Blogs | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en Chart: Half of All Income Goes to the Top 10 Percent <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/survival630x120.jpg"></div> <p>We'll be posting a new chart on the current state of income inequality every day for the next couple of weeks. <a href="" target="_blank">Our last installment</a> looked at stagnating middle-class incomes.</p> <p>Today, we look at both sides of the income split and how they've traded places. For the first time in a century, the top 10 percent of Americans control more than half of all income. If this trend persists, predicts economist <a href="" target="_blank">Thomas Piketty</a>, their share will rise to 60 percent by 2030.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/xmarksthespot.jpg"></div> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="198" scrolling="no" src="" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><em>Source:&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Emmanuel Saez</a> and Thomas Piketty (<a href="" target="_blank">Excel</a>)&nbsp; </em></p> <p><em>Illustrations and infographic design by </em>Mattias Mackler&acirc;&#128;&#139;</p></body></html> MoJo Charts Income Inequality Labor Top Stories Tue, 30 Sep 2014 10:15:08 +0000 Dave Gilson 261246 at Here's Why Obama Fumbled on the Economy Last Night <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_democrat_republican.jpg" style="margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Paul Waldman asks us to imagine what's going to happen the next time there's some kind of <a href="" target="_blank">Islam-inspired terror attack on American soil:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The news media would amp up the fear to levels we haven't seen in the last decade, encouraging everyone to look for sleeper cells lurking down at the Piggly Wiggly. Republicans would of course unite behind President Obama in our time of mourning&mdash;kidding! <strong>They'd go on TV to denounce him for being so weak that the evildoers struck us in our very heart, and proclaim not only that the blood of the victims is on the hands of every Democrat,</strong> but that more attacks are coming and we're more vulnerable than we've ever been. Dick Cheney would emerge snarling from his subterranean lair to warn us that this is only the beginning and we really need to start bombing at least five or six more countries. Senator Lindsey Graham, who has already said about ISIL that "this president needs to rise to the occasion before we all get killed back here at home," might just tear off his shirt and scream, "We're all gonna die! We're all gonna die!" right on Fox News Sunday.</p> </blockquote> <p>Now bear with me a for a moment. Here's a seemingly unrelated story about Sam Brownback's effort to spur economic growth in Kansas by <a href="" target="_blank">lowering taxes on the rich and cutting back on welfare:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>As he runs for reelection, Brownback is finding that what he once called a &ldquo;real live experiment&rdquo; in red-state governance is struggling to produce the benefits he had promised....In an interview on his way to Dodge City &mdash; where he would sign legislation creating a &ldquo;National Day of the Cowboy&rdquo; &mdash; Brownback said he regretted referring to his plans as an experiment. But he defended his tenure, <strong>saying it represented a Ronald Reagan-style approach to governance that eventually would rebuild Kansas&rsquo;s economy after a long slide.</strong></p> <p>&ldquo;I wish I could take that back, because I don&rsquo;t consider this an experiment,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;So many people on the left really want this to fail. . . . <strong>This is a long-term strategy to make us more competitive.</strong>&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>Democrats and Republicans are both good at some things and bad at others. One of the things that Republicans are good at is making&mdash;and repeating over and over and over&mdash;firm predictions about the outcomes of their policy preferences. If you fail to wage eternal war in the Middle East, there will be a terrorist attack in the United States. If you lower taxes, the economy will improve. Etc.</p> <p>These are easy things to understand for voters. And guess what? Eventually there <em>will</em> be a terrorist attack. Eventually the economy <em>will</em> improve. So when those things happen, Republicans have a nice, simple story already planted in the public mind that allows them to take credit or place blame for it.</p> <p>Democrats are not so good at this. President Obama fumbled last night on <em>60 Minutes</em> when he tried to take credit for the improved state of the economy compared to when he took office. Partly, of course, this is because the economy is only in so-so shape. But it's also because Democrats have no simple, pre-digested narrative. They never said&mdash;over and over and over&mdash;that if we passed a stimulus bill, the economy would improve. Or that if we rescued GM, the economy would improve. Or that if we raised taxes on the wealthy, the economy would improve. Instead, Democrats had sort of a dog's breakfast of policy choices that they endorsed, but never made into a centerpiece of a claim about economic recovery. So now, when the economy is recovering, nobody really gives them any credit.</p> <p>Now, this may be a more honest way of conducting our affairs. Most government policies really do have only a modest effect on economic growth. Likewise, most government policies have only a modest effect on the chances of someone eventually pulling off a terrorist attack. But honest or not, it means voters don't associate Democrats with much of anything. They don't give them credit for improving the economy, for example, or for preventing terrorist attacks. And honest or not, it's political malpractice.