Blogs | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en Donald Trump Keeps Finding Bold, New Ways to Disgust Me <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Here is a tweet.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>Ringling Brothers is phasing out their elephants. I,for one, will never go again. They probably used the animal rights stuff to reduce costs</p> &mdash; Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) <a href="">March 5, 2015</a></blockquote> <p><script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script>Here is our <a href="" target="_blank">year-long investigation into what those poor elephants were experiencing</a>.</p> <p>Draw from these two things whatever conclusions you may.</p></body></html> Contributor Fri, 06 Mar 2015 22:03:17 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 271551 at Friday Cat Blogging - 6 March 2015 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Today's catblogging is special. As usual, the lighting in our living room is pretty bad, but nonetheless, this is your first glimpse of the commenter known as Inkblot's Aunt&mdash;aka my sister Karen. She's been wonderful about helping us out as Marian and I both recover from our various medical problems, and on Wednesday she came over and stayed with me all evening when I was feeling especially bad. You can see her reward in the photo: Hilbert finally decided she was part of the family and plonked down in her arms for a nice hour-long snooze.</p> <p>By the way, when I head off to stage 2 of my chemotherapy, Karen will be catsitting for several weeks. This means she'll be responsible for using her iPad to capture catblogging photos each week. Depending on how I feel during stage 2, I'll post them as I get them. In any case, be nice to her in comments. Sometime in the next month or two, catblogging will depend on her.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_hilbert_2015_03_06_0.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 65px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 06 Mar 2015 19:40:07 +0000 Kevin Drum 271491 at This GOP Congressman's Solution to Homelessness Involves Getting Eaten By Wolves <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Homelessness is a very serious problem. Nearly <a href="" target="_blank">600,000 Americans</a> don't have a home, including <a href="" target="_blank">one in every 30 children</a>. Recently, we've reported on some innovative solutions, including <a href="" target="_blank">tiny houses</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">free, no-strings-attached apartments</a>.</p> <p>Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) has a different idea. It involves wolves. Specifically, releasing grey wolves into the districts of 79 of his peers in Congress who had recently called for greater protections for the endangered species.</p> <p>From the <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Washington Post</em></a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>"How many of you have got wolves in your district?" he asked. "None. None. Not one."</p> <p>"They haven&rsquo;t got a damn wolf in their whole district," Young continued. "I&rsquo;d like to introduce them in your district. If I introduced them in your district, you wouldn&rsquo;t have a homeless problem anymore."</p> </blockquote> <p>Wow.</p> <p>If you're unfamiliar with Don Young, he is <a href="" target="_blank">renowned for his outlandish antics</a>, mostly about animals, like that time he brandished an 18-inch walrus penis bone on the House floor or the time he called climate change the "biggest scam since <a href="" target="_blank">Teapot Dome</a>" (a major bribery scandal in the 1920s involving the Harding administration).</p> <p>A Young spokesperson told the <em>Post </em>that the comment was "purposely hyperbolic."</p></body></html> Blue Marble Animals Congress Fri, 06 Mar 2015 19:28:31 +0000 Tim McDonnell 271526 at A Zombie From the 90s Makes the Case For Demanding Strong Encryption <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Companies like Apple and Google have announced recently that they will start providing their customers with encryption that even Apple and Google don't have the keys for. This means that even if law enforcement officers get a subpoena for data held by the companies, it won't do any good. They couldn't turn over decrypted data even if they wanted to.</p> <p>This has led to calls from the FBI and elsewhere to provide "backdoors" of some kind for use by law enforcement. This would be a kind of master key available only under court order. But security experts argue that this makes encryption fundamentally <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_encryption_key.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">useless. If you deliberately build in a weakness, you simply can never guarantee that it won't be exploited by hackers. Encryption is either secure or it's not, full stop.</p> <p>Over at The Switch, Craig Timberg provides an interesting recent example of this. Back in the 90s, we were fighting this same fight, and one temporary result was the government's mandate that only a weak form of encryption could be exported outside the U.S. This mandate didn't last long, but it lasted long enough to get incorporated into quite a few products. Still, that was 20 years ago. <a href="" target="_blank">What harm could it be doing today?</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The weaker encryption got baked into widely used software that proliferated around the world and back into the United States, apparently unnoticed until this year.</p> <p><strong>Researchers discovered in recent weeks that they could force browsers to use the old export-grade encryption then crack it over the course of just a few hours.</strong> Once cracked, hackers could steal passwords and other personal information and potentially launch a broader attack on the Web sites themselves by taking over elements on a page, such as a Facebook &ldquo;Like&rdquo; button.</p> <p>....The existence of the problem with export-grade encryption amazed the researchers, who have dubbed the flaw &ldquo;FREAK&rdquo; for Factoring attack on RSA-EXPORT Keys....Nadia Heninger, a University of Pennsylvania cryptographer, said, &ldquo;This is basically a zombie from the &lsquo;90s&hellip; I don&rsquo;t think anybody really realized anybody was still supporting these export suites.&rdquo;</p> <p><strong>For vulnerable sites, Heninger found that she could crack the export-grade encryption key in about seven hours,</strong> using computers on Amazon Web services....More than one third of encrypted Web sites&nbsp;&mdash; including those bearing the &ldquo;lock&rdquo; icon that signifies a connection secured by SSL technology&nbsp;&mdash; proved vulnerable to attack in recent tests conducted by University of Michigan researchers J. Alex Halderman and Zakir Durumeric. The list includes news organizations, retailers and financial services sites such as <strong>Of the 14 million Web sites worldwide that offer encryption, more than 5 million remained vulnerable as of Tuesday morning, Halderman said.