Blogs | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en Shia Mob in Iraq Demands More Technocrats <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">Protesters stormed the Iraqi parliament today:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Baghdad Operations Command declared a state of emergency and said all roads into the capital had been closed....Iraq is in the grip of a political crisis, <strong>with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi attempting to reshuffle his cabinet and meet the demands of the demonstrators,</strong> who have been spurred on by the powerful Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. But Abadi has been hampered by chaotic parliament sessions, where lawmakers have thrown water bottles and punches at one another.</p> </blockquote> <p>Oddly, the "firebrand cleric" Sadr (remember when that practically used to be his first name in news reports?) is demanding that...the current hacks running government ministries be replaced with nonpartisan technocrats. "More bean counters in the cabinet!" isn't the usual rallying cry of a populist uprising, but there you have it.</p> <p>Needless to say, the sectarian hacks currently in charge have been resisting this change for the past month. In the meantime, Iraq is in chaos. Again.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 30 Apr 2016 14:42:19 +0000 Kevin Drum 303026 at Friday Fundraising and Cat Blogging - 29 April 2016 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Why do we beg you for money three times a year? <a href="" target="_blank">Clara and Monika explain:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Remember when Chris Hughes put <em>The New Republic</em> up for sale earlier this year? His letter to TNR staff subtly blamed the very same people it was addressed to: "I will be the first to admit that when I took on this challenge nearly four years ago, I underestimated the difficulty of transitioning an old and traditional institution into a digital media company in today's quickly evolving climate."</p> <p>Bullshit. "Transitioning" was not <em>The New Republic's</em> main challenge. Refusing to work on, with, and for the internet was once a pervasive problem in news organizations, but while vestiges of that still linger, it is no longer what keeps publications from succeeding financially.</p> <p>What keeps them from making money now is that online advertising pays pennies....From the very beginning, 40 years ago this year, our newsroom has been built on the belief that journalism needs to be untethered from corporate interests or deep-pocketed funders&mdash;that the only way a free press can be paid for is by its readers. This can take a few different forms: subscriptions, donations, micropayments, all of which we're experimenting with. It can be something the audience is forced to do (via the paywalls you'll find at the <em>New York Time</em>s or the <em>Wall Street Journal</em>) or something they choose to do, as in public radio.</p> <p>At <em>Mother Jones</em>, we've gone the latter route: Our mission is to make our journalism accessible to as many people as possible. Instead of requiring you to pay, we bet on trust: We trust you'll recognize the value of the reporting and pitch in what you can. And you trust us to put that money to work&mdash;by going out there and kicking ass.</p> </blockquote> <p>So please help us out! This is my final pitch for the spring fundraiser, and it includes <em>more options than ever before</em>. You can donate via PayPal or credit card, as usual, or <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_monthly_donation.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">you can sign up to make a monthly donation. If enough of you do this, maybe we can cut back on the fundraising begs? Maybe.</p> <ul><li>Click here to donate via <a href=";hosted_button_id=3MREP27XKRQHE" target="_blank">PayPal.</a></li> <li>Click here to donate via <a href=";list_source=7H64Z005&amp;extra_don=1&amp;abver=A" target="_blank">credit card.</a></li> </ul><p>And with that out of the way, it's finally time for catblogging. Hopper's new favorite place lately When I settle down on the sofa these days, she comes right over and flops down on my stomach. After a good tummy rub, she snoozes while I peruse the news on my tablet. It works out pretty well for everyone.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_hopper_2016_04_29.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 40px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 29 Apr 2016 19:00:08 +0000 Kevin Drum 302996 at No, Donald Trump Didn't Oppose the Iraq War <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">Via Bob Somerby,</a> here are two ways of handling the same set of facts. The first, from the <em>New York Times</em>, is wrong:</p> <blockquote> <p>Mr. Trump, the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, pledged a major buildup of the military, the swift destruction of the Islamic State and the rejection of trade deals that he said tied the nation&rsquo;s hands. But he also pointedly rejected the nation-building of the George W. Bush administration, <strong>reminding his audience that he had opposed the Iraq war.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>The second, from the <em>Washington Post</em>, is right:</p> <blockquote> <p>Mr. Trump blamed previous administrations for making a mess of the Middle East &mdash; a reasonable claim, but one he littered with false assertions. <strong>He again claimed, against the known record,</strong> to have opposed the Iraq War well before it began.</p> </blockquote> <p>Granted, the <em>Post's</em> version is in an editorial, where writers have more freedom to say what they want. Still, straight news reporters have, obviously, an obligation to report the news straight. And the straight truth is that Donald Trump <em>didn't</em> oppose the war in Iraq&mdash;not until well after it had already become a disaster, anyway. All the available evidence says so, and reporters shouldn't enable Trump's lies by repeating them unchallenged.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_trump_politifact_iraq_war.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 15px 47px;"></p> <p>If Trump really opposed the war in Iraq, all he has to do is show us the evidence. It would take five minutes. He hasn't done it. He's lying.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 29 Apr 2016 17:52:02 +0000 Kevin Drum 302991 at Trey Gowdy Still Tracking Down Benghazi Conspiracy Theories <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">Via Steve Benen,</a> I see that the Pentagon is finally getting a little fed up with Trey Gowdy's Benghazi investigation:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_dod_benghazi.