Blogs | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/Blogs/2008/04/mccain-gets-boot-project-vote-smart/mojo/2005/04 http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en Bloods and Crips Members Say They Want "Nobody To Get Hurt" In Baltimore Protests http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/04/bloods-and-crips-baltimore-protests <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Amid mounting <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/04/baltimore-freddie-gray-riots" target="_blank">unrest in Baltimore</a>, an unexpected alliance&mdash;members of the Bloods and Crips&mdash;<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/live/confrontation-in-baltimore/church-leaders-gang-members-meet/" target="_blank">emerged</a> yesterday to call for protection of local residents. At an event in a local church shown in a <a href="http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-city/bal-video-gangs-call-for-calm-in-baltimore-20150427-premiumvideo.html" target="_blank"><em>Baltimore Sun</em> video</a>, a man named Charles, who said he was a member of the Crips, wrapped his arm around a self-described Bloods member named Jamal to call for an end to riots over the death of Freddie Gray.</p> <p>Hours earlier, Baltimore police had warned that members of "various gangs," including the Bloods, Crips, and Black Guerrilla Family, <a href="http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/crime/blog/bs-md-ci-freddie-gray-gang-threat-20150427-story.html" target="_blank">would "team up"</a> to attack police officers and posed a "credible threat." In January, a member of the Black Guerrilla Family <a href="http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/crime/blog/bs-md-ci-police-station-gun-20150106-story.html" target="_blank">walked into</a> a Baltimore police station with a loaded .22-calibur handgun, marijuana and cocaine to "test security."</p> <p>&ldquo;We not here for nobody to get hurt," Charles told the <em>Sun</em> reporter. "We don&rsquo;t want nobody to get hurt. All that about the police getting hurt by certain gangs, that&rsquo;s false. We not here for that. We here to protect our community, and that&rsquo;s it. We don&rsquo;t want no trouble. We&rsquo;re doing this because we don&rsquo;t want trouble."</p> <p>&ldquo;The police department hate to see us right now," Jamal said.</p> <p>Though unusual, a Bloods-Crips alliance would not be without precedent. On Saturday, members of both groups joined protests throughout Baltimore, marching side by side against police brutality. <em>The Daily Beast</em> <a href="http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/04/27/the-bloods-and-crips-anti-cop-ceasefire-in-baltimore.html" target="_blank">reported that</a> in August,&nbsp;several former Bloods and Crips carried signs while protesting in Ferguson, Missouri that read: "NO MORE CRIPS. NO MORE BLOODS. ONE PEOPLE. NO GANG ZONE."</p> <p>And more than two decades ago, when four white Los Angeles police officers were acquitted in the 1992 beating of Rodney King, the two factions struck a truce that <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1992/05/12/us/after-the-riots-hope-and-fear-in-los-angeles-as-deadly-gangs-call-truce.html" target="_blank">drew skepticism</a> from officers and community workers, but is thought to have helped limit street violence in L.A. for years.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> MoJo Race and Ethnicity Tue, 28 Apr 2015 13:03:12 +0000 Edwin Rios 274331 at http://www.motherjones.com Orioles Executive On Baltimore Unrest: It's Inequality, Stupid http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/04/baltimore-orioles-freddie-gray <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Unrest and violence in the streets&nbsp;Monday <a href="http://www.baltimoresun.com/sports/orioles/blog/bal-as-turmoil-currently-envelops-the-city-tonights-orioles-game-against-the-chicago-white-sox-is-stille-20150427-story.html#page=1" target="_blank">forced</a> the postponement of a matchup between the Baltimore Orioles and the Chicago White Sox&mdash;but an <a href="http://ftw.usatoday.com/2015/04/orioles-john-angelos-baltimore-protests-mlb" target="_blank">impassioned speech on Twitter</a> from one Orioles exec days earlier puts the <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/04/baltimore-freddie-gray-riots" target="_blank">ongoing clashes</a> between police and demonstrators over the death of Freddie Gray in a different light.</p> <p>Two days ago, when Orioles fans <a href="http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/breaking/bal-orioles-protests-freddie-gray-camden-yards-20150425-story.html" target="_blank">were briefly locked</a> in Camden Yards during protests outside the stadium, sports broadcaster Brett Hollander <a href="http://deadspin.com/baltimore-orioles-exec-offers-eloquent-defense-of-fredd-1700423773" target="_blank">decried</a> the demonstrations as counterproductive and an inconvenience for fans. Team executive John Angelos, son of owner Peter Angelos, <a href="http://ftw.usatoday.com/2015/04/orioles-john-angelos-baltimore-protests-mlb" target="_blank">responded with&nbsp;a flurry&nbsp;of tweets</a>, defending the people's actions as a reaction to long-term economic hardship and dwindling protections of civil liberties.&nbsp; &nbsp;</p> <p><em>Deadspin</em> <a href="http://deadspin.com/baltimore-orioles-exec-offers-eloquent-defense-of-fredd-1700423773" target="_blank">transcribed</a> Angelos' tweetstorm [emphasis added]:</p> <blockquote> <p>Brett, speaking only for myself, I agree with your point that the principle of peaceful, non-violent protest and the observance of the rule of law is of utmost importance in any society. MLK, Gandhi, Mandela and all great opposition leaders throughout history have always preached this precept. Further, it is critical that in any democracy, investigation must be completed and due process must be honored before any government or police members are judged responsible.</p> <p><strong>That said, my greater source of personal concern, outrage and sympathy beyond this particular case is focused neither upon one night&rsquo;s property damage nor upon the acts, but is focused rather upon the past four-decade period during which an American political elite have shipped middle class and working class jobs away from Baltimore and cities and towns around the U.S. to third-world dictatorships like China and others, plunged tens of millions of good, hard-working Americans into economic devastation, and then followed that action around the nation by diminishing every American&rsquo;s civil rights protections in order to control an unfairly impoverished population living under an ever-declining standard of living and suffering at the butt end of an ever-more militarized and aggressive surveillance state.</strong></p> <p>The innocent working families of all backgrounds whose lives and dreams have been cut short by excessive violence, surveillance, and other abuses of the Bill of Rights by government pay the true price, and ultimate price, and one that far exceeds the importances of any kids&rsquo; game played tonight, or ever, at Camden Yards. We need to keep in mind people are suffering and dying around the U.S., and while we are thankful no one was injured at Camden Yards, there is a far bigger picture for poor Americans in Baltimore and everywhere who don&rsquo;t have jobs and are losing economic civil and legal rights, and this makes inconvenience at a ballgame irrelevant in light of the needless suffering government is inflicting upon ordinary Americans.</p> </blockquote> <p>As Major League Baseball <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/mlb/2015/04/27/orioles-white-sox-cancelled-baltimore-protests-riots-freddie-gray/26479887/" target="_blank">decides</a> whether to play a day game at Camden Yards on Tuesday, Angelos' message is clear: at the end of the day, it comes down to social and economic inequality.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Sports Top Stories Tue, 28 Apr 2015 04:45:28 +0000 Edwin Rios 274326 at http://www.motherjones.com "The Wire" Creator David Simon to Baltimore Rioters: "Turn around. Go home. Please." http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/04/the-wire-david-simon-baltimore-riot-freddie-gray <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>As tensions escalate between residents and police on the streets of Baltimore, David Simon, a former crime reporter for the <em>Baltimore Sun</em> and showrunner for the critically-acclaimed show <em>The Wire</em>, <a href="http://davidsimon.com/baltimore/" target="_blank">took to his personal site</a> to call for an end to the protests.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <blockquote> <p>First things first.</p> <p>Yes, there is a lot to be argued, debated, addressed.&nbsp; And this moment, as inevitable as it has sometimes seemed, can still, in the end, prove transformational, if not redemptive for our city.&nbsp;&nbsp; Changes are necessary and voices need to be heard.&nbsp; All of that is true and all of that is still possible, despite what is now loose in the streets.</p> <p>But now &mdash; in this moment &mdash; the anger and the selfishness and the brutality of those claiming the right to violence in Freddie Gray&rsquo;s name needs to cease.&nbsp; There was real power and potential in the peaceful protests that spoke in Mr. Gray&rsquo;s name initially, and there was real unity at his homegoing today.&nbsp; But this, now, in the streets, is an affront to that man&rsquo;s memory and a dimunition of the absolute moral lesson that underlies his unnecessary death.</p> <p>If you can&rsquo;t seek redress and demand reform without a brick in your hand, you risk losing this moment for all of us in Baltimore.&nbsp; Turn around.&nbsp; Go home.&nbsp; Please.</p> </blockquote> <p>The demonstrations <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/04/baltimore-freddie-gray-riots" target="_blank">erupted</a> Monday after the funeral of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black Baltimore resident who died in police custody over a week ago. Reports of looting, cars set aflame and violent clashes between protestors and Baltimore police led Maryland Governor Larry Hogan to declare a <a href="http://governor.maryland.gov/2015/04/27/governor-larry-hogan-signs-executive-order-declaring-state-of-emergency-activating-national-guard/" target="_blank">"state of emergency."