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>This is an object lesson in deliberately building vulnerabilities into encryption technology. Maybe you think you've done it perfectly. Maybe you think nobody but the proper authorities can ever exploit the vulnerability. But the chances are good that you're wrong. In the case of FREAK, we were wrong for nearly 20 years before we figured out what was going on. There's no telling how long we might be wrong if we deliberately do this again.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Civil Liberties Tech Fri, 06 Mar 2015 18:19:26 +0000 Kevin Drum 271506 at Here's What Will Happen If Antarctica Melts <!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>When we talk about global warming at the poles, the Arctic tends to get more press than the Antarctic, because it's <a href="" target="_blank">happening faster there</a> than anywhere else on Earth. But Antarctica is still a juggernaut. As ice sheets there collapse&mdash;a process some scientists now see as irreversible&mdash;global sea level could rise 10 feet. The complete meltdown could take hundreds of years, but if you live anywhere near the coast, it's not hard to imagine why my colleague Chris Mooney called that discovery a "<a href="" target="_blank">holy shit moment for global warming."</a></p> <p>Tonight, our friends at VICE will kick off their third season of documentaries on HBO, and they're headed to Antarctica to get a close-up look at the potentially catastrophic changes underway there. We'll also hear from Vice President Joe Biden, who says denying climate change is <a href="" target="_blank">"like denying gravity."</a> Check out the trailer above; the show airs tonight at 11pm ET.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Video Climate Change Climate Desk Film and TV Science Fri, 06 Mar 2015 17:47:08 +0000 Tim McDonnell 271496 at Yet Another Health Update <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>I promised another health update last night, so here it is. I know that some of you are interested in this, while others find it tedious, so I'll put it all below the fold. Here's the nickel summary: There's a good chance I'm going to continue feeling lousy for a couple of weeks or so, but I should start to improve after that.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/kevin-drum/2015/03/yet-another-health-update"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Kevin Drum Fri, 06 Mar 2015 16:40:50 +0000 Kevin Drum 271486 at Republicans Are Already Prepping for Possible Government Shutdown in the Fall <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The Supreme Court will rule later this year on the question of whether Obamacare subsidies should be repealed in states that don't run their own insurance exchanges. That would gut a major portion of the law, and <a href=";action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;module=first-column-region&amp;region=top-news&amp;WT.nav=top-news" target="_blank">Jonathan Weisman reports today</a> that because of this, "the search for a replacement by Republican lawmakers is finally gaining momentum."</p> <p>I'm not quite sure how he could write that with a straight face, since I think we all know just how serious Republicans are about passing health care reform of their own. In any case, I think the real news comes a few paragraphs down:</p> <blockquote> <p>Aides to senior House Republicans said Thursday that committee chairmen were meeting now to decide whether a budget plan &mdash; due out the week of March 16 &mdash; will include parliamentary language, known as reconciliation instructions, that would allow much of a Republican health care plan to pass the filibuster-prone Senate with a simple majority.</p> <p>Representative Tom Price of Georgia, the House Budget Committee chairman, said that reconciliation language would be kept broad enough to allow Republican leaders to use it later in the year however they see fit, whether that is passing health care legislation over a Senate filibuster or focusing on taxes or other matters.</p> </blockquote> <p>If this is true, it means that Republicans are prepping for yet another government shutdown over Obamacare. Any budget that tried to essentially repeal Obamacare in favor of a Republican "replacement" would obviously be met with a swift veto, and that would lead inevitably to the usual dreary standoff that we've seen so often over the past few years.</p> <p>Of course, this will all be moot if the Supreme Court upholds Obamacare in the way common sense dictates. Still, it's something of a sign of things to come. Shutdown politics is pretty clearly still alive and well in the GOP ranks.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Congress Health Care Supreme Court Fri, 06 Mar 2015 16:01:46 +0000 Kevin Drum 271481 at The Hack Gap Lives! <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>I've been following the news a little vaguely over the past few days, but I noticed an interesting confirmation of the hack gap in the treatment of Hillary Clinton's email affair. Perhaps you noticed too? There was, obviously, a difference in the way liberals and conservatives treated <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_hillary_clinton_email.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">the news that Hillary had used a private email address for all her correspondence while she was Secretary of State. But it was a matter of degree, not attitude.</p> <p>On the liberal side, I saw a lots of people seriously questioning what had happened. And not just <a href="" target="_blank">here in the pages of MoJo.</a> I saw it on MSNBC. I saw it in newspaper columns. I saw it in blog posts. Lots of liberals treated this as a legitimate issue and suggested that Hillary had some serious questions to answer. This didn't just come from a few iconoclasts, either. It came from all over the place, and was generally viewed, at the least, as an example of questionable judgment, if not proof that Hillary is the antichrist we've always known she was.</p> <p>I know the counterfactual game can get a little tiresome sometimes, but still: it's hard to imagine the same thing happening if a heavy Republican frontrunner had done something like this. The hack gap lives.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum 2016 Elections Hillary Clinton Fri, 06 Mar 2015 15:33:55 +0000 Kevin Drum 271476 at Chart of the Day: Net New Jobs in February <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The American economy <a href="" target="_blank">added 295,000 new jobs last month,</a> 90,000 of which were needed to keep up with population growth. This means that net job growth clocked in at 205,000 jobs, which is quite a bit better than January and represents a nice confirmation that the labor market has picked up over the past four months. Virtually all of the growth was in the private sector.