent the most unaccompanied minors to the US. Watch them all <a href="http://www.dvidshub.net/feature/dangerscampaign#.U77IWahvkrf" target="_blank">here</a>.)</p> <p>This type of campaign isn't anything new. For years, the <a href="http://tucson.com/news/local/border/gps-device-giveaway-is-effort-to-save-lives/article_2299081d-e064-5825-a6b9-a52927c2e6c4.html" target="_blank">Mexican government</a> has produced ads about the dangers of walking through the Arizona desert, and several years ago the Department of Homeland Security, as part of CBP's <a href="http://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/local-media-release/2012-06-05-040000/border-safety-initiative-kicks-el-paso-texas" target="_blank">Border Safety Initiative</a>, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/music/2009/may/04/us-government-immigrants-album" target="_blank">distributed CDs to Latin American radio stations</a> with sad songs aimed at slowing immigration from the south. With so many variables at play, it's virtually impossible to measure their effect.</p> <p>But with <a href="http://www.latimes.com/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-senate-immigration-hearing-20140709-story.html" target="_blank">more than 57,000</a> unaccompanied kids apprehended in the United States since October&mdash;a situation that CBP head R. Gil Kerlikowske called "difficult and distressing on a lot of levels" when speaking to members of the Senate homeland security committee on Wednesday&mdash;the government seems willing to try anything.</p></body></html> MoJo Video Crime and Justice Immigration International child migrants Thu, 10 Jul 2014 21:59:22 +0000 Ian Gordon 255861 at http://www.motherjones.com Fine. I Retract My Defense of Optics. http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/07/fine-i-retract-my-defense-optics <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>On Wednesday morning, conservatives were all atwitter over the fact that President Obama had been photographed playing pool and drinking a beer the previous night in Denver. A mere thousand miles away, there was a humanitarian crisis on the border! How out of <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_eyeball_0.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">touch can a guy get? Clearly this was Obama's Katrina moment.</p> <p>This combined two of the right's favorite Obama-era tropes. First, it was about his millionth Katrina moment. Conservatives still can't get it through their heads that George Bush's Katrina moment was never really about those famous photographs of him mugging with a guitar while the levees were being breached in New Orleans and later staring moodily out an airplane window at the flooding below. It was about "heckuva job, Brownie." It was about his casual near-destruction of FEMA over the previous four years. It was about the startling contrast between his laggard response to Katrina and his near-frenetic response to the Terri Schiavo panderfest just a few months earlier. But conservatives simply refuse to believe this. They're convinced it was all about an unfair photographic comparison, and they're determined to make a Democratic president suffer the same fate.</p> <p>Second, it's become practically a parlor game for conservatives to chastise Obama for engaging in some kind of social activity while there's a serious crisis somewhere. This is an evergreen faux complaint. After all, there's almost always <em>something</em> serious going on <em>somewhere</em>, which means you can always figure out an excuse to haul out this chestnut.</p> <p>Now, to some extent none of this matters as long as it's just a partisan response from the professional right. But yesterday it metastasized into something more over Obama's answer to a question about why he wasn't heading down to the border to see the refugee crisis for himself. "I'm not interested in photo-ops," he said. "I'm interested in solving a problem." This almost instantly turned into a misquote: "I don't do photo-ops." And with that, the mainstream press started piling on too.</p> <p>This was, obviously, ridiculous. First of all, Obama didn't say that he doesn't do photo-ops. That would have been idiotic. What he very plainly said was that <em>in this particular case</em> he wasn't interested in doing a photo-op. He had introduced a plan to address the crisis and he was in Texas to discuss it with state officials. That's where he wanted to keep the focus.</p> <p>And with that, as if to mock me, the whole thing exploded into a moronic national conversation about the optics of shooting pool in Denver but not going to the border to have his photograph taken with wistful-looking Latin American children. This came just a couple of days after <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/07/defense-optics" target="_blank">I had defended</a> the word <em>optics</em> against Jamison Foser, and plainly Foser had turned out to be right. The mere availability of the word seemed to change the whole tone of the coverage. <a href="http://www.slate.com/blogs/weigel/2014/07/10/the_obama_doesn_t_do_photo_ops_meme_and_the_distractable_media.html" target="_blank">As Dave Weigel put it,</a> "The president is the star of most D.C. political stories, obviously, so many stories end up being about whether they help or hurt him. The problem is that the press can't be sure if they will, or won't." So they just guess.