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 Here's a Huge and Undercovered Obamacare Success Story http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/heres-huge-and-undercovered-obamacare-success-story <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>I've mentioned this in passing a couple of times, but it really deserves a short post of its own. We've heard a lot about Obamacare not meeting the original enrollment projections published by the CBO in 2010, but those aren't the only projections that CBO published. <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_obamacare_private_insurance.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">They also predicted that Obamacare would <a href="https://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/111th-congress-2009-2010/costestimate/amendreconprop.pdf" target="_blank">lead to the loss of 8 million people</a> from private insurance coverage by 2016.</p> <p>But that didn't happen. Thanks to Obamacare's individual mandate spurring the purchase of individual coverage and its employer mandate spurring an increase in employer coverage, total private coverage <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhis/earlyrelease/Quarterly_estimates_2010_2015_Q12.pdf" target="_blank">increased by more than 16 million</a> through the middle of 2015. The chart on the right tells the story. After four years of private coverage hovering around 61 percent of the population, it jumped up to 66 percent within the space of a single year.</p> <p>Was this due to the economic recovery? Probably a bit of it. But the economy has been puttering along at about the same pace ever since 2012. The only thing that changed in the fourth quarter of 2013 was the introduction of Obamacare.</p> <p>Bottom line: Obamacare may have missed CBO's target for exchange enrollment by 7 million or so, but much of this is because it <em>beat</em> CBO's target for private insurance by 24 million. This is great news all around since we'd always prefer having people insured by their employer rather than buying through the exchange. It's better coverage and it costs the taxpayers less. On any measure you can think of, this is a huge and undercovered success story.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 09 Feb 2016 06:47:36 +0000 Kevin Drum 296331 at http://www.motherjones.com Bill Clinton Gives New Hampshire a Preview of What Comes Next http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2016/02/bill-clinton-big-dog-bernie-sanders <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>On Sunday, former President Bill Clinton showed Bernie Sanders what happens when the big dog gets off the porch.</p> <p>With Hillary Clinton in Flint, Michigan, to meet with the mayor about the city&rsquo;s water crisis, the former president had the state to himself, and he gave the Vermont senator <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2016/02/08/politics/bill-clinton-sanders-supporters-attacks/" target="_blank">a piece of his mind</a>. He mocked Sanders as unrooted from reality, joking that, "When you're making a 'revolution' you can't be too careful with the facts." Clinton referred to Sanders as "hermetically sealed." He called Bernie's supporters "sexist" and "profane" (a nod to the so-called <a href="http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2016/02/07/3746988/bernie-sanders-tells-berniebros-to-knock-it-off-we-dont-want-that-crap/" target="_blank">"Bernie Bro"</a> phenomenon) and reprised the mostly forgotten December scandal over Sanders' campaign accessing Clinton's voter data (for which Sanders apologized). "'I tried to loot information from the other guy's computer and I raised a million dollars out of it,'" Clinton said, offering his guess at what was going through Sanders' mind.</p> <p>It was the most direct personal attack from either candidate's campaign this election cycle, two days before the primary. And by the next day, Bill Clinton appeared to have shaken the whole thing off. On Monday night in Hudson, joined by his daughter, Chelsea, a smattering of New Hampshire elected officials, Massachusetts Rep. Joseph Kennedy III, and Ted Danson (!), the former president offered a more subdued critique of the Vermont senator. Referring to his wife he began his remarks by saying, "Sometimes when we're on a stage like this, I wish we weren't married, so I could say what I really want to say&mdash;and I don't mean that in a negative way." What he meant was that he had to self-censor himself his riffs for the good of the campaign. (Not that it's stopped him in the past.)</p> <p>Instead, he offered an olive branch, or something like it, to the Sanders supporters he'd broadly characterized as "vicious" trolls on Sunday. "A lot of the young millennials think they'll never move out of their parents' house, never get a job that's worth having, never be able to change," Clinton said, before channeling a bit of Sanders' own stump speech. "If they want to start a small business they won't be able to get a loan. I get why a lot of people are mad. I get how frustrating it is, when most of the gains have gone to the top one percent, and 90 percent of them since I left office have gone to the top 10 percent. I get why people are upset when they hear the president tell the truth&mdash;the absolute truth&mdash;[that] we are the best-positioned country for the 21st-century, our economy is up over all the other big economies, but 84-percent of the people have not gotten a raise... I <em>get</em> it."</p> <p>"The question is, what are you gonna do about it?," he continued. "And the one thing I really appreciate about New Hampshire is that here finally the dam broke in the polarization of the campaign and we actually began to be free to discuss who's got the better ideas."</p> <p>Clinton, though, couldn't help getting taking another shot at Sanders' frequent invocations of the "establishment," suggesting that such a label unnecessarily tarred politicians who had put their careers on the line to vote for Obamacare, such as former Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor. ("Establishment" is a nebulous term, but Pryor, the son of former Arkansas governor and senator David Pryor, surely fits most definitions of it.)</p> <p>There's an interesting dynamic between Clinton and Sanders that, if you go to a few events, you can pick up on. When Clinton takes the stage, she's following a group of well-known Democratic politicians or activists&mdash;Al Franken, Jeanne Shaheen, Lena Dunham, <em>Bubba</em>. When Bernie takes the stage, often enough it's just Bernie. And that's fine; he's leading in New Hampshire, something practically no one saw coming last spring. But in a fight like the one the Democratic primary is careening toward if Sanders wins big on Tuesday, it's good to have someone in your corner who can draw some blood. And Bill Clinton sounds like he's relishing a fight.</p></body></html> MoJo 2016 Elections Tue, 09 Feb 2016 05:22:33 +0000 Tim Murphy 296306 at http://www.motherjones.com This Defense Of Marco Rubio Is So Stupid That I Can't Stop Laughing http://www.motherjones.com/contributor/2016/02/this-tweet-is-so-fucking-stupid-that-i-want-to-put-a-knife-in-my-brain <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Hello.</p> <p>Marco Rubio keeps humorously repeating the same <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/marcobot-has-apparently-exceeded-its-rated-mean-time-failure" target="_blank">sound bites over and over again</a>. It's hilarious.</p> <p>It is not nearly as hilarious, however, as this tweet which falls nominally in the<em> leave Marco alone</em> camp.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">C'mon. Repeating phrases to build a theme is a common device in the very best of political rhetoric <a href="https://t.co/VKd9c4ujDB">pic.twitter.com/VKd9c4ujDB</a></p> &mdash; Dan McLaughlin (@baseballcrank) <a href="https://twitter.com/baseballcrank/status/696895279270858753">February 9, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p>Have a great night.</p></body></html> Contributor Tue, 09 Feb 2016 04:02:10 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 296326 at http://www.motherjones.com Marcobot Has Apparently Exceeded Its Rated Mean Time to Failure http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/marcobot-has-apparently-exceeded-its-rated-mean-time-failure <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Oh hell, now I'm just starting to feel sorry for Marco Rubio. The whole Marcobot thing has apparently made him so self-conscious that he can barely even recite his stump speech anymore without getting flustered. Here he is delivering a line about values being rammed down our throats <em>right after he's just said it</em>. There's an almost poignant moment at 0:26 when Rubio suddenly realizes what he's just done.