</a></p> <p>In March, President Barack Obama, a <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/riff/2008/01/barack-obama-wire-fan" target="_blank">self-described fan</a> of "The Wire", <a href="https://medium.com/@WhiteHouse/president-obama-interviews-the-creator-of-the-wire-david-simon-40fb7bd29b18" target="_blank">riffed with Simon</a> about the challenges in today's criminal justice system for communities like Baltimore affected by the drug trade. Watch that interview below:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/xWY79JCfhjw" width="630"></iframe></p></body></html> Mixed Media Tue, 28 Apr 2015 00:35:15 +0000 Edwin Rios 274316 at http://www.motherjones.com Here's What the Nepalese Earthquake Devastation Looks Like From a Drone http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/04/drone-footage-shows-cost-earthquake-nepal <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Over the weekend, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake and multiple aftershocks <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/rescue-crews-expand-helicopter-sorties-to-reach-remote-villages/2015/04/27/e44280c2-ec63-11e4-8050-839e9234b303_story.html" target="_blank">wiped out</a> buildings, infrastructure, and <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2015/04/25/nepal-earthquake-reduces-world-heritage-sites-to-rubble/" target="_blank">historic sites</a> in Nepal, killing more than 4,000 people, injuring thousands more, and <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/apr/27/nepal-earthquake-authorities-struggle-to-cope-despite-international-aid-efforts" target="_blank">leaving</a> tens of thousands homeless. As fatalities continue to rise after the worst earthquake to hit the country in more than 80 years, the <em>Wall Street Journal</em> <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/nepal-earthquakes-economic-toll-expected-to-be-massive-1430133298" target="_blank">reports</a> that the disaster could cost the country $5 billion to rebuild over the next five years.</p> <p>So far, rescue teams have <a href="http://news.yahoo.com/rescuers-struggle-reach-many-nepal-quake-fear-worst-062325069.html" target="_blank">struggled</a> to reach remote villages, and news orgs are having a hard time getting reporters into the country. This amateur aerial drone footage, zooming in and out above the devastation in Kathmandu, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2015/apr/27/drone-footage-kathmandu-nepal-earthquake-video" target="_blank">shows why</a>:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/N52LX1GZYWs" width="630"></iframe></p></body></html> MoJo Video International Mon, 27 Apr 2015 20:43:13 +0000 Edwin Rios 274306 at http://www.motherjones.com Good Luck Going After the Pope, Climate Deniers http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/04/climate-skeptics-troll-pope <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>If you write about climate change for a living, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/05/video-meet-climate-trolls" target="_blank">you get used to being</a> on the receiving end of tweets, emails, and comments explaining why manmade global warming is a colossal hoax. But it turns out that if you're the pope, the trolls take things a bit further. From our <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/apr/24/heartland-institute-koch-pope-francis-lobbying-climate-change-global-warming" target="_blank">partners at the </a><em><a href="http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/apr/24/heartland-institute-koch-pope-francis-lobbying-climate-change-global-warming" target="_blank">Guardian</a>:</em></p> <blockquote> <p>A US activist group that has received funding from energy companies and the foundation controlled by conservative activist Charles Koch is trying to persuade the Vatican that "there is no global warming crisis" ahead of an environmental statement by Pope Francis this summer that is expected to call for strong action to combat climate change.</p> <p>The Heartland Institute, a Chicago-based conservative thinktank that seeks to discredit established science on climate change, said it was sending a team of climate scientists to Rome "to inform Pope Francis of the truth about climate science."</p> <p>"Though Pope Francis's heart is surely in the right place, he would do his flock and the world a disservice by putting his moral authority behind the United Nations' unscientific agenda on the climate," Joseph Bast, Heartland's president, said in a statement.</p> <p>Jim Lakely, a Heartland spokesman, said the thinktank was "working on" securing a meeting with the Vatican. "I think Catholics should examine the evidence for themselves, and understand that the Holy Father is an authority on spiritual matters, not scientific ones," he said.</p> </blockquote> <p>The pope and his aides have publicly <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/01/pope-francis-climate-change" target="_blank">embraced</a> the scientific consensus that humans are warming the planet, and tomorrow the Vatican is <a href="http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2015/04/15/3647548/vatican-announces-major-summit-climate-change/" target="_blank">putting on a summit</a> entitled "Protect the Earth, Dignify Humanity: The Moral Dimensions of Climate Change and Sustainable Development." Heartland beat them to the punch, setting up a <a href="https://www.heartland.org/press-releases/2015/04/24/heartland-institute-heads-rome-advise-pope-francis-climate-policy" target="_blank">"prebuttal"</a> event on Monday in Rome.&nbsp;Heartland seems especially upset that the Vatican summit will feature two notable figures&mdash;UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and economist Jeffrey Sachs&mdash;who, it says, "refuse to acknowledge the abundant data showing human greenhouse gas emissions are not causing a climate crisis."</p> <p>Heartland is also encouraging its followers to <a href="https://www.heartland.org/Vatican-Environment-Workshop" target="_blank">send letters and emails</a> to the pope and to spread the gospel of global warming denial to their local church officials. "Talk to your minister, priest, or spiritual leader," advises Heartland's website. "Tell him or her you've studied the global warming issue and believe Pope Francis is being misled about the science and economics of the issue."</p> <p>As my colleague James West <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/12/pope-francis-climate-change" target="_blank">reported</a>, a sizeable majority of US Catholics actually share the pope's belief the climate change is a serious threat. Heartland seems to be trying to shift their views on the issue by portraying climate activists as hostile to Catholic values. In an <em>American Spectator </em>op-ed today (headline: "Francis Is Out of His Element"), Heartland research fellow H. Sterling Burnett <a href="http://spectator.org/articles/62519/francis-out-his-element" target="_blank">writes</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>Those pushing for bans on fossil fuel use think too many humans are <em>the</em> environmental problem. Many of them worship the creation, not the Creator. The same people pushing the pope to join the fight against climate change support forcible population control programs such as those operating in China. That is not a Christian position.</p> </blockquote> <p>On its website, Heartland goes even further, writing that "climate alarmists have misrepresented the facts, concocted false data, and tried to shut down a reasonable, scientific debate on the&nbsp;issue of climate change. This conduct violates the&nbsp;Eighth Commandment: 'You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.'"</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>It's energy restrictions based on climate fears that really threaten the poor <a href="http://t.co/NDMAKWVscz">http://t.co/NDMAKWVscz</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ClimateHysteria?src=hash">#ClimateHysteria</a> <a href="http://t.co/t9slbEtKxh">pic.twitter.com/t9slbEtKxh</a></p> &mdash; Heartland Institute (@HeartlandInst) <a href="https://twitter.com/HeartlandInst/status/592706200447393792">April 27, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></body></html> Kevin Drum Climate Change Climate Desk Religion Science Mon, 27 Apr 2015 19:18:20 +0000 Jeremy Schulman 274281 at http://www.motherjones.com Here's How Elizabeth Warren Is Holding Clinton's "Feet to the Fire" on Liberal Policies http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/04/elizabeth-warren-hillary-clinton <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) may have officially ruled out a bid for the White House, but she might as well be a shadow candidate. That's according to a report by Ryan Lizza in the <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/05/04/the-virtual-candidate" target="_blank"><em>New Yorker</em></a> today, which describes the Massachusetts senator and her advisers working in the background to ensure Warren's populist agenda is embedded into Hillary Clinton's campaign. Judging by Clinton's <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/04/hillary-clinton-elizabeth-warren-wall-street" target="_blank">recent embrace</a> of a number of key Warren issues, the strategy seems to be working pretty well&mdash;and Warren's team appears to know it. In the <em>New Yorker </em><a href="http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/05/04/the-virtual-candidate" target="_blank">today:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>One of Warren&rsquo;s advisers believes that if she entered the race against Clinton she would be shredded by the Clinton political machine. Instead, the best way to pursue her agenda is to use the next year to pressure Clinton.</p> <p>"I think she&rsquo;s in a beautiful position right now," the Warren adviser said, "because she can get Hillary to do whatever the hell she wants. Now the question is, will Hillary stick to it if she gets in? But at the moment Elizabeth can get her on record and hold her feet to the fire."</p> </blockquote> <p>Even as recently as last week, members of Warren's team reportedly passed around a photo of the two sitting next to each other with a thought quote hovering over Clinton that read, "What she said." <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/05/04/the-virtual-candidate" target="_blank">Additionally from Lizza:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>When I asked Warren last week if she believed that Clinton was co-opting her message, she hesitated and replied, "Eh."