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 15px 15px;"></p> <p>Gowdy's "nonpartisan" investigators are apparently still obsessed with tracking down idiotic conspiracy theories that originate in Facebook posts, radio shows, and other corners of the right-wing fever swamp. They seem to be convinced, even now, that the military deliberately chose not to respond to the Benghazi attacks even though they could have. Why would they do this? Who knows. Because they were acting under orders from the secretary of state, to whom they had sworn a secret blood oath? It's just the kind of thing Hillary would do, isn't it? And by God, the truth is out there. Eventually Trey Gowdy will get to it.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 29 Apr 2016 16:10:33 +0000 Kevin Drum 302986 at Three Cheers for Monotasking! <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Is multitasking finally <a href="" target="_blank">getting the reputation it deserves?</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Multitasking, that bulwark of anemic r&eacute;sum&eacute;s everywhere, has come under fire in recent years. A 2014 study in the <em>Journal of Experimental Psychology</em> found that interruptions as brief as two to three seconds &mdash; which is to say, less than the amount of time it would take you to toggle from <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_focus.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">this article to your email and back again &mdash; were enough to double the number of errors participants made in an assigned task.</p> <p>....But monotasking, also referred to as single-tasking or unitasking, isn&rsquo;t just about getting things done....&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a digital literacy skill,&rdquo; said Manoush Zomorodi, the host and managing editor of WNYC Studios&rsquo; &ldquo;Note to Self&rdquo; podcast, which recently offered a weeklong interactive series called Infomagical, addressing the effects of information overload. &ldquo;Our gadgets and all the things we look at on them are designed to not let us single-task. We weren&rsquo;t talking about this before because we simply weren&rsquo;t as distracted.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>Anyone who has coded&mdash;or worked with coders&mdash;knows all about this. They complain constantly about interruptions, and with good reason. When they're deep into a problem, switching their attention is costly. They've lost their train of thought, and it can take several minutes to get it back. That's not much of a problem if it happens a few times a day, but it's a real killer if it happens a few times an hour.</p> <p>Not all jobs require as much concentrated attention as coding, but it's probably more of them than most people think. More generally, the ability to focus on a single task for an extended period is a talent that's underappreciated&mdash;especially by extroverts, who continue to exercise an unhealthy hegemony over most workplaces. Sure, the folks who want to be left alone are the ones who actually get most of the work done, but they're still mocked as drones or beavers or trolls. That's bad enough, but now technology is helping the extroverts in their long twilight campaign against actually concentrating on anything. There are times when I wonder if we're starting to lose this talent altogether. Probably not, I suppose&mdash;something like this probably can't change all that appreciably over the course of just a few years, no matter what kind of technological miracles are helping us along.</p> <p>But we sure are hellbent on helping it along. Open office plans, cell phones, constant notifications: these are all things that fight against sustained attention on a task. For some people and some tasks, that doesn't matter. But for a lot of important work, it matters a lot. Smart hiring managers in the modern world should be asking, "How long can you concentrate on a task before you have to take a break?" I wonder how many of them do?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 29 Apr 2016 15:21:07 +0000 Kevin Drum 302976 at Here's Why I Never Warmed Up to Bernie Sanders <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>With the Democratic primary basically over, I want to step back a bit and explain the big-picture reason that I never warmed up to Bernie Sanders. It's not so much that he's all that far to my left, nor that he's been pretty skimpy on details about all the programs he proposes. That's hardly uncommon in presidential campaigns. Rather, it's the fact that I think he's basically running a con, and one with the potential to cause distinct damage to the progressive cause.</p> <p>I mean this as a provocation&mdash;but I also mean it. So if you're provoked, mission accomplished! Here's my argument.</p> <p>Bernie's explanation for everything he wants to do&mdash;his theory of change, or theory of governing, take your pick&mdash;is that we need a revolution in this country. The rich own everything. Income inequality is skyrocketing. The middle class is stagnating. The finance industry is out of control. Washington, DC, is paralyzed.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">But as Bill Scher points out,</a> the revolution that Bernie called for didn't show up. In fact, it's worse than that: we were never going to get a revolution, and Bernie knew it all along. Think about it: has there <em>ever</em> been an economic <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_delacroix_revolution.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">revolution in the United States? Stretching things a bit, I can think of two:</p> <ul><li>The destruction of the Southern slave economy following the Civil War</li> <li>The New Deal</li> </ul><p>The first of these was 50+ years in the making and, in the end, required a bloody, four-year war to bring to a conclusion. The second happened only after an utter collapse of the economy, with banks closing, businesses failing, wages plummeting, and unemployment at 25 percent. <em>That's</em> what it takes to bring about a revolution, or even something close to it.