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Elections Mon, 29 Sep 2014 23:17:59 +0000 Kevin Drum 261256 at George Zimmerman's Family Describes Living in a Paranoid World of Color-Coded Threats <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>In an incredibly absorbing article in <em>GQ</em>, the family of George Zimmerman, the Florida man who was acquitted after <a href="" target="_blank">fatally shooting an unarmed black teenager,</a> discusses its attempts to "<a href="" target="_blank">rebrand"</a> while living in paralyzing fear.</p> <p>The Zimmermans' stories, which are both simultaneously tragic and bizarre, show a family eager to move on from the April 2012 "incident" in which George killed Trayvon Martin. They're also struggling with debt and paranoia:</p> <blockquote> <p class="rteindent1">They watched the movie <i>Argo</i> to learn how to live like CIA. Code names for everyone. No mail delivered to the house. No visitors. No talking to the few neighbors they had. No long phone conversations&mdash;keep it short and vague to outwit surveillance. Never discuss your whereabouts via phone or text. Keep a weapon close by at all times. Robert slept with his gun. Still does.</p> <p class="rteindent1">And in case someone&mdash;or multiple someones&mdash;decided to mount an attack on the house, the Zimmermans pre-packed their own "go-bags" filled with everything they would need to flee in a rush, as well as what they called "footballs"&mdash;like the one President Obama has with the nuclear codes&mdash;that contained laptops, cell phones, and other essential electronics.</p> <p class="rteindent1">They also memorized a color-coded threat-ID system. Code blue: Law enforcement at the door. Code brown: Draw your weapons. Code black: Come out guns blazing.</p> </blockquote> <p>The Zimmermans wonder if a reality show starring George or a sit-down with Fox's Sean Hannity will restore their name. In an upsetting and absurd twist, George's brother Robert, the family's <a href="" target="_blank">most vocal member</a>, describes hoping to cash-in on their newfound infamy with a show inspired by the Kardashians. He rationalizes: "Like, use the shit you've got."</p> <p>Read the full feature <a href="" target="_blank">here. </a></p></body></html> Mixed Media Guns Mon, 29 Sep 2014 21:05:09 +0000 Inae Oh 261211 at Report: Secret Service Lied About White House Fence Jumper <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Omar Gonzalez, the White House fence-jumper from earlier this month, apparently surprised the guard at the front door because <a href="" target="_blank">a nearby alarm box had been muted:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>After barrelling past the guard immediately inside the door, Gonzalez, who was carrying a knife, dashed past the stairway leading a half-flight up to the first family&rsquo;s living quarters. He then ran into the 80-foot-long East Room, an ornate space often used for receptions or presidential addresses.</p> <p>Gonzalez was tackled by a counter-assault agent at the far southern end of the East Room. The intruder reached the doorway to the Green Room, a parlor overlooking the South Lawn with artwork and antique furniture, according to three people familiar with the incident.</p> <p><strong>Secret Service officials had earlier said he was quickly detained at the main entry.</strong> Agency spokesman Edwin Donovan said the office is not commenting due to an ongoing investigation of the incident.</p> </blockquote> <p>So....they just lied?</p> <p>On a related note, I wonder who the whistleblowers are that have been feeding all this stuff to WaPo's Carol Leonnig? Not that it matters, I suppose, but I'm curious about whether it's folks who are appalled by the security lapses or folks who have some other kind of axe to grind.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Crime and Justice Obama Mon, 29 Sep 2014 20:41:51 +0000 Kevin Drum 261221 at Here's Yet Another Rage-Inducing Scam in the American Health Care System <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Here is your <a href="" target="_blank">statistic of the day:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The average salary of an emergency room physician was $311,000 in 2014, rising from $247,000 since 2010 &mdash; a period when many other types of doctors experienced declines in salaries, <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/images/Blog_Emergency.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">according to Merritt Hawkins, a physician staffing firm.</p> </blockquote> <p>Why is this? A shortage of ER physicians? More emergencies? Higher standards for ER work?</p> <p>Nope. Elisabeth Rosenthal's latest rage-inducing piece about America's health care system<sup>1</sup> suggests the reason is far more corrupt. Apparently one of the great trends in American health care<sup>2</sup> is to outsource ER staffing. This means that even if you're careful&mdash;possibly while in great pain or barely even coherent&mdash;to show up at an in-network ER covered by your insurance plan, there's a pretty good chance that the actual doctors who attend you <em>aren't</em> in your network. Naturally, this being American health care,<sup>3</sup> you have no choice in this matter even if you're savvy enough to know about the whole in-network and out-of-network distinction. And as we all know, out-of-network docs in the American health care system<sup>4</sup> are basically allowed to charge any prices they want. And they do.</p> <p>This is a great scam for everyone. Presumably hospitals save money because freelance ER docs cost them less. And the ER docs cost less because they know they'll be able to run the ol' out-of-network scam on lots of patients, thus raking in the bucks. It's a win-win.</p> <p>As a result, during a period of economic stagnation that produced zero wage growth for everyone else, ER docs are now making $64,000 more than they did four years ago. And they're doing this by preying on the most vulnerable, most easily scammable members of society: folks who are flat on their backs and almost by definition unable to understand what's going on around them. Not that it would matter if they did, of course. The law provides no recourse even if you don't like this system. That's the way things roll in the American health care system.