Blogs | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en Bobby Jindal Lashes Out at Father of Oregon Shooter: "He's the Problem Here" <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>If, after last week's shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, you held the gunman responsible, Bobby Jindal&nbsp;thinks you've missed the mark.</p> <p>On Tuesday afternoon, Gov. Jindal&nbsp;published a self-described "<a href="" target="_blank">sermon</a>"&nbsp;on his campaign website, addressing what he believes are the root causes of mass shootings. These&nbsp;causes include, but are not limited to, "cultural decay," violent video games, absent fathers, and the general devaluing of human life.</p> <p>"It's the old computer axiom&mdash;garbage in, garbage out," Jindal <a href="" target="_blank">wrote</a>. "We fill our culture with garbage, and we reap the result."</p> <p>Jindal also lashed out at the shooter's father, who <a href="" target="_blank">has called for</a> gun control in the wake of his son's rampage. "He's a complete failure as a father, he should be embarrassed to even show his face in public," Jindal wrote. "He's the problem here.</p> <p>Jindal's&nbsp;response to this instance of gun violence is similar to his reaction to a&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">shooting</a> at a movie theater in Lafayette, Louisiana, in which three people (including the gunman) were killed. Shortly after that happened, Jindal offered condolences to the families, resisted discussing gun control reform in lieu of praying for the victims' families, and even <a href="" target="_blank">criticized</a> President Barack Obama for "trying to score cheap political points." However, after the shooting at an army recruiting station in Chattanooga, Tennessee, just days later, the Louisiana governor reacted <a href="" target="_blank">quite differently</a>. Jindal&nbsp;was quick to politicize the issue by pinning&nbsp;the shooting on radical Islamic terrorism, a problem that he alleges the White House has largely ignored.</p> <p>"This shooting underscores the grave reality of the threat posed to us by Radical Islamic terrorism every single day," Jindal <a href="" target="_blank">said</a> in an official statement after the Chattanooga shooting. "It's time for the White House to wake up and tell the truth...and that truth is that Radical Islam is at war with us, and we must start by being honest about that."</p> <p>In the spirit of honesty, it <a href="" target="_blank">should also be noted</a> that Jindal's own state has the second-highest rate of deaths by firearm per 100,000 people, second only to Alaska.</p></body></html> MoJo 2016 Elections Elections Guns Tue, 06 Oct 2015 21:58:56 +0000 Miles E. Johnson 286291 at Perhaps We Should Retire the Idea That Joe Biden Is "Authentic" <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Back in August, Maureen Dowd wrote several hundred words about what a horrible person Hillary Clinton is. No surprise there. She could pretty easily write a million if the <em>Times</em> gave her the space. But then, having obsessed over Hillary's sinister <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_joe_biden.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">psyche for the thousandth time, she turned to the possibility of white knights jumping into the presidential race to save us all. In particular, there was Joe Biden, who was now reconsidering a run <a href="" target="_blank">after the death of his son Beau:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>When Beau realized he was not going to make it, he asked his father if he had a minute to sit down and talk....&ldquo;Dad, I know you don&rsquo;t give a damn about money,&rdquo; Beau told him, dismissing the idea that his father would take some sort of cushy job after the vice presidency to cash in.</p> <p>Beau was losing his nouns and the right side of his face was partially paralyzed. But he had a mission: He tried to make his father promise to run, <strong>arguing that the White House should not revert to the Clintons and that the country would be better off with Biden values.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>It's a touching scene, but also an odd one: Dowd didn't attribute it to anyone. Not even "a friend" or "someone with knowledge of the situation." In <em>Politico</em> today, Edward-Isaac Dovere says <a href="" target="_blank">there's a reason for that:</a></p> <blockquote> <p><strong>According to multiple sources, it was Biden himself who talked to her</strong>....It was no coincidence that the preliminary pieces around a prospective campaign started moving right after that column. People read Dowd and started reaching out, those around the vice president would say by way of defensive explanation. He was just answering the phone and listening. <strong>But in truth, Biden had effectively placed an ad in <em>The New York Times</em>, asking them to call.</strong></p> <p>....&ldquo;Calculation sort of sounds crass, but I guess that&rsquo;s what it is,&rdquo; said one person who&rsquo;s recently spoken to Biden about the prospect of running.</p> <p>....At the end of August, while friends were still worrying aloud that he was in the worst mental state possible to be making this decision, <strong>he invited Elizabeth Warren for an unannounced Saturday lunch</strong> at the Naval Observatory. According to sources connected with Warren, he raised Clinton&rsquo;s scheduled appearance at the House Benghazi Committee hearing at the end of October, <strong>even hinting that there might be a running-mate opening for the Massachusetts senator.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Needless to say, I don't have any independent knowledge of whether Dovere is right about this. But it sure sounds plausible, and it's a good illustration of why you should take claims of "authenticity" with a big shaker of salt. Biden is an outgoing guy and gets along well with the press. But that just means he's an outgoing guy who gets along well with the press. Authenticity has nothing to do with it.</p> <p>It's one thing for people close to a candidate to leak information that makes their man look good&mdash;that's so common I'm not sure it even has a name&mdash;but for the candidate himself to use <em>his son's death</em> as a way of worming his way into a weekly column written by a woman who detests Hillary Clinton more fanatically than anyone this side of Ken Starr? I'm not quite sure what to call that, but authentic isn't it.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 06 Oct 2015 21:20:25 +0000 Kevin Drum 286296 at Dear Nevada, #&$% You. Sincerely, San Francisco. <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><a href="" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/HOMELESS_A_300_0.jpg"></a> <div class="caption"><a href="" target="_blank"><strong>The Shockingly Effective, Surprisingly Cheap Way to End Homelessness </strong></a></div> </div> <p>For years, the Las Vegas Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital, Nevada's primary state mental facility, gave discharged patients a bus ticket out of town. Poor and mentally ill, they ended up homeless in cities around the country&mdash;especially in California, where more than 500 psychiatric patients were sent over a five year period.</p> <p>Twenty-four of these patients landed in San Francisco, costing the city hundreds of thousands<strong> </strong>of dollars in medical care, housing, and services. Now Nevada has agreed to cover the costs&mdash;or most of them at least. On Monday <a href="" target="_blank">a tentative settlement was reached</a> and the state agreed to pay $400,000, just short of the $500,000 San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera sued for back in 2013. The settlement is expected to be approved by San Francisco's Board of Supervisors and Nevada's Board of Examiners later this month.</p> <p>The class action lawsuit filed by Herrera followed an investigation by the <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Sacramento Bee</em>,</a> which revealed that 1,500 Nevada homeless patients had been given bus tickets, and were advised to seek medical care elsewhere. A third were sent to California, landing in major cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco, which are already <a href="" target="_blank">struggling to house</a> a growing number homeless people.