</p> <p>We're light years away from that right now. Unemployment? Yes, 2 or 3 percent of the working-age population has dropped out of the labor force, but the headline unemployment rate is 5 percent. Wages? They've been stagnant since the turn of the century, but the average family still makes close to $70,000, more than nearly any other country in the world. Health care? Our system is a mess, but 90 percent of the country has insurance coverage. Dissatisfaction with the system? <a href="" target="_blank">According to Gallup,</a> even among those with incomes under $30,000, only 27 percent are dissatisfied with their personal lives.</p> <p>Like it or not, you don't build a revolution on top of an economy like this. Period. If you want to get anything done, you're going to have to do it the old-fashioned way: through the slow boring of hard wood.</p> <p>Why do I care about this? Because if you want to make a difference in this country, you need to be prepared for a very long, very frustrating slog. You have to buy off interest groups, compromise your ideals, and settle for half loaves&mdash;all the things that Bernie disdains as part of the corrupt mainstream establishment. In place of this he promises his followers we can get everything we want via a revolution that's never going to happen. And when that revolution inevitably fails, where do all his impressionable young followers go? Do they join up with the corrupt establishment and commit themselves to the slow boring of hard wood? Or do they give up?</p> <p>I don't know, but my fear is that some of them will do the latter. And that's a damn shame. They've been conned by a guy who should know better, the same way dieters get conned by late-night miracle diets. When it doesn't work, they throw in the towel.</p> <p>Most likely Bernie will have no lasting effect, and his followers will scatter in the usual way, with some doubling down on practical politics and others leaving for different callings. But there's a decent chance that Bernie's failure will result in a net increase of cynicism about politics, and that's the last thing we need. I hate the idea that we might lose even a few talented future leaders because they fell for Bernie's spiel and then got discouraged when it didn't pan out.</p> <p>I'll grant that my pitch&mdash;and Hillary's and Barack Obama's&mdash;isn't very inspiring. <em>Work your fingers to the bone for 30 years and you might get one or two significant pieces of legislation passed.</em> Obviously you need inspiration too. But if you don't want your followers to give up in disgust, your inspiration needs to be in the service of goals that are at least attainable. By offering a chimera instead, Bernie has done the progressive movement no favors.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 29 Apr 2016 05:25:46 +0000 Kevin Drum 302961 at Campaign Reporters Fess Up: They Really Can't Stand Hillary Clinton <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Last month <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Politico</em> polled 80 campaign reporters</a> about this year's race. It turns out they hate Nevada and Ohio but love South Carolina&mdash;mainly because it has good food, apparently. They think Maggie Haberman is the best reporter covering the race, and Fox News has done the best job of hosting a debate. Donald Trump has gotten the softest coverage, probably because they all agree that "traffic, viewership, and clicks" drives their coverage.</p> <p>And who's gotten the harshest coverage? Do you even have to ask? It turns out that even reporters themselves agree that it's not even a close call:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_clinton_press_politico.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 5px 15px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 28 Apr 2016 21:46:54 +0000 Kevin Drum 302946 at Help Us Make Conservatives Even More Miserable <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The progressive movement is being torn from within. It&rsquo;s close to a civil war. The fault line runs straight through the heart of the Democratic coalition, but not through <em>Mother Jones</em>. We stand on one side of the chasm, while many of our friends have set up shop on the other. And quite a few others think they can stand with one foot on&mdash;</p> <p>Oh wait. That's actually <a href="" target="_blank">Jonah Goldberg</a> writing an epitaph for the conservative movement and begging for money for <em>National Review</em>. I tried to rework it for MoJo's spring fundraising drive, but it just doesn't fit. There's no liberal equivalent of Donald Trump. Also: the prose is a little too purple for my taste.</p> <p>So how about this: If you donate some money to us, we'll use it to try and make Jonah even more miserable. That's a movement I can get behind! And we accept either PayPal or credit cards.</p> <p>Click here to donate via <a href=";hosted_button_id=3MREP27XKRQHE" target="_blank">PayPal.</a></p> <p>Click here to donate via <a href=";list_source=7H64Z005&amp;extra_don=1&amp;abver=A" target="_blank">credit card.</a></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 28 Apr 2016 18:56:16 +0000 Kevin Drum 302921 at Obama Is Right: Reagan's Tax Cuts Didn't Revive the Economy <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Here is President Obama, in the course of <a href="" target="_blank">defending his economic performance:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>If we can&rsquo;t puncture some of the mythology around austerity, politics or tax cuts or the mythology that&rsquo;s been built up around the Reagan revolution, <strong>where somehow people genuinely think that he slashed government and slashed the deficit and that the recovery was because of all these massive tax cuts, as opposed to a shift in interest-rate policy</strong> &mdash; if we can&rsquo;t describe that effectively, then we&rsquo;re doomed to keep on making more and more mistakes.</p> </blockquote> <p>This train has long since left the station, and Republicans are dead set on making sure it never returns. But that doesn't mean Obama is wrong. He's not. <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/images/blog_reagan_era_0.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">Even conservative James Pethokoukis <a href="" target="_blank">acknowledges this:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>A recent Brookings literature review noted that Martin Feldstein and Doug Elmendorf found in a 1989 analysis &ldquo;that the 1981 tax cuts had virtually no net impact on economic growth.&rdquo; They find that the strength of the recovery over the 1980s could be ascribed to monetary policy. In particular, they find no evidence that the tax cuts in 1981 stimulated labor supply.