<sup>5</sup></p> <p>If this kind of stuff doesn't make you pop a vein, I'm not sure what would. It's right on a par with the telemarketing ghouls who prey on senior citizens with dementia. Except that these guys wear white coats and are welcomed into all the best country clubs.</p> <p><sup>1</sup>Best in the World, Baby.&trade;</p> <p><sup>2</sup>Best in the World, Baby.&trade;</p> <p><sup>3</sup>Best in the World, Baby.&trade;</p> <p><sup>4</sup>Best in the World, Baby.&trade;</p> <p><sup>5</sup>Best in the World, Baby.&trade;</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Health Care Mon, 29 Sep 2014 17:03:17 +0000 Kevin Drum 261186 at Watch John Oliver Call Out America for Blindly Supporting Obama's Drone War <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>On the latest <a href="" target="_blank">"Last Week Tonight,"<strong> </strong></a>John Oliver looked into how Americans have come to widely accept President Obama's growing reliance on drone strikes, while knowing little to nothing about the administration's rules for using them.</p> <p>"Because our rules for drone strikes are a little like Harvey Keitel's balls: We've all seen them in 'The Piano,' 'Bad Lieutenant, or on SnapChat. And from, from a distance you think, 'Well, I understand the contours of those.' But if you were to really examine them, you'd discover that they're actually lost in a haze of fuzziness and grey areas. Much like the rules for our drone strikes."</p> <p>The comparison, which Oliver says has contributed to defining Obama's presidency as much as Obamacare and "receiving racist emails from distant relatives," perfectly illustrates just how little both the public and the administration knows exactly who and how many we're going about killing with such strikes ---&nbsp; strikes that have waged on despite the <a href="" target="_blank">continued lack of answers Obama </a>seems quite intent on never sufficiently explaining to us.</p> <p>"That is a little disturbing. Because the question 'how many people have you've killed in drone strikes' is not one of those questions where it's okay to say you don't know. It's not like asking someone 'who was the voice of Disney's Aladdin' or 'what are Skittles are made from.' It's different&hellip;And the crazy thing is it's literally always been like this."</p> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> Mixed Media Foreign Policy Military Obama Mon, 29 Sep 2014 16:22:34 +0000 Inae Oh 261171 at Republicans Once Again Favored to Take Control of the Senate <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Remember my post a couple of weeks ago saying that Republicans were no longer favored to take control of the Senate? Well, recent polls have not been kind to the Ds, and now everyone&mdash;<a href="" target="_blank">including Sam Wang</a>&mdash;agrees that Republicans are once again favored. Here's the <a href="" target="_blank">Vox aggregation of aggregators:</a></p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_vox_senate_average_2014_09_29.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 5px 24px;"></p> <p>You may now either celebrate or else sharpen up your seppuku knives, depending on your partisan leanings. But keep one thing in mind: two weeks ago, only one pollster out of six thought Republicans were favored. Today six out of six think Republicans are favored. Things can change mighty fast, and there's still more than a month to go before Election Day. Your guess is as good as mine whether Joni Ernst can go five consecutive weeks without letting the crazy show.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Elections Mon, 29 Sep 2014 16:00:17 +0000 Kevin Drum 261181 at Obama Needs to Learn How to Admit Error on National TV <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>So President Obama was on <em>60 Minutes</em> last night. Steve Kroft asked about the <a href="" target="_blank">meteoric rise of ISIS in northern Iraq:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Steve Kroft: How did they end up where they are in control of so much territory? Was that a complete surprise to you?</p> <p>President Obama: Well I think, our head of the intelligence community, Jim Clapper, has acknowledged that I think they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria.</p> </blockquote> <p>I can't find a full transcript to verify that this was the complete context surrounding Obama's remark, but I wonder what possesses him to do stuff like this? It's Management 101 that you don't throw folks under the bus (on national TV!) unless you have pretty convincing reasons for doing so. I mean, all he had to do was say that "<em>we</em> underestimated" what was happening in Syria.</p> <p>This is really tone deaf. Even if the whole debacle really was Clapper's fault, it would still sound terrible to say so. Was this just a real-time flub? Or, after six years, does Obama still not understand how petty it sounds to try to deflect blame this way?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Iraq Obama Mon, 29 Sep 2014 15:10:05 +0000 Kevin Drum 261176 at Bluesman Gary Clark Jr. Is the Guitar Hero for Our Time <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><strong>Gary Clark Jr.<br><em>Live</em><br> Warner Bros.</strong></p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="Gary Clark Jr Live" class="image" src="/files/GCJlive.jpg" style="height: 250px; width: 250px;"></div> <p>A guitar hero for the modern era, Gary Clark Jr. plays bluesy rock with a blistering urgency that makes the hoariest conventions feel brand new. For all his flashy expertise, the muscular solos and buzzing riffs never feel gratuitous, while Clark's terse, tough singing nicely complements his fretwork. This 15-track, 97-minute feast is the perfect showcase for his brilliance, mixing versions of standards like "Three O&rsquo;Clock Blues" (popularized by B.B. King) and "Catfish Blues" (also covered by Jimi Hendrix) with pungent originals, from sleek boogie ("Travis County") to tender soul ("Please Come Home"), with lots of fireworks in between. While it's tempting to view him as the next coming of Hendrix, especially in light of his take on Jimi's "Third Stone from the Sun," Clark is closer in spirit to Stevie Ray Vaughan: less an exotic, godlike genius than a gifted guardian of tradition who never fails to thrill.