</p> <p>Chronically homeless people&mdash;especially those with mental illnesses&mdash;can cost millions. As we <a href="" target="_blank">reported earlier this year</a> the county of Santa Clara spent $520 million a year, mostly on the hospital stays and the cost of jailing the persistently homeless&mdash;a mere 2,800 people.</p> <p>Still, Nevada health officials tried for two years to get out of paying San Francisco. They argued that what happened in Nevada is similar to San Francisco's "Homeward Bound" program, which relocates homeless people to live with family or friends in other cities.</p> <p>But now, according <a href="" target="_blank"><em>The San Francisco Chronicle</em></a><em> </em>Nevada has decided to end the fight. After&nbsp;Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital lost its accreditation in 2013, Nevada invested $30 million to reform its system of care. Homeless patients are no longer bused to other areas and state officials want to move forward. The facility regained its accreditation this year.</p> <div style="width: 1px; height: 1px; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font: 10pt sans-serif; text-align: left; text-transform: none; overflow: hidden;"><br> Read more here:</div> <p>"The settlement will bring an amicable resolution to this matter," Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval said in a statement. "The settlement will also validate the patient management best practices and procedures which Nevada has had in place for two years."</p></body></html> MoJo Income Inequality Top Stories Tue, 06 Oct 2015 21:18:52 +0000 Gabrielle Canon 286241 at Silicon Valley Is Even Whiter Than You Thought <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The funders behind Silicon Valley's hottest companies tend to look a lot like the people they invest in: white and male.</p> <p>Of the 551 senior venture capitalists<a href="#correction">*</a> <a href="" target="_blank">examined</a> in a new three-month study by the tech news site the <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Information</em></a> and the VC firm SocialCapital, less than 1 percent (precisely four executives) were black, and another 1.3 percent were Hispanic. Twenty percent, or 110 people, were Asian.</p> <p>While there has been considerable focus on the diversity figures of major companies such as <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">Twitter</a> recently, little attention has been paid to the racial and gender makeup of the decision-makers who invest millions of dollars in tech startups, hoping they succeed.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%">&nbsp; <div class="caption"> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Race-and-Ethnicist-Diversity-Venture-Capitalists.jpg"><div class="caption">The Information</div> </div> </div> </div> <p>Ninety-two percent of top venture capital executives are men. According to the report, that's "way worse" than the gender disparity in tech companies, where 77 percent of leadership roles are occupied by men.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Gender-Diversity-Silicon-Valley-Venture-Capitalists_1.jpg"><div class="caption">The Information</div> </div> <p>The striking numbers reinforce the narrative surrounding Silicon Valley's diversity problems, as <a href="" target="_blank">companies</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">civic leaders</a> alike push to improve the racial and gender balance of the companies that make the gadgets and apps we consume. Not all VCs are doing poorly&mdash;the 15-person senior investment team at Y Combinator<a href="#correction">*</a>, the well-known startup accelerator firm, has "four Asian men, a black man, three white women, and an Asian woman," according to the report. Yet the report found that a quarter of firms have an all-white management crew.</p> <p>As <em>Mother Jones</em> <a href="" target="_blank">pointed out</a> in July, the number of African Americans employees at Twitter, Facebook, and Google combined could <a href="" target="_blank">fit on a single Airbus A830</a>. Now we know the number of black venture capitalists, at least in this study, could fit in an Uber.</p> <p>In an op-ed Tuesday titled "Bros Funding Bros: What's Wrong with Venture Capital," SocialCapital founder Chamath Palihapitiya <a href="" target="_blank">criticized</a> the backwards nature of the venture capitalist community and called for changes.</p> <p>"The VC world is cloistered and often afraid of change&mdash;the type of change that would serve the world better," Palihapitiya wrote. "An industry that wields the power to change lives is failing to do just that. Ultimately, fund investors will wake up to this bleak reality. We must change before this happens."</p> <p>You can check out the rest of the the<em> Information</em>'s Future List <a href="" target="_blank">here</a>.</p> <p id="correction"><em>Correction: Following the publication of this story, Information and SocialCapital corrected several portions of <a href="" target="_blank">their report</a>, including their description of the racial and gender makeup of Y Combinator's investment team. The story has been updated to reflect those changes.</em></p></body></html> Mixed Media Charts Race and Ethnicity Sex and Gender Tech Top Stories Tue, 06 Oct 2015 21:17:23 +0000 Edwin Rios 286256 at Watch the Government Shoot Thousands of Moths Out of a Drone <!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>Pink bollworms are a species of pest (they're baby moths) that love to feast on cotton. They've been largely eliminated from the United States, but flare-ups do occur now and then, causing an expensive headache for farmers. So the US Department of Agriculture is experimenting with an innovative but also kind of weird and gross solution, which you can see in the video above.</p> <p>The process starts by raising bollworms in a lab that are fed a red, oil-based dye. When the bollworms mature into moths, the coloration stays with them, so they can be distinguished from wild moths. The lab moths are blasted with radiation, which makes them sterile. Then they're released into the wild over fields with bollworm infestations. When the sterile lab moths mate with the wild ones, they're tricked into thinking they're going to reproduce, but don't. So no new moths.</p> <p>Scientists have experimented with releasing sterile moths for the last few years. But now, they've enlisted a new tool: drones equipped with moth cannons. Anytime a bollworm infestation pops up, just call in a drone to deliver a few thousand <a href="" target="_blank">irradiated moths</a>.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Video Animals Climate Change Climate Desk Science Tue, 06 Oct 2015 20:48:43 +0000 Tim McDonnell 286111 at Paul Krugman Explains the Latest Draft of the TPP <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Suppose there's a complex public policy proposal being debated and you want to know where you should stand. However, you really don't want to devote a huge amount of time to diving into all the details. There are just so many hours in the day, after all.</p> <p>One possibility is to simply see what people on your side of the tribal divide think about it. But that's surprisingly unreliable. A better approach is to take a look at who's <em>opposed</em> to the proposal. That's what Paul Krugman <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_tpp_map.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">does today regarding the <a href="" target="_blank">final draft of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>What I know so far: <strong>pharma is mad</strong> because the extension of property rights in biologics is much shorter than it wanted, <strong>tobacco is mad</strong> because it has been carved out of the dispute settlement deal, <strong>and Rs in general are mad</strong> because the labor protection stuff is stronger than expected....I find myself thinking of Grossman and Helpman&rsquo;s work on the political economy of free trade agreements, in which they conclude, based on a highly stylized but nonetheless interesting model of special interest politics, that</p> <blockquote> <p>An FTA is most likely to be politically viable exactly when it would be socially harmful.</p> </blockquote> <p>The TPP looks better than it did, which infuriates much of Congress.</p> </blockquote> <p>Krugman describes himself as a "lukewarm opponent" of TPP who now needs to do some more homework. I'd probably call myself a lukewarm supporter. One reason is that the dispute resolution provisions, which provoked a lot of anger on the left, never struck me as either unusual or all that objectionable in practice. The IP stuff bothered me more, and that's been improved a bit in the final draft. It's still not great, but it's not quite as horrible as before. So you can probably now count me as a slightly stronger supporter.