</p> </blockquote> <p>Burn. Of course, team Clinton is quick squash any notion she's hijacking Warren's signature policies to score some liberal points. We'll see where she officially stands on the <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/apr/17/hillary-clinton-questions-liberals-immigration-lgbt-rights" target="_blank">issues</a> soon.</p></body></html> MoJo 2016 Elections Hillary Clinton Mon, 27 Apr 2015 17:59:58 +0000 Inae Oh 274286 at http://www.motherjones.com We Buy an Insane Amount of Cheap Fashion. John Oliver Reminds Us It All Comes at a Huge Price. http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/04/john-oliver-cheap-clothing <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Despite decades of outrage over the widespread use of sweatshops and child labor overseas, cheap fashionable garments have continued to prove irresistible to American customers. On the latest <em>Last Week Tonight</em>, John Oliver said the <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VdLf4fihP78" target="_blank">appetite for such low-priced fashion</a> has gotten to the point where Americans now purchase an average 64 new items of clothing every year.</p> <p>"For the consumer, low prices are fantastic," Oliver explained. "And nowadays those clothes will even look good because trendy clothing is cheaper than ever and cheap clothing is trendier than ever."</p> <p>But Oliver reminds us that all of the cheap fashion we're scoring comes at an incredibly high moral price. Watch below:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/VdLf4fihP78" width="630"></iframe></p></body></html> Mixed Media Human Rights Media Mon, 27 Apr 2015 13:37:37 +0000 Inae Oh 274266 at http://www.motherjones.com Republicans Painting Hillary Clinton As a Tool of the Superrich Forget One Little Thing http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/04/hillary-clinton-gop-populist-attacks-jonathan-chait <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><em>While Kevin Drum is <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/04/housekeeping-note" target="_blank">focused on getting better</a>, we've invited some of the remarkable writers and thinkers who have traded links and ideas with him from Blogosphere 1.0 to this day to contribute posts and keep the conversation going. Today we're honored to present a post from </em>New York <em>magazine's <a href="http://nymag.com/author/jonathan%20chait" target="_blank">Jonathan Chait</a>, whose writing on politics has been published by the </em>New Republic<em>, the </em>American Prospect<em>, and the </em>Los Angeles Times<em>.</em></p> <p>Barack Obama was raised by a financially struggling single mother, and Mitt Romney was the son of an auto executive turned governor who grew up to be a gazillionaire in the financial industry. This made biographical populism an unfruitful subject for the right in 2012. But circumstances have changed a bit. Hillary Clinton and her husband have grown extremely rich in their post&ndash;White House years, and the Republican Party is cultivating at least a couple of potential candidates, like Scott Walker and Marco Rubio, who boast of their modest backgrounds. Republicans are licking their lips for a year and a half of Hillary-as&ndash;Leona Helmsley, flying around in private jets, luxuriating in wealth, and disingenuously pretending to care about the struggles of average Americans. There is, however, one wee problem in the Republican populist plot. That is the policy agenda.</p> <p>Conservative writer <a href="http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/selling-hillary-2016_921752.html?nopager=1" target="_blank">Jay Cost</a> is already looking ahead to this problem, which he presents as a kind of dodge. After flaying Clinton for her wealth, he fumes, "Really, the only claim Clinton can make to understanding the travails of everyday Americans is her party's platform," writes Cost, "Endorsement of that document is a kind of sacrament that bestows the power of empathy upon every Democratic pol. This is perhaps the most absurd premise of the Clinton candidacy."</p> <p>This is a strange and revealing passage. He argues that Clinton is a tool of the rich, and the only possible fact undermining this otherwise obvious reality is her party's platform, i.e., the stuff she would do as president. This is an "absurd" premise upon which to cast her as a populist if you think of elections as a soap opera drama between two individuals. It makes a lot of sense if you think about the presidency as a vehicle to change public policy.</p> <p>And the cardinal fact of the modern political age is that the two parties are primarily fighting over redistribution. Democrats want the government to tax the rich at higher levels and spend more to support the poor, and Republicans want the opposite. The major political fights of the last three decades, from the Reagan tax cuts to the Clinton tax hikes to Clintoncare to the Bush tax cuts to Obamacare to the Ryan budget, have all been centered on the redistributionary principle.</p> <p>And yet some conservatives don't want the Republican Party to invest its political capital so heavily in this fight. Maybe they don't care that much about overtaxing the rich. Or maybe they believe, accurately, that the political price of having to defend tax cuts for the 1 percent crowds out policies that appeal to the 99 percent, who have a lot more votes.</p> <p>One of the distinctive qualities of this group of populist conservatives is that they seem unable to distinguish between the hope that the Republican Party will adopt their policy vision and the belief that it already has. They have a habit of invoking the GOP they wish existed as though it were the real thing.</p> <p>Cost falls into this category. In the same piece, he describes a different kind of political debate, one which pits the Republicans against the economic elite, rather than on its side. He describes this alternative debate is if it were the real one:</p> <blockquote> <p>The GOP ostensibly stands for smaller, more efficient government&mdash;but it allows the Democrats to define just what sort of government we are talking about. The debate always seems to be about Medicare and Medicaid, food stamps and unemployment insurance, Pell grants and Head Start. In other words, by the very terms of the conversation, big government works for the benefit of the downtrodden. Even as they defend big government, the Democrats identify themselves as the champions of the downtrodden and the GOP as their hardhearted assailants.</p> <p>But what about corporate tax payouts? Or farm subsidies for the largest agribusinesses?</p> </blockquote> <p>The debate "seems" to be about Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, unemployment insurance, Pell grants, and Head Start because the Republican platform is to <a href="http://www.cbpp.org/research/federal-budget/ten-serious-flaws-in-the-house-and-senate-budget-plans?fa=view&amp;id=5304" target="_blank">slash those programs deeply</a>. Those are not things Democrats have defined as the "sort of government we are talking about." Those are programs Republicans have decided to make the focal point of their economic program (along with deep cuts in taxes for the highest earning Americans, a point Cost is too embarrassed to raise in this context).</p> <p>What about corporate tax payouts and subsidies for the largest agribusinesses? Well, that would be a great debate for our hypothetical populist Republicans. The actual Republicans defend corporate tax loopholes. They will sometimes invoke them in general, as an argument for a generalized reform that lowers tax rates, but when faced with proposals to eliminate even completely egregious corporate loopholes (like the faster depreciations rate for private jets), they <a href="http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2011/06/29/gop-attacks-obamas-call-for-ending-tax-breaks-for-corporate-jets/" target="_blank">refuse</a>. When Dave Camp went off the reservation before his retirement and designed a tax reform that did not give rich people a huge tax cut, his party abandoned him en masse and never mentioned his plan again.</p> <p>Farm subsidies are an issue that somewhat divides the parties, since rural members tend to support them regardless of their affiliation. Neither party will forthrightly eliminate them altogether, which is the position I'd favor. But the actual political divide in Washington confounds Cost's idealized one. It is the Obama administration that wants to reduce agriculture subsidies, and House Republicans <a href="http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2013/07/republicans-pass-bloated-socialist-monstrosity.html" target="_blank">fighting</a> to keep them at a higher level.</p> <p>So, "what about corporate tax payouts? Or farm subsidies for the largest agribusinesses"? Well, those issues underscore the same conclusion as the issues Cost doesn't want to talk about. It would be wonderful if Republicans stopped being a party whose most despised spending programs benefit the poor and whose most acceptable spending programs benefit the middle class or even the affluent. It would likewise be nice if the Republican Party wasn't most determined to reduce (or, if possible, eliminate) the taxes <a href="http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2015/03/marco-rubio-will-kill-your-puppy.html" target="_blank">paid most heavily by the rich</a>, while also being most willing to raise the taxes <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/04/21/vwelfap/?hpid=z7" target="_blank">heavily paid by the poor</a>. The world would be a much better place. It is not, however, the world we inhabit.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum 2016 Elections Hillary Clinton Top Stories Mon, 27 Apr 2015 13:00:06 +0000 Jonathan Chait 274201 at http://www.motherjones.com The Science of How Gay Marriage Will Destroy America http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/04/opponents-same-sex-marriage-claim-science-their-side <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case that could legalize same-sex marriage in every state by the end of the court's term in June. To stop that from happening, supporters of the state-level bans that could be in jeopardy have filed 66 friend-of-the-court briefs, offering <a href="http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/the-wildest-arguments-against-marriage-equality" target="_blank">a host</a> of social, political, and scientific reasons the court should uphold existing state bans.