</p> </blockquote> <p>Feldstein was Reagan's chairman of the CEA, so he's hardly some liberal shill trying to take down Reagan's legacy. <a href="" target="_blank">As I noted a few years ago,</a> there were five main drivers of the 80s boom. In order of importance, they were:</p> <ol><li>Paul Volcker easing up on interest rates/monetary aggregates in 1982</li> <li>The steep drop in oil prices after 1981</li> <li>Reagan's devaluation of the dollar</li> <li>Reagan's deficit spending</li> <li>Reagan's tax cuts</li> </ol><p>Conservatives will never admit any of this, but there's no reason the rest of us have to go along with their fairy tale about Reaganomics. Taxes matter, but they simply don't matter nearly as much as they claim, and it's long past time for the mainstream press to acknowledge all this. It's hardly controversial anywhere outside the Fox News bubble.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 28 Apr 2016 18:34:31 +0000 Kevin Drum 302911 at Economic Growth Slows to 0.5% in First Quarter <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The economy grew at a sluggish <a href="" target="_blank">0.5 percent annual rate</a> in the first quarter. The main culprits for the poor performance were downturns in durable goods, nonresidential construction, and defense spending. This is the third year in a row in which growth has been poor in the first quarter, which means that one-off excuses about snowstorms and so forth don't really hold water anymore. But it might be a statistical artifact. <a href="" target="_blank">Jared Bernstein says</a> "there&rsquo;s some concern with the seasonal adjusters, which some argue are biasing Q1 down and Q2 up." I guess we'll have to wait until Q2 to find out.</p> <p>Even if that's true, however, growth is still fairly listless, averaging around 2 percent per year. It's yet another indication that the global economy remains fragile and the Fed should think twice before raising rates any more than they've already done.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_gdp_2016_q1.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 15px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 28 Apr 2016 18:07:08 +0000 Kevin Drum 302906 at High-Risk Pools Don't Work, Have Never Worked, and Won't Work in the Future <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Even among conservative voters, Obamacare's protection of people with pre-existing conditions has always been popular. <a href="" target="_blank">In a recent Kaiser poll,</a> it garnered 74 percent approval from Democrats, 70 percent approval from independents, and 69 percent approval from Republicans.</p> <p>Technically, this protection is guaranteed by two different provisions of Obamacare: guaranteed issue, which means that insurance companies have to accept anyone who applies for coverage, and community rating, <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_ryan_poverty.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">which means they have to charge everyone the same price. But popular or not, <a href="" target="_blank">Paul Ryan wants nothing to do with it:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>In election-year remarks that could shed light on an expected Republican healthcare alternative, Ryan said existing federal policy that prevents insurers from charging sick people higher rates for health coverage has raised costs for healthy consumers while undermining choice and competition.</p> <p>...."Less than 10 percent of people under 65 are what we call people with pre-existing conditions, who are really kind of uninsurable," Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, told a student audience at Georgetown University. "Let's fund risk pools at the state level to subsidize their coverage, so that they can get affordable coverage," he said. "You dramatically lower the price for everybody else. You make health insurance so much more affordable, so much more competitive and open up competition."</p> </blockquote> <p>It's true that the cost of covering sick people raises the price of insurance for healthy people. That's how insurance works. But there's no magic here. It costs the same to treat sick people whether you do it through Obamacare or through a high-risk pool&mdash;and it doesn't matter whether you fund it via taxes for Obamacare or taxes for something else. However, there <em>are</em> some differences:</p> <ul><li>Handling everyone through a single system is more efficient and more convenient.</li> <li>High-risk pools have a <a href="" target="_blank">lousy history.</a> They just don't work.</li> <li>Implementing them at the state level guarantees a race to the bottom, since no state wants to attract lots of sick people into its program.</li> <li>Ryan's promise to fund high-risk pools is empty. He will never support the taxes it would take to do it properly, and he knows it.</li> </ul><p>This is just more hand waving. Everyone with even a passing knowledge of the health care business knows that high-risk pools are a disaster, but Republicans like Ryan keep pitching them anyway as some kind of bold, new, free-market alternative to Obamacare. They aren't. They've been around forever and everyone knows they don't work.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 28 Apr 2016 15:59:10 +0000 Kevin Drum 302881 at Quote of the Day: John Boehner Sure Doesn't Think Much of Ted Cruz <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">From former House speaker John Boehner,</a> asked what he thinks of Ted Cruz:</p> <blockquote> <p>I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life.</p> </blockquote> <p>The interesting thing about this is that it's not very interesting. It's just par for the course for Cruz.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 28 Apr 2016 14:50:55 +0000 Kevin Drum 302876 at Democrats Have a Class Gap. Republicans Have a Generation Gap. <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>What are the big fault lines within the Democratic and Republican parties? According to a recent Pew report, Democrats have a class gap: Democratic elites are far more liberal than less educated members of the party. But there's not much of a generation gap: old and young voters are pretty similar ideologically.</p> <p>Among Republicans, it's just the opposite. They have a huge generation gap, with older voters skewing much more conservative than younger voters. But there's no class gap: their elites are in pretty close sync with the party base. The raw data is <a href="" target="_blank">here,</a> and the chart below shows the magnitude of the difference:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_democrat_republican_younger_more_educated_2.