</p> <p>Now, I suppose I still have a feeble defense to offer. I did say there were good and bad uses of <em>optics</em>, and this just happened to be one of the bad ones. But the speed with which one photograph and one misquote saturated the punditocracy and morphed into an inane conversation about optics surely makes Foser's case for him.</p> <p>So I give up. There <em>are</em> still good uses of the word <em>optics</em>, but as long as the press remains so addicted to dumb uses that have obvious roots in transparent partisan nonsense, it's probably best to insist that they go cold turkey. No more optics, guys. Not until you demonstrate an ability to use the word like adults.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Media Thu, 10 Jul 2014 21:21:26 +0000 Kevin Drum 255911 at http://www.motherjones.com Americans Are Surprisingly Stressed Out About News and Politics http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/07/americans-are-surprisingly-stressed-out-about-news-and-politics <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Via Wonkblog, here's a fascinating little chart <a href="http://www.rwjf.org/content/dam/farm/reports/surveys_and_polls/2014/rwjf414295" target="_blank">courtesy of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.</a> They just released a survey about the causes of stress, and things like health and money problems are predictably the biggest <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_stress_events.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">sources. But how about all those niggling little daily causes of stress? What are the biggest routine things that send you into conniptions?</p> <p>Well, it turns out that two of the biggest contributors to high blood pressure are watching the news and hearing about what politicians are up to. And boy howdy, does this beg for a follow-up. I really, really want to know what news sources cause the most stress. Is it listening to NPR? Watching Fox News? Getting your daily Limbaugh fix? Reading Kevin Drum's blog?</p> <p>Perhaps the mere act of making you think about this is, at this very moment, making you red in the face. Then again, maybe not. I want to know more. Who's most stressed out by the news? Liberals? Conservatives? Everyone? And what outlets cause the most stress? Obviously my money is on the Drudge/Fox/Limbaugh axis, but maybe I'd be surprised. I want to hear more about this.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Media Thu, 10 Jul 2014 18:26:53 +0000 Kevin Drum 255871 at http://www.motherjones.com Singer and Hardcore LGBT Rights Supporter Demi Lovato Made This Lovely Video for Marriage Equality http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/07/demi-lovato-gay-rights-video-marriage-equality-human-rights-campaign <!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="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/zx5GjuKr--0" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Singer and actress <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demi_Lovato#Philanthropy" target="_blank">Demi Lovato</a> is a strong <a href="https://twitter.com/ddlovato/status/349907949323436032" target="_blank">supporter</a> of LGBT rights. She played a lesbian character on Fox's <a href="http://www.rollingstone.com/movies/videos/glee-recap-guest-star-demi-lovato-shares-lesbian-kiss-20131004" target="_blank"><em>Glee</em></a>, served as the <a href="http://www.out.com/entertainment/music/2014/06/27/demi-lovato-pride-2014%E2%80%99s-mvp" target="_blank">Grand Marshal</a> of the Los Angeles Pride Parade this year, and has <a href="http://roygbiv.jezebel.com/demi-lovato-releases-new-video-supporting-marriage-equa-1602732616/+burtreynoldsismyspiritguide1" target="_blank">spoken openly</a> about her grandfather's homosexuality. "I believe in gay marriage, I believe in equality," Lovato told <a href="http://www.cambio.com/2013/11/22/demis-new-image-neon-lights-was-my-grown-up-sexy-video/" target="_blank"><em>Cambio</em></a> magazine. "I think there's a lot of hypocrisy with religion&hellip;I just found that you can have your own relationship with God, and I still have a lot of faith."</p> <p>Now, she's made a <a href="https://twitter.com/ddlovato/status/487028791202422785" target="_blank">video</a> (watch above) with the Human Rights Campaign in support of marriage equality. The video, <a href="http://www.hrc.org/blog/entry/demi-lovato-stars-in-web-video-for-hrcs-americans-for-marriage-equality-cam" target="_blank">released</a> on Wednesday, is part of HRC's recently re-launched Americans for Marriage Equality campaign, which includes messages from <a href="http://americansformarriageequality.org/videos/videos-hillary-clinton-supports-marriage-equality#1" target="_blank">Hillary Clinton</a>, <a href="http://americansformarriageequality.org/videos/videos-bryan-cranston-supports-marriage-equality#1" target="_blank">Bryan Cranston</a>,&nbsp;<a href="http://americansformarriageequality.org/videos/videos-monique-stands-up-for-marriage-equality#5" target="_blank">Mo'Nique</a>, and <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OS641L5khMI" target="_blank">Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman</a>. Here is Lovato's message:</p> <blockquote> <p>Hey, guys, I'm Demi Lovato, and I'm an American for marriage equality. I believe that love comes in all different shapes, sizes, and colors. So whether you're LGBT or straight, your love is valid, beautiful, and an incredible gift. So let's protect love and strengthen the institution of marriage by allowing loving, caring, and committed same-sex couples to legally marry. Please join me and the <a href="http://www.gallup.com/poll/169640/sex-marriage-support-reaches-new-high.aspx" target="_blank">majority</a> of American citizens who support marriage equality.