</p> <p>This reminds me of a Star Trek episode where Kirk uses some kind of sophomoric paradox to trick a computer into self destructing. That's about what Chris Christie seems to have done to Rubio.</p> <p><iframe align="middle" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="290" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/xBX0Z1MkDyQ?start=9" style="margin: 15px 0px 5px 90px;" width="450"></iframe></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 09 Feb 2016 03:00:30 +0000 Kevin Drum 296321 at http://www.motherjones.com Marco Rubio Just Experienced Another Malfunction http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2016/02/marco-rubio-just-experienced-another-malfunction <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/xBX0Z1MkDyQ" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Marco Rubio is still trying <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/02/can-marco-rubio-reboot-after-robot-gaffe" target="_blank">live down</a> the <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/02/democrats-troll-marco-rubio-debate-malfunction-robot" target="_blank">Rubio-bot meme</a> that went viral after he repeated the same talking point four times during Saturday's debate (and was <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/02/best-moments-gop-debate-abc-new-hampshire" target="_blank">called out</a> on it by Chris Christie). Well, at a town hall in Nashua, New Hampshire Tuesday night Rubio experienced another malfunction. His face says it all.</p></body></html> MoJo 2016 Elections Tue, 09 Feb 2016 02:39:37 +0000 Mother Jones Washington Bureau 296316 at http://www.motherjones.com Arabic Social Media Goes Gaga Over Sisi's Red Carpet http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/arabic-social-media-goes-gaga-over-sisis-red-carpet <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Nothing says "I care about poor people" like driving to a new housing project on a red carpet 2.5 miles long. Amirite? But this has a secret subtext: When Egyptian president Abdel-Fatah al-Sisi motored his way to a grand <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_sisi_red_carpet.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">opening ceremony Saturday on a carpet this size, it was apparently a sign that the military is pleased with him. I guess the more they like you, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/feb/08/abdel-fatah-al-sisi-gigantic-red-carpet-egypt-media-storm" target="_blank">the longer the carpet:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Brig Gen Ehab el-Ahwagy explained on several talk shows on Sunday night that the carpet was not purchased by Sisi&rsquo;s administration and the same one had been used for more than three years for similar occasions.</p> <p><strong>&ldquo;It gives a kind of joy and assurance to the Egyptian citizen that our people and our land and our armed forces are always capable of organising anything in a proper manner,&rdquo;</strong> Ahwagy told the TV talk show host Amr Adeeb. &ldquo;It is laid out in a way to beautify the general area, so it gives a good impression of the celebration that is being broadcast to the whole world.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>See? No big deal. And certainly no reason to postpone a speech warning that Egypt is in dire financial trouble and will soon have to stop subsidizing water and electricity bills for low-income families.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 08 Feb 2016 19:18:43 +0000 Kevin Drum 296271 at http://www.motherjones.com Even the Guy With the $100 Million Super-PAC Says Campaign Finance Is Broken http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2016/02/jeb-bush-citizens-united-new-hampshire <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>You can't avoid campaign finance reform in the run-up to Tuesday's New Hampshire primary. It feels a little weird to type that, given the continuous series of setbacks reformers have suffered on that issue over the last decade, but it's true. Talk to anyone at a Bernie Sanders rally and it's the first thing that comes up; on the Republican side, Donald Trump has made his lack of big donors a centerpiece of his campaign.</p> <p>Even Jeb Bush, whose $100-million super-PAC, Right to Rise, is blanketing the airwaves here in the Granite State (and has a <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/12/uncampaign-2016-fiorina-trump-carson-pac" target="_blank">spin-off dark-money group</a>, Right to Rise Policy Solutions), says something needs to be done. Taking questions at a Nashua Rotary Club on Monday afternoon, Bush told voters that it will take a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and stop the glut of dark money entering the political process:</p> <blockquote> <p>The ideal thing would be to overturn the Supreme Court ruling that allows effectively unregulated money [for] independent [groups], and regulated money for the campaigns. I would turn that on its head if I could. I think campaigns ought to be personally accountable and responsible for the money they receive. I don't think you need to restrict it&mdash;voters will have the ability to say I'm not voting for you because [some company] gave you money. The key is to just have total transparency about the amounts of money and who gives it, and to have it with 48-hour turnaround. That would be the appropriate thing. Then a candidate will be held accountable for whatever comes to the voters through the campaign. Unfortunately the Supreme Court ruling makes that at least temporarily impossible, so it's going to take an amendment to the Constitution.</p> </blockquote> <p>Now, Jeb hasn't turned into Bernie Sanders. He'd just like unlimited donations that aren't anonymous, and he'd like whatever is disclosed to be disclosed a lot quicker. The subtext here is that while Bush is benefiting from a nonprofit that accepts anonymous unlimited donations, his backers have expressed a lot of frustration with outside groups supporting Jeb's rival, Sen. Marco Rubio. Right to Rise chief Mike Murphy <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/features/2015-10-21/mike-murphy-rubio-s-campaign-is-cynical-kasich-s-plays-close-to-the-line" target="_blank">said</a> last fall that Rubio is running a "cynical" campaign fueled by "secret dark money, maybe from one person."</p></body></html> MoJo 2016 Elections Top Stories Jeb Bush Mon, 08 Feb 2016 19:09:06 +0000 Tim Murphy 296256 at http://www.motherjones.com As the Flint Water Crisis Unfolded, Rick Snyder Bought This Luxury-Themed Birthday Cake for His Wife http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2016/02/rick-snyder-wife-birthday-cake <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Last month, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder issued a <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/news/michigan-governor-rick-snyder-apologies-for-flint-water-crisis/" target="_blank">formal apology</a> for the state's handling of Flint's contaminated water system. The crisis began with his decision to cut costs in the town by rerouting its water from Detroit's water system to the Flint River. The Flint River water contained dangerously high levels of lead and continues to&nbsp;<a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/12/15/toxic-water-soaring-lead-levels-in-childrens-blood-create-state-of-emergency-in-flint-mich/" target="_blank">jeopardize&nbsp;the health of children</a>.</p> <p>The outrage over the public health emergency has only grown louder with the recent discovery of <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2016/01/snyder-administration-started-trucking-clean-water-state-buildings" target="_blank">emails showing that state officials</a> were shipping themselves clean water before telling residents that their water was contaminated.