</p> <p>But I wonder what Republicans will do? They're the ones who are ideologically on the side of trade agreements, and they've spent a lot of time berating President Obama for not putting more effort into trade deals. But with campaign season heating up, it's become more toxic than ever to support any initiative of Obama's. Plus Donald Trump is busily working his supporters into a lather about TPP. I wouldn't be surprised to see quite a few defections from the Republican ranks.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 06 Oct 2015 18:35:48 +0000 Kevin Drum 286261 at Here's One Simple Rule For Deciding Who the Media Covers <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_marco_rubio.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Paul Waldman notes today that Marco Rubio is the latest beneficiary of the media spotlight. <a href="" target="_blank">Why?</a></p> <blockquote> <p>If history is any guide, the &ldquo;outsider&rdquo; candidates will eventually fall, and Rubio is the only &ldquo;insider&rdquo; candidate whose support is going up, not down. Scott Walker is gone, Jeb Bush is struggling, and none of the other officeholders seem to be generating any interest among voters. Rubio has long had strong approval ratings among Republicans, so even those who are now supporting someone else don&rsquo;t dislike him. He&rsquo;s an excellent speaker both with prepared texts and extemporaneously. When you hear him talk he sounds informed and thoughtful, and much less reactionary than his actual ideas would suggest. He presents a young, Hispanic face for a party that desperately needs not to be seen as the party of old white guys.</p> </blockquote> <p>This is all true, but it gives the media way too much credit. Here's the rule they use for deciding who to cover:</p> <ul><li>If you're leading or rising in the polls, you get coverage.</li> </ul><p>That's it. All the other stuff about Rubio has been true all along, and nobody cared about him. Now he's rising in the polls and is currently in about fourth place. So he's getting coverage.</p> <p>This happened first to Donald Trump, then to Ben Carson, then to Carly Fiorina, and now to Rubio. Bernie Sanders, oddly enough, remains fairly immune. Maybe this rule only applies to Republicans this year.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 06 Oct 2015 17:38:12 +0000 Kevin Drum 286236 at Ben Carson on Oregon Shooting: "I Would Not Just Stand There and Let Him Shoot Me" <!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>Ben Carson says he would have led an effort to stop the shooter who killed 13 people last week in Roseburg, Oregon, had he been there during the attack.</p> <p>During an interview of <em>Fox &amp; Friends </em>Tuesday, host Brian Kilmeade asked the GOP presidential candidate what he would do if a gunman asked him, "What religion are you?" The shooter <a href="" target="_blank">allegedly asked</a> his victims their religion before shooting them and opted to fatally injure those who responded that they were Christian.</p> <p>"Not only would I probably not cooperate with him, I would not just stand there and let him shoot me," Carson <a href="" target="_blank">responded</a>. "I would say, 'Hey guys, everybody attack him. He may shoot me, but he can't get us all.'"</p> <p>This is not the first time that Carson has weighed in on the shooting. Last Friday afternoon, Carson sent a tweet that went viral, proclaiming "I am A Christian."</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet tw-align center" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="und">Yes, <a href="">#IamaChristian</a>. <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Dr. Ben Carson (@RealBenCarson) <a href="">October 2, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script></body></html> MoJo 2016 Elections Elections Guns Top Stories Tue, 06 Oct 2015 16:54:50 +0000 Miles E. Johnson 286216 at Ben Carson Supports Arming Kindergarten Teachers to Combat Gun Violence <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><object classid="clsid:D27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000" codebase=",0,47,0" height="390" id="flashObj" width="640"><param name="movie" value=""><param name="bgcolor" value="#FFFFFF"><param name="flashVars" value="videoId=4533673821001&amp;playerID=2207682275001&amp;playerKey=AQ~~,AAAABvaL8JE~,ufBHq_I6Fnwgpz2JFHz_Jerf-MHxK_Ad&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=4533673821001&amp;playerID=2207682275001&amp;playerKey=AQ~~,AAAABvaL8JE~,ufBHq_I6Fnwgpz2JFHz_Jerf-MHxK_Ad&amp;domain=embed&amp;dynamicStreaming=true" height="390" name="flashObj" pluginspage="" seamlesstabbing="false" src="" swliveconnect="true" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="640"></embed></object> <p>Ben Carson has some thoughts on gun control.</p> <p>Less than a week after the massacre at an <a href="" target="_blank">Oregon community college</a> that left 10 people dead, including the shooter, the Republican presidential candidate dismissed renewed calls for gun safety and called for kindergarten teachers to be armed.</p> <p>"If I had a little kid in kindergarten somewhere I would feel much more comfortable if I knew on that campus there was a police officer or somebody who was trained with a weapon," Carson told <a href="" target="_blank"><em>USA TODAY</em></a> on Tuesday. "If the teacher was trained in the use of that weapon and had access to it, I would be much more comfortable if they had one than if they didn't."</p> <p>Carson's calls to arm teachers echoes similar views expressed by GOP presidential front-runner <a href="" target="_blank">Donald Trump</a>, who suggested the Oregon shooting could have been avoided if school officials were armed. "Let me tell you, if you had a couple teachers with guns in that room, you would have been a hell of a lot better off," he told an event in Tennessee.</p> <p>The proposal comes just one day after Carson also suggested during a <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook Q&amp;A</a> that enacting gun control laws would be more "devastating" than the results of gun violence:</p> <p>"As a Doctor, I spent many a night pulling bullets out of bodies," he wrote on Monday. "There is no doubt that this senseless violence is breathtaking&mdash;but I never saw a body with bullet holes that was more devastating than taking the right to arm ourselves away."</p> <p>The talk of arming teachers from Trump led Comedy Central comedian <a href="" target="_blank">Larry Wilmore</a> to respond on his Monday night show: "Let's not elect a guy who's getting his policy ideas from the movie <em>Kindergarten Cop</em>." Watch below:</p> <div style="background-color:#000000;width:520px;"> <div style="padding:4px;"><iframe frameborder="0" height="288" src="" width="512"></iframe> <p style="text-align:left;background-color:#FFFFFF;padding:4px;margin-top:4px;margin-bottom:0px;font-family:Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;font-size:12px;"><b><a href="">The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore</a></b><br> Get More: <a href="">The Nightly Show Full Episodes</a>,<a href="">The Nightly Show on Facebook</a>,<a href="">The Nightly Show Video Archive</a></p> </div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> MoJo 2016 Elections Guns Tue, 06 Oct 2015 16:49:58 +0000 Inae Oh 286211 at Let's Not Rewrite History on Gun Violence <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>"This is something we <em>should</em> politicize," President Obama said last week after the gun massacre in Oregon. "It is relevant to our common life together, to the body politic." Jonah Goldberg is annoyed that Obama said this even though he's routinely spoken out against politicizing issues in the past. "He's not about to try building consensus on gun violence among people of good faith," Goldberg says. <a href="" target="_blank">Then this:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Obama's comments on Thursday highlighted the problem with his approach to politics. He would rather go for everything he wants and get nothing, but keep the political issue, than make progress on common ground.