Blogs | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/Blogs/kevin%20drum http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en Quote of the Day: Marco Rubio Thinks US Troops Would Have Intimidated Nouri al-Maliki http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/09/quote-day-marco-rubio-thinks-us-troops-would-have-intimidated-nouri-al-maliki <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><a href="http://www.mediaite.com/tv/rubio-promises-permanent-u-s-military-presence-in-mideast-if-hes-elected-president/" target="_blank">From Sen. Marco Rubio (R&ndash;Fla.),</a> explaining why he'd keep a big slug of troops somewhere in the Middle East if he were president:</p> <blockquote> <p>If the U.S. had had a presence [in Iraq], we would have had more leverage over how Maliki conducted his affairs, you would have had a more stable region, but also a place where you could conduct operations against other threats in the region.</p> </blockquote> <p>This kind of stuff is crazy. We had troops in Iraq for a decade. During that time, which spanned two different US presidents, we had virtually no success at getting Nouri al-Maliki to form an inclusive government that didn't gratuitously piss off Sunnis as a routine element of policy. Hell, Maliki didn't even take advantage of the Sunni Awakening, which was the best opportunity ever likely to come along to forge a Sunni-Shia alliance, to change his stripes. If that didn't do the trick, along with a hundred thousand American troops and near-daily calls with President Bush, what possible hope is there that a small residual force would have had any leverage at all?</p> <p>This is the kind of thing that drives me batty. I get that Republicans want to criticize Obama. That's pretty much the job description of the opposition party. I also get that the default Republican response to any national security initiative from President Obama is a reflexive "Do more." That's how they keep their hawkish reputation intact. But this kind of thing just flatly makes no sense. Does Rubio really believe this nonsense, or does he just spout it on Fox News because he figures it sounds plausible?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Iraq Military Tue, 23 Sep 2014 22:54:21 +0000 Kevin Drum 260891 at http://www.motherjones.com Labor's New Attack on Iowa Senate Candidate Joni Ernst: She's An ALEC Shill http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/09/joni-ernst-republican-iowa-senate-alec <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The battle between <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/03/bruce-braley-iowa-farmers-chuck-grassley" target="_blank">Democratic congressman Bruce Braley</a> and <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/05/joni-ernst-iowa-senate-iraq-weapons-mass-destruction">Republican state Sen. Joni Ernst</a> to be Iowa's next US senator <a href="http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2014/senate/ia/iowa_senate_ernst_vs_braley-3990.html" target="_blank">couldn't be closer</a>. In an effort to fire up voters in a race that could decide which party controls the Senate in 2015, the AFL-CIO&mdash;the <a href="http://www.aflcio.org/About">labor federation representing</a> 56 unions and 12.5 million workers&mdash;is blasting out mailers this week attacking Ernst for her membership in the <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2013/12/alec-bans-mother-jones-annual-conference">American Legislative Exchange Committee</a>, the so-called <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2002/09/ghostwriting-law">bill mill</a> in which corporations and state lawmakers get together in private to draft industry-friendly legislation.</p> <p>The new mailers, which are&nbsp;going out to tens of thousands of union households in Iowa, say that Ernst, who <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/1304519-jodi-ernst-alec-membership-financial-disclosure.html#document/p1/a178383">has been an ALEC member</a>, "works for corporate interests, not yours" and is "already in the pockets of big corporations." The mailers also criticize Ernst for supporting "huge corporate tax breaks," refusing to support an increase in the minimum wage, and accepting $200,000 in contributions from donors who've supported ALEC, such as the tobacco company <a href="https://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/recips.php?id=D000000067" target="_blank">Altria</a>, oil companies, and <a href="http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/senate-races/212609-kochs-max-out-for-ernst-in-iowa">billionaire industrialist Charles Koch</a> and members of Koch's immediate family. "Hardworking Iowa families are struggling," the mailer says, "but Joni Ernst just keeps voting with ALEC, the corporate special interest group that is taking over our state by giving free trips and expensive meals to politicians." (Ernst's campaign did not respond to a request for comment.)</p> <p>Here's the first anti-Ernst mailer:</p> <div class="DV-container" id="DV-viewer-1304532-afl-cio-joni-ernst-alec-mailer-no-1">&nbsp;</div> <script src="//s3.amazonaws.com/s3.documentcloud.org/viewer/loader.js"></script><script> DV.load("//www.documentcloud.org/documents/1304532-afl-cio-joni-ernst-alec-mailer-no-1.js", { width: 630, height: 600, sidebar: false, text: false, pdf: false, container: "#DV-viewer-1304532-afl-cio-joni-ernst-alec-mailer-no-1" }); </script><p>Here's the second anti-Ernst mailer:</p> <div class="DV-container" id="DV-viewer-1304533-afl-cio-joni-ernst-alec-mailer-no-2">&nbsp;</div> <script src="//s3.amazonaws.com/s3.documentcloud.org/viewer/loader.js"></script><script> DV.load("//www.documentcloud.org/documents/1304533-afl-cio-joni-ernst-alec-mailer-no-2.js", { width: 630, height: 600, sidebar: false, text: false, pdf: false, container: "#DV-viewer-1304533-afl-cio-joni-ernst-alec-mailer-no-2" }); </script><p>Michael Podhorzer, the AFL-CIO's political director, says the anti-Ernst mailers are intended to hurt Ernst's image as well as motivate Democratic voters, who <a href="http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/07/24/voter-turnout-always-drops-off-for-midterm-elections-but-why/">tend to be less enthusiastic</a>&nbsp;in non-presidential years. The mailers, in other words, aren't geared toward&nbsp;swinging&nbsp;undecided voters but rather mobilizing the Democratic base to vote on Election Day.