</p> </blockquote> <p>"We reached out to her [a couple months ago] knowing what a supporter of LGBT equality she is, and thought she would be great for this campaign," <a href="http://www.hrc.org/blog/author/charlie-joughin" target="_blank">Charles Joughin</a>, an HRC spokesman, told <em>Mother Jones</em>. He also mentioned that they have more Americans for Marriage Equality videos lined up featuring other big names, from pro-athletes and movie stars to politicians and civil rights leaders. HRC will likely be released one video a week over the coming months.</p> <p>When asked if Lovato has any further plans to work with the LGBT civil rights group, Joughin said that nothing was discussed, but that they'd be more than happy to do so. "She certainly has done a lot for the larger movement&hellip;We haven't taken it into consideration, but we're such big fans of her we'd be thrilled to work with her in the future. Whether she's doing work with HRC, or elsewhere, I am certain this is a cause she's very committed to."</p> <p>Now check out this video about Lovato sticking it to Russian president Vladimir Putin (and his <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/02/world-congress-families-russia-gay-rights" target="_blank">anti-gay policies</a>) during her New York City gay pride performance this summer. During the show, two of Lovato's male backup dancers shared a kiss; <a href="https://twitter.com/ddlovato/statuses/483439394213224448" target="_blank">one</a> of them appeared to be naked and was holding a <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-trending-28113228" target="_blank">picture of Putin's face over his crotch</a>:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/dSQnSJKcg5Y" width="630"></iframe></p></body></html> Mixed Media Video Film and TV Gay Rights Human Rights Thu, 10 Jul 2014 18:22:07 +0000 Asawin Suebsaeng 255846 at http://www.motherjones.com 40 Percent of Colleges Haven't Investigated a Single Sexual Assault Case in 5 Years http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/07/college-campus-sexual-assault <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>According to the <a href="http://www.mccaskill.senate.gov/download/campus-sexual-assault-survey-results" target="_blank">results of a national survey</a>&nbsp;commissioned by Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and the Senate Subcommittee on Financial and Contracting Oversight, nearly half the country's four-year colleges haven't conducted&nbsp;a single sexual assault investigation&nbsp;in the past five years. The <a href="http://www.mccaskill.senate.gov/pdf/McCaskillSurveyCampusSexualAssaults.pdf" target="_blank">survey</a>&nbsp;was completed by 236 four year-institutions across the country&mdash;private and public, small and large<span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 24px;">&mdash;but in order to encourage candid reporting,&nbsp;</span>the names of the schools surveyed were not released.</p> <p>Here's what scores of survivors of sexual assault in college have to deal with, according to the <a href="http://www.mccaskill.senate.gov/download/campus-sexual-assault-survey-results" style="line-height: 24px;" target="_blank">results</a>:</p> <ul><li><strong>Simply not receiving an investigation:</strong> Forty-one percent of schools hadn't investigated a single sexual assault in the past five years, despite the fact that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and the <a href="http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/04/29/fact-sheet-not-alone-protecting-students-sexual-assault" target="_blank">White House</a>, one in five undergraduate women experience sexual assault during college. Meanwhile, more than 20 percent of the country's largest private schools conducted fewer investigations than the number of sexual assault incidents that they reported to the Department of Education.</li> <li><strong>Having no clue what to do:</strong> One in three schools don't train students on what constitutes sexual assault or how to respond to it. Among private, for-profit schools, 72 percent don't provide students with any sexual assault training.</li> <li><strong>Untrained, uncoordinated law enforcement:</strong> Though in general colleges work with a number of parties to keep campuses safe&mdash;like campus police, security guards, and local law enforcement&mdash;30 percent don't actually train the school's law enforcement on how to handle reports of sexual assault, while a staggering 73 percent of institutions don't have protocols on how the school should work with local law enforcement to respond to sexual assault.</li> <li><strong>The athletic department deciding if you were raped:</strong> Yes, you read that correctly. Thirty percent of public colleges give the athletic department oversight of sexual violence&nbsp;cases involving athletes.