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Music Mon, 29 Sep 2014 10:00:07 +0000 Jon Young 260986 at Here Is A Video Of Sarah Palin Petting An Alligator <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Sarah Palin went down to Louisiana Saturday to help raise money for Republican US Senate candidate Rob Maness. Maness&mdash;who is challenging incumbent Democrat Mary Landrieu&mdash;and Palin served alligator dishes to around 100 attendees, according to local CBS affiliate <a href="" target="_blank">WWL</a>.</p> <p>Here is a video of Palin petting an alligator.</p> <object classid="clsid:D27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000" codebase=",0,47,0" height="354" id="flashObj" width="630"><param name="movie" value=";isUI=1"><param name="bgcolor" value="#FFFFFF"><param name="flashVars" value="videoId=3810532667001&amp;playerID=3657417263001&amp;playerKey=AQ~~,AAADUxzzJlE~,lB8QKvDWhcINePp71o_hIbh0XL-3yypK&amp;domain=embed&amp;dynamicStreaming=true"><param name="base" value=""><param name="seamlesstabbing" value="false"><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"><param name="swLiveConnect" value="true"><param name="allowScriptAccess" value="always"><embed allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always" base="" bgcolor="#FFFFFF" flashvars="videoId=3810532667001&amp;playerID=3657417263001&amp;playerKey=AQ~~,AAADUxzzJlE~,lB8QKvDWhcINePp71o_hIbh0XL-3yypK&amp;domain=embed&amp;dynamicStreaming=true" height="354" name="flashObj" pluginspage="" seamlesstabbing="false" src=";isUI=1" swliveconnect="true" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="630"></embed></object> <p>At press time it was not clear if the alligator she was petting was also the alligator she later served as a meal. We're guessing it wasn't.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> Mixed Media Animals Elections Sun, 28 Sep 2014 17:52:00 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 261161 at Obama Threatened Far More Often Than Any Previous President <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Carol Leonnig has a piece in the <em>Washington Post</em> today about a botched Secret Service response to a <a href="" target="_blank">2011 shooting at the White House:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The suspect was able to park his car on a public street, take several shots and then speed off without being detected. It was sheer luck that the shooter was identified, the result of Ortega, a troubled and jobless 21-year-old, wrecking his car seven blocks away and leaving his gun inside.</p> <p>The response infuriated the president and the first lady, according to people with direct knowledge of their reaction. Michelle Obama has spoken publicly about fearing for her family&rsquo;s safety since her husband became the nation&rsquo;s first black president.</p> <p>Her concerns are well founded &mdash; <strong>President Obama has faced three times as many threats as his predecessors,</strong> according to people briefed on the Secret Service&rsquo;s threat assessment.</p> </blockquote> <p>Gee, I wonder why?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Obama Sun, 28 Sep 2014 00:35:40 +0000 Kevin Drum 261156 at How To Throw Shade <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Last night, <a href="" target="_blank">PBS aired "America After Ferguson</a>," a town hall about race in America. A lot of really interesting and intelligent things were said! You should watch the whole thing. In addition to the really interesting and intelligent things that were said, there were also very stupid and offensive things said. Dearly oppressed white conservative dumb dumb columnist for the <em>American Spectator</em> Ross Kaminsky's<em> c</em>ontributions to the evening could probably best be classified more the latter than the former.</p> <p>Look, I am not going to address this dude's points in any serious way. (You can watch them for yourself if you're into that sort of thing beginning around minute 14 above.) It was all very much "blah blah reverse racism blah blah white people are the real victims blah blah."&nbsp; And here's the thing: This is America. You can believe whatever stupid nonsense you want. It is quite literally the reason the pilgrims crossed the ocean. So, you do you, Ross Kaminsky. But know that whenever you spout off this insidious white man's burden bullshit, the rest of us are going to be throwing you the type of shade this amazing kid threw your way all night long.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"> <p>This child's reaction to this guy claiming reverse racism at <a href="">#AfterFerguson</a> is everything. <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Bendito (@SoBendito) <a href="">September 27, 2014</a></blockquote> <p>Have a nice weekend.</p> <p><em>(h/t to my friend <a href="" target="_blank">@sobendito</a>)</em></p></body></html> Contributor Sat, 27 Sep 2014 14:59:43 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 261151 at This Is the Cutest Video I've Ever Seen In My Entire Life <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Via <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Gawker</em></a>, this video of some kids arguing about the weather is so adorable.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Look, I know this isn't hard-hitting journalism or anything but it's been a bit of a week so feel free to give this a watch and have a nice little Saturday morning cry.</p></body></html> Contributor Sat, 27 Sep 2014 13:17:30 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 261146 at Butterball Goes 'Humane' for Thanksgiving. Really? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>It's becoming a Thanksgiving tradition as hoary as NFL football or the bloviations of your drunken uncle: days before the national feast, an animal-welfare group releases an undercover video documenting vile conditions within industrial-scale turkey facilities (see <a href="">2013</a>, <a href="">2012</a>, <a href="">2008</a>).