</p> <p>The headline unemployment rate went down to 5.5 percent, but this was due to a combination of more people getting jobs and more people dropping out of the labor force and no longer being counted in the unemployment numbers. So this is a fairly mixed report. Unsurprisingly, since it doesn't represent a huge growth in the actual number of people employed, wages remained sluggish. Average hourly earning went up three cents, or 0.12 percent. Moody's Mark Zandi tried to put a positive spin on this: <a href=";action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;module=first-column-region&amp;region=top-news&amp;WT.nav=top-news&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">he told the <em>New York Times</em></a> that "current wage growth data appeared gloomier than the underlying reality, in part because of demographic factors. As well-paid baby boomers enter retirement, to be replaced by younger workers starting out at lower salaries, he said, the overall wage pattern has tilted slightly lower. Also, people who have been out of work for long stretches are starting to come back into the labor force and accepting lower wages."</p> <p>So....not bad. But not quite as good as the top line number suggests. We're still motoring along, but we're still in second gear. We still haven't really seen a sharp shift upward.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_net_new_jobs_january_2015_0.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 15px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Economy Fri, 06 Mar 2015 15:16:17 +0000 Kevin Drum 271471 at Health Note Placeholder <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>So where was I all day Thursday? It's getting a little late and I'm tired, but I promise to regale you with the whole story sometime Friday. It wasn't quite what I was expecting, but in the end things probably turned out OK. More in the morning.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 06 Mar 2015 05:36:06 +0000 Kevin Drum 271461 at Yet Another Oil Train Has Derailed and Caught Fire <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Earlier today, yet another massive train carrying crude oil <a href="" target="_blank">derailed and caught on fire</a>, this time in northern Illinois near the Mississippi River. One-hundred-and-three of the the train's 105 cars were carrying crude oil&mdash;from where was not immediately clear (<strong>Update</strong>: BNSF&nbsp;has since confirmed the train was traveling from North Dakota; see below for their response)&mdash;eight of which derailed. Two of the derailed cars have caught on fire, according to BNSF Railway which owns the train, sending plumes of smoke and fire into the sky above Galena, Illinois, a town of just over <a href=";ctype=l&amp;strail=false&amp;bcs=d&amp;nselm=h&amp;met_y=population&amp;scale_y=lin&amp;ind_y=false&amp;rdim=country&amp;idim=place:1728300&amp;ifdim=country&amp;hl=en&amp;dl=en&amp;ind=false" target="_blank">3,300</a>.</p> <p>The image of smoldering oil train cars is now a familiar sight: Incidences of exploding oil trains have been <a href="" target="_blank">rapidly rising</a> in North America <a href="" target="_blank">thanks to the fracking boom</a> in North Dakota's Bakken oil fields (Bakken oil is <a href=";vgnextchannel=d248724dd7d6c010VgnVCM10000080e8a8c0RCRD&amp;vgnextfmt=print" target="_blank">potentially</a> more flammable than normal crude) and the <a href="" target="_blank">slow transition</a> away from old, unsafe rail cars. Oil-by-rail carloads are <a href="" target="_blank">up 4000 percent from 2008</a> in the United States and this is the the third derailment in North America in the last three weeks, including a <a href="" target="_blank">massive explosion in West Virginia on February 16</a> that injured one person and spilled oil into the nearby Kanawha River. In fact, a Department of Transportation report <a href="" target="_blank">predicted</a> trains carrying crude and ethanol would derail an average of 10 times per year in the next two decades. This is bad news for people who live near railways and the ecosystems in which they reside.</p> <p>People living within a mile radius of today's derailment have begun <a href="" target="_blank">evacuating,</a> and authorities are monitoring the Mississippi River for leakage. BNSF Railway has not responded to inquiries from <em>Mother Jones </em>about the age of the trains' cars and whether the train was carrying Bakken crude.&nbsp;(<strong>Update</strong>: See below for a response from BNSF). The Birkshire Hathaway subsidiary did tell <em>Reuters</em>, however, <a href="" target="_blank">that no injuries had been sustained</a>.</p> <p>Below are pictures of the spill from Twitter:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>VIDEO: Aerial view of train <a href="">#derailment</a> fire south of Galena, Ill. Massive flames visible <a href=""></a> <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Telegraph Herald (@TelegraphHerald) <a href="">March 6, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>Picture from <a href="">@scandbq</a> of most recent explosion from the <a href="">@BNSFRailway</a> derailment fire south of Galena <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; KCRG (@KCRG) <a href="">March 5, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>Another view of <a href="">@BNSFRailway</a> derailment explosion near Galena courtesy <a href="">@scandbq</a>. Story: <a href=""></a> <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; KCRG (@KCRG) <a href="">March 6, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>BOOM: 103-car oil train derails near Galena, Illinois. <a href=""></a> <a href="">#extremeenergy</a> <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Brad Johnson (@climatebrad) <a href="">March 6, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>High flames visible from a hilltop near Galena train derailment <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Telegraph Herald (@TelegraphHerald) <a href="">March 5, 2015</a></blockquote> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Update 3/6/15 11:30 AM PST:</strong> BNSF spokesman Mike Trevino has confirmed to <em>Mother Jones</em> that the train was traveling from North Dakota, and the AP is <a href="" target="_blank">reporting</a> its tankers were carrying Bakken crude. Trevino said the cars were the CPC-1232 model (newer than the <a href="" target="_blank">notorious DOT-111</a> that has raised concern amongst lawmakers), but were nonetheless "unjacketed." Kristen Boyles, an attorney with environmental advocacy group&nbsp; Earthjustice, told <em>Mother Jones</em> that "unjacketed" tankers do not have the insulated steel shells that US regulators have proposed mandating for new cars to prevent puncturing after derailment. "This derailment is yet another indication that these trains are not good enough and we've got to get federal standards greatly strengthened," Boyles said. The White House's Office of Management and Budget says it will finalize the DOT's proposed rules in May.