</p> <p>These briefs fall into a few categories. The more temperate ones <a href="http://www.scotusblog.com/2015/04/preview-on-same-sex-marriage-part-iv-supporting-the-state-bans/" target="_blank">argue</a> that marriage should be decided at the state level&mdash;an attempt to sway Justice Anthony Kennedy without disparaging same-sex unions. Others are more dramatic in tone, such as a <a href="http://sblog.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/14-55614-56214-57114-574bsacTexasEagleForum.pdf" target="_blank">brief</a> from the Texas Eagle Forum, a conservative group in Texas, that predicts legalizing same-sex marriage would be "analogous overreaching" to "this Court's misguided attempt to impose its views on the entire country in Dred Scott," the 1857 decision often cited as one of the causes of the Civil War.</p> <p>Opponents have also tried to demonstrate more specific social harms from gay marriage in their briefs. As <em>SCOTUSblog</em>'s Lyle Denniston <a href="http://www.scotusblog.com/2015/04/preview-on-same-sex-marriage-part-iv-supporting-the-state-bans/" target="_blank">noted</a> recently, they don't want to be caught flat-footed this time around, as they were during the Proposition 8 case over California's same-sex marriage ban. Asked how same-sex marriages would harm opposite-sex marriages during 2009 pretrial hearing in that case, conservative lawyer Chuck Cooper <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/27/us/27bar.html?_r=0" target="_blank">admitted</a>, "Your Honor, my answer is: I don't know."</p> <p>Referring to the California case, attorney Gene Schaerr, who helped coordinate some of the briefs in support of the gay-marriage bans, told the <em>National Law Journal</em> recently that he "looked back at the amicus briefs<em>" </em>filed in that case. "[O]ur side had not made as powerful a social science case for the traditional definition of marriage as could be made," said Schaerr, formerly of Winston &amp; Strawn, who defended Utah's gay marriage ban last year.<a href="#correction">*</a></p> <p>This time around, Schaerr and his allies want to avoid that mistake. Here are a few of the scientific reasons submitted to the Supreme Court from the opponents of same-sex marriage:</p> <p><strong>Same-sex marriage will cause an additional 900,000 abortions: </strong>As Schaerr, the chief author of this amicus brief, <a href="http://dailysignal.com/2015/04/17/forcing-states-to-recognize-gay-marriage-could-increase-number-of-abortions/" target="_blank">admits</a>, "abortion and same-sex marriage may seem unrelated." But, he has found a connection. Schaerr, writing on behalf of "100 scholars of marriage," <a href="http://www.supremecourt.gov/ObergefellHodges/AmicusBriefs/14-556_100_Scholars_of_Marriage.pdf" target="_blank">argues</a> that states with same-sex marriage have seen a decline in opposite-sex marriage by "[at] least five percent." Schaerr extrapolates this 5 percent figure, concluding that over the next 30-year "fertility cycle," nearly 1.3 million women will forego marriage. Arguing that unmarried women are more likely to get abortions, Schaerr calculates an additional 900,000 abortions. But, he <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-new-argument-against-gay-equality-same-sex-marriage-kills/2015/04/20/9fc509d4-e7a3-11e4-aae1-d642717d8afa_story.html" target="_blank">acknowledged</a>&nbsp;to the <em>Washington Post</em> last week, "it is still too new to do a rigorous causation analysis using statistical methods."</p> <p><strong>The "homosexual experience" leads to "early death": </strong>This is the argument put forward by Mike Huckabee Policy Solutions, an advocacy group that supports the "national policy aims" of the former Arkansas governor and likely 2016 presidential candidate, and the Family Research Institute, the "anti-gay movement's main source for&hellip;completely discredited junk science" on LGBT people, <a href="http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2010/winter/the-hard-liners" target="_blank">according to</a> the Southern Poverty Law Center.&nbsp; Their <a href="http://sblog.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/55614-56214-57114-574bsacMikeHuckabeePolicySolutions.pdf" target="_blank">brief</a> argues that "consistent evidence indicates that individuals who engage in homosexuality experience significantly higher mortality rates than those who do not."</p> <p><strong>Children of same-sex marriages are disadvantaged:</strong> The Ruth Institute, a San Diego-based group that appears to be run by one woman,&nbsp;Jennifer Roback Morse, and seeks to address "the lies of the Sexual Revolution," <a href="http://sblog.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/14-556-562-571-574-bsac-The-Ruth-Institute-and-Dr.-Jennifer-Roback-Morse-PhD.pdf" target="_blank">argues</a> that the "'consensus' that 'the kids are ok' has been manufactured by systematically excluding evidence" that they are not okay. The group is particularly worried about children not having a biological connection to both parents and predicts "social chaos, by creating a world in which families are determined by policy, rather than biology."</p> <p><strong>Same-sex marriage will hurt underprivileged women and children:</strong> A group that describes itself as "scholars of the effects that marriage law has on the welfare of women, children, and underprivileged populations," and including <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/01/rick-santorum-big-anti-gay-ally" target="_blank">gay marriage foe</a> Maggie Gallagher of the National Organization for Marriage, <a href="http://sblog.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/14-556_Scholars_of_the_Welfare_of_Women_Children_and_Underprivileged_Populations.pdf" target="_blank">claim</a> that marriage is particularly helpful to the stability and economic status of poor Americans. But redefining marriage, they argue, would create a new era "where men and women are viewed as interchangeable, nonessential facets of family life; and where the law has cemented marriage as a mere governmental capstone of a loving relationship." Without marriage's "historical" focus on procreation and stability, single mothers will end up raising children on their own, hurting their economic outlook.</p> <p id="correction"><em>Correction: An earlier version of this article suggested that Winston &amp; Strawn defended Utah's ban. It did not.</em></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Gay Rights Supreme Court Top Stories Mon, 27 Apr 2015 10:00:08 +0000 Pema Levy 274196 at http://www.motherjones.com Tales From City of Hope #8: The Day +3 Cake http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/04/tales-city-hope-8-day-3-cake <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_day3_cake.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">As promised, the Day +3 cake arrived today, produced with a mother's love along with an assist from Duncan Hines. That's the childhood formula, so that's what I got. I will spend the next few days in a chocolate coma.</p> <p>Marian visited today too, which was a good thing. My fatigue is getting ever worse, and when I got back from my daily hydration I pretty much crashed for two hours. So the visit was mostly between Marian and my mother. I woke up just in time to say goodbye. Before I crashed, however, I did get this badly-composed selfie of the three of us, all sporting our now-stylish surgical masks. Enjoy.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_three_amigos.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 60px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 27 Apr 2015 03:45:29 +0000 Kevin Drum 274261 at http://www.motherjones.com Quote of the Day: George Bush Still in Foreign Policy Denial http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/04/quote-day-george-bush-still-foreign-policy-denial <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>From Bloomberg's Josh Rogin, after reading a transcript of George W. Bush's remarks on the Middle East to a <a href="http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-04-27/george-w-bush-bashes-obama-on-middle-east" target="_blank">closed-door meeting with Jewish donors this weekend:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>For George W. Bush, the remarks in Vegas showed he has little respect for how the current president is running the world. He also revealed that he takes little responsibility for the policies that he put in place that contributed to the current state of affairs.</p> </blockquote> <p>Yep, that sounds like the George Bush we all came to know and love. My favorite quote: "In order to be an effective president ... when you say something you have to mean it," he said. "You gotta kill em."</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Bush Foreign Policy Mon, 27 Apr 2015 01:57:11 +0000 Kevin Drum 274256 at http://www.motherjones.com The Law, In Its Finnish Majesty.... http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/04/law-its-finnish-majesty <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>In Finland, a speeding ticket costs you more if you're rich than if you're poor. Fair enough, perhaps. "The thinking here is that if it stings for the little guy, it should sting for the big guy, too," says the <em>New York Times</em>.</p> <p>In any case, I already knew this. <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/26/world/europe/speeding-in-finland-can-cost-a-fortune-if-you-already-have-one.html?hp&amp;action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;module=second-column-region&amp;region=top-news&amp;WT.nav=top-news&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">What I didn't know was the formula:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The fines are calculated based on half an offender&rsquo;s daily net income, with some consideration for the number of children under his or her roof and a deduction deemed to be enough to cover basic living expenses, currently 255 euros per month.</p> <p>Then, that figure is multiplied by the number of days of income the offender should lose, according to the severity of the offense.</p> <p>Mr. Kuisla, a betting man who parlayed his winnings into a real estate empire, was clocked speeding near the Seinajoki airport. Given the speed he was going, Mr. Kuisla was assessed eight days. His fine was then calculated from his 2013 income, 6,559,742 euros, or more than $7 million at current exchange rates.