</p> <p>Virtually none of the proposals on his gun-control wish list &mdash; more comprehensive federal background checks, closing the gun show "loophole," etc. &mdash; would help bring down the homicide rate....Typically, mass killers don't buy guns at gun shows. And a CNN analysis found that a comprehensive background check system wouldn't have prevented any of the "routine" killing sprees Obama referred to, save one.</p> <p>....<strong>After the Sandy Hook slaughter, there was a bipartisan consensus that more needed to be done on the mental health side. But Obama, fresh off reelection, rejected a piecemeal approach, largely <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_gun_background_check.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">preferring to go for a "comprehensive" solution. He ended up with nothing at all.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Um, what? Shortly after Sandy Hook, Joe Biden released the final report of his task force on gun violence. It contained recommendations in four areas, one of which was increased access to mental health services. Several bipartisan bills that targeted mental health did indeed get introduced, and I believe Obama supported all of them. So why didn't they pass? That's always hard to say, but the best guess is that it's because they all cost money, and Republicans were unwilling to vote for increased spending. So they died. Obama's preference for a "comprehensive" approach had nothing to do with it.</p> <p>Beyond that, sure, Obama wanted&nbsp;comprehensive legislation. But in the end, this got whittled down to one thing: a bipartisan bill mandating universal background checks. It was watered down repeatedly, and was about as weak as possible by the time it finally got a vote. Despite massive public support, even from gun owners, it failed after an enormous effort to reach out to all those people of good faith Goldberg talks about. I think you can guess who voted against it.<sup>1</sup></p> <p><sup>1</sup>It was 41 Republicans and 5 Democrats, in case you've forgotten.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 06 Oct 2015 16:38:43 +0000 Kevin Drum 286221 at Why Did Lindsey Graham Vote Against Hurricane Sandy Relief in 2013? Here Are Half a Dozen Guesses. <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham voted against a $51 billion aid bill for New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy, but feels differently about federal aid for the devastating floods that have racked his state. "Let's just get through this thing, and whatever it costs, it costs," Graham told Wolf Blitzer yesterday. Blitzer then asked him <a href="" target="_blank">why he had opposed Sandy relief:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>"I'm all for helping the people in New Jersey. I don't really remember me voting that way," Graham said. Pressed further, he said: "Anyway, I don't really recall that, but I'd be glad to look and tell you why I did vote no, if I did."</p> </blockquote> <p>Well, yes, he did indeed vote against Sandy aid. I don't know why he did it either, but I can take a few guesses:</p> <ul><li>He was pissed off over the nomination of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense.</li> <li>He was pissed off over the recently concluded fiscal cliff negotiations, which Republicans lost.</li> <li>He was pissed off over the national debt and wanted to make a point about out-of-control spending before the upcoming debt ceiling showdown.</li> <li>He was pissed off over sequester caps that prevented big increases in military spending.</li> <li>He was pissed off over flood insurance provisions in the bill, which had been loudly denounced by the Club for Growth.</li> <li>He was pissed off over alleged pork in the aid bill.</li> </ul><p>Alternatively, Graham didn't really think about it at all, which is why it's slipped his mind by now. Maybe he just vaguely figured the bill would pass, so this was a chance to demonstrate fiscal toughness without running the risk of being held personally responsible for enormous human suffering in New Jersey. After all, 35 other Republican senators voted against it too. So why not join them?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 06 Oct 2015 15:41:04 +0000 Kevin Drum 286206 at Thanks to the NSA, Data Sharing With Europe Just Got a Little Harder <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_edward_snowden.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">The long arm of Edward Snowden <a href=";action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;module=first-column-region&amp;region=top-news&amp;WT.nav=top-news" target="_blank">just got a little longer today:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Europe&rsquo;s highest court on Tuesday <strong>struck down an international agreement</strong> that had made it easy for companies to move people&rsquo;s digital data between the European Union and the United States. The ruling, by the European Court of Justice, could make it more difficult for global technology giants &mdash; including the likes of Amazon and Apple, Google and Facebook &mdash; to collect and mine online information from their millions of users in the 28-member European Union.</p> </blockquote> <p>So what does this have to do with Snowden? Since 2000, a "Safe Harbor" agreement has allowed US companies to store personal data on European nationals as long as the companies comply with a specific set of rules to minimize abuse. At the time, it was commercial abuse that everyone had in mind. <a href="" target="_blank">Today it's government abuse:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Tuesday&rsquo;s decision stems from a complaint lodged in 2013 by Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems over Facebook&rsquo;s compliance with EU data-privacy rules. In his charge filed to the Irish data-protection authority, the U.S. social-media company&rsquo;s lead regulator in Europe, <strong>Mr. Schrems claimed that allegations by former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden showed Facebook wasn&rsquo;t sufficiently protecting users&rsquo; data because it is subject to mass surveillance in the U.S.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>There are workarounds for this, but they're complicated and burdensome. What's more, efforts to reach an updated agreement will be difficult since the court ruling allows privacy regulators in every country to set up their own rules. This means that negotiations with the EU almost certainly have to include every national regulator who wants a voice, since each one can essentially veto an agreement in their own country.</p> <p>Alternatively, the US could announce major reforms to its NSA spying programs. Just kidding, of course. We all know that's unpossible.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 06 Oct 2015 15:11:23 +0000 Kevin Drum 286201 at The Latest Hobby Lobby Ruling Is Actually Good News <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>A year after its <a href="" target="_blank">controversial</a> Supreme Court victory, Hobby Lobby found itself on the other side of a court decision&mdash;this time for denying a transgender employee access to the women's restroom.</p> <p>Since she transitioned more than five years ago, frame shop manager <a href="" target="_blank">Meggan Sommerville</a> has been forced to either use the men's restroom in her Illinois Hobby Lobby store or wait until her lunch break, when she could slip into other businesses nearby to use a women's restroom. In a May decision made public for the first time <a href="" target="_blank">on Sunday</a>, a state administrative judge <a href="">ruled</a> that the chain's treatment of Sommerville violates Illinois' Human Rights Act, <a href="" target="_blank">finding</a> "direct evidence of sexual related identity discrimination" in the store's decision to bar her from the women's restroom until she had gender reassignment surgery.</p> <p>The judge's order was a recommended ruling; a final decision from the state's Human Rights Commission is still pending. In the meantime, for Sommerville, nothing has changed: Hobby Lobby still requires her to use the men's restroom.</p> <p>Hobby Lobby hired Somerville in 1998, and two years later, she was transferred to the company's location in east Aurora, Illinois. By 2010, she was presenting and identifying as female and had legally changed her name to Meggan Renee. When she formally approached her employer to notify them of the transition, the company altered her personnel file to reflect the change, and Sommverville changed her nametag. Yet the company denied her request to use the women's restroom, demanding that she provide<strong>&nbsp;</strong>documents that would compel them to do so. Still, even after Sommerville did so, Hobby Lobby continued to deny her request, going so far as to issue her a written warning for using the women's restroom in February 2011. The company later insisted that she undergo gender reassignment surgery, which would allow her to change her birth certificate, before she could use the women's bathroom in the store.