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Energy Fri, 06 Mar 2015 02:44:38 +0000 Luke Whelan 271451 at This NRA Tweet Is So Tasteless and Awful That It Makes Me Want to Vomit <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Good afternoon.</p> <p>How are you? How are you feeling? Are you feeling good? Are you, by chance, feeling <em>too good?</em> Are you flying too high on borrowed wings? Maybe you need a bit of a punch in the stomach to bring you back down to Earth and remind you that in life there are hills and valleys; that this vacation on Creation is, well, not all champagne and strawberries. I guess what I'm asking is, would you like to feel nauseous? You look to me like you might like to feel nauseous. C'mon! A little nausea never hurt anyone! It builds character!</p> <p>Let's get nauseous!</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>Gabby Giffords: Everyone Should Have to Pass Background Check My Attacker Passed <a href=""></a> <a href="">#2A</a> <a href="">#NRA</a></p> &mdash; NRA (@NRA) <a href="">March 5, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>This comes via the <em>New York Daily News</em>, <a href="" target="_blank">which doesn't mince words</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p><em>Hitting a new low in its disgusting war against gun laws, the National Rifle Association on Thursday went after Gabby Giffords with a personal attack mocking her 2011 shooting dismissively.</em></p> </blockquote> <p>Have a nice day.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Guns Fri, 06 Mar 2015 00:10:11 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 271446 at McDonald's Just Banned Antibiotic-Laced Chicken. Here's Why That Matters. <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>This week, McDonald's <a href="" target="_blank">pledged</a> to phase out serving chicken raised on antibiotics that can also be used to treat humans. To understand the giant implications this has for the meat industry, consider my colleague <a href="" target="_blank">Tom </a><a href="" target="_blank">Philpott</a>'s previous reporting on the topic. For starters, the livestock industry uses an astounding <a href="" target="_blank">four-fifths</a> of all antibiotics consumed in the United States. Mostly, these drugs are used not to treat infections but to promote growth in animals.</p> <p>There is evidence that livestock antibiotic use contributes to antibiotic resistance, lessening the effectiveness of <a href="" target="_blank">drugs that are medically important</a> to&nbsp; humans. And scientists have observed so-called "superbugs" <a href="" target="_blank">migrating</a> from farms to outside communities. It's a major problem&mdash;indeed, scientists <a href="" target="_blank">predict</a> that antibiotic failure will kill 20 million people by 2050. And yet, despite all this, the government still <a href="" target="_blank">allows</a> livestock producers to dose their animals with antibiotics.</p> <p>McDonald's chicken move is a tacit acknowledgement that antibiotics are a precious resource. And considering that the chain serves 68 million people a day in practically every nation on Earth, it sends a powerful message indeed.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Food and Ag Health Thu, 05 Mar 2015 23:49:17 +0000 Kiera Butler 271441 at Ringling Bros. Announces It's Finally Ending Elephant Acts <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>On Thursday, Ringling Bros. and Barnum &amp; Bailey said it will <a href="" target="_blank">end the use of elephant acts by 2018</a>&mdash;a move that follows decades of mounting criticism and public concern over the show's abusive treatment of the animals. Ringling's parent company, Feld Entertainment, cited a "mood shift" experienced by circus-goers who have grown "uncomfortable with us touring with elephants" for the decision.</p> <p>President Kenneth Feld also said local legislation barring certain circus practices, such as the use of bullhooks, made it increasingly difficult for the company to continue including elephants in its performances. "This decision was not easy, but it is in the best interest of our company, our elephants and our customers," he said in a <a href="" target="_blank">statement. </a></p> <p>In 2011, <em>Mother Jones</em> published an explosive, yearlong <a href="" target="_blank">investigation</a> looking into Ringling's treatment of elephants, including the regular employment of electric shocks and whippings to control them:</p> <blockquote> <p>Several of the beatings targeted Nicole, a twentysomething elephant named after Kenneth Feld's eldest daughter. Sweet-natured but clumsy, Nicole would frequently miss her cues to climb atop a tub and place her feet on the elephant next to her, <a href="" target="_blank">Stechcon said in his videotaped statement</a>. "I always rooted for her, 'Come on, Nicole, <em>get up</em>,'" he said. "But we left the show, brought the animals back to their area, and&hellip;we took the headpieces off, and as I was hanging them up, I heard the most horrible noise, just whack, whack, whack. I mean, really hard. It's hard to describe the noise. Like a baseball bat or something striking something not&mdash;not soft, and not hard&hellip;I turned around to look, and this guy was hitting her so fast and so hard [with the ankus], and sometimes he would take both hands and just really knock her, and he was just doing that. And I was, like, I couldn't believe it."</p> </blockquote> <p>The investigation also exposed that Feld Entertainment had spent millions of dollars on PR campaigns to hide such abuse from the public and fend off lawsuits:</p> <blockquote> <p>It was part of a multimillion-dollar spy operation run out of Feld headquarters to thwart and besmirch animal rights groups and others on the company's enemies list, according to <a href="" target="_blank">a stunning <em>Salon</em> piece by Jeff Stein</a>. Feld had even hired Clair George&mdash;the CIA's head of covert operations under President Reagan until his conviction for perjury in the Iran-Contra scandal. (George, who died in August, received a pardon from President George H.W. Bush.)</p> </blockquote> <p>Thursday's announcement to phase out the elephants, which have been a staple for the Ringling brand for more than a century, has been met with praise from animal rights activists. Feld Entertainment said the elephants will be transitioned to the company's elephant <a href="" target="_blank">conservation center in Florida. </a></p> <p>For more, read our <a href="" target="_blank">in-depth investigation</a> here.