</p> </blockquote> <p>Sadly for Reima Kuisla, he was clocked at 103 kph, which set him back a whopping 54,024 euros. However, if he'd been traveling just 3 kph slower, his fine would have been only 100 euros. No matter what you think of the social justice of this system, that does seem like a bit of a steep spike, doesn't it?</p> <p>Here in America, though, perhaps we have different priorities. What minor but annoying infractions would you like to apply this system to here in the good 'ol USA?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sun, 26 Apr 2015 17:04:17 +0000 Kevin Drum 274246 at http://www.motherjones.com Why CNN Wouldn't Cut Away From White House Shindig To Cover Huge Freddie Gray Protest http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/04/cnn-freddie-gray-white-house <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>As politicians, celebrities, and journalists gathered for the <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/04/here-obamas-white-house-correspondents-dinner-speech" target="_blank">annua</a>l White House Correspondents' Dinner last night in D.C., just miles away in Baltimore, Maryland, a big crowd marched to protest the death in police custody of 25-year-old Freddie Gray. By Saturday evening, <a href="http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/breaking/bal-protesters-rally-for-freddie-gray-hundreds-to-march-20150425-story.html#page=1" target="_blank">12 people</a> were reported arrested as some in the largely peaceful crowd threw rocks and smashed windows, and the jumbotron at the Baltimore Orioles game <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/protesters-damage-cars-freddie-gray-rally-article-1.2199168" target="_blank">warned</a> fans to stay inside.</p> <p>But you wouldn't have known any of that from CNN, which chose to stick with live coverage of every second of the White House dinner. "The most powerful man in the world is going to tell some jokes," contributor Errol Louis explained, with scenes of the gala in the background. If you wanted to know what was going on with the rallies, you could "find a live feed" somewhere, he said&mdash;just not, evidently, on America's 24-hour news network.</p> <p>"We sort of make our best choices, and we'll catch up," Louis said. "They'll find out all of what happened in the streets of Baltimore by this time tomorrow."&nbsp;</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/LrHE_eXDeJg" width="560"></iframe></p></body></html> Mixed Media Crime and Justice Media Obama Race and Ethnicity Sun, 26 Apr 2015 15:06:33 +0000 Inae Oh 274241 at http://www.motherjones.com This Was Pretty Good/Sad/Awful http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/04/was-pretty-goodsadawful <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>I haven't liked Cecily Strong's speech tonight very much but this was pretty good/sad/awful.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>"Let's give it up for the Secret Service, the only law enforcement agency in the country that will get in trouble if a black man gets shot"</p> &mdash; Wesley Lowery (@WesleyLowery) <a href="https://twitter.com/WesleyLowery/status/592159071559491584">April 26, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> Mixed Media Sun, 26 Apr 2015 03:05:35 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 274231 at http://www.motherjones.com Here is Obama's White House Correspondents' Dinner Speech http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/04/here-obamas-white-house-correspondents-dinner-speech <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Obummer's speech starts at 3:08.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/9vdWq4GPbSI" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>What did you think?</p></body></html> Mixed Media Sun, 26 Apr 2015 02:55:17 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 274226 at http://www.motherjones.com One Tweet Shows How Far We As Americans Still Have To Go http://www.motherjones.com/contributor/2015/04/one-tweet-shows-how-ridiculous-everything <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Tonight is the White House Correspondents' Dinner. It's a really dumb event where journalists play grab ass with the subjects they cover. I think it's a venial sin at worse, because every industry has its stupid, embarrassing events, but even I, <a href="https://twitter.com/bendreyfuss/status/592054862617169920" target="_blank">an apologist for it</a>, found myself nodding along when I read this <a href="https://twitter.com/GideonResnick/status/592104797081186304" target="_blank">tweet</a>.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>Some people are getting dressed for a ball while others are running away from the police an hour away</p> &mdash; Gideon Resnick (@GideonResnick) <a href="https://twitter.com/GideonResnick/status/592104797081186304">April 25, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><div id="__if72ru4sdfsdfrkjahiuyi_once" style="display:none;">&nbsp;</div> <div id="__hggasdgjhsagd_once" style="display:none;">&nbsp;</div> <p>He's talking about the <a href="http://time.com/3835680/white-house-correspondents-dinner-celebrities/" target="_blank">WHCD at the Washington Hilton in DC</a> and the protests against the <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2015/04/25/us/baltimore-freddie-gray-protest/" target="_blank">killing of Freddie Gray in Baltimore</a>. But in all seriousness, this tweet is evergreen. Terribly, awfully, <em>intensely depressingly </em>evergreen. This is America in 2015.</p> <p>I'm going to watch the WHCD if I can, write some jokes, embed it in a blog post, etc...But the truth is: It doesn't matter. What matters is what's going on down the road. What matters is what's going on down so many roads.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/contributor/2015/04/one-tweet-shows-how-ridiculous-everything"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Contributor Sun, 26 Apr 2015 00:33:43 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 274221 at http://www.motherjones.com Tales From City of Hope #7: Weekend Update http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/04/tales-city-hope-7-weekend-update <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_day_3_cake.jpg" style="margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;" width="290">Since my actual stem cell transplant happened on Thursday, that counts as Day Zero. Today is Day +2. It turns out that part of the prep for the transplant was an IV injection of both Benadryl and Ativan, so I was pretty conked out the entire day. Friday was about the same. Strong stuff, but today I seem to be more alert. For now, anyway.</p> <p>My white cell count continues to drop, which is paradoxically a good thing. Basically, my immune system will drop nearly to zero, probably around Monday or Tuesday, and then begin rebounding. Assuming nothing goes wrong, the main effect will be lots of fatigue and poor appetite. So let's hope nothing goes wrong, shall we?</p> <p>In the meantime, while I wait for a guest post from President Obama, my mother has promised to deliver me a traditional chocolate birthday cake of my childhood on Sunday. We shall christen it the Day +3 cake since we're not even within shouting distance of my birthday at the moment.</p> <p>Otherwise, today is busy! Marian is here, doing some laundry while I'm being hydrated for four hours. Later my sister is coming, and our friend Eileen a little after that. Should be quite the party.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 25 Apr 2015 16:54:54 +0000 Kevin Drum 274216 at http://www.motherjones.com This Stat Will Make Deforestation Hit Home http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/04/stat-about-forests-will-make-you-sad <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Okay, so <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2013/11/watch-mapping-deforestation-google-earth" target="_blank">deforestation</a> is sad, and it's Arbor Day so we should be extra sad about it. But there are <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2015/04/organic-standards-animal-welfare" target="_blank">so</a> <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2015/03/arctic-sea-ice-maximum-extent" target="_blank">many</a> <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2015/04/everything-you-wanted-know-about-california-drought" target="_blank">things</a> to be sad about, right? Well maybe this stat, from <a href="http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/1/2/e1500052.figures-only" target="_blank">a study</a> that came out last month, will make the loss of the world's forests sink in for you:</p> <blockquote> <p>More than 70 percent of the worlds's forests are within 1 kilometer of a forest edge. Thus, most forests are well within the range where human activities, altered microclimate and nonforest species may influence and degrade forest ecosystems.</p> </blockquote> <p>That's right, we've arrived at the point where the majority of the forest in the world is just a short walk from the stuff humans have built. If you need that in graph form, here you go:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"> <p class="rteindent4"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/grafarbor.jpg" style="float: right;"></p> <div class="caption">Science Advances</div> </div> <p>According to the study, which was published in the journal <em>Science Advances</em>, the largest remaining contiguous forests are in the Amazon and the Congo River Basin. The study also synthesized past forest fragmentation research and found that breaking up habitats to this degree has reduced biodiversity by as much as 75 percent in some areas.</p> <p>Happy Arbor Day&hellip;</p></body></html> Blue Marble Science Rainforests Fri, 24 Apr 2015 20:33:20 +0000 Luke Whelan 274186 at http://www.motherjones.com Say What You Will About Almonds, but They Are Wildly Popular http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2015/04/california-almond-orchard-defy-critics-continue-expanding <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>California's thirsty almond orchards have been generating an impressive amount of debate as the state's drought <a href="http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/Home/RegionalDroughtMonitor.aspx?west" target="_blank">drags on</a>. But that won't likely stop their expansion. The title of a new <a href="https://far.rabobank.com/en/sectors/regional-food-agri/maybe-money-does-grow-on-trees.html" target="_blank">report</a> from the Dutch agribusiness-banking giant Rabobank explains why: "California Almonds: Maybe Money Does Grow on Trees."