</p> <p>But just a few weeks after begging his state for <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/news/michigan-governor-rick-snyder-apologies-for-flint-water-crisis/" target="_blank">forgiveness</a>, Snyder apparently thought it was a good idea to throw his wife an extravagant birthday party, replete with this eyesore of a birthday cake:</p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-version="6" style=" background:#FFF; border:0; border-radius:3px; box-shadow:0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width:658px; padding:0; width:99.375%; width:-webkit-calc(100% - 2px); width:calc(100% - 2px);"> <div style="padding:8px;"> <div style=" background:#F8F8F8; line-height:0; margin-top:40px; padding:50.0% 0; text-align:center; width:100%;"> <div style=" background:url(data:image/png;base64,iVBORw0KGgoAAAANSUhEUgAAACwAAAAsCAMAAAApWqozAAAAGFBMVEUiIiI9PT0eHh4gIB4hIBkcHBwcHBwcHBydr+JQAAAACHRSTlMABA4YHyQsM5jtaMwAAADfSURBVDjL7ZVBEgMhCAQBAf//42xcNbpAqakcM0ftUmFAAIBE81IqBJdS3lS6zs3bIpB9WED3YYXFPmHRfT8sgyrCP1x8uEUxLMzNWElFOYCV6mHWWwMzdPEKHlhLw7NWJqkHc4uIZphavDzA2JPzUDsBZziNae2S6owH8xPmX8G7zzgKEOPUoYHvGz1TBCxMkd3kwNVbU0gKHkx+iZILf77IofhrY1nYFnB/lQPb79drWOyJVa/DAvg9B/rLB4cC+Nqgdz/TvBbBnr6GBReqn/nRmDgaQEej7WhonozjF+Y2I/fZou/qAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC); display:block; height:44px; margin:0 auto -44px; position:relative; top:-22px; width:44px;">&nbsp;</div> </div> <p style=" margin:8px 0 0 0; padding:0 4px;"><a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/BBOSHv-RRtG/" style=" color:#000; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:normal; line-height:17px; text-decoration:none; word-wrap:break-word;" target="_blank">One last detail shot. The necklace is made from fondant and royal icing attached to floral wire. It was a fun challenge to suspend the jewels over the side of the box.</a></p> <p style=" color:#c9c8cd; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px; margin-bottom:0; margin-top:8px; overflow:hidden; padding:8px 0 7px; text-align:center; text-overflow:ellipsis; white-space:nowrap;">A photo posted by Sweet Heather Anne (@sweetheatheranne) on <time datetime="2016-02-01T00:15:21+00:00" style=" font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px;">Jan 31, 2016 at 4:15pm PST</time></p> </div> </blockquote> <script async defer src="//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js"></script><blockquote class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-version="6" style=" background:#FFF; border:0; border-radius:3px; box-shadow:0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width:658px; padding:0; width:99.375%; width:-webkit-calc(100% - 2px); width:calc(100% - 2px);"> <div style="padding:8px;"> <div style=" background:#F8F8F8; line-height:0; margin-top:40px; padding:47.0833333333% 0; text-align:center; width:100%;"> <div style=" background:url(data:image/png;base64,iVBORw0KGgoAAAANSUhEUgAAACwAAAAsCAMAAAApWqozAAAAGFBMVEUiIiI9PT0eHh4gIB4hIBkcHBwcHBwcHBydr+JQAAAACHRSTlMABA4YHyQsM5jtaMwAAADfSURBVDjL7ZVBEgMhCAQBAf//42xcNbpAqakcM0ftUmFAAIBE81IqBJdS3lS6zs3bIpB9WED3YYXFPmHRfT8sgyrCP1x8uEUxLMzNWElFOYCV6mHWWwMzdPEKHlhLw7NWJqkHc4uIZphavDzA2JPzUDsBZziNae2S6owH8xPmX8G7zzgKEOPUoYHvGz1TBCxMkd3kwNVbU0gKHkx+iZILf77IofhrY1nYFnB/lQPb79drWOyJVa/DAvg9B/rLB4cC+Nqgdz/TvBbBnr6GBReqn/nRmDgaQEej7WhonozjF+Y2I/fZou/qAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC); display:block; height:44px; margin:0 auto -44px; position:relative; top:-22px; width:44px;">&nbsp;</div> <div style=" background:url(data:image/png;base64,iVBORw0KGgoAAAANSUhEUgAAACwAAAAsCAMAAAApWqozAAAAGFBMVEUiIiI9PT0eHh4gIB4hIBkcHBwcHBwcHBydr+JQAAAACHRSTlMABA4YHyQsM5jtaMwAAADfSURBVDjL7ZVBEgMhCAQBAf//42xcNbpAqakcM0ftUmFAAIBE81IqBJdS3lS6zs3bIpB9WED3YYXFPmHRfT8sgyrCP1x8uEUxLMzNWElFOYCV6mHWWwMzdPEKHlhLw7NWJqkHc4uIZphavDzA2JPzUDsBZziNae2S6owH8xPmX8G7zzgKEOPUoYHvGz1TBCxMkd3kwNVbU0gKHkx+iZILf77IofhrY1nYFnB/lQPb79drWOyJVa/DAvg9B/rLB4cC+Nqgdz/TvBbBnr6GBReqn/nRmDgaQEej7WhonozjF+Y2I/fZou/qAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC); display:block; height:44px; margin:0 auto -44px; position:relative; top:-22px; width:44px;">&nbsp;</div> </div> <p style=" margin:8px 0 0 0; padding:0 4px;"><a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/BBOQkVdRRqL/" style=" color:#000; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:normal; line-height:17px; text-decoration:none; word-wrap:break-word;" target="_blank">@ceebear really outdid herself with the details on this @michaelkors purse. Everything here is edible. #pursecake</a></p> <p style=" color:#c9c8cd; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px; margin-bottom:0; margin-top:8px; overflow:hidden; padding:8px 0 7px; text-align:center; text-overflow:ellipsis; white-space:nowrap;">A photo posted by Sweet Heather Anne (@sweetheatheranne) on <time datetime="2016-02-01T00:01:47+00:00" style=" font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px;">Jan 31, 2016 at 4:01pm PST</time></p> </div> </blockquote> <script async defer src="//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js"></script><p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to <a href="http://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/index.ssf/2016/02/see_the_cake_michigan_governor.html" target="_blank">MLive.com,</a> the tone-deaf f&ecirc;te was held at an upscale restaurant in Ann Arbor, where cake designer Heather Anne Leavitt delivered the cake without knowing the recipient. "I had no idea, like seriously no idea," <a href="http://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/index.ssf/2016/02/see_the_cake_michigan_governor.html" target="_blank">Leavitt said.</a> "We delivered it to the West End Grill and put it down and I'm taking photos of the cake. Then Claudia, who was also working on the cake with me, looks up and sees Rick Snyder on all the photos in the room, and so we put two and two together."</p> <p>Upon learning about the party, local blogger Mark Maynard decided to drop by the restaurant, and discovered the windows were "blacked out." A cake smothered with Tiffany &amp; Co. and Michael Kors logos was a striking contrast to the residents of Flint attempting to get uncontaminated water out of their faucets.</p></body></html> MoJo Mon, 08 Feb 2016 19:01:29 +0000 Inae Oh 296246 at http://www.motherjones.com Maybe Cheaters Prosper After All http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/maybe-cheaters-prosper-after-all <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The world seems to be awash in teensy little pieces of social science research that are (1) possibly fascinating but (2) also possibly meaningless. <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2016/02/08/why-winners-become-cheaters/" target="_blank">Roberto Ferdman</a> points us to one today that suggests <a href="http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2016/01/25/1515102113" target="_blank">winning makes you more likely to cheat in the future.</a> The participants, as usual, are a small number of university students.</p> <p>Our eager young test monkeys were broken into pairs and competed in a task. The winners were determined randomly, though the participants didn't know that. Then they went on to round 2, where they threw a pair of dice. The details are unimportant except for these: (1) the <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_cheating.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">higher the throw the better, and (2) it was pretty easy to cheat since no one could see the dice except the thrower. The chart on the right shows the basic result. The average throw should be 7, and in the control group that's what it was. In the test group, winners obviously cheated since their average throw was much higher than 7. Losers either didn't cheat or, possibly, actually underreported their throws a bit.</p> <p>Why? Who knows. The authors suggest that winning creates a sense of psychological entitlement, but: "We do not claim that a sense of entitlement is the only factor that accounts for dishonest behavior following a competition. Given the complexity of the situation under study and the variety of mechanisms that drive dishonest behavior, it is likely that other mechanisms also come into play."</p> <p>So...maybe this is interesting. Maybe it's meaningless. Maybe the authors should have run this experiment a dozen times to see if the results hold up. I'm not sure. However, it seems perfectly suited for drawing sweeping conclusions about the American psyche<sup>1</sup>&mdash;maybe David Brooks can do something with this?&mdash;and that alone makes it worth writing about.</p> <p><sup>1</sup>Shhh. Don't tell anyone the study was done at an Israeli university.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 08 Feb 2016 17:26:55 +0000 Kevin Drum 296251 at http://www.motherjones.com Chris Christie Is Getting Down on One Knee to Plead With Undecided Voters http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2016/02/chris-christie-getting-down-one-knee-plead-undecideds <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Chris Christie is down in the polls in New Hampshire and he's got less than 24 hours to turn things around. So when Ann Antosca, an undecided voter from Nashua, asked him a question about Social Security at a Monday morning town hall, the New Jersey governor rushed over to her corner, dropped to one knee, put his hand on the shoulder of the man to her right, and begged her for her vote.