</p> <p>Sommerville filed a complaint, but it was dismissed by the Illinois Department of Human Rights in 2012 for lack of evidence, a decision that was later <a href="" target="_blank">overturned</a>.</p> <p>Sommerville's bosses instructed her not to use the restroom in part because another employee expressed "discomfort," the ruling revealed. "A co-worker's discomfort cannot justify discriminatory terms and conditions of employment," Judge William Borah wrote. "The prejudices of co-workers or customers are part of what the Act was meant to prevent." Furthermore, Borah found that Hobby Lobby's decision to build a unisex restroom for Sommerville's use was an example of segregation and "perpetuates different treatment."</p> <p>"Do I want to continue doing what I do? Yes," Sommerville <a href="" target="_blank">told</a> the <em>Windy City Times</em>. "I enjoy it. Why should I quit? I'm good at what I do. I love what I do. If I quit, I give a right to any other company to discriminate against their employee in the hopes that they will quit so they will be done with them. No one should be forced to quit where they're being harassed and discriminated against. This case is bigger than me."</p></body></html> MoJo Civil Liberties Human Rights Labor Sex and Gender Top Stories Tue, 06 Oct 2015 10:00:13 +0000 Madison Pauly 286116 at Coming Soon: Quantum Computing on Your Desktop PC? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_qubit_silicon.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Today has been pretty dull in the world of political news, so let's continue trawling other parts of the global knowledge ecosystem for interesting tidbits. <a href="" target="_blank">This one looks potentially important:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>For decades, researchers have been trying to build a computer that harnesses the enormous potential of quantum mechanics. Now engineers from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia have overcome the final hurdle, <strong>by creating a quantum logic gate in silicon&nbsp;&mdash; the same material that today's computer chips are made from.</strong></p> <p><strong>The newly developed device allows two quantum bits&nbsp;&mdash; or qubits&nbsp;&mdash; to communicate and perform calculations together,</strong> which is a crucial requirement for quantum computers. Even better, the researchers have also worked out how to scale the technology up to millions of qubits, which means they now have the ability to build the world's first quantum processor chip and, eventually, the first silicon-based quantum computer.</p> </blockquote> <p>Quantum computing is sort of like fusion power: constantly right around the corner, but never quite there. The fundamental problem is that qubits suffer from decoherence unless they're kept completely isolated from their surrounding environment, which is pretty tough since they also need to communicate with other qubits in order to be useful. Researchers have gotten a lot better at controlling qubits in recent years, but as the UNSW paper points out, <a href="" target="_blank">this has required the use of fairly exotic materials:</a> "single photons, trapped ions, superconducting circuits, single defects or atoms in diamond or silicon, and semiconductor quantum dots."</p> <p>By contrast, a two-qubit logic gate that can be implemented in silicon using standard lithographic techniques is a whole different matter. If this turns out to be for real, chips containing thousands or millions of qubits are finally within practical reach.</p> <p>This would be very cool, though only for a certain subset of problems amenable to massive parallel processing. This is inherent in the difference between standard computers and quantum computers. A standard computer with, say, 50 bits, can be in any one of 2<sup>50</sup> states <em>at a single time</em>. That's about a quadrillion states. This state changes with every beat of the computer's internal clock, and eventually you get an answer to whatever problem you've programmed the computer to solve. By contrast, a quantum computer with 2<sup>50</sup> qubits can be in a quadrillion states <em>simultaneously</em> thanks to an aspect of quantum weirdness called superposition. Once you set up the program, you just collapse the quantum state and the answer is spit out instantly.</p> <p>This is not the kind of thing you'd use to write an iPhone app. But it could be used to break some public-key encryption systems. It might also be useful for things like modeling protein folding, which is fundamentally a quantum problem that requires a tremendous amount of computing time using traditional computers. There's also potential for exponentially faster database queries.</p> <p>And one other thing: it's possible that large-scale quantum computing could lead to breakthroughs in emulating human thought processes and speeding up the creation of artificial intelligence. Maybe.</p> <p>Anyway, it's fascinating stuff, and it seems as if useful quantum computing may be finally getting within reach. If it does, it would blow away Moore's law for certain kinds of problems&mdash;possibly many more than we think once we get the hang of writing a whole different kind of code. In a few years, maybe we'll even get customer support voice recognition systems to work properly.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 06 Oct 2015 04:44:24 +0000 Kevin Drum 286191 at Do You Spend an Hour Waiting For Your Doctor? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_doctor_waiting_time.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;"><a href="" target="_blank">A new study has been making the rounds today.</a> Over at JAMA, a team of researchers used one survey to calculate average time spent in face-to-face time with a doctor and another survey to calculate total average "clinic time" (wait time plus doctor time). If you subtract doctor time from clinic time, you get average wait time. That's shown in the chart on the right.</p> <p>But something isn't right here. The takeaway is that minorities tend to have longer wait times than whites, which wouldn't surprise me at all. (They also have longer travel times.) But even whites have an average wait time of one hour. That's nowhere near this white boy's experience for any of the doctors/medical systems I've ever been part of. What's more, other studies suggest that average wait time is around 20 minutes or so, which seems more likely.</p> <p>So....I'm not sure what's going on here. Something about this study doesn't seem right, and I don't know if it's in the methodology or in the interpretation everyone is putting on it. In any case, if you read about this study, I'd take it with a grain of salt for the moment.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 06 Oct 2015 02:51:40 +0000 Kevin Drum 286186 at The World Has Gone Crazy Over Ad Blocking <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_ad_blocking_headlines.jpg" style="margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">It's pretty amazing. Ad blockers have been around forever. I've been using AdBlock Plus for nearly a decade and nobody ever cared. It was just a quiet little thing that a few power users knew about.</p> <p>But as soon as Apple decided to allow ad blocking on the iPhone, suddenly the world went nuts. News headlines exploded. Half the sites I visit now check for ad blockers and hit me with guilt-inducing messages about how I'm bankrupting them if I decline to read their latest Flash creations and bouncing gif animations. Hell, I just got one of these messages on For a while, the <em>Washington Post</em> randomly declined to let me read their articles <em>at all</em> unless I removed my ad blocker.