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 2px;"></p> <p>This is interesting, since the most talked-about aspect of the Democratic primary was the astonishingly strong preference of young voters for Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton. But <em>why</em> did they prefer Bernie? The obvious answer is that they're more liberal than older Democrats and therefore preferred his more radical vision&mdash;but the Pew data says that's not the case.</p> <p>So what <em>is</em> the answer? The age gap could still explain a bit of it, since young Democrats are a little more liberal than older Democrats. And the class gap could also explain a bit of it, since Bernie voters tend to be both young and well educated. But even put together, this doesn't seem like enough.</p> <p>Obviously there was something about Bernie that generated huge enthusiasm among younger voters. But if it wasn't ideology, what was it?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 28 Apr 2016 04:48:08 +0000 Kevin Drum 302871 at Weekly Flint Water Report: April 16-22 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Here is this week's Flint water report. As usual, I've eliminated outlier readings above 2,000 parts per billion, since there are very few of them and they can affect the averages in misleading ways. During the week, DEQ took 302 samples. The average for the past week was 15.03.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_flint_lead_water_2016_04_22.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 5px 15px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 27 Apr 2016 21:24:39 +0000 Kevin Drum 302856 at The Media Weighs In On Carly Fiorina <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The reviews are in on Ted Cruz's choice of Carly Fiorina as his running mate. Can you spot the consensus opinion?</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_cruz_desperate.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 5px 35px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 27 Apr 2016 21:12:53 +0000 Kevin Drum 302851 at Carly Fiorina Just Burst Into Song and It Was the Weirdest Thing I've Ever Seen <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif;">There we were, as a nation, watching <a href="" target="_blank">Sen. Ted Cruz attempt to gin up some momentum by announcing Carly </a></span><a href="" target="_blank">Fiorina</a><span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif;"><a href="" target="_blank"> as his vice presidential&nbsp;running mate</a>, Wednesday afternoon. I was a bit bored. Then this happened, and oh, how I screamed with my mouth and with my keyboard:</span></p> <p><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Screen%20Shot%202016-04-27%20at%201.52.22%20PM.png" style="height: 277px; width: 630px;"></p> <p>Here is the full video for your enjoyment&mdash;and for any future horror show reel you want to produce:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-video" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">WATCH: <a href="">@CarlyFiorina</a> bursts into song after <a href="">@tedcruz</a> names her his running mate <a href=""></a> <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; MSNBC (@MSNBC) <a href="">April 27, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>We tried to <a href="" target="_blank">warn him</a>.</p> <center> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">This is what I felt and thought when <a href="">@CarlyFiorina</a> was singing. The horror show trailer version: <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; James West (@jameswest2010) <a href="">April 27, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script></center></body></html> Mixed Media Wed, 27 Apr 2016 21:06:00 +0000 James West 302846 at Here's How Unprecedented Carly Fiorina's Nomination Would Be <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Ted Cruz may be mathematically eliminated from clinching the Republican presidential nomination before the convention, but that didn't stop the Texas senator from announcing a running mate on Wednesday: Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard. Fiorina, who dropped out of the Republican presidential race after the New Hampshire primary and previously lost a US Senate race in California, is a notable pick not just because she is a woman, or because she previously criticized Cruz for saying "whatever he needs to say to get elected," but because of her past experience&mdash;she would be the first vice president in 76 years to have ascended to the post without previously holding elected office.</p> <p>The last time a major party picked a vice presidential nominee without legislative or gubernatorial experience was in 1972, when Democrat George McGovern chose Sargent Shriver, who had previously run the Peace Corps and worked on President Lyndon Johnson's "war on poverty." But you have to put an asterisk next to that, since Shriver was chosen only after McGovern's original running mate, Sen. Thomas Eagleton, resigned amid reports about his previous mental health treatments. Four years earlier, Alabama Gov. George Wallace selected as his running mate Air Force General Curtis LeMay, but Wallace, a longtime Democrat, had chosen to run (and lose) under the American Independent Party.</p> <p>To find a running mate with no experience in elected office who actually won, you have to go back to 1940, when Franklin D. Roosevelt named Agriculture Secretary Henry Wallace as his second vice president, following eight years of John Nance Garner. Prior to that, Calvin Coolidge tapped Charles Dawes, President Warren Harding's budget director, to be on his victorious ticket in 1924. Dawes had lost a Senate race 23 years earlier and <a href="" target="_blank">written</a> a hit song in the interim, before being dragged into the executive branch. Dawes himself seemed to recognize his lack of qualifications.<span class="contenttext"> </span><span class="contenttext">"I don't know anything about politics," he said after being <a href="" target="_blank">selected</a> as Coolidge's running mate. "I thought I knew something about politics once. I was taken up on the top of a 20-story building and showed the promised land&mdash;and then I was kicked off."</span></p> <p>But okay, both of those vice presidents had some experience in the executive branch. The last true outsider to win was in the 19th century. Prior to becoming James A. Garfield's running mate in 1880, Chester A. Arthur had no political experience other than stints as port collector of New York City and chairman of the state Republican Party. In a nice bit of symmetry with Cruz's campaign, Arthur's future presidential campaign was marred by allegations that he was ineligible because he was born in Canada.