</li> <li><strong>Your peers deciding if you were raped:</strong> Experts agree that students shouldn't be part of adjudication boards in sexual assault cases&mdash;friends or acquaintances of the survivor or alleged perpetrator face a conflict of interest, and those involved in a sexual assault likely don't want to divulge the details of the assault to, say, someone they recognize from chemistry class. Still, 27 percent of schools reported students participating in the adjudication of sexual assault claims.</li> <li><strong>Untrained faculty, staff, and medical professionals:</strong> Often, the first person to whom a student reports sexual assault is a member of the college's faculty or staff. But 20 percent of schools don't provide any sexual assault response training to faculty and staff, and only 15 percent of schools provide access to Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners&mdash;nurses who are trained to provide medical and other services to survivors of sexual assault.</li> <li><strong>Knowing that the perpetrator still plays sports and goes to frat parties:</strong>&nbsp;Only 51 percent of schools impose athletic team sanctions against student-athletes who have been deemed perpetrators of sexual assault, and 31 percent impose fraternity or sorority sanctions.</li> <li><strong>Seeing the perpetrator on campus, even if you don't want to:</strong> Nineteen percent of institutions don't impose orders that would require the perpetrator of the assault to avoid contact with the survivor.</li> </ul><p>McCaskill says that the results of the survey demonstrate failures at "nearly every stage of institutions' response" to sexual assault. Together with Sens. Richard Blumenthal&nbsp;(D-Conn.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), she plans to unveil legislation addressing the campus assault later in the summer.</p></body></html> MoJo Education Reproductive Rights Sex and Gender Thu, 10 Jul 2014 17:46:38 +0000 Julia Lurie 255811 at http://www.motherjones.com Republicans Love Obamacare! http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/07/republicans-love-obamacare <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Here's an additional tidbit from that recent <a href="http://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/issue-briefs/2014/jul/health-coverage-access-aca" target="_blank">Commonwealth Fund survey about Obamacare:</a></p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_satisfied_obamacare.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 10px 110px;"></p> <p>That's a lot of Republicans who are satisfied with their Obamacare coverage. They might not realize it's Obamacare&mdash;perhaps they know it as Kynect or Covered California&mdash;but they like it. And if you take it away, they're going to be unhappy. That's several million potentially unhappy Republicans if the national GOP continues its anti-Obamacare jihad. Just saying.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Health Care Thu, 10 Jul 2014 16:59:47 +0000 Kevin Drum 255856 at http://www.motherjones.com Who's Afraid of an Itsy Bitsy Bit of Inflation, Anyway? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/07/whos-afraid-itsy-bitsy-bit-inflation-anyway <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Why are so many people obsessed with "hard money"? Why the endless hysterics about the prospect of inflation getting higher than 2 percent? Paul Krugman, like many others, thinks it's <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/images/blog_inflation_fear.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">basically a class issue. If you have a lot of debt, inflation is a good thing because it lowers the real value of your debt. But if you're rich and you have lots of assets, the opposite is true. Here's Krugman <a href="http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/07/08/class-and-monetary-policy/" target="_blank">using data from the Census Bureau's SIPP database:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Only the top end have more financial assets (as opposed to real assets like housing) than they have nominal debt; so they&rsquo;re much more likely to be hurt by mild inflation and be helped by deflation than the rest.</p> <p>Now, it&rsquo;s true that some of these financial assets are stocks, which are claims on real assets. <strong>If we only look at interest-bearing assets, even the top group has more liabilities than assets.</strong></p> <p>But the SIPP top isn&rsquo;t very high; in 2007 you needed a net worth of more than $8 million just to be in the top 1 percent. And since the ratio of interest-bearing assets to debt is clearly rising with wealth, <strong>we can be sure that the truly wealthy are indeed in the category where they have more to lose than to gain by a rise in the price level.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p><a href="http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2014/07/i-think-paul-krugman-is-wrong-on-class-and-monetary-policy.html" target="_blank">Brad DeLong isn't buying it:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>It is true that the rich do have more nominal assets than liabilities....But it is also true that America's rich have a lot of real assets whose value depends on a strong and growing economy.</p> <p>I find it implausible to claim that the net gain is positive when we net out the (slight) real gain to the rich from lower inflation with the (large) real loss to rich from lower capital utilization. It's not a material interest in low inflation that we are dealing with here...