</p> <p>Antosca's concern going in was that Christie's means-testing for Social Security would hurt people like her, with 401(k)s in the low six figures. But she was reassured that the ceiling would in fact be much higher. Christie, a shameless name-dropper who was joined at the event by the star of the reality TV show <em>Cake Boss</em>, recalled a conversation he had with Mark Zuckerberg in which the Facebook CEO expressed concern that he'd lose his Social Security. His response: "You get nothing, Mark."</p> <p>"They don't wanna talk about [Social Security] because they're afraid of you; I'm talking about this because I trust you," Christie concluded. A few minutes later, she spoke up again to say she'd made up her mind to vote for Christie.</p> <p>"That was cute, that was cute!" Antosca, a real estate agent who was deciding between Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, and Christie, told me afterward. Social Security "was really the only thing that was holding me back."</p> <p>Christie needs undecided voters to swing in his direction in a big way in the final days. But New Hampshire is a wonderland where the political cliches all happen to be true. Voters move late. Christie can only hope that movement is enough.</p></body></html> MoJo Mon, 08 Feb 2016 16:42:11 +0000 Tim Murphy 296231 at http://www.motherjones.com Marcobot Seems Unfazed by Saturday Unmasking http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/marcobot-seems-unfazed-saturday-unmasking <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>There's not really any way of telling whether the Marcobot meme is hurting Marco Rubio. There was a little bit of polling yesterday, but not enough to show anything serious. Still, for what it's worth, here's the penultimate Pollster aggregate before tomorrow's primary. Really, there hasn't been a whole lot of movement at all over the past month or so. Rubio got a bit of a bump from his Iowa performance, but that's about it. Tune in tomorrow for the exciting conclusion, after which we can all go back to forgetting New Hampshire exists.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_new_hampshire_pollster_2016_02_08.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 5px 60px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 08 Feb 2016 16:29:57 +0000 Kevin Drum 296236 at http://www.motherjones.com Just How Cozy Is Hillary Clinton With Wall Street? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/just-how-cozy-hillary-clinton-wall-street <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Hillary Clinton has received a lot of campaign money from the financial industry over the years, and after she left the State Department she gave several lucrative speeches to Goldman Sachs and other big banks. As Michael Hirsh puts it, this has given her a reputation for being <a href="http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/04/hillary-wall-street-117092_full.html#.Vrg0qVKO7Q4" target="_blank">"more than a little cozy"</a> with Wall Street.</p> <p>But is she? The truth is that I haven't paid much attention to this question. In terms of the presidential campaign, it's pretty obvious that Bernie Sanders is a lot tougher on the financial industry than she is. The details of their plans don't really matter. Sanders has practically made a career out of attacking Wall Street. As president, he'd make financial regulation a top priority; he'd appoint tougher watchdogs; and he'd use the bully pulpit relentlessly to call out Wall Street's sins.</p> <p>Still, what about Clinton? How cozy with the financial industry <em>is</em> she? I asked about this on Twitter over the weekend, figuring that all the Bernie supporters would give me an earful. But no such luck. Mostly they just told me that she had taken Wall Street money and given Wall Street speeches. The only concrete criticism was one that<iframe align="right" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="258" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/12mJ-U76nfg?start=0" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;" width="400"></iframe> Elizabeth Warren made in 2004: that Clinton had changed her view on the bankruptcy bill after she accepted lots of Wall Street money to get elected to the Senate.</p> <p><a href="http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/08/08/clinton-and-the-bankruptcy-law/?_r=0" target="_blank">But that didn't really hold water.</a> She opposed the bill in 1999 because she wanted alimony and child-support payments to take precedence over credit card companies during bankruptcy proceeding. The bill passed anyway, but Bill Clinton vetoed it. In 2001, she brokered a compromise that gave priority to alimony and child support, and then voted for the bill. It didn't pass at the time, and in 2005 her compromise was removed from the bill. She said then that she opposed it.</p> <p>This is classic Hillary. Once George Bush was president, she had no way of stopping the bill&mdash;so she worked hard behind the scenes to get what she could in return for her vote. Love it or hate it, this is the kind of pragmatic politics she practices. But there's no hypocrisy here; no change of heart thanks to Wall Street money (she supported the bill when it protected women and children and opposed it when it didn't); and no real support for the financial industry.</p> <p>What else? Clinton says she gave several speeches in 2007 warning about the dangers of derivatives and subprime loans, and introduced proposals for stronger financial oversight. <a href="http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2015/jul/15/hillary-clinton/hillary-clinton-says-she-called-wall-street-regula/" target="_blank">Apparently that's true.</a> I'm not aware if she took a stand on the repeal of Glass-Steagall in 1999, but I don't think this was responsible for the financial crisis and wouldn't hold it against her either way. (And it was supported by nearly the entire Democratic Party at the time.) The CFMA <em>did</em> make the financial crisis worse, but Bernie Sanders himself supported it. Clinton voted for Sarbanes-Oxley, but everyone else did too.</p> <p>Clinton has consistently supported increasing the minimum wage&mdash;<a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/07/hillary-clinton-wants-fast-food-workers-make-more-money" target="_blank">though not to $15.</a> She supported the Lilly Ledbetter Act. She supports higher taxes on the wealthy. She supported <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-privateequity-clinton-idUSN1339356720070714" target="_blank">repeal of the carried interest loophole</a> in 2007. The <em>Boston Globe</em>, after an extensive review of her voting record in the Senate, summed up her attitude with <a href="https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/nation/2016/01/16/clinton-record-wall-street-laissez-faire/Z2a3iOsj40wryeRN2iT6qK/story.html" target="_blank">this quote from a lobbyist:</a> "The financial sector viewed her as neutral. Not helpful, but also not harmful." <a href="http://www.taxjusticeblog.org/archive/2015/04/what_we_know_about_hillary_cli.php#.Vrg4M1KO7Q4" target="_blank">Citizens for Tax Justice</a> gives her a generally favorable grade on financial issues.</p> <p>The word "cozy" does a whole lot of heavy lifting in stories about Hillary Clinton and Wall Street. But what does it mean? Does she have an actual record of supporting Wall Street interests? By ordinary standards, is her current campaign proposal for financial regulation a strong one? (I've been impressed by her rhetorical emphasis on shadow banking, but it's not clear just how far her proposals go in real life.) Has she protected financial interests against the Bernie Sanders of the world?</p> <p>I think it's safe to say that Clinton has hardly been a scourge of the banking industry. Until recently, her main interests were elsewhere. But if there's a strong case to be made for "coziness," I've failed to find it. Anyone care to point me in the right direction?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 08 Feb 2016 11:00:29 +0000 Kevin Drum 296221 at http://www.motherjones.com The James Hunter Six Throws a Party You Don't Want to Miss http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2016/02/music-review-hold-on-james-hunter-six <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/tsW1lq__vws" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p><strong>The James Hunter Six<br><em>Hold On!