</p></body></html> MoJo Ted Cruz Wed, 27 Apr 2016 20:48:26 +0000 Tim Murphy 302831 at Bernie Sanders Is Laying Off Hundreds of Campaign Staffers <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>A day after losing to Hillary Clinton in four of five primaries in the Northeast, Bernie Sanders announced his campaign will soon start laying off "hundreds" of its staff members, the <a href=";gwh=AD5FAF69DA85BF9EF0D04D2C85F6488E&amp;gwt=pay&amp;_r=0" target="_blank"><em>New York Times</em></a> reports.</p> <p>"We have had a very large staff, which was designed to deal with 50 states in this country," Sanders said in an interview with the<em> Times</em>. "Forty of the states are now behind us. So we have a great staff, great people."</p> <p>The cuts to his staff, however, do not signal he is planning to bow out of the race anytime soon, the Vermont senator said. Instead, Sanders maintained he would remain in the race for the Democratic nomination at least until the end of the summer, and he hopes to rehire laid-off staff members eventually.</p> <p>Five people familiar with the cuts also confirmed the news to <em><a href="" target="_blank">Politico</a></em>, hinting that Sanders was preparing to shift gears and potentially focus the rest of his campaign on influencing Clinton's platform.</p></body></html> MoJo 2016 Elections Wed, 27 Apr 2016 20:45:06 +0000 Inae Oh 302841 at Ted Cruz Will Announce Carly Fiorina as His Running Mate, According to Reports <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>In an announcement scheduled for later this afternoon, Sen. Ted Cruz will name former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina as his running mate if he secures the Republican nomination, <a href=";mtrref=undefined&amp;gwh=13AF9ED6B1BE32C3D3017ED182CDFF40&amp;gwt=pay" target="_blank">multiple outlets</a> are reporting.</p> <p><em>This is a breaking news post. We will update with more as information becomes available. </em></p></body></html> MoJo 2016 Elections Wed, 27 Apr 2016 18:45:34 +0000 Inae Oh 302821 at Trump's Foreign Policy Doesn't Improve When Read From a Teleprompter <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>I kinda sorta listened to Donald Trump's foreign policy speech this morning. You know, the one we were all looking forward to because it was <em>written by an actual speechwriter</em> and would be <em>delivered via teleprompter</em>. That's Trump being presidential, I guess.</p> <p>So how did Trump do? That depends on your expectations. For a guy who never uses a teleprompter, not bad. By normal standards, though, he sounded <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_america_first.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">about like a sixth grader reciting a speech from note cards. On content, it was the same deal. Compared with normal Trump, it wasn't bad. By any real-world standard, it was ridiculous.</p> <p>Fact-checking his speech is sort of pointless, basically a category error. Trump is a zeitgeisty kind of guy, and that's the only real way to evaluate anything he says. In this case, the zeitgeist was "America First"&mdash;and everyone's first question was, <em>does he know</em>? Does he know that this is a phrase made famous by isolationists prior to World War II? My own guess is that he didn't know this the first time he used it, but he does now. Certainly his speechwriter does. But he doesn't care. It fits his favorite themes well, and the only people who care about its history are a bunch of overeducated pedants. His base doesn't know where it came from and couldn't care less.</p> <p>So: America First. And that's about it. Trump will do only things that are in America's interest. He will destroy ISIS, crush Iran, wipe out the trade deficit with China, eradicate North Korea's bomb program, and give Russia five minutes to cut a deal with us or face the consequences. Aside from that, Trump's main theme seemed to be contradicting himself at every turn. We will crush our enemies and protect our friends&mdash;but only if our friends display suitable gratitude for everything we do for them. We will rebuild our military and our enemies will fear us&mdash;but "war and aggression will not be my first instinct." We will be unpredictable&mdash;but also consistent so everyone knows they can trust us. He won't tell ISIS how or when he's going to wipe them out&mdash;but it will be very soon and with overwhelming force. He will support our friends&mdash;but he doesn't really think much of international agreements like NATO.</p> <p>Then there was the big mystery: his out-of-the-blue enthusiasm for 3-D printing, artificial intelligence, and cyberwar. Where did <em>that</em> come from? In any case, the Pentagon is obviously already working on all three of these things, so it's not clear just what Trump has in mind. (Actually, it is clear: nothing. Somebody put these buzzwords in his speech and he read them. He doesn't have the slightest idea what any of them mean.)</p> <p>So what would Trump do about actual conflicts that are actually happening right now? Would he send troops to Ukraine? To Syria? To Libya? To Yemen? To Iraq? Naturally, he didn't say. Gotta be unpredictable, after all.</p> <p>But whatever else you take away, America will be strong under Donald Trump. We will be respected and feared. Our military will be ginormous. No one will laugh at us anymore. We will proudly defend the values of Western civilization. This all serves pretty much the same purpose in foreign policy that political correctness, Mexican walls, and Muslim bans serve in Trump's domestic policy.</p> <p>And there you have it. Did he really need a teleprompter for that?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 27 Apr 2016 18:31:19 +0000 Kevin Drum 302811 at Cruz-Fiorina in 2016! <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The rumor mill says that Ted Cruz plans to announce today that Carly Fiorina will be his running mate. <a href="" target="_blank">Jim Geraghty comments:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Announcing Fiorina today would be a big gamble for Cruz. There&rsquo;s a lot to like about Fiorina, but will this announcement help lock up Indiana and give Cruz a slew of delegates in places like California? If Fiorina is today&rsquo;s big news, <strong>we may look back on this as a key moment where Cruz united the anti-Trump factions of the party... or we may look back on this as a Hail Mary pass.