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Animals Thu, 05 Mar 2015 19:29:38 +0000 Inae Oh 271421 at Health Note <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>I suppose the lack of content makes it obvious, but today has been a very bad day. I haven't been able to sleep more than a few hours for the past few days, despite plenty of sleep meds. I'm completely exhausted, and not just because of the lack of sleep. That's just making things worse. I can walk about 50 feet before I need to rest. My big accomplishment of the day was to turn on the TV around noon.</p> <p>I assume this is all just part of the chemo withdrawal symptoms, but I don't really know. Tomorrow I have an appointment with an oncology nurse, so perhaps I'll learn more then.</p> <p>If there's a silver lining to this, I suppose it's the possibility that this is the bottom of the post-chemo symptoms, and now I'll start getting better. We'll see.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 05 Mar 2015 01:32:25 +0000 Kevin Drum 271401 at Mitch McConnell Is Now Telling States To Ignore Obama's Climate Rules <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>It's no secret that Republicans leaders hate President Barack Obama's flagship climate initiative, which aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. So far, the main opposition has been at the state level. The new rules require every state to submit a plan for cleaning up its power sector, and a <a href="" target="_blank">host of bills have cropped up</a>&mdash;primarily in coal-dependent Southern states&mdash;to screw with those plans. These bills tend to be backed by GOP state lawmakers, the coal industry, and the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council.</p> <p>The thrust of much of this legislation is to effectively stonewall the Environmental Protection Agency and hope that the rules get killed by the Supreme Court. It's a long shot, given the Court's long history of siding with the EPA. And the longer states delay in coming up with their own plan, the more likely they'll be to have one forced on them by the feds.</p> <p>But in a column for Kentucky's <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Lexington Herald-Leader</em></a> yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) threw his weight behind this obstructionist strategy:</p> <blockquote> <p>This proposed regulation would have a negligible effect on global climate but a profoundly negative impact on countless American families already struggling&hellip;</p> <p>Don't be complicit in the administration's attack on the middle class. Think twice before submitting a state plan&mdash;which could lock you in to federal enforcement and expose you to lawsuits&mdash;when the administration is standing on shaky legal ground and when, without your support, it won't be able to demonstrate the capacity to carry out such political extremism.</p> <p>Refusing to go along at this time with such an extreme proposed regulation would give the courts time to figure out if it is even legal, and it would give Congress more time to fight back. We're devising strategies now to do just that.</p> </blockquote> <p>There's plenty to take issue with in McConnell's analysis. For starters, the EPA rules are <a href="" target="_blank">unlikely to cause any problems</a> with blackouts or sky-high electric bills, as the senator implies. But I'm sure it'll make good ammunition for state lawmakers and fossil fuel interests as battles over this thing play out this year.</p> <blockquote> <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> <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> </blockquote></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Climate Desk Energy Obama Infrastructure Wed, 04 Mar 2015 19:55:29 +0000 Tim McDonnell 271376 at Instead of Tackling Its Rape Problem, India Just Banned a Documentary About It <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Citing fears its broadcast would lead to "public outcry," an Indian court issued an order yesterday <a href=";aef_campaign_ref=partage_aef&amp;dlvrit=66745&amp;ns_campaign=reseaux_sociaux&amp;ns_linkname=editorial&amp;ns_mchannel=social&amp;ns_source=twitter" target="_blank">blocking</a> the country's media from airing a documentary centering on the 2012 gang-rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman that occurred on a New Delhi bus.</p> <p>The BBC documentary, titled <em>India's Daughter</em>, <a href=";_r=1" target="_blank">features an interview</a> with one of the six men accused of the crime, in which he repeatedly blames the victim for fighting back while she was raped. Mukesh Singh spoke to&nbsp;British filmmaker Leslee Udwin from prison, where Udwin says he appeared like <a href=";_r=1" target="_blank">"a robot" </a>during the 16 hours the interview was conducted.</p> <p>"You can't clap with one hand," Singh says in the film. "It takes two hands. A decent girl won't roam around at 9 o'clock at night. A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy. Boy and girl are not equal. Housework and housekeeping is for girls, not roaming in discos and bars at night doing wrong things, wearing wrong clothes. About 20 percent of girls are good."</p> <p>Rajan Bhagat, a spokesperson for the New Delhi police, <a href=";aef_campaign_ref=partage_aef&amp;dlvrit=66745&amp;ns_campaign=reseaux_sociaux&amp;ns_linkname=editorial&amp;ns_mchannel=social&amp;ns_source=twitter" target="_blank">told AFP</a> that police officials were concerned the "very objectionable interview" could incite violence.</p> <p>"We have only seen the promotional parts of the film. Based on that we took the matter to court because we felt that it will cause likely apprehension of public disorder," Bhagat <a href=";aef_campaign_ref=partage_aef&amp;dlvrit=66745&amp;ns_campaign=reseaux_sociaux&amp;ns_linkname=editorial&amp;ns_mchannel=social&amp;ns_source=twitter" target="_blank">said. </a></p> <p>The brutal 2012 incident shocked the international community and prompted mass demonstrations in India. Over weeks of protests, advocates called for reform and increased protections for women in a country where sexual assault is perceived as a source of shame and often leads to <a href="" target="_blank">more restrictions</a> for women.</p> <p>But the controversy over <em>India's Daughter</em> demonstrates the country remains divided over the issue of sexual assault and how to move forward. India's parliamentary affairs minister M. Venkaiah Naidu <a href="" target="_blank">slammed</a> the documentary as an "international conspiracy to defame India." In its Tuesday order, the court echoed these concerns and said the film violated Indian law preventing "intent to cause alarm in the public."</p> <p>Udwin has asked the Indian prime minister to <a href="" target="_blank">lift</a> the ban. The film premieres on <a href="" target="_blank">BBC</a> Wednesday evening.