</em><br> Daptone Records</strong></p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/jameshunter_inline_0.jpg"><div class="caption">ShoreFire Media</div> </div> <p>Britain's James Hunter makes tough old-school R&amp;B with a bracing modern-day kick, so it makes sense for him to gravitate to Brooklyn's Daptone Records, where the likes of <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2011/04/sharon-jones-interview-dap-kings" target="_blank">Sharon Jones</a> and Charles Bradley have been doing the same thing for years.</p> <p>Dispatching 10 songs in a brisk 30 minutes, Hunter's debut for the label&mdash;recorded in mono, of course!&mdash;creates the sensation of dropping in on a spirited late-night set in a smoky, crowded club, with Hunter playing the fiery soul shouter to perfection. (No wonder Van Morrison stepped in as an early mentor.) Featuring a pair of sizzling saxes, Hunter's ultra-tight band cooks with authority, but his swaggering, good-humored vocals and snappy tunes are the main attraction. From the stomping "Free Your Mind (While You Still Got Time)" to the lilting, Sam Cooke-inspired "This Is Where We Came In," <em>Hold On!</em> is a party not to be missed.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Music Music Mondays Mon, 08 Feb 2016 11:00:27 +0000 Jon Young 295976 at http://www.motherjones.com The New Jason Bourne Trailer Just Premiered During the Super Bowl. Here It Is. http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2016/02/new-jason-bourne-trailer-super-bowl <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The new Jason Bourne movie stars Matt Damon again. Will Hunting took a break from the series a few years ago and the last one starred Jeremy Renner, but he's back now because money can be exchanged for goods and services. This one looks pretty good! It comes out this summer.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/l4jjKfLoOPE" width="630"></iframe></p></body></html> Mixed Media Mon, 08 Feb 2016 00:35:52 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 296216 at http://www.motherjones.com Bernie Sanders Says He's Being "Lectured" by Hillary Clinton on Foreign Policy http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2016/02/bernie-sanders-portsmouth-rally-foreign-policy <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Bernie Sanders was defensive when he was asked at Thursday's Democratic presidential debate why he doesn't talk more about how he'd approach being commander-in-chief. So does he plan on changing course anytime soon? Not a chance.</p> <p>On Sunday afternoon in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, speaking at the same community college that hosted Hillary Clinton on Saturday, Sanders did not mention foreign policy until the 50th minute of a 54-minute speech. Even then, he kept it short, telling supporters (and a few undecided voters) he was tired of being "lectured" by his opponent on the issue. "And by the way," he said, as he wrapped up his remarks, "as somebody who voted against the war in Iraq&mdash;who led the <em>opposition</em> to the war in Iraq, lately I have been lectured on foreign policy. The most important foreign policy in the modern history of this country was the war in Iraq. I was right on that issue. Hillary Clinton was wrong on that issue."</p> <p>And then he moved on. In one of his final get-out-the-vote events before Tuesday's New Hampshire primary, Sanders showed a willingness to continue taking the fight to Clinton on his own terms. The speech he gave on Sunday, his voice still hoarse from his appearance on <em>Saturday Night Live</em> with Larry David, was much the same speech he delivered in Boston in October, and in Burlington in May. He excoriated the oligarchs who he believes corrupt the political system and outlined a theory of change, from the suffrage movement to civil rights to gay rights, that he believes shows that grassroots movements like his own can overturn the system. The routine is so familiar that when he asked his audience who the biggest recipient of federal welfare is, about half of those in attendance were able to answer&mdash;"Walmart."</p> <p>What's changed is the crowd. When I saw him in Boston in October, the crowd booed 17 different times during his speech, prompted by references to Jeb Bush or the Koch brothers. On Sunday, that number was halved in a speech of equal length. (Targets of booing included the black and Latino unemployment rate, speaker fees from Goldman Sachs, and companies that exploit loopholes in the tax code to avoid "paying a nickel in federal income taxes.") Clinton refers to the animating ethos of Sanders' supporters as "anger," and there's certainly that, but increasingly, there's the optimism of an organization that truly thinks it can win.</p> <p>That's typified by one of the few tweaks he's made to his speech over the last few months: He now talks about the poll numbers. "We started this campaign at 3 percent in the polls," he told the crowd early on. "We were 30, 40 points down in New Hampshire. Well, a lot has changed." Except for all the stuff that hasn't.</p></body></html> MoJo 2016 Elections bernie sanders Sun, 07 Feb 2016 21:37:26 +0000 Tim Murphy 296206 at http://www.motherjones.com Sunday French Fry Blogging http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/sunday-french-fry-blogging <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>A few weeks ago I had lunch at my favorite diner and I asked what kind of oil they cooked their fries in. Corn oil, it turns out. But the owner of the place happened to be standing right there, and with no prompting he immediately grokked why I was asking:</p> <blockquote> <p>Nobody makes fries the old way anymore. They used to be so good. These days&mdash;phhht. There's no taste at all. But everybody got afraid of the health <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_fries.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">stuff, so it's all vegetable oil now.</p> </blockquote> <p>The fries at this place range from good to spectacular depending on the whims of the deep fryer, so it's not impossible to get tasty fries from corn oil. Still, fries made in beef tallow&mdash;or a mixed oil that includes animal fat of some kind&mdash;are unquestionably better. So why hasn't anyone picked up on this? There's plenty of evidence suggesting that fries cooked in animal fat might be no worse for you than fries cooked in vegetable oil, and even if this is wrong there should still be a market for an "artisanal fries" menu item or some such. Upscale burger places are forever looking for ways to differentiate themselves for the foodie crowd, so why not this? I'd buy them.</p> <p>It's a mystery. Nobody should be afraid of some occasional fries cooked in animal fat. And if you are, nobody is going to take away your bland canola oil fries anyway. Someone needs to get on this bandwagon. Who will do it first?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sun, 07 Feb 2016 18:45:07 +0000 Kevin Drum 296201 at http://www.motherjones.com Is Academic Science Hopelessly Corrupt? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/academic-science-hopelessly-corrupt <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Marc Edwards, the Virginia Tech scientist who uncovered the lead poisoning in Flint, is absolutely brutal about the way funding priorities <a href="http://chronicle.com/article/The-Water-Next-Time-Professor/235136" target="_blank">have corrupted academic science:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>We&rsquo;re all on this hedonistic treadmill &mdash; pursuing funding, pursuing fame, pursuing h-index &mdash; and the idea of science as a public good is being lost. This is something that I&rsquo;m upset about deeply. I&rsquo;ve kind of dedicated my career to <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_marc_edwards.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">try to raise awareness about this. I&rsquo;m losing a lot of friends.</p> <p><strong>....Q. Do you have any sense that perverse incentive structures prevented scientists from exposing the problem in Flint sooner?</strong></p> <p><strong>A.</strong> Yes, I do. In Flint the agencies paid to protect these people weren&rsquo;t solving the problem. They <em>were</em> the problem....I don&rsquo;t blame anyone, because I know the culture of academia. You are your funding network as a professor. You can destroy that network that took you 25 years to build with one word. I&rsquo;ve done it.</p> <p><strong>....Q. Now that your hypothesis has been vindicated, and the government has its tail between its legs, a lot of researchers are interested.</strong></p> <p><strong>A.