</p> <p>The report is "exclusive for business clients of Rabobank," but an accompanying <a href="https://www.rabobank.com/en/research/food-agribusiness/california-almonds.html" target="_blank">blog post</a> offers some good tidbits. "Drought conditions and the stronger US dollar have increased the price of almonds for all buyers," it states. On the US East Coast, wholesale prices for premium almonds have risen 20 percent since last year. "In Europe, the almond is becoming increasingly popular, not only as a nutritious snack but especially as a go-to ingredient for manufacturers," it continues. There, wholesale prices are up 50 percent since last year, while "buyers in India and Hong Kong are paying 25 percent and 20 percent more, respectively."</p> <p>Those higher prices will evidently more than compensate California farmers for higher watering costs, and inspire them to expand acreage. Rabobank expects California almond production to rise by&nbsp;2 percent to 3.5 percent per year over the next decade, accoring to <a href="http://Read%20more%20here:%20http://www.sacbee.com/news/state/california/water-and-drought/article18716937.html#storylink=cpy" target="_blank"><em>Sacramento Bee</em></a>'s Dale Kasler, who got a look at the Rabobank study.</p> <p>That's impressive growth. If almond output expands by 3 percent per year over the next ten years, then&mdash;using this <a href="http://www.1728.org/compint.htm" target="_blank">trusty formula</a>&mdash;production will grow a whopping 34 percent between now and 2025. That's a lot of growth for a state that already churns out 80 percent of the world's almonds. This scenario doesn't imply a 34 percent expansion in almond acreage&mdash;some of the almond trees that will contribute to that growth in output have already been planted and will be coming into production over the next few years (it takes almonds about <a href="http://www.agmrc.org/commodities__products/nuts/almond-profile/" target="_blank">four years</a> to begin producing after they're planted). But it does imply a robust expansion. Kasler quotes the study:</p> <blockquote> <p>Higher prices and good profits for California almond growers will continue to encourage more planting of almond orchards.... Nurseries report very little slowing in orders of new trees.</p> </blockquote> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> Tom Philpott Food and Ag Fri, 24 Apr 2015 18:39:45 +0000 Tom Philpott 274171 at http://www.motherjones.com Friday Cat Blogging - April 24 2015 http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/04/friday-cat-blogging-april-24-2015 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>While Kevin is undergoing treatment, we've invited <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/04/bitcoin-women-problem" target="_blank">lots of</a> <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/04/euro-ingroup-bias" target="_blank">exciting</a> <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/04/cheryl-rofer-iran-nuclear-deal" target="_blank">guest</a> <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/04/clinton-90s-welfare-reform" target="_blank">writers</a> to stop by in his honor. But there's no reason the hospitality can't extend to another species, is there?</p> <p>This week's <em>Mother Jones </em>affiliated cat is Max, who joined&nbsp;reporter <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/authors/patrick-caldwell" target="_blank">Patrick Caldwell</a> last summer as the fifth (and only feline) resident of his Washington, DC row house. Here's a shot of Max exploring the dark corners of his realm.</p> <center> <blockquote class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-version="4" style=" background:#FFF; border:0; border-radius:3px; box-shadow:0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width:658px; padding:0; width:99.375%; width:-webkit-calc(100% - 2px); width:calc(100% - 2px);"> <div style="padding:8px;"> <div style=" background:#F8F8F8; line-height:0; margin-top:40px; padding:50% 0; text-align:center; width:100%;"> <div style=" background:url(data:image/png;base64,iVBORw0KGgoAAAANSUhEUgAAACwAAAAsCAMAAAApWqozAAAAGFBMVEUiIiI9PT0eHh4gIB4hIBkcHBwcHBwcHBydr+JQAAAACHRSTlMABA4YHyQsM5jtaMwAAADfSURBVDjL7ZVBEgMhCAQBAf//42xcNbpAqakcM0ftUmFAAIBE81IqBJdS3lS6zs3bIpB9WED3YYXFPmHRfT8sgyrCP1x8uEUxLMzNWElFOYCV6mHWWwMzdPEKHlhLw7NWJqkHc4uIZphavDzA2JPzUDsBZziNae2S6owH8xPmX8G7zzgKEOPUoYHvGz1TBCxMkd3kwNVbU0gKHkx+iZILf77IofhrY1nYFnB/lQPb79drWOyJVa/DAvg9B/rLB4cC+Nqgdz/TvBbBnr6GBReqn/nRmDgaQEej7WhonozjF+Y2I/fZou/qAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC); display:block; height:44px; margin:0 auto -44px; position:relative; top:-22px; width:44px;">&nbsp;</div> </div> <p style=" margin:8px 0 0 0; padding:0 4px;"><a href="https://instagram.com/p/x0YwDhTehf/" style=" color:#000; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:normal; line-height:17px; text-decoration:none; word-wrap:break-word;" target="_top">So amazed to discover the underground territory</a></p> <p style=" color:#c9c8cd; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px; margin-bottom:0; margin-top:8px; overflow:hidden; padding:8px 0 7px; text-align:center; text-overflow:ellipsis; white-space:nowrap;">A photo posted by Patrick Caldwell (@patcaldwell) on <time datetime="2015-01-14T03:02:07+00:00" style=" font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px;">Jan 13, 2015 at 7:02pm PST</time></p> </div> </blockquote> <script async defer src="//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js"></script></center> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Max's background is almost as shrouded and mysterious as that crawl space. How old is he? No one knows. How many people have cared for him before Pat and his roommates? No one's quite sure about that either.</p> <p>As the story goes, Max has been bequeathed from shared home to shared home like a well-loved futon as his keepers have, one after the other, moved out of the beltway. And while that might make him sound like a very mobile cat, Pat reports he's quite sedentary in most respects. His favorite form of play&mdash;swatting at things just above his head&mdash;can and usually is performed while reclining on his back. This Thanksgiving, he gave the humans a brief scare by slipping away while they were out celebrating. But true to his nature, when they came home Max seemed to have whiled away the hours just a few yards from the window they'd mistakenly left open.</p> <p>Unlike <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/04/friday-cat-bloggging-24-april-2014" target="_blank">Hilbert and Hopper</a>, Max can't count on Southern California's sun to keep him warm, so over the winter his roommates cleverly rigged up a cat bed right above a radiator. Ready for a nap?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <center> <blockquote class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-version="4" style=" background:#FFF; border:0; border-radius:3px; box-shadow:0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width:658px; padding:0; width:99.375%; width:-webkit-calc(100% - 2px); width:calc(100% - 2px);"> <div style="padding:8px;"> <div style=" background:#F8F8F8; line-height:0; margin-top:40px; padding:50% 0; text-align:center; width:100%;"> <div style=" background:url(data:image/png;base64,iVBORw0KGgoAAAANSUhEUgAAACwAAAAsCAMAAAApWqozAAAAGFBMVEUiIiI9PT0eHh4gIB4hIBkcHBwcHBwcHBydr+JQAAAACHRSTlMABA4YHyQsM5jtaMwAAADfSURBVDjL7ZVBEgMhCAQBAf//42xcNbpAqakcM0ftUmFAAIBE81IqBJdS3lS6zs3bIpB9WED3YYXFPmHRfT8sgyrCP1x8uEUxLMzNWElFOYCV6mHWWwMzdPEKHlhLw7NWJqkHc4uIZphavDzA2JPzUDsBZziNae2S6owH8xPmX8G7zzgKEOPUoYHvGz1TBCxMkd3kwNVbU0gKHkx+iZILf77IofhrY1nYFnB/lQPb79drWOyJVa/DAvg9B/rLB4cC+Nqgdz/TvBbBnr6GBReqn/nRmDgaQEej7WhonozjF+Y2I/fZou/qAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC); display:block; height:44px; margin:0 auto -44px; position:relative; top:-22px; width:44px;">&nbsp;</div> </div> <p style=" margin:8px 0 0 0; padding:0 4px;"><a href="https://instagram.com/p/zX5nD1zesF/" style=" color:#000; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:normal; line-height:17px; text-decoration:none; word-wrap:break-word;" target="_top">I feel ya buddy</a></p> <p style=" color:#c9c8cd; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px; margin-bottom:0; margin-top:8px; overflow:hidden; padding:8px 0 7px; text-align:center; text-overflow:ellipsis; white-space:nowrap;">A photo posted by Patrick Caldwell (@patcaldwell) on <time datetime="2015-02-21T18:34:04+00:00" style=" font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px;">Feb 21, 2015 at 10:34am PST</time></p> </div> </blockquote> <script async defer src="//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js"></script></center> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>With the roommate most responsible for Max heading to Kansas City for medical school come fall, this peripatetic puss's future is a bit unsettled. Will he stay with his current community, or will he head west? If he stays, what if the new roommate is allergic, or&mdash;as hard as this may be to imagine&mdash;not a cat person? Yes, there may be yet another loving home in his future.</p> <p>Whatever happens, there's no doubt Max will land on his feet. Cats always do.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 24 Apr 2015 18:35:04 +0000 Clint Hendler 274151 at http://www.motherjones.com Bonus Friday Cat Blogging - 24 April 2015 http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/04/friday-cat-bloggging-24-april-2014 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>In the top photo, Hopper is scrooched under Karen's display case just to show she can do it. But something has caught her attention. It turned out to be Hilbert, who was innocently walking down the stairs and got pounced on a few seconds after this picture was taken. And with that the evening festivities were on.</p> <p>The next day Hilbert found something more relaxing to do. He discovered the kitchen window and curled up to watch the local parrot population. What could be more entertaining?</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_hopper_2015_04_24.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 90px;"><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_hilbert_2015_04_24.