</p> <p>This year, the largest turkey producer of all, Butterball&mdash;which churns out a <a href="">billion pounds of turkey meat</a> annually, a <a href="">fifth of US production</a>&mdash;has made a bold move to get ahead of these appetite-snuffing PR debacles. By fall 2014, presumably in time for Thanksgiving, all of its products will bear the American Humane Certified label, the company <a href="">announced</a> Tuesday.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/tom-philpott/2014/09/butterball-goes-humane-thanksgiving-really"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Tom Philpott Film and TV Sat, 27 Sep 2014 10:00:10 +0000 Tom Philpott 261131 at A Very Special Friday Cat Blogging - 26 September 2014 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>So. Marian and I paid a visit to our local shelter on Monday. We figured on adopting an adult cat. Maybe a calico, if one was available. So naturally we walked out with two kittens, one gray and white and the other black and white. They're brother and sister, 10 months old. For the moment, their code names are Miss Flopsy (on the left) and Mr. Mopsy (on the right). Soon they'll get permanent names, but we haven't decided yet what they'll be. Vickie and Bertie? Luke and Leia? Frankie and Ellie?</p> <p>In any case, life is more exciting around here these days. There is much chasing and pouncing. So far they've both fallen off just about everything that's possible to fall off. My bookcases are a shambles. And eight hours of sleep at night is not really on the agenda.</p> <p>But I know you all want to reward me for this act of catblogging heroism, don't you? And you can! If you haven't done it already, how about contributing a few bucks to the MoJo investigative fund? Please think of the kittens, won't you?</p> <p>It only takes a minute to make your tax-deductible contribution, and you can give using your smartphone, tablet, or computer.</p> <ul><li>To donate via credit card, <a href=";list_source=7Z94DRU&amp;extra_don=1" target="_blank">click here.</a></li> <li>To donate via PayPal, <a href=";hosted_button_id=LDTEDETCLTJSY" target="_blank">click here.</a></li> </ul><p>Flopsy and Mopsy thank you!</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_flopsy_mopsy_2014_09_26.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 0px 0px;"></p> <p><img align="left" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_flopsy_2014_09_26.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 5px 4px 5px 0px;"><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_mopsy_2014_09_26.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 5px 0px 5px 4px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 26 Sep 2014 18:35:05 +0000 Kevin Drum 261106 at Chart of the Day: The Death of Print <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Here's a <a href="" target="_blank">BLS chart</a> that shows how much we spend on reading-related materials. But what does it mean? It's true that young folks spend less on reading material than anyone else, but that's mostly because of their complete non-interest in dead-tree magazines and newspapers. Also, presumably, because young folks spend less on <em>everything</em> than prosperous older folks.</p> <p>But if you add up the books + e-readers category, young folks are spending nearly as much as anyone else. It's just not clear <em>what</em> they're reading. E-books? Longform articles? Blogs? TMZ? Hard to say. Then again, it's not clear what the older folks are reading either. It may be on paper, but it's probably not Shakespeare for the most part.</p> <p>In any case, this shows fairly dramatically that print is dying. As we all know by now, young folks mostly prefer digital. And so do plenty of non-young folks like me. I occasionally have to read a print book, but I'm annoyed whenever it happens.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_expenditures_books.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 50px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Media Tech Fri, 26 Sep 2014 17:29:05 +0000 Kevin Drum 261126 at Republicans Already Planning Big Fight Over Nominee They Don't Even Know Yet <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Attorney General Eric Holder announced his resignation yesterday. The tea party show horses are <a href="" target="_blank">already in full war cry mode:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) issued a political call to arms for conservatives, saying that outgoing senators should not vote on the nominee during the post-election lame-duck session. &ldquo;Allowing Democratic senators, many of whom will likely have just been defeated at the polls, to confirm Holder&rsquo;s successor would be an abuse of power that should not be countenanced,&rdquo; Cruz said in a statement.</p> </blockquote> <p>This is pretty plainly part of Cruz's ongoing effort to be king of the tea party wing of the GOP, since it obviously makes no sense otherwise. Unless Cruz is suggesting that they should be banned completely, then <em>of course</em> business should be conducted during lame duck sessions. What else is Congress supposed to do during those few weeks?</p> <p>In any case, since Congress has no intention of doing anything worthwhile for the next two years, this means they'll have plenty of free time for dumb fights that allow them to one-up each other for the tea party vote. The rules of the contest are simple: the dumber and more outrageous your rhetorical firebombs aimed at President Obama, the better you do. It's sort of like a video game for cretins. I'm sure it's going to be a barrel of fun.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Congress Fri, 26 Sep 2014 14:32:16 +0000 Kevin Drum 261116 at Chart: You're Working More But Earning Less <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/survival630x120.jpg"></div> <p>We'll be posting a new chart on the current state of income inequality every day for the next couple of weeks. <a href="" target="_blank">Yesterday's chart</a> looked at the history of the 1 percent, from ancient Rome to today.</p> <p>Today, another look at how middle-class incomes have been stuck in neutral while the rest of the economy has grown. In 2012, the median household income (adjusted for inflation) was the same as it was in 1996.