</strong> And I hope that they&rsquo;re interested for the right reasons. But there&rsquo;s now money &mdash; a lot of money &mdash; on the table....The expectation is that there&rsquo;s tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars that are going to be made available by these agencies....I hate to sound cynical about it. I know these folks have good intentions. But it doesn&rsquo;t change the fact that, Where were we as academics for all this time before it became financially in our interest to help? Where were we?</p> <p><strong>....Q. When is it appropriate for academics to be skeptical of an official narrative when that narrative is coming from scientific authorities? Surely the answer can&rsquo;t be "all of the time."</strong></p> <p>I grew up worshiping at the altar of science, and in my wildest dreams I never thought scientists would behave this way....Science should be about pursuing the truth and helping people. If you&rsquo;re doing it for any other reason, you really ought to question your motives.</p> <p>Unfortunately, in general, academic research and scientists in this country are no longer deserving of the public trust. We&rsquo;re not.</p> </blockquote> <p>In academia these day&mdash;and especially in the hard sciences, which are expensive to support&mdash;funding is everything. To a large extent, at big research universities faculty members basically work on commission: they have to bring in enough money to pay their own salaries and bankroll their own labs. And when was the last time a salesman on commission badmouthed his own product?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sun, 07 Feb 2016 16:56:54 +0000 Kevin Drum 296196 at http://www.motherjones.com Maybe Twitter Isn't Planning to Ruin Your Life After All http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/maybe-twitter-isnt-planning-ruin-your-life-after-all <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>On Twitter, the big outrage over the past few days has been the news that the corporate suits are planning to change the way your Twitter feed works. Instead of simply listing every tweet from your followers in real time, <a href="http://www.buzzfeed.com/alexkantrowitz/twitter-to-introduce-algorithmic-timeline-as-soon-as-next-we#.lf8rQlJDP" target="_blank">they'll be rolling out an algorithm</a> that reorders tweets "based on what Twitter&rsquo;s algorithm <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_twitter_crash.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">thinks people most want to see." This is something Facebook has been doing for years.</p> <p>Power users are apoplectic, despite the fact that it's not clear what's really going on. A developer at Twitter hit back <a href="https://twitter.com/bhcarpenter/status/695811814244773892" target="_blank">with this:</a> "Seriously people. We aren't idiots. Quit speculating about how we're going to 'ruin Twitter.'" Nor is it clear when this is really going to roll out. And the rumors suggest that it will be an opt-in feature anyway. Chronological timelines will still be around for everyone who wants them.</p> <p>In any case, I'd suggest everyone give this a chance. Computer users, ironically, are notoriously change averse, which might be blinding a lot of us to the fact that chronological timelines aren't exactly the greatest invention since the yellow first down line. Maybe we really do need something better. More generally, here are a few arguments in favor of waiting to see how this all plays out:</p> <ul><li>I'm a semi-power user. I don't write a lot on Twitter,<sup>1</sup> but I read it a lot. Still, I have a job and a life, and I don't check it obsessively. And even though I follow a mere 200 people, all it takes is 15 minutes to make it nearly impossible to catch up with what's going on. Being on the West Coast makes this an especial problem in the morning. A smart robot that helped solve this problem could be pretty handy, even for those of us who are experts and generally prefer a real-time feed.</li> <li>One of my most common frustrations is coming back to the computer after a break and seeing lots of cryptic references to some new outrage or other. What I'd really like is a "WTF is <em>this</em> all about?" button. An algorithmic feed could be a useful version of this.</li> <li>As plenty of people have noted, Twitter is a sexist, racist, misogynistic cesspool. There are things Twitter could do about this, but I suspect they're limited as long as we rely on an unfiltered chronological timeline. Once an algorithm is introduced, it might well be possible to personalize your timeline in ways that clean up Twitter immensely. (Or that allow Twitter to clean it up centrally&mdash;though this obviously needs to be done with a lot of care.)</li> <li>One of the most persuasive complaints about the algorithm is that it's likely to favor the interests of advertisers more than users. Maybe so. Unfortunately, Twitter famously doesn't seem able to find a profitable business model. But if we like Twitter, the first order of business is for it to stay in existence&mdash;and that means it needs to make money. This is almost certain to be annoying no matter how Twitter manages to do it. A good algorithm might actually be the least annoying way of accomplishing this.</li> <li>Needless to say, all of this depends on how good the algorithm is. It better be pretty good, and it better improve over time.</li> </ul><p>So....stay cool, everyone. Maybe this will be an epic, New Coke style disaster that will end up as a case study in business texts for years. It wouldn't be the first time. Then again, maybe the algorithm will be subtle, useful, and optional. I'll be curious to try it out, myself.</p> <p><sup>1</sup>Arguments on Twitter are possibly the stupidest waste of time ever invented. Everything that's bad about arguments in the first place is magnified tenfold by the 140-character limit. It's hard to imagine that anyone other than a psychopath has ever emerged from a Twitter war thinking "That was great! I really learned something today."</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sun, 07 Feb 2016 16:13:36 +0000 Kevin Drum 296191 at http://www.motherjones.com Last Night's "Marcobot Moment" May Have Ruined a Political Career http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/last-nights-marcobot-moment-may-have-ruined-political-career <!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_marco_rubio_covers.jpg" style="margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">I was out to dinner last night&mdash;the duck at Il Fornaio was great!&mdash;so I missed the Republican debate. That was too bad, because apparently the highlight of the night was Chris Christie's brutal beatdown of Marco Rubio over precisely the point I made a few days ago. <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/let-us-all-take-random-walk-through-new-hampshire" target="_blank">Here's my version:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>To me he seems like a robot: he's memorized a whole bunch of virtual index cards, and whenever you ask a question he performs a database search and recites whatever comes up. The index cards aren't bad, mind you, and I suppose they allow him to emulate a dumb person's notion what a smart person sounds like. This is despite the fact that he normally talks with the same kind of hurried clip employed by nervous eighth graders reading off actual index cards.</p> </blockquote> <p>This has always been my basic take on Rubio, and it makes me a little puzzled by his appeal among the conservative intelligentsia. But maybe they don't really care? Maybe they agree with Grover Norquist's take on the presidency <a href="http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/02/13/grover-norquist-speech-cpac.html" target="_blank">from four years ago:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>We don't need a president to tell us in what direction to go. We know what direction to go....We just need a president to sign this stuff....Pick a Republican with enough working digits to handle a pen to become president of the United States.