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 90px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 24 Apr 2015 16:00:07 +0000 Kevin Drum 274161 at http://www.motherjones.com Native American Actors Walk Off Set of New Adam Sandler Movie Over Racist Jokes http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2015/04/adam-sandler-native-americans-walk-off-set <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>About a dozen Native American actors <a href="http://bigstory.ap.org/article/cbe7fbb2204648969b9557106d0611b1/american-indian-actors-quit-adam-sandler-movie-over-names" target="_blank">quit</a> the set of a new Adam Sandler film, produced by Netflix, to protest the script's portrayal of Apache culture and what the actors claim are racist jokes about native women and elders.</p> <p>According to a report by <a href="http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2015/04/23/native-actors-walk-set-adam-sandler-movie-after-insults-women-elders-160110" target="_blank"><em>Indian Country</em></a>, the actors of "The Ridiculous Six," a spoof of the classic western flick "The Magnificent Seven," complained to producers about the offensive stereotypes, which include the naming of female characters as Beaver's Breath and No Bra. One scene also has a native woman "squatting and urinating while smoking a peace pipe."</p> <p>Allison Young, a Navajo Nation tribal member and student, said the actors talked to the producers and told them what they found offensive. "They just told us, 'If you guys are so sensitive, you should leave,'"she said. "I didn't want to cry but the feeling just came over me. This is supposed to be a comedy that makes you laugh. A film like this should not make someone feel this way."</p> <p>Loren Anthony, another tribal member and actor, told<em> Indian Country</em> that while he initially had reservations about appearing in the film, producers had assured him the jokes would not be racist. But from the very beginning, he said, things "started getting weird" and what were supposed to be jokes were simply offensive.</p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-version="4" style=" background:#FFF; border:0; border-radius:3px; box-shadow:0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width:658px; padding:0; width:99.375%; width:-webkit-calc(100% - 2px); width:calc(100% - 2px);"> <div style="padding:8px;"> <div style=" background:#F8F8F8; line-height:0; margin-top:40px; padding:50% 0; text-align:center; width:100%;"> <div style=" background:url(data:image/png;base64,iVBORw0KGgoAAAANSUhEUgAAACwAAAAsCAMAAAApWqozAAAAGFBMVEUiIiI9PT0eHh4gIB4hIBkcHBwcHBwcHBydr+JQAAAACHRSTlMABA4YHyQsM5jtaMwAAADfSURBVDjL7ZVBEgMhCAQBAf//42xcNbpAqakcM0ftUmFAAIBE81IqBJdS3lS6zs3bIpB9WED3YYXFPmHRfT8sgyrCP1x8uEUxLMzNWElFOYCV6mHWWwMzdPEKHlhLw7NWJqkHc4uIZphavDzA2JPzUDsBZziNae2S6owH8xPmX8G7zzgKEOPUoYHvGz1TBCxMkd3kwNVbU0gKHkx+iZILf77IofhrY1nYFnB/lQPb79drWOyJVa/DAvg9B/rLB4cC+Nqgdz/TvBbBnr6GBReqn/nRmDgaQEej7WhonozjF+Y2I/fZou/qAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC); display:block; height:44px; margin:0 auto -44px; position:relative; top:-22px; width:44px;">&nbsp;</div> </div> <p style=" margin:8px 0 0 0; padding:0 4px;"><a href="https://instagram.com/p/1vYsZoJvAk/" style=" color:#000; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:normal; line-height:17px; text-decoration:none; word-wrap:break-word;" target="_top">On set, going to brawl out with Nick Nolte. #TheRidiculousSix #NickNolte #NMfilm #NM #film #SAGfilm #LasVegasNM #movies #NativeActor #Acting #Actor #hollywood #Comedy #NativePride #NativeAmerican</a></p> <p style=" color:#c9c8cd; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px; margin-bottom:0; margin-top:8px; overflow:hidden; padding:8px 0 7px; text-align:center; text-overflow:ellipsis; white-space:nowrap;">A photo posted by Loren Anthony (@lorenanthony) on <time datetime="2015-04-21T14:31:00+00:00" style=" font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px;">Apr 21, 2015 at 7:31am PDT</time></p> </div> </blockquote> <script async defer src="//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js"></script><p>Netflix&nbsp;<a href="http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/04/23/native-american-actors-walk-off-adam-sandler-movie/?partner=socialflow&amp;smid=tw-nytimes" target="_blank">defends </a>the film as a supposed satire. "The movie has 'ridiculous' in the title for a reason: because it is ridiculous," the company said in a statement. "It is a broad satire of Western movies and the stereotypes they popularized, featuring a diverse cast that is not only part of&mdash;but in on&mdash;the joke."</p> <p>"The Ridiculous Six" follows a string of flops for Sandler, whose recent films include the 2012 movie "Jack and Jill," which succeeded in <a href="http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/race/razzie-awards-adam-sandler-jack-jill-sweep-306842" target="_blank">winning</a> every single category at the Razzies that year. His latest production stars Nick Nolte, Steve Buscemi, Will Forte, and Vanilla Ice. A preview of what that looks like below:</p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-version="4" style=" background:#FFF; border:0; border-radius:3px; box-shadow:0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width:658px; padding:0; width:99.375%; width:-webkit-calc(100% - 2px); width:calc(100% - 2px);"> <div style="padding:8px;"> <div style=" background:#F8F8F8; line-height:0; margin-top:40px; padding:50% 0; text-align:center; width:100%;"> <div style=" background:url(data:image/png;base64,iVBORw0KGgoAAAANSUhEUgAAACwAAAAsCAMAAAApWqozAAAAGFBMVEUiIiI9PT0eHh4gIB4hIBkcHBwcHBwcHBydr+JQAAAACHRSTlMABA4YHyQsM5jtaMwAAADfSURBVDjL7ZVBEgMhCAQBAf//42xcNbpAqakcM0ftUmFAAIBE81IqBJdS3lS6zs3bIpB9WED3YYXFPmHRfT8sgyrCP1x8uEUxLMzNWElFOYCV6mHWWwMzdPEKHlhLw7NWJqkHc4uIZphavDzA2JPzUDsBZziNae2S6owH8xPmX8G7zzgKEOPUoYHvGz1TBCxMkd3kwNVbU0gKHkx+iZILf77IofhrY1nYFnB/lQPb79drWOyJVa/DAvg9B/rLB4cC+Nqgdz/TvBbBnr6GBReqn/nRmDgaQEej7WhonozjF+Y2I/fZou/qAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC); display:block; height:44px; margin:0 auto -44px; position:relative; top:-22px; width:44px;">&nbsp;</div> </div> <p style=" margin:8px 0 0 0; padding:0 4px;"><a href="https://instagram.com/p/115ow-GDoM/" style=" color:#000; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:normal; line-height:17px; text-decoration:none; word-wrap:break-word;" target="_top">Awesome time with all my fellow Native's - Navajo, Apache, Comanche, Choctaw. Cherokee.</a></p> <p style=" color:#c9c8cd; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px; margin-bottom:0; margin-top:8px; overflow:hidden; padding:8px 0 7px; text-align:center; text-overflow:ellipsis; white-space:nowrap;">A photo posted by Vanilla Ice &acirc;&#156;&#133; (@vanillaiceofficial) on <time datetime="2015-04-24T03:14:18+00:00" style=" font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px;">Apr 23, 2015 at 8:14pm PDT</time></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"Nothing has changed," Young says. "We are still just Hollywood Indians."</p></body></html> Mixed Media Film and TV Race and Ethnicity Fri, 24 Apr 2015 14:37:02 +0000 Inae Oh 274166 at http://www.motherjones.com If You Read One Post About Labor Force Participation This Decade, Let It Be This One http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/04/clinton-90s-welfare-reform <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><em>While Kevin Drum is focused on getting better, we've invited some of the remarkable writers and thinkers who have traded links and ideas with him from Blogosphere 1.0 through today to pitch in posts and keep the conversation going. Here's a missive from Max Sawicky</em><em>, a DC-based economist and blogger. You can read his always entertaining work on welfare policy, politics, and many other topics at <a href="http://maxspeak.net/" target="_blank">MaxSpeak, You Listen!</a></em> <em>or find him on <a href="https://twitter.com/maxbsawicky" target="_blank">Twitter</a>.</em></p> <p>I started blogging in <a href="http://web.archive.org/web/20020516134056/http://www.maxspeak.org/gm/index.htm" target="_blank">May of 2002</a>. In those days the liberal side of the blogosphere was relatively thin, so I got a bit of notoriety. In my recollection, that fall I started noticing the blog of Mr. Kevin Drum. As the weeks went on I noticed this guy Drum was writing <em>a lot</em>, all well-reasoned, articulate prose. Other people were noticing as well. He left me in the dust. At least Kevin was reading me. At some point he came through D.C. with his wife and we had lunch.</p> <p>I'm honored to be invited to contribute to this <em>festschrift</em>. Yes, that's the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Festschrift" target="_blank">word</a> his editors used when they got in touch. Such high-falutin academic terminology. I prefer to think of it as a roast. But there is nothing funny about Kevin. He's just too damn reasonable and level-headed. No doubt this contributes to his success. I usually have something obnoxious to say about everybody, but with Kevin I draw a blank. Since I've been able to infiltrate the ginormous <em>Mother Jones</em> web site, I need to come up with something. My default mode is attack, so here's some MaxSpeak love for KD and <em>MoJo</em>.</p> <p>In <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/04/welfare-reform-and-decline-work" target="_blank">this post from just last weekend</a>, Kevin links to <a href="http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2015/04/declining-desire-to-work-and-downward-trends-in-unemployment-and-participation.html" target="_blank">a bit from Tyler Cowen</a>. <em>That was your first mistake, Brother Drum. </em>I realize linking is not endorsing, though KD offers a limited, tentative 'interesting possibility' type of approval. You see, the prolific and very smart Tyler hails from the zany economics department of George Mason University. No good can come from referencing him. These characters spend all their time excoriating Government and social protection for the working class from tenured, <a href="http://mercatus.org/" target="_blank">Koch-subsidized</a> positions at a public university. Sweet.</p> <p>Professor Cowen briefly discusses a paper suggesting the Clinton era welfare reform (sic) reduced labor force participation. (I too am an economist, in case you didn't know. <a href="https://www.econ.umd.edu/" target="_blank">Ph.D.