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Income_workmoreearnless.jpg"></div> <iframe frameborder="0" height="198" scrolling="no" width="630" src=""></iframe> <p><em>Sources: Household income: <a href="" target="_blank">US Census</a>; economic growth: <a href="" target="_blank">St. Louis Fed</a>; 1 percent: <a href="" target="_blank">Emmanuel Saez</a> and Thomas Piketty (<a href="" target="_blank">Excel</a>); corporate profits: <a href="" target="_blank">St. Louis </a>Fed&nbsp; </em></p> <p><em>Illustrations and infographic design by </em>Mattias Mackler&acirc;&#128;&#139;</p></body></html> MoJo Charts Economy Income Inequality Top Stories Fri, 26 Sep 2014 10:00:08 +0000 Dave Gilson 260661 at South Carolina Cop Unloads on Unarmed Driver Reaching for His License <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><iframe align="right" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="258" src="" style="margin: 8px 20px 15px 30px;" width="400"></iframe>This video of a traffic stop in South Carolina earlier this month <a href=";rh=1" target="_blank">was published yesterday,</a> and it's been making the rounds today. You really need to watch it to get a sense for just how appalling it is, but in a nutshell, here's what happened. At about the 00:35 mark, a police officer stops a black guy at a gas station for a seat belt violation. Guy gets out of his car. Cop asks for his license. Guy reaches into his car to get it, and the cop instantly starts screaming at him and unloads several shots at point blank range.</p> <p>Luckily, this cop was apparently a lousy shot, and the motorist is recuperating. But the most heartrending part of the whole thing is how apologetic the motorist was <em>after getting shot for no reason</em>. "I just got my license," he pleads. "I've got my license right here." Then: "What did I do, sir? Why did you shoot me?"</p> <p>"You dove headfirst back into your car," the cop says. "I'm sorry," he apologizes abjectly. "I'm sorry."</p> <p>Thank God this police car had a dash camera. If not for that, probably no one would have believed the motorist's story. As it is, Julian Sanchez says this video might finally be having <a href="" target="_blank">a real effect on people:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Seeing an unexpected number of comments on conservative boards to the effect of: "Holy shit, I'm white and this would never happen to me."....My anecdotal gestalt impression is this SC shooting is actually a Road to Damascus moment for a nontrivial number of conservatives.</p> </blockquote> <p>We can hope so. If neither Ferguson nor the Ohio Walmart shooting did it, maybe this finally will.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Civil Liberties Crime and Justice Fri, 26 Sep 2014 01:01:46 +0000 Kevin Drum 261096 at Sam Brownback's Administration Is Auctioning Off Some Incredibly NSFW Sex Toys <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback drove his state into the gutter with a string of income tax cuts that were among the largest in history. As I explained in my <a href="" target="_blank">story on Brownback's struggling campaign</a>, many typical Republican voters turned against the governor after it became clear that his trickle-down promises of wild economic growth looked a lot more like a sop to the state's richest denizens, such as Charles Koch.</p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><a href=""><img alt="Sam Brownback" class="image" src="/files/Brownback_inline.jpg"></a> <div class="caption"><strong>Read more about how <a href="" target="_blank">Sam Brownback's red-state experiment could turn Kansas purple.</a> </strong></div> </div> <p>State revenues have regularly come in below projections this year. The state legislature's nonpartisan numbers crunchers expect a <a href="" target="_blank">$238 million budget deficit</a> by summer 2016, and things will only grow worse as further tax cuts go into effect. How is the state going to make up the difference? Perhaps by getting into the sex toy business. <a href="" target="_blank">From the <em>Topeka Capital-Journal</em></a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>Kansas state government is on the verge of a financial windfall with the auctioning of thousands of sex toys seized by the revenue department for nonpayment of income, withholding and sales taxes, an official said Wednesday.</p> <p>Online shoppers for adult DVDs, novelty items, clothing and other products can participate in a bonanza shopping experience resulting from the four-county raid on a Kansas company known as United Outlets LLC.</p> <p>Owner Larry Minkoff, who was doing business under the Bang label, apparently resisted requests from the Kansas Department of Revenue for payment of $163,986 in state taxes.</p> <p>...</p> <p>The online site lists about 400 lots &mdash; individual lots can contain dozens of items &mdash; that include the Pipedream Fantasy Love Swing, books, hundreds of DVDs, sex and drinking games, a wide assortment of sexually oriented equipment, carrying cases for devices, the Glass Pleasure Wand, bundles of lingerie and the Cyberskin Foot Stroker.</p> </blockquote> <p>Kansas officials explained to the <em>Capital-Journal</em> that this is the standard operating procedure when businesses can't pay off their tax debts, though the list of available wares is a bit more colorful than usual.</p> <p>The full online auction is <a href="" target="_blank">available here</a>, (that link takes you to the entry landing page, but should you venture past that it becomes quite NSFW).</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="Online Auction" class="image" src="/files/Screen%20Shot%202014-09-25%20at%205.00.57%20PM.png"><div class="caption"><strong>The "Booty Parlor Good Girl Bad Girl Wrist Cuffs," one of the few SFW images we could find in the auction </strong><a href="" target="_blank">Equip-Bid</a></div> </div> <p>The timing isn't ideal for Brownback, though, as he's been busy trying to capitalize on a racey scandal involving his Democratic opponent. Last week the <em>Coffeyville Journal</em>, a small-town, twice-weekly paper that lacks a website, <a href="" target="_blank">revealed</a> that in 1998, Brownback challenger Paul Davis had been at a strip club when the cops showed up in a drug raid. Davis, 26 at the time, counted the club owner among his firm's legal clients, though at the time cops busted down the door he was receiving a lap dance from a topless dancer.