</p> </blockquote> <p>Well, Rubio has the requisite number of working digits, and he's reliably conservative even if he's not one of the great thinkers of our age. So maybe it doesn't matter if he's a callow empty suit. As long as he signs the stuff that Ryan and McConnell send him, and can give a good speech now and then defending it, he's aces. At a minimum, though, this requires Rubio to effectively hide his inability to think outside of sound bites. Christie shattered that illusion for good last night when he bluntly pointed out Rubio's robotic repetition of the exact same puerile talking point within the space of a couple of minutes. <a href="http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/430906/marco-rubio-and-chris-christies-brutal-exchange" target="_blank">Here's conservative Rubio fan David French:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Marco Rubio&rsquo;s already-famous exchange with Chris Christie was indeed a brutal moment. I still can&rsquo;t believe that Rubio went back to the same talking point right after Christie called him on it. Watching it real-time, I honestly wondered if Rubio forgot what he just said. <strong>When he started to do the same thing<iframe align="right" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="258" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/HNRNHgi1RzU?start=0" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;" width="400"></iframe> a third time, I couldn&rsquo;t believe my ears.</strong> Christie wasn&rsquo;t masterful &mdash; not by any means &mdash; Rubio just served him the worst kind of hanging curve.</p> </blockquote> <p>French compared this to Rick Perry's famous "Oops" gaffe from 2012. <a href="https://twitter.com/JamesFallows/status/696176435854229504" target="_blank">James Fallows</a> called it the "most self-destructive debate performance since Quayle &rsquo;88." Social media immediately branded it the "Marcobot" moment, and mashups of the Rubio/Christie exchange showed up everywhere. <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/02/06/transcript-of-the-feb-6-gop-debate-annotated/" target="_blank">Here's the edited transcript:</a></p> <blockquote> <p><em>RUBIO:</em> And let's dispel once and for all with this fiction that Barack Obama doesn't know what he's doing. He knows exactly what he's doing. <strong>Barack Obama is undertaking a systematic effort to change this country,</strong> to make America more like the rest of the world....</p> <p><em>RUBIO:</em> But I would add this. Let's dispel with this fiction that Barack Obama doesn't know what he's doing. He knows exactly what he's doing. <strong>He is trying to change this country. He wants America to become more like the rest of the world....</strong></p> <p><em>CHRISTIE:</em> That's what Washington, D.C. Does. The drive-by shot at the beginning with incorrect and incomplete information and <strong>then the memorized 25-second speech that is exactly what his advisers gave him.</strong> See Marco, the thing is this. When you're president of the United States, when you're a governor of a state, the memorized 30-second speech where you talk about how great America is at the end of it doesn't solve one problem for one person.</p> <p><em>RUBIO:</em> Here's the bottom line. This notion that Barack Obama doesn't know what he's doing is just not true. <strong>He knows exactly what he's doing.</strong></p> <p><em>CHRISTIE:</em> There it is. There it is. <strong>The memorized 25-second speech. There it is, everybody....</strong>It gets very unruly when he gets off his talking points....</p> <p><em>RUBIO [an hour later]:</em> I think anyone who believes that Barack Obama isn't doing what he's doing on purpose doesn't understand what we're dealing with here, OK? <strong>This is a president who is trying to change this country.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>So there you have it: the exact same canned line three times in a row. And then, even after being called on it in humiliating fashion, he repeats it yet again for a fourth time an hour later.</p> <p>Will this hurt Rubio? If he's smart, he'll own it. He'll make it the centerpiece of his campaign going forward, sort of like "Make America great again." Unfortunately, now that Christie has pointed out Rubio's index-card habit, everyone is going to be looking for it on every other subject too. Reporters will be combing through his debates and stump speeches looking for canned talking points, and then doing side-by-side comparisons as if he's an author being accused of plagiarism.</p> <p>We'll see how this plays out. But it sure can't be good news for ol' Marcobot. He might need to think about getting an upgrade to his programming.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sun, 07 Feb 2016 14:26:29 +0000 Kevin Drum 296176 at http://www.motherjones.com Bernie Sanders and Larry David Appeared on "SNL" Together and It was Magical http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2016/02/bernie-sanders-larry-david-snl <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>As <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/politics/first-draft/2016/02/05/bernie-sanders-to-do-s-n-l-with-larry-david-hosting/" target="_blank">expected</a>, Bernie Sanders stopped by <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yL2dGTDQXVo" target="_blank">"Saturday Night Live" </a>last night for a much-anticipated cameo alongside everyone's favorite impersonator of the Vermont senator, Larry David. The brilliant sketch featured David as the captain of a sinking ship, who attempts to get onto a lifeboat based on his one percent status. That's when Bernie Sanderswitzky steps in to put an end to preferential treatment and save the middle class.</p> <p>"Sounds like socialism to me!" David's character says, to which Sanderswitzky clarifies, "Democratic socialism."</p> <p>Watch the sketch below:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/yL2dGTDQXVo" width="630"></iframe></p></body></html> Mixed Media 2016 Elections Sun, 07 Feb 2016 14:09:17 +0000 Inae Oh 296171 at http://www.motherjones.com Hillary Clinton’s Secret Weapon Is Bernie Sanders’ Colleagues http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2016/02/hillary-clinton-al-franken-friendship <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Sen Al Franken (D-Minn.) opened for Hillary Clinton Saturday night in Portsmouth with one very important message: she's good enough, she's smart enough, and doggone it, she's a <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2002/10/remembering-paul-wellstone" target="_blank">Paul Wellstone</a> progressive.</p> <p>Clinton's final pitch to New Hampshire voters is as much about the people she surrounds herself with as it is the former secretary of state herself. On Friday, four woman senators were there to co-opt Bernie Sanders by arguing that the "revolution" America needs <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2016/02/hillary-clinton-women-revolution-sanders" target="_blank">is electing the first woman</a>. Stefany Shaheen, daughter of the New Hampshire senator, warmed up the crowd in Portsmouth by name-dropping celebrity backers Lena Dunham, Gloria Steinem, Abby Wambach&mdash;proof she's not only experienced, but maybe cool. Franken was there to follow-up on a subject of intense debate over the last week&mdash;what it means to be a progressive.</p> <p>"Let my clarify something: why they let a <em>guy</em> up here," Franken began, flanked by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, Gov. Maggie Hassan, and the former secretary of state. He didn't waste any time invoking the legacy of the late Minnesota senator, a progressive icon who died in a plane crash in 2002 shortly before the midterm elections:</p> <blockquote> <p>I'm Al Franken, I'm a Senator from Minnesota, and I hold the seat that Paul Wellstone once held. And I can point to someone on this stage whom I wouldn't be senator from Minnesota [without], and that is Hillary Clinton. My first election was kind of close. I won by 312 votes. Hillary Clinton came twice for me, once in October and then I got a call from her the Sunday before the election, she said "I'm coming out." And we did a big rally in Duluth and got more than 312 votes at that rally, I gotta tell you. I'm a Paul Wellstone progressive. And let me tell you what that means: Paul said, "We all do better when we all do better." Now if I knew what a haiku was, I'd say that was a haiku. But evidently I'm told it isn't. But Paul knew that we all do better when we all do better.</p> </blockquote> <p>He launched into a personal story of growing up middle-class in Minnesota. And then he returned again to why they let the guy up there.</p> <p>"Sen. Shaheen, my colleague, and I, like the only other [Senate] Democrats who have endorsed in this race, have endorsed Hillary Clinton for a reason," he said. "Because this is serious stuff. This is serious stuff. This is Sherrod Brown. This is Cory Booker. This is Tammy Baldwin. We are progressives. And we know what it takes to <em>get things done</em>."