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Hmmm. Pretty sure I know which one of these it will be. In fact, it's even worse than it seems. Given Fiorina's popularity in California, it's more like a Hail Mary pass to the wrong end zone.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 27 Apr 2016 17:17:33 +0000 Kevin Drum 302806 at Do Lucky People Feel Better About Paying Taxes? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Robert Frank thinks that we can get rich people to support higher taxes by reminding them of <a href="" target="_blank">how lucky they are:</a></p> <blockquote> <p><strong>Underestimating the importance of luck is [] a totally understandable tendency</strong>....Most highly successful people are very talented and hardworking, after all, and when they construct the narratives of their own lives, the most readily available memories are the difficult problems they've been solving every day for decades. Less salient are the sporadic external events that also invariably matter, like the mentor who helped you during a rough patch in 11th grade or the promotion you got because a more qualified colleague had to turn it down to care for an ill spouse.</p> <p>....I've seen even brief discussions of the link between success and luck temper the outrage many wealthy people feel about taxes....<strong>In my own recent conversations with highly successful people, I've seen opinions change on the spot.</strong> Many who seem never to have considered the possibility that their success stemmed from factors other than their own talent and effort are often surprisingly willing to rethink. In many instances, even brief reflection stimulates them to recall <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_four_leaf_clover.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">specific examples of good breaks they've enjoyed along the way.</p> </blockquote> <p>I've long wondered how it is that so many people are completely clueless about how lucky they are. Off the top of my head, here's the story of my life:</p> <p>I was born in the richest state in the richest country in the richest era of human history. I was born white, male, straight, and healthy. I was born with a high IQ and an even temper. My parents loved me and took care of me. We weren't rich, but I never wanted for anything important. I attended good quality state schools free of charge for 17 years. I never had any catastrophic money problems after I left home. By a rather unlikely chance, I ended up marrying the most wonderful person in the world. I had a great mentor at one job who helped me make an improbable move into high-tech marketing. Later I found myself working for a guy I happened to click with, and ended up vice president of marketing. Our company eventually got acquired and I made a bunch of money. After I left, I just happened to start blogging as a hobby right at the time blogging became big. A couple of years later I got a call out of the blue asking if I wanted to blog for pay. A few years after that I got another call out of the blue and ended up at MoJo.</p> <p>There's more, but that's enough for now. And of course, recently I've had some bad luck. But even that hasn't been so bad. Thanks to all the good luck I had before, I've received hundreds of thousands of dollars of top-notch medical treatment at practically no cost.</p> <p>Does any of this mean I didn't work hard and diligently? Of course not. But lots of people work hard and diligently. In fact, most people do. If I had worked hard and diligently but been born in a small village in Pakistan, I'd in a small village in Pakistan right now. All the hard work and diligence in the world wouldn't have done much of anything for me.</p> <p>I can easily believe that most people give short shrift to all this stuff. Hell, I've known people who were smug about their real estate acumen because they happened to buy a house in 2002, and then cried about their terrible luck when they failed to sell it in 2007. We all like to fool ourselves into believing that good things are due to our smarts while bad things are all down to bad luck. But for most of us, there's an awful lot of good luck involved in our lives too.</p> <p>But here's the thing I'm interested in: is it really true that pointing this out to a rich person is likely to turn them into a tax-loving supporter of the welfare state? That hasn't been my experience, but then, I've never gone whole hog on the luck argument. Maybe it works! But if it does, we liberals have sure been remarkably negligent for the past few decades. This is a pretty easy argument to make, after all.</p> <p>So: has anyone (other than Robert Frank) tried this? Ideally with a rich person, but even an upper-middle-class Republican will do. Did it work? Inquiring minds want to know.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 27 Apr 2016 16:08:47 +0000 Kevin Drum 302786 at Hillary Clinton Wants All Millennials to Feel Free to Use Her Lawn <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>I guess I'm finally curious enough about something to write a post about it. The subject is The Kids Today. Here are a couple of recent posts <a href="" target="_blank">from Atrios:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>I know I keep returning this subject, and I probably don't have anything especially new to say about it, but I guess support for Bernie by The Kids Today has brought a lot of it out recently. I'm increasingly amazed that The Kids Today seems to include anyone under 40, and that the olds (#notallolds) hate them with white hot passion. The Kids Today are Generation <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_phones.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">Screwed, and the Old Economy Steves of the world really should shut their pie holes.</p> </blockquote> <p><a href="" target="_blank">And:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Hope to be wrong, but suspect that team Clinton (very broadly defined) will still be talking about Berniebros in September. I'm quite happy for Hillary Clinton to be the nominee, as I always thought she would be. I'm not happy with the months of "we would have won it easy if not for these meddling kids who won't vote in November" rhetoric. Better figure out how to appeal to them. Stop calling them immature and stupid. The goal is to win, not to make early excuses for why you're going to lose.