</p> <p>I've got one question and one comment about this. The comment is this: Screw you, Apple. Everything was fine until you decided to barge in. The question is this: Is publisher panic over loss of ad revenue rational? Genuine question. I understand that mobile is where all the ad dollars are, and I understand that Apple accounts for a sizeable chunk of the mobile market. But is ad blocking ever likely to become a mass phenomenon, or will it continue to be used only by power users? I suppose there's no way to know. In any case, the recent hysteria over ad blocking sure does show the incredible PR power of Apple. If you take something that's been around forever&mdash;4G LTE, large screens, ad blocking&mdash;and slap it on an iPhone, everyone goes nuts. It's Apple's world and the rest of us are just pawns in the games they play.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 06 Oct 2015 01:37:03 +0000 Kevin Drum 286176 at Bobby Jindal Sums Up His Struggling Campaign in One Chart <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Things are looking up for Bobby Jindal, according to Bobby Jindal.</p> <p>The Louisiana governor tweeted this afternoon about his campaign performance: "Momentum is building in Iowa." The tweet was accompanied by a chart showing Jindal's support among Iowa voters increasing exponentially.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet tw-align center" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Momentum is building in Iowa. <a href="">#IAPolitics</a> <a href="">#IACaucus</a> <a href=""></a> <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Gov. Bobby Jindal (@BobbyJindal) <a href="">October 5, 2015</a></blockquote> <p>The poll Jindal is proudly presenting is the latest NBC/Marist survey in Iowa, which shows him with a whopping 6 percent of the vote, tied with two candidates and behind four others. That looks impressive next to the 1 percent he got in a poll from the firm in July. But it's less impressive if you consider the 4.7 percent margin of error, which could more than account for his rise from the September poll that had him at 4 percent. Likewise if you look at the polling average from <a href="" target="_blank">Real Clear Politics</a>, which puts Jindal at 3.5 percent in Iowa (in ninth place). A Gravis poll concluded on September 27 listed Jindal at only 2 percent (tied for eighth place).</p> <p>But who cares? Just look at this chart!</p></body></html> MoJo 2016 Elections Elections Mon, 05 Oct 2015 21:15:29 +0000 Miles E. Johnson 286171 at California Legalizes Assisted Suicide For Terminal Patients <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>After months of maintaining a stony silence about California's right-to-die bill, <a href="" target="_blank">Gov. Jerry Brown signed it today:</a></p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_brown_assisted_suicide.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 15px 50px;"></p> <p>The Golden Rule isn't always the best guide to public policy, but in this case I think it is. California has an obligation to make sure assisted suicide isn't abused, either by doctors rubber stamping requests or by friends or relatives pressuring sick patients to end their lives. Beyond that, though, deciding when and how to die is about as personal a decision as someone can make. It's not that assisted suicide doesn't affect other people&mdash;it does&mdash;but as a matter of <em>public</em> policy it's best for the state to remain resolutely neutral. This is something that should be left up to the patient, her doctor, and whichever of her friends, family, and clergy she decides to involve.</p> <p>The text of the bill is <a href="" target="_blank">here.</a> Brown did the right thing today by signing it.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 05 Oct 2015 20:20:21 +0000 Kevin Drum 286161 at Women in Texas May Have to Wait an Extra 20 Days for an Abortion <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">New research</a> from the University of Texas&mdash;Austin has found that women seeking abortions in cities such as Dallas, Forth Worth, and Austin face staggering wait times of up to 20 days before they can get the procedure. The data, which researchers working for the Texas Policy Evaluation Project released Monday, provides a startling look at the effects of abortion clinic closures in Texas just as the Supreme Court is deciding whether or not to hear a case that could slash the number of remaining clinics by half.</p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Screen%20Shot%202015-10-05%20at%203.23.29%20PM_0.png"><div class="caption"><strong>Wait times at abortion clinics in Austin, Texas. </strong></div> </div> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%">&nbsp;</div> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%">&nbsp;</div> <p>Researchers documented wait times for clinics in Forth Worth, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, and Houston from November 2014 to September 2015. In Austin, the average wait over the course of those 11 months was 10 days. In Dallas and Fort Worth, the annual average was 5 days. They also calculated the average monthly wait times and the range of wait times in a given month and found that average wait times within a single month reached up to 20 days in the Dallas-Fort Worth area&mdash;where there are <a href="" target="_blank">five abortion clinics</a>&mdash;and wait times for individual patients could reach up to 23 days.</p> <p>The escalating wait times are a result of successful efforts to close more than half of Texas's abortion clinics. Most of those clinics were closed by HB 2, a 2013 anti-abortion law that many consider to be the harshest in the nation. Its provisions included a requirement that clinics must have admitting privileges with a hospital no more than 30 miles away. Before the measure, Texas had 41 clinics; four months after it took effect, <a href="" target="_blank">there were only 22.</a> Today, <a href=";_ylt=A0LEVvJ3mhJWYFAABzInnIlQ;_ylu=X3oDMTByMjB0aG5zBGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDBHNlYwNzYw--" target="_blank">there are 19</a>.</p> <p>A final provision of the law, which may be the subject of a Supreme Court battle later this year, would close <a href="" target="_blank">all but 10 clinics</a> if it goes into effect. That measure requires abortion clinics to be regulated similarly to hospitals, which makes it dramatically more expensive to operate an abortion clinic. Leading medical organizations, such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, maintain this level of medical infrastructure <a href="" target="_blank">is not necessary</a> to safely perform most abortions. Whole Woman's Health, a chain of abortion clinics with several providers in Texas, sued in federal court and succeeded in having the Supreme Court temporarily <a href="" target="_blank">block the law</a>. The court could make a decision to hear the full case as soon as this month.</p> <p>A wait time of almost three weeks has serious consequences for women seeking abortions, ranging from her ability to afford an abortion, which becomes more expensive as the pregnancy progresses,<strong> </strong>to intensity of the procedure. In the second trimester, <a href="" target="_blank">the cost of an abortion</a> may go up by a hundred dollars every week. The researchers found that if the Supreme Court were to allow all but 10 clinics to close, it would almost double the number of second-trimester procedures in Texas&mdash;from 6,600 in 2013 to 12,400.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Screen%20Shot%202015-09-09%20at%209.29.08%20AM_0.png"></div> <p>The researchers also predicted that if the Supreme Court upheld HB 2, the 10 clinics that would remain open would not have the capacity to meet demand. Those clinics today provide only one-fifth of abortions in Texas. If they were the only clinics in Texas, they would probably experience consistent wait times of around three weeks. For instance, the Houston area saw an average wait time of less than five days. But Houston has six clinics. If the law were fully in place, it would only have two clinics. And as clinics closed around the state, the number of abortions taking place in Houston would rise from 3,900 in 2013 to more than 11,000.</p> <p>Clinics in states bordering Texas are already feeling the crush. Kathaleen Pittman, an official with Hope Medical Group of Shreveport, Louisiana, said in an interview that the proportion of Texans going to Hope Medical Group for Women in Shreveport, Louisiana, has leapt from 15 percent of patients in 2011 to 23 percent in 2014.</p> <p>And the South isn't the only region where clinic closures have sent a wave of patients looking for new providers. The problem is also pronounced in Ohio, where eight clinics have <a href="" target="_blank">closed since 2011</a>. Officials for Preterm, a clinic in Cleveland, say the number of patients traveling from a different part of Ohio has jumped 160 percent, and the number of patients from out of state has almost doubled.