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Film and TV International Sex and Gender Wed, 04 Mar 2015 18:44:49 +0000 Inae Oh 271336 at Tea Party Darling Ben Carson Says Prisoners Prove That Homosexuality Is A Choice <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Ben Carson, the prospective 2016 presidential hopeful beloved by <a href="" target="_blank">Tea Partiers</a>, told CNN host Chris Cuomo on Wednesday that he believes homosexuality is "absolutely" a choice&mdash;because "a lot of people who go into prison, go into prison straight, and when they come out, they're gay."&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 2em;">The former neurosurgeon </span><a href="" style="line-height: 2em;" target="_blank">went on</a><span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 2em;">, "So did something happen while they were in there? Ask yourself that question."</span></p> <p>Carson, who has previously compared homosexuality to <a href="" target="_blank">murder </a>and bestiality, also said that states should decide the legality of gay marriage, not the <a href="" target="_blank">Supreme Court</a>. Watch below:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> MoJo Video 2016 Elections Gay Rights Wed, 04 Mar 2015 14:45:14 +0000 Inae Oh 271341 at What Did Monsanto Show Bill Nye to Make Him Fall "in Love" With GMOs? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Bill Nye, the bow-tied erstwhile kids' TV host, onetime <a href="">dancer with the stars</a>, and tireless champion of evolution and climate science, was never a virulent or wild-eyed critic of genetically modified crops. Back in 2005, he did a pretty <a href="">nuanced episode</a> of his TV show on it, the takeaway of which was hardly fire-breathing denunciation: "Let's farm responsibly, let's require labels on our foods, and let's carefully test these foods case by case."</p> <p>In his book <em>Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation, </em>published just last November, Nye reiterated these points. His concern about GMOs centered mainly on unintended consequences of growing them over large expanses&mdash;he cited the example of crops engineered to resist herbicides, which have <a href="">been linked pretty decisively</a> to the decline of monarch butterflies, which rely on abundant milkweeds, which in turn have been largely wiped out in the Midwest by GMO-enabled herbicide use. Nye praised certain GMOs, such as corn engineered to repel certain insects, but concluded that "if you're asking me, we should stop introducing genes from one species into another," because "we just can't know what will happen to other species in that modified species' ecosystem."</p> <p>Now, Nye's doubts have evidently fallen away like milkweeds under a fine mist of herbicide. In a February interview filmed backstage on Bill Maher's HBO show (starting about 3:40 in the below video), Nye volunteered that he was working on a revision of the GMO section of <em>Undeniable</em>. He gave no details, just that he "went to Monsanto and I spent a lot of time with the scientists there." As a result, he added with a grin, "I have revised my outlook, and am very excited about telling the world. When you're in love, you want to tell the world!"</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Monsanto's longtime chief technology officer, Robb Fraley, responded to the interview with an approving tweet featuring a photo of Nye at company HQ:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"> <p>Thanks <a href="">@BillNye</a> for visit &amp; advancing <a href="">#science</a> understanding. Look forward to more discussion! <a href=""></a> <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Robb Fraley (@RobbFraley) <a href="">February 27, 2015</a></blockquote> <p>It will be interesting to hear what wonders within Monsanto's R&amp;D labs turned Nye from a nuanced GMO skeptic to a proud champion.</p></body></html> Tom Philpott Food and Ag Wed, 04 Mar 2015 11:00:13 +0000 Tom Philpott 271321 at Obama: Netanyahu's Speech Fails to Offer "Viable Alternatives" on Iran <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>President Barack Obama weighed in on Benjamin Netanyahu's <a href="" target="_blank">controversial address</a> to Congress on Tuesday, saying the Israeli prime minister's remarks did not provide any <a href="" target="_blank">"viable alternatives"</a> to preventing Iran from securing a nuclear weapon.</p> <p>The Associated Press <a href=";SECTION=HOME&amp;TEMPLATE=DEFAULT" target="_blank">reported</a> that after reading a transcript of the speech, Obama noted that Netanyahu used essentially the same language as when the United States brokered an interim deal with Iran, a deal the president said Iran followed through on by scaling back its nuclear program. White House officials also slammed the address:</p> <center> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>Sr. administration official: "Literally, not one new idea; not one single concrete alternative; all rhetoric, no action."</p> &mdash; Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) <a href="">March 3, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script></center> <p>Earlier Tuesday, Netanyahu characterized the negotiations&mdash;which would ease sanctions against Iran in exchange for limits on the country's nuclear program&mdash;as a "bad deal" that would inevitably strengthen Iran's nuclear capabilities, rather than stopping them.</p> <p>"I don't believe that Iran's radical regime will change for the better after this deal," Netanyahu <a href="" target="_blank">said.</a> "This regime has been in power for 36 years and its voracious appetite for aggression grows with each passing year. This deal would whet their appetite&mdash;would only whet Iran's appetite for more."</p> <p>In January, House Speaker John Boehner invited Netanyahu to speak before Congress without consulting the White House&mdash;a move that received widespread condemnation from <a href="" target="_blank">Republicans</a> and Democrats as a clear attempt to undermine the president's authority. As many as <a href="" target="_blank">60 Democrats</a> boycotted Tuesday's speech.</p></body></html> MoJo International Obama Top Stories Tue, 03 Mar 2015 21:27:49 +0000 Inae Oh 271281 at DOJ Finds Pervasive Racial Bias at Ferguson Police Department <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The Department of Justice has concluded that the Ferguson Police Department&nbsp;engaged&nbsp;in racially biased practices, including disproportionately arresting African-Americans during routine traffic stops. The findings are the result of an investigation launched back in September, which found that systematic biased behavior, including "racist jokes about blacks" on police email accounts, have&nbsp;resulted in fractured race relations in the Missouri community and a deep mistrust of&nbsp;police officials. From the <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Times</em>:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>In compiling the report, federal investigators conducted hundreds of interviews, reviewed 35,000 pages of police records and analyzed race data compiled for every police stop. They concluded that, over the past two years, African-Americans made up about two-thirds of the city&rsquo;s population but accounted for 85 percent of traffic stops, 90 percent of citations, 93 percent of arrests and 88 percent of cases in which the police used force.