</p> </blockquote> <p>I don't think I buy Krugman's claim either. He's basically saying that hard money hysteria is driven by the material interests of the top 0.1 percent, but even if you grant them the clout to get the entire country on their side, do the super rich really love low inflation in the first place? Do they own a lot of long-term, fixed-interest assets that decline in value when inflation increases? Fifty years ago, sure. But today? Not so much. This is precisely the group with the most sophisticated investment strategies, highly diversified and hedged against things like simple inflation risks.</p> <p>Plus there's DeLong's point: even if they do own a lot of assets that are sensitive to inflation, they own even more assets that are sensitive to lousy economic growth. If higher inflation also helped produce higher growth, they'd almost certainly come out ahead.</p> <p>So what's the deal? I'd guess that it's a few things. First, the sad truth is that virtually no one believes that high inflation helps economic growth when the economy is weak. I believe it. Krugman believes it. DeLong believes it. But among those who don't follow the minutiae of economic research&mdash;i.e., nearly everyone&mdash;it sounds crazy. That goes for the top 0.1 percent as well as it does for everyone else. If they truly believed that higher inflation would get the economy roaring again, they might support it. (Might!) But they don't.</p> <p>Second, there's the legitimate fear of accelerating inflation once you let your foot off the brake. This fear isn't <em>very</em> legitimate, since if there's one thing the Fed knows how to do, it's stomp on inflation if it gets out of control. Nonetheless, there are plenty of people with a defensible belief that a credible commitment to low inflation does more good than harm in the long run. After all, stomping on inflation is pretty painful.</p> <p>Third, there's the very sensible fear among the middle class that high inflation is just a sneaky way to erode real wages. This is sensible because it's true. There are several avenues by which higher inflation helps weak economies that are trapped at the zero bound, and one of them is by allowing wages to stealthily decline until employment reaches a new equilibrium. I think that lots of people understand this instinctively.</p> <p>Fourth, there's fear of the 70s, which apparently won't go away until everyone who was alive during the 70s is dead. Which is going to be a while.</p> <p>It's worth noting that hard money convictions are the norm virtually everywhere in the developed world, even in places that are a lot more egalitarian than the United States. Inflationary fears may be irrational, especially under our current economic conditions, but ancient fears are hard to deal with. As it happens, the erosion of assets during the 70s was unique to the conditions of the 70s, which included a lot more than just a few years of high inflation. But inflation is what people remember, so inflation is still what they fear.</p> <p>Bottom line: Even among non-hysterics, I'd say that hardly anyone really, truly believes in their hearts that high inflation would be good for economic growth. It's the kind of thing that you have to convince yourself of by sheer mental effort, and even at that you're probably still a little wobbly about the whole idea. It just seems so <em>crazy</em>. Until that changes, fear of inflation isn't going anywhere.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Economy Thu, 10 Jul 2014 16:19:23 +0000 Kevin Drum 255851 at http://www.motherjones.com Pundits, Start Your Engines! http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/07/pundits-start-your-engines <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>So what's the next step in the border crisis? President Obama has introduced an emergency proposal; he's traveled to Texas to discuss it with his political opponents; and in order to stem the tide of immigrants he's declined to engage in photo-ops at the border that might encourage the tide to continue.</p> <p>Republicans, for their part, appear at the moment to be completely unwilling to do anything at all.</p> <p>So here's the next step: a barrage of columns from our nation's pundits acknowledging Republican intransigence but then insisting that, ultimately, the lack of action is Obama's fault. Because leadership. Because LBJ. Because schmoozing. Because lecturing. Because relationships. Because political capital. Because great presidents somehow <em>figure out a way to get things done</em>. Rinse and repeat.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Immigration Media Thu, 10 Jul 2014 15:16:28 +0000 Kevin Drum 255831 at http://www.motherjones.com We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for July 10, 2014 http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/07/were-still-war-photo-day-july-10-2014 <!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 navigate the USS Kidd in the waters of the Indo-Asia Pacific Region. <span class="meta-field photo-desc " id="yui_3_16_0_rc_1_1_1404999777430_1482">(US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Declan Barnes</span>.)</em></p></body></html> MoJo Military Thu, 10 Jul 2014 13:48:19 +0000 255826 at http://www.motherjones.com Todd Akin Is Not Sorry for His Insane Rape Comments http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/07/todd-akin-book-legitimate-rape <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Former GOP Senate candidate Todd Akin is not sorry for saying that women don't usually get pregnant from rape.