</p> <p>Davis wasn't charged or implicated in the drug dealings, but Brownback's camp has been using the incident to smear the Democrat as out of step with heartland values. Now that the Brownback administration has gotten into the sex toys business, that could be a tougher sell.</p></body></html> MoJo Elections Sex and Gender Thu, 25 Sep 2014 21:16:30 +0000 Patrick Caldwell 261051 at Elizabeth Warren: Democratic Women Need a Seat at the Governing Table <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Ahead of the upcoming midterm elections, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) issued a <a href="" target="_blank">rallying call this week reminding progressives</a> to back Democratic women.</p> <p><span>&ldquo;If you don&rsquo;t have a seat at the table, you&rsquo;re probably on the menu," Warren told the largely female audience at an event on Monday for Emily's List, a group supporting pro-choice candidates nationally. "Washington works for those who have power. And no one gives up power easily, no one&hellip;Nobody&rsquo;s just going to say &lsquo;women have arrived and let&rsquo;s just move over'&hellip;We have a chance but we have to fight for it.&rdquo;</span></p> <p>Warren went onto urge donors to specifically vote for candidates in tough reelection campaigns, including Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Kay Hagan (D-N.C). Their opponents are former senator Scott Brown and GOP candidate Thom Tillis, respectively.</p> <p>While Brown famously posed nude in <em>Cosmopolitan</em> many moons ago, he failed to receive the <a href="" target="_blank">magazine's endorsement</a> due to what editors deemed were murky views on female reproductive rights. Tillis has his own fair share of unclear, <a href="" target="_blank">unpopular stances on abortion rights. </a></p> <p>Warren's push this week is part of an overall strategy in her recent efforts to mobilize enough support to maintain Democratic control of the Senate this fall -- an outcome that appears increasingly unlikely, according to <a href="" target="_blank">polling data. </a></p> <p>Unsurprisingly, Warren left no hints on Monday as to whether <a href="" target="_blank">she herself would run in 2016.</a> Her speech follows praise from former president Bill Clinton, in which he said the overwhelmingly popular Massachusetts senator would play an <a href="" target="_blank">"important part" </a>of the Democratic future.</p></body></html> MoJo Elections Thu, 25 Sep 2014 19:25:28 +0000 Inae Oh 261036 at The Wild West Days of Pharmaceutical Sales Are Coming To an End <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Pharmaceutical sales reps used to spend all their time inviting doctors to Hawaii for "conferences" and giving out lots of free samples. But the times, <a href="" target="_blank">they are a changing:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Kendall French used to pitch drugs to doctors who could prescribe them.</p> <p>But many of those doctors now work for hospitals that don't give them final say over what is on the menu of medicines they can pick. So when the GlaxoSmithKline PLC saleswoman began plugging two new lung-disease drugs to a big San Diego hospital system this spring, it was to an administrator who doesn't see patients but helps write the menu, also called a "formulary," of approved medications.</p> <p>....Ms. French's sales calls are part of a shift that is rewriting the drug-marketing playbook. As hospital systems get bigger, they are putting distance between their doctors and drug sellers, making it harder for pharmaceutical companies to get quick acceptance of newly approved medicines and putting pressure on profits.</p> <p><strong>Today, 42% of doctors practice as salaried employees of hospital systems, up from 24% in 2004,</strong> according to Cegedim Relationship Management, a marketing consultant.</p> </blockquote> <p>This is yet another example of how the health care market should be viewed as a <a href="" target="_blank">competition between buyers and sellers.</a> In some cases, this means that a region with a small number of powerful insurers might have lower overall costs because the insurers (buyers) have a lot of bargaining power with doctors and hospitals (sellers). In the case above, it means that hospital consolidation can reduce costs because it gives hospitals (buyers) a lot of leverage with pharmaceutical companies (sellers).</p> <p>In other words, it's complicated. Hospitals are responsible for some of the most egregious billing practices in the entire health care industry, but at the same time, they can also be responsible for helping to contain costs. This is because powerful hospitals are both sellers (when they're dealing with insurance companies) and buyers (when they're dealing with pharmaceutical companies). Sometimes they're the good guys and sometimes they're the bad guys. It might not be the greatest way of running a health care system, but it's what we've got.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Health Care Thu, 25 Sep 2014 18:55:25 +0000 Kevin Drum 261061 at If It Weren’t For the Dashcam, Would This White Cop Be Punished for Shooting An Unarmed Black Man? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="473" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>A white South Carolina state trooper is facing up to 20 years in prison after shooting an unarmed black man who was <a href="" target="_blank">attempting to grab his driver's license</a> during a simple seatbelt check.</p> <p>The disturbing incident occurred on September 4 and was caught on video thanks to a dashcam attached to officer Sean Groubert's vehicle.</p> <p>In the graphic video, Groubert is seen approaching Levar Jones at a local gas station, where he asks Jones to retrieve his driver's license.