</p> </blockquote> <p>The full report is expected to be released on Wednesday.</p> <p>The findings are <a href="" target="_blank">separate</a> from an FBI investigation focused on Darren Wilson, the police officer who fatally shot unarmed 18-year-old&nbsp;Michael Brown&nbsp;last August. According to previous reports, the Justice Department is planning to clear Wilson of<a href="" target="_blank"> civil rights charges</a>.</p> <p>Brown's shooting&nbsp;death&nbsp;and a Ferguson&nbsp;grand jury's decision not&nbsp;to indict Wilson sparked a national debate on police brutality and racist police practices.</p></body></html> MoJo Civil Liberties Race and Ethnicity Tue, 03 Mar 2015 20:10:08 +0000 Inae Oh 271206 at Tea Party Loses Big in Today's Vote on Clean DHS Funding Bill <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>It looks like the conventional wisdom <a href="" target="_blank">was correct:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The House will vote as soon as Tuesday afternoon on a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security for the rest of the fiscal year. The measure will not target President Obama's executive actions on immigration, giving Democrats what they have long demanded and potentially enraging conservatives bent on fighting the president on immigration.</p> <p>&hellip;The decision marks a big win for Democrats, who have long demanded that Congress pass a "clean" bill to fund DHS free of any immigration riders. For weeks, Boehner and his top deputies have refused to take up such a bill, as conservatives have demanded using the DHS debate to take on Obama's directives, which include action to prevent the deportations of millions of undocumented immigrants.</p> </blockquote> <p>I thought the most likely course was a brief DHS shutdown (a week or two) just to save face, followed by a pretty clean funding bill. But I was too pessimistic. Apparently the House leadership wasn't willing to take the PR hit that would inevitably involve.</p> <p>I wonder if Republicans could have gotten a better deal if the tea party faction had been less bullheaded? Last week's debacle, where they torpedoed even a three-week funding extension, surely demonstrated to Boehner that he had no choice but to ignore the tea partiers entirely. They simply were never going to support anything except a full repeal of Obama's immigration actions, and that was never a remotely realistic option. The subsequent one-week extension passed only thanks to Democratic votes, and that made it clear that working with Democrats was Boehner's only real choice. And that in turn meant a clean funding bill.</p> <p>But what if the tea partiers had signaled some willingness to compromise? Could they have passed a bill that repealed some small part of Obama's program&mdash;and that could have passed the Senate? Maybe. Instead they got nothing. I guess maybe they'd rather stick to their guns than accomplish something small but useful. That sends a signal to their base, but unfortunately for them, it also sends a signal to Boehner. And increasingly, that signal is that he has no choice but to stop paying attention to their demands. There's nothing in it for Boehner, is there?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Congress Immigration Tue, 03 Mar 2015 20:00:42 +0000 Kevin Drum 271286 at Summers: Yes, the Robots Are Coming to Take Our Jobs <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Jim Tankersley called up Larry Summers to ask him to clarify his views on whether automation is hurting middle-class job <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_larry_summers.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">prospects. Despite reports that he no longer supports this view, <a href="" target="_blank">apparently he does:</a></p> <blockquote> <p><strong>Tankersley:</strong> How do you think about the effects of technology and automation on workers today, particularly those in the middle class?</p> <p><strong>Summers:</strong> No one should speak with certainty about these matters, because there are challenges in the statistics, and there are conflicts in the data. But it seems to me that there is a wave of what certainly appears to be labor-substitutive innovation. And that probably, we are only in the early innings of such a wave.</p> </blockquote> <p>I think this is precisely right. I suspect that:</p> <ul><li>Automation began having an effect on jobs around the year 2000.</li> <li>The effect is very small so far.</li> <li>So small, in fact, that it probably can't be measured reliably. There's too much noise from other sources.</li> <li>And I might be wrong about this.</li> </ul><p>In any case, this is at least the right argument to be having. There's been a sort of straw-man argument making the rounds recently that automation has had a big impact on jobs since 2010 and is responsible for the weak recovery from the Great Recession. I suppose there are some people who believe this, but I really don't think it's the consensus view of people (<a href="" target="_blank">like me</a>) who believe that automation is a small problem today that's going to grow in the future. My guess is that when economists look back a couple of decades from now, they're going to to date the automation revolution from about the year 2000&mdash;but that since its effects are exponential, we barely noticed it for the first decade. We'll notice it more this decade; a lot more in the 2020s; and by the 2030s it will be inarguably the biggest economic challenge we face.</p> <p>Summers also gets it right on the value of education. He believes it's important, but he doesn't think it will do anything to address skyrocketing income inequality:</p> <blockquote> <p>It is not likely, in my view, that any feasible program of improving education will have a large impact on inequality in any relevant horizon.</p> <p>First, almost two-thirds of the labor force in 2030 is already out of school today. Second, most of the inequality we observe is within education group&nbsp;&mdash; within high school graduates or within college graduates, rather than between high school graduates and college graduates. Third, inequality within college graduates is actually somewhat greater than inequality within high school graduates. <strong>Fourth, changing patterns of education is unlikely to have much to do with a rising share of the top 1 percent, which is probably the most important inequality phenomenon.</strong> So I am all for improving education. But to suggest that improving education is the solution to inequality is, I think, an evasion.