</p> <p>Akin tanked his 2012 Missouri Senate campaign by claiming that there is no need for rape exceptions to abortion bans because "if it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down." In his <a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/1936488205/?tag=slatmaga-20" target="_blank">new book</a> due out next week, titled <em>Firing Back: Taking on the Party Bosses and Media Elite to Protect Our Faith and Freedom</em>, Akin says he regrets airing a campaign ad apologizing for the statement, <a href="http://www.politico.com/story/2014/07/todd-akin-new-book-108745.html" target="_blank"><em>Politico</em> reported Thursday</a>.</p> <p>"By asking the public at large for forgiveness," Akin says in the book, "I was validating the willful misinterpretation of what I had said."</p> <p>He adds that the media misconstrued his words and explains why he's still right about rape and pregnancy. "My comment about a woman's body shutting the pregnancy down was directed to the impact of stress of fertilization. This is something fertility doctors debate and discuss. Doubt me? Google 'stress and infertility,' and you will find a library of research" on the impact of stress on fertilization, he writes.</p> <p>And Akin doubles down on the term "legitimate," which he says refers to a rape claim that can be proved by "evidence," as opposed to one used "to avoid an unwanted pregnancy."</p> <p>Akin's comments two years ago perpetuated what Democrats have dubbed the GOP "war on women," which refers to Republican attempts to limit abortion coverage, contraception, and workplace rights for women.</p> <p>The release of Akin's book comes just weeks after the <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/06/supreme-court-hobby-lobby-decision" target="_blank">Supreme Court ruled</a> that family-owned companies&mdash;which employ <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2014/06/30/a-lot-of-people-could-be-affected-by-the-supreme-courts-birth-control-decision/" target="_blank">more than half</a> of all American workers&mdash;do not have to provide contraception coverage for women as mandated by Obamacare if their owners have a religious objection to doing so. The decision is expected to <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/07/supreme-court-scotus-hobby-lobby-all-forms-contraception" target="_blank">open the floodgates</a> <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/06/hobby-lobby-supreme-court-bush-v-gore" target="_blank">to further assaults</a> on contraceptive access for women.</p></body></html> MoJo Congress Reproductive Rights Sex and Gender Top Stories Thu, 10 Jul 2014 13:38:15 +0000 Erika Eichelberger 255821 at http://www.motherjones.com It's More or Less Final: Obamacare Has Insured About 11 Million People http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/07/its-more-or-less-final-obamacare-has-insured-about-11-million-people <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Jonathan Cohn passes along the results of a new study from the Commonwealth Fund which estimates that the ranks of the uninsured have dropped by about 5 percentage points <a href="http://www.newrepublic.com/article/118629/obamacare-reduced-uninsured-95-million-close-cbo-target" target="_blank">since the start of the Obamacare rollout:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>To put that in more concrete terms, there are still a lot of Americans walking around without health insurance today. <strong>But there are about 9.5 million fewer of them than there were last fall,</strong> almost certainly because so many people have enrolled in the newly expanded Medicaid program or purchased subsidized insurance through the Obamacare marketplaces.</p> <p>How does that compare to expectations? The Congressional Budget Office predicted that, one year into full implementation, Obamacare would reduce the the number of Americans without insurance by 12 million. That included the young adults who got insurance before 2014, by signing onto their parents&rsquo; plans. There&rsquo;s been some controversy over exactly how many people that is, <strong>but the best estimates I&rsquo;ve seen place it somewhere between 1 and 2.5 million.</strong> Add that number to the 9.5 million from the Commonwealth survey, and you're close or equal to the CBO projections.</p> </blockquote> <p>So that's probably a total of around 11 million or so. Nearly all of the estimates now seem to be converging around this number, and given the inherent uncertainty in measuring the uninsured it seem like this is about as good as we're going to get.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Health Care Thu, 10 Jul 2014 04:31:18 +0000 Kevin Drum 255816 at http://www.motherjones.com Quote of the Day: "This Isn't Theater" http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/07/quote-day-isnt-theater <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>From President Obama, asked why he wasn't making a visit to the border during his trip to Texas today:</p> <blockquote> <p>This isn't theater. This is a problem.</p> </blockquote> <p>"I'm not interested in a photo-op," he said. "I'm interested in solving a problem." It would be nice if he weren't the only one.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Immigration Obama Wed, 09 Jul 2014 23:18:00 +0000 Kevin Drum 255806 at http://www.motherjones.com