</p> <p>None of these endorsers will shift many votes on their own (notwithstanding Franken's claims of Clinton in Duluth), but it's a death by a thousand cuts strategy. And with Sanders boasting just two members of Congress on his side, Clinton is all too happy to tell voters that the candidates they've worked so hard to get elected in the past&mdash;the Baldwins and Frankens of the world&mdash;are with her.</p></body></html> MoJo 2016 Elections hillary clinton Sun, 07 Feb 2016 03:35:02 +0000 Tim Murphy 296161 at http://www.motherjones.com Watch the Most Awkward Debate Kickoff Ever http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2016/02/watch-most-awkward-debate-kick-ever <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The beginning of the Republican primary debate in New Hampshire Thursday night may go down as the most awkward in memory.</p> <p>It all started when Ben Carson failed to walk onstage when his name was called, causing a bottleneck in the wings that the other candidates had to walk around. Then Donald Trump apparently didn't hear his name and stood by Carson while other candidates walked by the two of them. On top of it all, the ABC News moderators forgot about John Kasich, leaving an empty podium on stage and one Ohio governor hovering off to the side.</p> <p>Just watch this video, because a debate kickoff this awkward doesn't happen often.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="473" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/uafScAiaC44" width="630"></iframe></p></body></html> MoJo 2016 Elections Sun, 07 Feb 2016 02:03:20 +0000 Pema Levy 296156 at http://www.motherjones.com Someone in New Hampshire Is Leaving These Anti-Immigration Fliers on Cars http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2016/02/clinton-sanders-immigration-flier <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>At some point during Hillary Clinton's rally in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on Saturday night, I got a note on my car. Thankfully it was not a parking ticket&mdash;closer inspection revealed that it was single-page double-sided leaflet hitting both Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders for their position on immigration. It accuses Sanders of choosing "to value current and future Hispanic votes over progressive principles" by supporting a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. And it asks Clinton, "Should the President of the United States primarily represent the interests of American families or the interests of families of other countries who have entered the United States illegally?"</p> <p>Fliers on windshields is standard practice in the final days before a big vote, through official or unofficial channels&mdash;or from random freelancers. This one had no name on it. Is it yours? Let us know:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/hillary0.jpg"></div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/hillary1.jpg"></div> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> MoJo 2016 Elections Sun, 07 Feb 2016 01:50:52 +0000 Tim Murphy 296146 at http://www.motherjones.com Here Is Today's French Fiscal Horsepower History Lesson http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/here-todays-french-fiscal-horsepower-history-lesson <!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_kevin_4cv.jpg" style="margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">No one is going to care about this post. Too bad. I feel like writing, and on a weekend you take what you can get.</p> <p>Anyway, I was musing the other day about the fact that I've always owned foreign cars. Partly this is just chance, partly the fact that I live in California, and, I suppose, partly because my parents always owned foreign cars. The first one was purchased around the time of my birth, and we kids called it the <em>bye-bye,</em> for reasons I presumably don't have to explain. It was, as it happens, a Renault. But which Renault?</p> <p>I did a bit of lazy googling last night, but nothing looked quite right. Then this morning, I noticed one of those Fiat 500s that J-Lo hawks on TV, and thought that it looked a little like the old Renault. Except I was sure the Renault had vents in the rear.</p> <p>But wait. Rear vents means a rear engine. So I googled that, and instantly got a million hits for the 4CV, which was clearly the old bye-bye. My mother confirmed this telephonically a bit later. And that got me curious. Citro<span class="st">&euml;</span>n, of course, produced the iconic 2CV, which first came off the assembly line at about the same time. What's with that? What's the appeal of __CV to postwar French auto manufacturers?</p> <p>The answer turned out to be pretty funky. CV stands for&nbsp;<span lang="fr"><i>chevaux vapeur,</i></span> or horsepower. But the 4CV is not a 4-horsepower car. CV, it turns out, is used to mean <em>tax horsepower</em>. After World War II, France (along with other European countries) wanted to encourage people to buy low-power cars, so they put a tax on horsepower. But just taxing horsepower would have been too simple. Instead, they used a formula that took into account the number of cylinders, the piston bore, and the stroke. Here's the formula for the 4CV:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_france_tax_horsepower.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 15px 10px;"></p> <p>These numbers were undoubtedly carefully engineered to produce the highest result that would round down to 4. In fact, the 4CV had a whopping 17 horsepower, and could get to 60 mph in just under 40 seconds. Ours had a few wee problems chugging along at 6,000 feet in Flagstaff on the way to Denver in 1960, but what can you expect for 17 horsepower?</p> <p>So that's your history lesson for the day. Apparently the French tax the horsepower of cars to this day, though the formula has changed over time. <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tax_horsepower#France" target="_blank">According to Wikipedia,</a> "Since 1998 the taxable power is calculated from the sum of a CO<sub>2</sub> emission figure (over 45), and the maximum power output of the engine in kilowatts (over 40) to the power of 1.6." The power of 1.6? I guess they still love a little pointless complexity in France.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sun, 07 Feb 2016 01:35:54 +0000 Kevin Drum 296141 at http://www.motherjones.com A Nice Paragraph About Why Humans Are So Damn Paranoid http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/nice-paragraph-about-why-humans-are-so-damn-paranoid <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>I'm reading <em>Sapiens</em> right now, a history of early mankind published last year by historian Yuval Noah Harari. I haven't gotten very far into it, so I don't know <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_sapiens.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">if his idiosyncratic theories will end up being persuasive. Still, it's the kind of learned but big-think book I tend to like regardless of how well it holds up. I wish more deeply accomplished people were willing to write stuff like this.</p> <p>That said, here's a nice excerpt about the dangers of moving to the top of the food chain too fast:</p> <blockquote> <p>[It was] only in the last 100,000 years&mdash;with the rise of <em>Homo sapiens</em>&mdash;that man jumped to the top of the food chain....Other animals at the top of the pyramid, such as lions and sharks, evolved into the position very gradually, over millions of years. This enabled the ecosystem to develop checks and balances that prevent lions and sharks from wreaking too much havoc.</p> <p>....In contrast, <strong>humankind ascended to the top so quickly that the ecosystem was not given time to adjust.</strong> Moreover, humans themselves failed to adjust. Most top predators of the planet are majestic creatures. Millions of years of dominion have filled them with self-confidence. Sapiens by contrast is more like a banana republic dictator. <strong>Having so recently been one of the underdogs of the savannah, we are full of fears and anxieties over our position, which makes us doubly cruel and dangerous.</strong> Many historical calamities, from deadly wars to ecological catastrophes, have resulted from this over-hasty jump.</p> </blockquote> <p>This is just another way of saying that human intelligence evolved too fast for human emotions and morals to keep up. Either way, though, it sure rings true. Just take a look at the current presidential race. If any country should feel self-confident and safe, it's the United States. But boy howdy, we sure don't, do we?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 06 Feb 2016 17:39:48 +0000 Kevin Drum 296121 at http://www.motherjones.com