</p> </blockquote> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><a href="" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image" height="251" src="/files/robots_a_630_0.jpg" width="265"></a> <div class="caption"><strong>Also read Kevin's #longread all about this stuff: </strong><a href="" target="_blank"><strong>Welcome, Robot Overlords. Please Don't Fire Us? </strong></a></div> </div> <p>This is the key fact. Rising inequality is almost all due to the immense rise in the incomes of the top 1 percent. But no one argues that the top 1 percent are better educated than, say, the top 10 percent. As Summers says, if we improve our educational outcomes, that will have a broad positive effect on the economy. But it very plainly won't have any effect on the dynamics that have shoveled so much of our economic gains to the very wealthy.</p> <p>The rest is worth a read (it's a fairly short interview). Summers isn't saying anything that lots of other people haven't said before, but he's an influential guy. The fact that he's saying it too means this is well on its way to becoming conventional wisdom.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Economy Education Tech Tue, 03 Mar 2015 17:58:10 +0000 Kevin Drum 271266 at Netanyahu and Obama Agree: Global Warming Is a Huge Threat <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Today Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed Congress on Iran's nuclear ambitions, at the invitation of House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). The speech has caused a <a href="" target="_blank">considerable flap</a>, with Democrats criticizing it as an unprecedented affront to President Barack Obama.</p> <p>But while the president and Netanyahu might have vastly different visions for how to deal with the threat posed by Iran, they do seem to agree on one thing: the threat posed by climate change. Over the past few months Obama has repeatedly emphasized the dangers associated with global warming. In his State of the Union address in January, he said that "no challenge poses a greater threat to future generations" than climate change. And in a recent national security document, Obama called climate change an "urgent and growing threat." Despite GOP protestations to the contrary, Obama's concerns are legitimate: New research released yesterday, for example, found that man-made climate change was a <a href="" target="_blank">key factor in the Syrian civil war</a>.</p> <p>It seems Bibi had the same thought as early as 2010, when his cabinet approved a wide-reaching plan to reduce Israel's carbon footprint. At the time, the prime minister said that "the threat of climate change is no less menacing than the security threats that we face." From <a href="" target="_blank">the</a><em><a href="" target="_blank"> Jerusalem Post</a>:</em></p> <blockquote> <p>At the UN Copenhagen Climate Summit in December 2009, Israel pledged to reduce emissions by 20 percent from a "business as usual" scenario by 2020.</p> <p>"The recent dry months, including the driest November in the history of the state, are a warning light to us all that the threat of climate change is no less menacing than the security threats that we face. I intend to act determinedly in this field. In a country that suffers from a severe water shortage, this is an existential struggle," Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said at the cabinet meeting.</p> </blockquote> <p>Israel doesn't face the kind of political resistance from climate change deniers that is all too common in the United States, said Gidon Bromberg, Israel director of EcoPeace Middle East. But the country is struggling to meet its carbon emission and renewable energy targets because government spending is so heavily concentrated on defense, he said.</p> <p>"They've given the issue a great deal of lip service," he said, "but in practice none of these [targets] have been met."</p> <p>Still, Israel has been at the forefront of developing seawater desalination technology to confront drought. The country has the <a href="" target="_blank">biggest desal plant in the world</a>, and last year Netanyahu <a href="" target="_blank">signed a deal</a> with California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) to share research and technology for dealing with water scarcity.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Climate Desk International Obama Tue, 03 Mar 2015 17:15:32 +0000 Tim McDonnell 271241 at There's Really No Plan B on Iran, Is There? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Yesterday was one of my bad days, but one consequence of that was that I zoned out in front of the TV for long stretches. That allowed me to hear an endless procession of talking heads spend time talking about what we should do about Iran.</p> <p>The striking thing was not that there was lots of criticism from conservatives about President Obama's negotiating strategy. The striking thing was the complete lack of any real alternative from these folks. I listened to interviewer after interviewer ask various people what they'd do instead, and the answers were all the weakest of weak tea. A few mentioned tighter sanctions, but without much conviction since (a) sanctions are already pretty tight and (b) even the hawks seem to understand that mere sanctions are unlikely to stop Iran's nuclear program anyway. Beyond that there was nothing.</p> <p>That is, with the refreshing (?) exception of Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who sounded a bit like Jack Nicholson in <em>A Few Good Men</em> after being badgered a bit by Wolf Blitzer. <em>Military action? You're damn right I want to see military action.</em> Or words to that effect, anyway. But of course, this sentiment was behind the scenes everywhere, even if most of the hawkish talking heads didn't quite say it so forthrightly. I noticed that even President Obama, in his interview with Reuters, specifically mentioned "military action," rather than the usual euphemism of "all cards are on the table."</p> <p>In my vague, laymanish way, this sure makes me wonder just how seriously military action really is on the table. I mean, I realize there are no really great options here, but a major war against Iran sure seems like a helluva bad idea&mdash;so bad that even the hawks ought to be thinking twice about this. That's especially true since I've heard no one who thinks it would permanently disable Iran's nuclear program anyway. It would just cause them to redouble their efforts and to do a better job of hiding it.</p> <p>I'm not saying anything new here. It only struck me a little harder than usual after watching so many interviews about Iran in the space of just a few hours (and I wasn't even watching Fox at all). There's really no Plan B here, and even the hawks are mostly reluctant to explicitly say that we should just up and launch a massive air assault on Iran. It's a weird, almost ghostly controversy we're having.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum International Military Tue, 03 Mar 2015 16:08:17 +0000 Kevin Drum 271246 at