</p> <p>As <em>Mother Jones</em> reported in <a href="" target="_blank">a recent feature</a>, a clinic called the Cherry Hill Women's Center in southern New Jersey is seeing more and more patients from Virginia, because clinics in Maryland and Delaware are overbooked, and from the Midwest, because many clinics there have closed. An analysis by <em>Mother Jones</em> found that clinics are closing at a rate of 1.5 per week. If the trend keeps up, the new data from Texas may turn out to be a bellwether for the rest of the nation.</p></body></html> MoJo Reproductive Rights Top Stories Mon, 05 Oct 2015 19:31:39 +0000 Molly Redden 286156 at "The Good Wife" Is Back. We Have to Talk About It Right Now. Stop What You Are Doing. <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The best show on network television finally returned last night, but is this <em>Good Wife</em> still <em>the Good Wife</em> we all know and love? <a href="" target="_blank">Kalinda</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">Finn</a> have joined Will in that great big green room in the sky and last night's episode felt...different.</p> <p>Let's talk about it.</p> <p>Alicia's life sucks at the moment. She has no law firm. She has no male love interest. She has no friends. And where are her dumb kids anyway? She's a pariah! "I'm a pariah," she does not say as the episode begins, but she might as well have. She's whiling away her days in <a href="" target="_blank">Shooter </a><a href="" target="_blank">McGavin'</a>s bond court, fighting for pick-up cases with beleaguered unclean lawyers who probably went to a joke Ivy like Cornell unlike Alicia who went to Georgetown, which never pretended to be an Ivy in the first place. Poor good wife.</p> <p>Governor Bad Husband promised his good wife last year that he wouldn't run for president if she didn't want him to and she didn't want him to so he isn't running for president. OK? <em>Fine, Good. Whatever.</em> But then the good wife changes her mind, because Peter running for president is going to be the plot line for this season&mdash;paralleling the plot line in America these days&mdash;so she needed to get with it. Peter's chief of staff, <a href="" target="_blank">the Russian computer hacker from <em>GoldenEye</em></a>, is very pleased with this development and he celebrates by wooing Margo Martindale, a top-flight campaign consultant, the <a href="" target="_blank">meth-making matriarch from the second season of <em>Justified</em></a>.</p> <p>But Margo Martindale doesn't want to be just another campaign strategist. She wants to be the campaign manager and for reasons not entirely clear, Peter goes along with this and fires Alan Cummings. The good wife's bad husband is also a bad boss.</p> <p>Meanwhile the <a href="" target="_blank">attractive young man</a> who used to be Alicia's rival before becoming her law partner before becoming superfluous to the main plot of the show is unhappy at the big fancy law firm that bears his name. Cary's few scenes in this episode are dedicated to him trying to be popular with the first year associates who think he's a stodgy old fart because he spends all of his time with his stodgy old fart partners in their stodgy old fart ivory tower.</p> <p>Speaking of Cary's aged old partners: Diane and the <a href="" target="_blank">lawyer who makes the divorces happen</a> are facing off against Alicia in probate court over some meaningless bullshit about a painting that is worth a lot of money. Who will get the deceased's paining? No one cares. But this does provide a nice forum for the show to do what it does best: wink at the audience and acknowledge that the show isn't really about the cases. <em>The Good Wife,</em> more than any other legal drama, doesn't want you to care about the cases. The cases are just a thing for the characters to do. The marathon of random specialists testifying about post-it notes in this probate case are a great example of that. Not even the judge cares about what the post-it scientists have to say.</p> <p>Anyway, Alicia covers for one of the <a href="" target="_blank">bond court lawyers</a>&mdash;because bond court lawyers stick together&mdash; and then the bond court lawyer covers for Alicia in the probate hearing for which she's totally unprepared. Diane and Divorce Attorney are going to school her so hard but then&mdash;shocker!&mdash;the bond court lawyer is good at law and wins the case. Bond court lawyer is apparently supposed to be Alicia's new friend.</p> <p>Then Alicia hires Alan Cummings to be her chief of staff because the good wife is also a good friend. Alan Cummings tells Margo Martindale that he is going to destroy her.</p> <p>Oh also Michael J Fox wants Alicia to work with him. And I think she sort of said yes at the end. (Or did she?) It wasn't entirely clear.</p> <p>What is this show about now? It used to be about Alicia finding the courage, through crosses and losses, to become the person she wanted to be. Is it still about that? I guess we'll have to wait and see.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Film and TV Ben's Thoughts Mon, 05 Oct 2015 19:02:17 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 286131 at House Dems Fight Back on Benghazi <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>A few weeks ago, Hillary Clinton aide Cheryl Mills testified before the Benghazi committee. Apparently several Republican members of the committee talked to reporters about this. <a href="" target="_blank">Here is <em>Politico</em> on September 3:</a></p> <blockquote> <p><strong>Raising alarms on the right,</strong> Mills, Clinton&rsquo;s former chief of staff at the State Department, also told the House Select Committee on Benghazi that she reviewed and made suggestions for changes to the government's official, final report on what happened in Benghazi, according to a separate, GOP source familiar with what she said.</p> <p><strong>The source said it &ldquo;call[s] into question the &lsquo;independence&rsquo;&rdquo; of the report's conclusions</strong>....The report was supposed to be independent from state officials that may be involved, and the GOP argues top officials should not have had input, long questioning how independent the findings were.</p> </blockquote> <p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_elijah_cummings.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Today, in the wake of Rep. Kevin McCarthy's boasting about how the Benghazi committee had been a great tool to bring down Hillary, Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the committee, <a href="" target="_blank">lobbed a shot across the bow of the Republican chairman:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Republicans began leaking inaccurate information about Ms. Mills&rsquo; interview within minutes after your public declaration that it should be treated as classified....During her interview, Ms. Mills corroborated both Ambassador Pickering&rsquo;s testimony and the Inspector General&rsquo;s findings:</p> <blockquote> <p>Q: Did you ever, in that process, attempt to exert influence over the direction of the ARB&rsquo;s investigation?</p> <p>A: No.</p> <p>Q: Did you ever try to&mdash;did Secretary Clinton ever try to exert influence over the direction of their investigation?</p> <p>A: No.</p> </blockquote> <p>Ms. Mills also explained that the Secretary&rsquo;s objective in selecting members of the ARB was, &ldquo;could they be people who could give hard medicine if that was what was needed. And I felt like, in the end, that team was a team that would speak whatever were their truths or observations to the Department so that we could learn whatever lessons we needed to learn.&rdquo;</p> <p>....We believe it is time to begin releasing the transcripts of interviews conducted by the Select Committee in order to correct the public record after numerous inaccurate Republican leaks....Please notify us within five days if you believe any information in the full transcript should be withheld from the American people.</p> </blockquote> <p>No response yet from committee chairman Trey Gowdy, who has insisted all along that the Benghazi investigation is purely an enlightened search for the truth with no trace of partisan overtones. But I'm all in favor of holding all of the committee's hearings in public with occasional exceptions for genuinely classified testimony. Stay tuned.