</p> <p>Jones reaches into the car and Groubert suddenly opens fire, shooting him not once, but four times, as Jones puts his hands in the air and falls to the pavement.</p> <p>"Get on the ground! Get on the ground!"</p> <p>"I was doing what you told me to do," Jones can be heard saying. "I was getting my license!'</p> <p>Jones survived with <a href="" target="_blank">wounds to the hip.</a> Groubert was arrested Wednesday and charged with aggravated assault.</p> <p>The latest shooting, which follows mounting evidence police officers shoot black people at a <a href="" target="_blank">higher rate than white people,</a> comes as police departments around the country face increased pressure to outfit officers with recording technology such as <a href="" target="_blank">dashcams and bodycams</a>.</p> <p>According to the <a href="" target="_blank">Bureau of Justice Statistics</a>, at least 60 percent of local police departments use dashcams. This latest incident will surely add to those calls for accountability. As Josh Marshall at <a href="" target="_blank"><em>TPM</em> asks</a>, "Would Groubert have lost his badge and be facing charges had there not been a dashcam video revealing the reality of what happened?" A justified question, considering law enforcement officials are <a href="" target="_blank">rarely sentenced</a> or convicted in such shootings.&nbsp;</p> <p><em><strong><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="450" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="//" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="100%"></iframe>For a more detailed look into racially motivated shootings by police, <a href="" target="_blank">click here. </a></strong></em></p></body></html> Mixed Media Video Civil Liberties Guns Race and Ethnicity Thu, 25 Sep 2014 16:35:02 +0000 Inae Oh 261016 at Republicans Still Having a Hard Time Believing In Racism <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The chart below, <a href="" target="_blank">from a recent PRRI survey,</a> has gotten a fair amount of attention on the intertubes over the past couple of days:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_prri_blacks_criminal_justice.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 15px 35px;"></p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Adam Serwer</a> thinks the change between 2013 and 2014 is due to backlash from the Ferguson shooting, but I suspect that's only part of the story. The poll was done over the course of four weeks, and only the final week overlapped with the shooting of Michael Brown and its aftermath. Those folks in the final week would have had to change their opinions massively to produce the 5-10 point difference we see in the survey population as a whole.</p> <p>So there's probably more to it, and that's a good thing. It suggests the shift in opinion might be more durable than one motivated by a single incident.</p> <p>But I want to play partisan hack today and just focus on the far left bar, which shows that Republicans are far less likely than Democrats to think that blacks don't get a fair shake from the criminal justice system. At first glance, you might figure that's just demographics at work. Republicans are heavily white and old, and those two groups are the ones least likely to think blacks are treated unfairly.</p> <p>But take another look. The mere fact of being Republican makes you <em>less</em> likely than even whites and seniors to believe blacks don't get fair treatment. Why? Call it the Fox News effect. If you're exposed day after day to Fox and Drudge and Limbaugh, it means you're being overwhelmed with the message that blacks are dangerous, blacks are thuggish, and blacks are forever whining about wanting special treatment. This message is so overwhelming that even after Ferguson, Republicans are far less likely than any other group to acknowledge the simple fact that blacks might occasionally get treated a little roughly by cops and DAs.</p> <p>That's changed by ten points in the past year, so maybe there's hope. Perhaps Fox and the others have toned down their obsession with racial hot buttons over the past year. Perhaps.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Civil Liberties Crime and Justice Race and Ethnicity Thu, 25 Sep 2014 16:15:01 +0000 Kevin Drum 261031 at Report: Eric Holder Plans To Step Down As Attorney General <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Eric Holder is planning&nbsp;to announce this afternoon that he will step down as attorney general as soon as a replacement can be confirmed, according to a <a href="" target="_blank">report from <em>NPR</em></a>. Holder has led the Justice Department since February of 2009.</p> <blockquote> <p>Two sources familiar with the decision tell NPR that Holder, 63, intends to leave the Justice Department as soon as his successor is confirmed, a process that could run through 2014 and even into next year. A former U.S. government official says Holder has been increasingly "adamant" about his desire to leave soon for fear he otherwise could be locked in to stay for much of the rest of President Obama's second term.</p> <p>Holder already is one of the longest serving members of the Obama cabinet and ranks as the fourth longest tenured AG in history. Hundreds of employees waited in lines, stacked three rows deep, for his return in early February 2009 to the Justice Department, where he previously worked as a young corruption prosecutor and as deputy attorney general &mdash; the second in command &mdash; during the Clinton administration.</p> </blockquote> <p>Holder's tenure has been rocky from the start and over the years calls have come for <a href="" target="_blank">his resignation</a> from the <a href="" target="_blank">right</a>, the <a href="" target="_blank">left</a>, the <a href="" target="_blank">right</a>, and, well, the <a href="" target="_blank">left</a> again. Holder's resignation does not come as surprise.&nbsp;Indeed, he&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">told <em>the New Yorker's</em> Jeffrey Tobin</a> in February that he planned on stepping down sometime this year.</p></body></html> MoJo Thu, 25 Sep 2014 15:24:57 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 261021 at