</a> from Dave's All-Night University.) The paper suggests that the causes are the imposition of work requirements under Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF; formerly Aid to Families with Dependent Children, or just 'the welfare'), and the expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).</p> <p>The TANF explanation makes no sense. To get benefits you have to work, sooner or later. Previously, you didn't. How could that reduce labor force participation? (On pushing welfare people into Social Security Disability Insurance, thus far there is no evidence of that.) The other cause&mdash;the EITC providing enough benefits to a couple to enable one spouse to work less&mdash;is pretty well known, though the magnitude of the effect is weak. This is all basic stuff in the literature, as noted in Cowen's comments section by <a href="http://www.vpostrel.com" target="_blank">Virginia Postrel</a>, but it's evidently new to Tyler. In his defense, Tyler publishes a dynamite <a href="http://tylercowensethnicdiningguide.com/" target="_blank">guide</a> to ethnic dining in the MD/DC/VA metro area.</p> <p>So the upshot is this whole mess is <em>thesis interruptus</em>. Even Tyler is skeptical in the end. Though he alludes to it vaguely, the implication of one spouse working somewhat less because the other earns more is not necessarily Bad, unless you're a <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stakhanovite_movement" target="_blank">Stakhanovite</a>. More time not working can be more time with the kids.</p> <p>The 1996 welfare reform looked good in the late '90s, but that was when the whole labor market looked really, really good. <a href="http://www.cbpp.org/topics/family-income-support" target="_blank">Since 2000, not so much</a>. Poverty rates, for instance, have consistently gone up since then. People have not been empowered to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Looking to Tyler for enlightenment on anti-poverty programs is like taking Driver's Ed from Vin Diesel.</p> <p>Your go-to sources on the plight of the poor would include <a href="http://jaredbernsteinblog.com/" target="_blank">Jared Bernstein</a>, <a href="http://www.demos.org/policyshop/matt%20bruenig" target="_blank">Matt Bruenig</a>, <a href="http://www.thenation.com/blogs/kathleen-geier" target="_blank">Kathy Geier</a>, <a href="https://www.americanprogress.org/about/staff/fremstad-shawn/bio/" target="_blank">Shawn Fremstad</a>, and <a href="http://www.epi.org/people/elise-gould/" target="_blank">Elise Gould</a>, among others, and occasionally <a href="http://maxspeak.net/work-makes-fritos/" target="_blank">your humble servant</a>.</p> <p>I wish Kevin the best for an industrial-strength recovery so he can continue to set a good example for progressive commentary, while also providing me periodically with inviting targets. And I look forward to <em>Mother Jones</em>' expos&eacute; of Scott Walker's background in Wisconsin animal husbandry. With the obligatory <a href="http://maxspeak.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/mad-cow11.jpg" target="_blank">slide show</a>.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 24 Apr 2015 13:40:06 +0000 Max Sawicky 274111 at http://www.motherjones.com Tales From City of Hope #6: What Does Kevin Smell Like? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/04/tales-city-hope-6-what-does-kevin-smell <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>As you recall from yesterday, the DMSO preservative used to keep my stem cells fresh was alleged to cause a distinct body odor. So today, after the transfusion, I asked everyone who came into my <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_kevin_smell.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">room what I smelled like. The results are displayed on the right in chart form because Science&trade;.</p> <p>The results were disappointing. My sample size was dismally small, and 100 percent female. No single result rose to the level of significance at the 95 percent level. There wasn't even a modal response. In fact, it was worse than that. One respondent said garlic, but all four of the others said definitely not garlic. One said sweet and another said not sweet. And one person said there was no odor at all.</p> <p>The best I can conclude is that there <em>is</em> an odor of some kind, but everyone smells something different. I should add, however, that the test conditions were suboptimal. I'm such a good stem cell producer that I only needed two bags of cells. Some people need as many as ten. This means less DMSO for me and therefore less odoriferousness. Beyond that, given the poor state of the data, your guess is as good as mine.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 24 Apr 2015 01:58:26 +0000 Kevin Drum 274156 at http://www.motherjones.com The Feds Say One Schmuck Trading From His Parents' House Caused a Market Crash. Here's the Problem. http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/04/high-frequency-trading-flash-crash-sarao <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>On Tuesday, the Justice Department and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, a key Wall Street regulator, blasted out <a href="http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/futures-trader-charged-illegally-manipulating-stock-market-contributing-may-2010-market-flash" target="_blank">press</a> <a href="http://www.cftc.gov/PressRoom/PressReleases/pr7156-15#PrRoWMBL" target="_blank">releases</a> declaring a great victory in their war on illegal manipulation of financial markets. The reason for the feds' braggadocio? They think they've caught <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/22/business/dealbook/trader-in-britain-arrested-on-charges-of-manipulation-that-led-to-2010-flash-crash.html" target="_blank">the guy who caused</a> May 2010's "flash crash," a market seizure that vaporized a trillion dollars in shareholder value in a matter of minutes.</p> <p>Federal regulators say that Navinder Singh Sarao, a 36-year-old British futures trader whose company was <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/11557755/Flash-crash-trader-Navinder-Singh-Sarao-sat-on-27m-fortune-while-his-mother-worked-two-jobs.html" target="_blank">reportedly based in his parents' home</a>, illegally placed huge sell orders he never intended to complete, artificially driving down the price of a key futures contract so he could later swoop in to buy it cheaply. (This is called "spoofing" in financial jargon.) There's one big problem, though: By charging Sarao with "contributing to the market conditions that caused" the flash crash, federal regulators are changing their story about what really happened to financial markets five years ago.</p> <p>Here's the background. In the days and weeks after the flash crash, the Securities and Exchange Commission, alongside other regulators, worked diligently to figure out what had happened. The flash crash was chaos: Liquidity evaporated, the same stocks traded at both a penny and at $100,000, and CNBC hosts freaked out even more than usual. (Prices eventually returned to normal, and the SEC canceled some of the weirdest trades.)</p> <p>The flash crash was essentially over in five minutes. But it took regulators nearly five months to come up with a theory about what happened. And in late September 2010, when the SEC and the CFTC&mdash;the same agency now charging Sarao with causing the crash&mdash;released a joint report on what happened, they <a href="https://www.sec.gov/news/studies/2010/marketevents-report.pdf" target="_blank">didn't mention</a> spoofing, let alone Sarao. Instead, they blamed a large trade by a firm out of Kansas City.</p> <p>It's not even clear that the feds' new explanation is correct. As Matt Levine <a href="http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-04-21/guy-trading-at-home-caused-the-flash-crash" target="_blank">notes</a> over at <em>Bloomberg View</em>, regulators believe that Sarao continued to place massive fake sell orders in the years after the flash crash, but somehow that activity never triggered another crisis:</p> <blockquote> <p>If regulators think that Sarao's behavior on May 6, 2010, caused the flash crash,&nbsp;and if they think he continued that behavior for much of the subsequent five years, and if that behavior was screamingly obvious, maybe they should have stopped&nbsp;him a little earlier?</p> <p>Also, I mean, if his behavior on May 6, 2010, caused the flash crash, and if he continued it for much of the subsequent five years, why&nbsp;didn't he cause, you know, a dozen flash crashes?&nbsp;</p> <p>So I mean&hellip;maybe he didn't cause the flash crash?</p> </blockquote> <p>But in some ways, it doesn't particularly matter whether regulators' new theory is correct. What matters is that it took so long for them to develop it.</p> <p>As I <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/02/high-frequency-trading-danger-risk-wall-street" target="_blank">reported in January 2013</a>, today's financial markets move so fast that regulators can't even monitor them in real time, let alone intervene if something starts to go wrong. Sophisticated trading algorithms can buy and sell financial products faster than you can blink&mdash;all without human intervention, let alone real-time human judgment. When something does go wrong, it can take months or years to figure out what happened. "A robust and defensible analysis of even a small portion of the trading day can itself take many days," Gregg Berman, who wrote the 2010 SEC/CFTC report, told me in 2013.</p> <p>Since real-time intervention by human regulators is impossible, regulators have to rely on automatic measures&mdash;fail-safes that stop trading if prices rise or fall too fast, for example. But these sorts of automatic braking systems are, by definition, designed in response to the previous crisis. "We're always fighting the last fire," Dave Lauer, a market technology expert who has worked for high-speed trading firms, said in 2013. As I wrote then:</p> <blockquote> <p>Years of mistakes and bad decisions led to the 2008 collapse. But when the next crisis happens, it may not develop over months, weeks, or even days. It could take seconds.</p> </blockquote> <p>More <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/02/high-frequency-trading-danger-risk-wall-street" target="_blank">here</a>.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Corporations Crime and Justice Regulatory Affairs Top Stories Thu, 23 Apr 2015 23:17:01 +0000 Nick Baumann 274146 at http://www.motherjones.com