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 05 Oct 2015 18:14:11 +0000 Kevin Drum 286126 at Meet the Senate Candidate Who Sacrificed a Goat and Drank Its Blood <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Of all the scandals that have dogged political campaigns, the one threatening Augustus Sol Invictus' US Senate run may be among the most unusual: ritual goat sacrifice.<a href="#correction">*</a></p> <p>In 2013, Invictus walked from central Florida to the Mojave Desert and spent a week fasting and praying. Upon his return home, the Associated Press <a href="" target="_blank">reports</a>, Invictus sacrificed a goat and drank its blood in an apparent pagan ritual.</p> <p>"I did sacrifice a goat," Invictus told the AP. "I sacrificed an animal to the god of the wilderness...Yes, I drank the goat's blood."</p> <p>Invictus&mdash;he changed his birth name but declined to provide it to the AP&mdash;is now running for Senate in Florida on the Libertarian Party ticket. But the party hasn't taken well to has candidacy. Its state chairman resigned in protest and called Invictus a "self-proclaimed fascist" who is "promoting a second civil war." Invictus denied these charges but said he "sees a cataclysm coming."</p> <p>In 2013, Invictus wrote <a href="" target="_blank">a letter</a> to his classmates at the DePaul College of Law in which he seemed to say he might start a new civil war. "<span class="s1">I have prophesied for years that I was born for a Great War; that if I did not witness the coming of the Second American Civil War I would begin it myself," he wrote. "Mark well: That day is fast coming upon you. On the New Moon of May, I shall disappear into the Wilderness. I will return bearing Revolution, or I will not return at all."</span></p> <p><span class="s1">He did return. But so far the only revolution he's bearing is the one within his own party.</span></p> <p id="correction"><em>Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated Invictus' role in the Libertarian Party.</em></p></body></html> MoJo Elections Mon, 05 Oct 2015 16:05:32 +0000 Miles E. Johnson 286106 at Hillary Clinton Unveils Plan to Tackle Gun Violence Using Executive Action <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>On Monday, Hillary Clinton plans to unveil a series of proposals aimed at <a href="" target="_blank">reducing gun violence</a> that includes the possible use of an executive action to close the "gun show loophole,"&nbsp;which&nbsp;currently allows gun sales to proceed even if background checks on individuals are still pending.</p> <p>The Democratic presidential candidate is expected to announce the plan at two town hall events in New Hampshire. In advance of the appearances, Clinton's campaign released a <a href="" target="_blank">statement</a> outlining her proposals that detail her push for comprehensive background checks, the tightening of loopholes and internet gun sales even if "Congress fails to act," and efforts to block individuals with domestic abuse records and the mentally ill from obtaining firearms.</p> <p>In the wake of Thursday's deadly rampage at a community college in Oregon, the former secretary of state called on lawmakers to enact <a href="" target="_blank">stricter gun control legislation</a> and vowed to help loosen the grip of the National Rifles Association on Congress.</p> <p>"I'm going to try to do everything I can as president to raise up an equally large and vocal group that is going to prove to be a counterbalance," she said&nbsp;in response to the latest mass shooting in America. "And we're going to tell legislators, do not be afraid. Stand up to these people because a majority of the population and a majority of gun owners agree that there should be universal background checks. And the NRA has stood in the way."</p> <p>Gun control is one area in which Clinton has appeared markedly more progressive than Sen. Bernie Sanders.&nbsp;In the past, the Vermont senator&nbsp;has drawn criticism from Democrats for his more <a href="" target="_blank">libertarian stance </a>on the issue, including his controversial support for a&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">2005</a>&nbsp;law that&nbsp;protects gun makers against lawsuits from victims of violence. In her plan on Monday, Clinton will reportedly&nbsp;announce her efforts to repeal that law as well.</p> <p>Following Thursday's massacre, Sanders said he agreed with President Barack Obama's statements saying prayers and condolences were not enough to tackle gun violence in America.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Read Clinton's sweeping plan here. </a></p></body></html> MoJo 2016 Elections Guns Hillary Clinton Mon, 05 Oct 2015 14:58:14 +0000 Inae Oh 286086 at Can Donald Trump Sink the TPP? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_trump_cpac.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">A last-minute deal has <a href="" target="_blank">finally been reached on the Trans-Pacific Partnership,</a> and concerns abound. Paul Ryan is concerned about dairy products. Sander Levin is concerned about cars. In Louisiana they're concerned about sugar. The whole deal is oozing with parochial local concerns.</p> <p>So will it pass? A couple of months ago, I would have said yes, and I guess I still do. But I'm a little less sure thanks to the Donald Trump effect. He's opposed to the deal&mdash;there's no telling why, really&mdash;and he's shown a genius in the past for picking out specific details about various issues and then flogging them to death. So I wonder: what's he going to pick out about the TPP? It might be something ordinary, like currency manipulation provisions, or a general attack on President Obama's lousy negotiating skills. Equally likely, though, he'll somehow find something in the treaty that no one else is really paying attention to, and then twist it into a populist attack that really resonates with the public. If he does that successfully, it's just possible that he could derail the deal.</p> <p>I'm not sure what odds I'd put on that. But not zero. So far, Trump has mostly been a loudmouth who hasn't fundamentally changed the political landscape. But there's a chance he could do it here. He's worth watching.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 05 Oct 2015 14:29:48 +0000 Kevin Drum 286091 at Arming the Opposition: A Compendium of Failure <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>A couple of days ago I linked to <a href="" target="_blank">a Phil Carter piece</a> about why arm-and-train missions in underdeveloped countries tended to fail. Today the <em>New York Times</em> has a longish roundup of our failures, and even I was a little surprised by the <a href="" target="_blank">sheer number of countries we've bungled:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The setbacks have been most pronounced in three countries....Pentagon-trained army and police in <strong>Iraq&rsquo;s</strong> Anbar Province....several thousand American-backed government forces and militiamen in <strong>Afghanistan&rsquo;s</strong> Kunduz <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_opposition_soldiers.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;"> <strong>Syria</strong>, a $500 million Defense Department program to train local rebels to fight the Islamic State has produced only a handful of soldiers.</p> <p>In northwest Africa, the United States has spent more than $600 million....<strong>Morocco to Chad</strong>. American officials once heralded <strong>Mali&rsquo;s</strong> military as an exemplary partner. But in 2012, battle-hardened Islamist fighters returned from combat in <strong>Libya</strong> to rout the military, including units trained by United States Special Forces....In <strong>Yemen</strong>, American-trained troops and counterterrorism forces largely disbanded when Houthi rebels overran the capital last year.</p> <p>Bright spot....oust the Shabab, Al Qaeda&rsquo;s affiliate in <strong>Somalia</strong>....The American government has invested nearly $1 billion....But even with the gains, the Shabab have been able to carry out bombings in Mogadishu, the capital, and in neighboring countries, including massacres at a university and a shopping mall in Kenya in the past two years.</p> </blockquote> <p>Karl&nbsp;Eikenberry, a former military commander and then US ambassador in Afghanistan, sums it up pretty well: "Our track record at building security forces over the past 15 years is miserable." Maybe it's time we faced up to this.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 05 Oct 2015 13:20:06 +0000 Kevin Drum 286076 at