</p> </blockquote> <p>I realize that our personal takes on this subject are strongly influenced by which blogs/tweets/etc. we happen to read, and Atrios and I are probably reading different stuff. But I still wonder where this is coming from. Do older folks really hate millennials with a white hot passion? Is Team Clinton obsessed with Berniebros? I just don't see it. What I've seen is a competitive primary where both sides have been sniping at the other, just like 2008. And now that it's over, the sniping will fade away. Just speaking personally, my Twitter feed and general reading list has been about equally full of rancor aimed at both sides. The youngs are starry-eyed idealists; the olds are corrupt sellouts. Berniebros are disgusting; Hillarybots are cutthroat. Bernie is clueless about how to get things done; Hillary is a warmonger. Etc.</p> <p>If you yourself are a millennial, I suppose it's only natural to pay special attention to every single op-ed ever written on the subject of millennials. But I don't think this particular genre is any more prevalent today than op-eds about young Gen Xers a couple of decades ago or op-eds about young boomers back when I was graduating from college. They're no more critical, either. Just the same old stuff about middle-aged folks trying to understand younger folks, sometimes with sympathy and sometimes without.</p> <p>I guess I'm doing that annoying oldster thing where I use my personal experience to shrug off what's happening today as just more of the same. But honest, I wouldn't do it if I saw endless streams of criticism of Bernie and Bernie supporters&mdash;and millennials in general&mdash;that truly seemed way out of proportion to what I've seen before. But I just haven't.</p> <p>As for Hillary, I can guarantee that the <em>only</em> thing she and her team want from millennials is their support. That's been crystal clear from the start, and the fact that there are some assholes on her side doesn't change that. There are always assholes on all sides. But Team Hillary itself, even broadly defined, has no greater desire than to prove itself to millennials and get their votes in November. Just wait and see.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 27 Apr 2016 14:51:21 +0000 Kevin Drum 302776 at This Guy Had the Worst Idea for How to Spend $13 Million <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>State Sen. Jamie Raskin won Tuesday's Democratic primary in Maryland's eighth congressional district. But the bigger story is who lost&mdash;that would be David Trone, a wine retailer who spent $12.7 million of his own money in the hopes of winning the seat.</p> <p>Trone, running in a district that includes the affluent Washington, DC, suburbs in Montgomery County, set a record for most money spent by a self-funding congressional candidate to win a House seat. (The previous record was $7.8 million, and that included both a primary and a general election; as of early April, Raskin's campaign had spent a little more than $1 million.)</p> <p>The irony is that Trone was running as a campaign finance crusader. Much like Donald Trump, who cites his $35 million investment in his campaign as proof he can't be bought, Trone believed his enormous personal wealth would insulate him from charges of corruption. "I certainly could have raised enough money to fund a competitive campaign," he <a href="" target="_blank">said</a> in a full-page <em>Washington Post</em> ad two weeks ago, when he had only spent a pedestrian $9.1 million. "But the PACs, lobbyists and big dollar donors who give money would expect special attention. No matter how well-intentioned, those contributions and the candidates who take them are part of the reason Washington is broken."</p> <p>That message carried him to the brink of success&mdash;or maybe it was just the deluge ads&mdash;but in the end, money alone didn't cut it. Trone won by large margins in the two counties that comprise a smaller portion of the district, but Raskin held a sizable edge in his home county, Montgomery. Trone's final receipt: a little more than $400 per vote.</p></body></html> MoJo 2016 Elections Money in Politics Wed, 27 Apr 2016 13:26:06 +0000 Tim Murphy 302646 at Obamacare's Competitive Markets Are Starting to Work Pretty Well <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The decision last week by United Healthcare to drop out of&nbsp;Obamacare got a lot of attention, but the truth is that UH was a pretty small player in the exchanges. What's more important&mdash;but <em>hasn't</em> gotten much attention&mdash;is the fact that more and more Obamacare insurers are getting close to profitability. <a href="" target="_blank">Richard Mayhew comments:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>2014 was a year where there were only guesses about both the Exchange population, the market structure, and federal policy structure (specifically the risk corridor revenue neutrality restrictions. 2015 had a bit more clarity on who was coming into the market, what was working and what was not working, and what federal policy on risk corridors would actually be. 2016 is the first year where the policies are priced on functionally decent real information and some of the amazingly dumb strategic decisions have been unwound through either course changes or through exiting the market.</p> <p>As a simple reminder, <strong>competitive markets should see some companies make money and some companies that offer more expensive and less attractive products lose money.</strong> I would be extremely worried if everyone was making money after three years, just like I would be extremely worried that everyone was losing money after three years of increasingly better data.</p> </blockquote> <p>Obamacare critics have spent a lot of energy trying to pretend that premiums on the exchanges have skyrocketed, but that's never been true. What <em>is</em> true is that premiums started below projections and have since risen moderately as insurers get a better grasp on their customer base. This is how competitive markets work: players enter the market with prices designed to attract market share; customers pick winners and losers; prices adjust over time; and some companies are successful while others drop out. Eventually you reach a rough equilibrium, which we're getting close to with Obamacare.</p> <p>It's ironic (or something) that the problems conservatives are making such a fuss about are the result of precisely what they say they want: competitive insurance markets. Apparently Obamacare has produced a little more competition than they're comfortable with.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 27 Apr 2016 04:43:50 +0000 Kevin Drum 302771 at