&nbsp;"These mailers are part of an effort to dramatize to people just how stark the choice is and how consequential their vote is," Podhorzer says. "We hope this will motivate people to turn out and motivate people who are undecided to think about the race in economic terms."</p> <p>The AFL-CIO also plans to target two other Republican Senate candidates&mdash;Colorado congressman Cory Gardner and Michigan's Terri Lynn Land&mdash;with anti-ALEC mailers. A spokesman says the AFL-CIO will attack Gardner for being an "ALEC alum" (he was a&nbsp;member when he served in the state legislature) and Land for accepting contributions from ALEC donors.</p> <p>This week, ALEC received some unwelcome news when Google board chairman Eric Schmidt <a href="http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/09/22/3570463/google-says-alec-lies-about-climate-change/">said</a> the company's decision to fund ALEC was a "mistake." Schmidt singled out ALEC's anti-climate-change stance as the reason for Google's regret over its ties with ALEC. "Everyone understands climate change is occurring and the people who oppose it are really hurting our children and our grandchildren and making the world a much worse place," he said. "And so we should not be aligned with such people&mdash;they're just literally lying."</p></body></html> MoJo Congress Corporations Dark Money Elections The Right Tue, 23 Sep 2014 21:17:19 +0000 Andy Kroll 260851 at http://www.motherjones.com These Are the Regions Where Americans Are Most Likely to Favor Secession http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/09/these-are-regions-where-americans-are-most-likely-favor-secession <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Inspired by the events surrounding the recent Scottish independence referendum, a new poll reveals an alarming number of Americans think a similar splintering of the union is a fine idea.</p> <p>The poll, organized by <em>Reuters</em>, found that <a href="http://blogs.reuters.com/jamesrgaines/2014/09/19/one-in-four-americans-want-their-state-to-secede-from-the-u-s-but-why/" target="_blank">23.9 percent of Americans</a> would favor their state seceding from the rest of the country. Residents of the Southwest and the Rockies were the most likely to voice support, polling at 34 percent and 25 percent respectively. A plurality of would-be secessionists reported an annual income of $25,000 or less.</p> <p>A shock to no one, more Republicans than Democrats want to break free.</p> <p>Among reasons for secession, a disillusionment with Washington, coupled with a strong hatred for Obamacare ranked high. All this despite the fact these Americans are in need of healthcare expansion the most and studies continue to show states that have embraced the Affordable Care Act have seen the <a href="http://www.gallup.com/poll/168539/uninsured-rates-drop-states-embracing-health-law.aspx" target="_blank">sharpest drop in uninsured rates. </a></p> <p>Texas in particular, which has a history of secessionist sentiment and makes up a large portion of the Southwest, is the one determined state that might actually have a <a href="http://finance.yahoo.com/news/if-scotland-can-secede--so-can-texas-185536102.html" target="_blank">chance at surviving</a> without the American whole. But let's keep in mind Texas has <a href="http://www.newrepublic.com/blog/jonathan-chait/82052/everythings-subsidized-in-texas" target="_blank">relied heavily</a> on their much deplored Washington.</p> <blockquote> <p>Turns out Texas was the state that depended the most on those very stimulus funds to plug nearly 97% of its shortfall for fiscal 2010, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Texas, which crafts a budget every two years, was facing a $6.6 billion shortfall for its 2010-2011 fiscal years. It plugged nearly all of that deficit with $6.4 billion in Recovery Act money, allowing it to leave its $9.1 billion rainy day fund untouched.</p> </blockquote> <p>"Texas has everything we need. We have the manufacturing, we have the oil, and we don't need them," one Texan still told <em>Reuters</em>.</p> <p>But don't be too concerned. The same poll found <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/09/19/us-usa-secession-exclusive-idUSKBN0HE19U20140919" target="_blank">53.3 percent understand secession is a no good, bad idea. </a></p></body></html> MoJo The Right Tue, 23 Sep 2014 17:40:42 +0000 Inae Oh 260846 at http://www.motherjones.com The Heartwarming Story of Arab Support for Our Bombing Campaign http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/09/heartwarming-story-arab-support-our-bombing-campaign <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_middle_east_map.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Speaking of things to remain skeptical of, the very top of the list certainly has to include the news that our staunch allies Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Jordan participated in <a href="http://www.latimes.com/world/middleeast/la-white-house-allies-syria-isis-20140923-story.html" target="_blank">yesterday's airstrikes in Syria:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>A U.S. official said that all five Arab countries were believed to have joined U.S. warplanes, <strong>although it is still unclear how many countries dropped bombs during the operation.</strong> The official asked not to be identified to discuss sensitive operational details.</p> <p>Dempsey said that the first Arab government told U.S. officials that it would participate in attacks on Syria &ldquo;within the last 72 hours&rdquo; and that once that occurred, the other four soon promised to participate. <strong>He would not identify which country was the first to back the U.S. airstrikes.</strong></p> <p>....<strong>There are still major questions about how committed governments in the region are to helping the U.S. and Iraq,</strong> whose government is dominated by Shia Arabs, against the well-armed militants, who have claimed large areas of eastern Syria and western and northern Iraq over the last year.</p> </blockquote> <p>Here's the nickel version: After months of bellyaching about America's commitment to fighting ISIS, one single Arab country finally<em> </em>agreed to help out. Only then did anyone else also agree to pitch in. But the extent of their involvement can't be revealed because it's a "sensitive operational detail."</p> <p>Can you guess just how extensive that involvement is? Or do you need a hint?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Iraq Military Tue, 23 Sep 2014 16:29:56 +0000 Kevin Drum 260841 at http://www.motherjones.com We're Bombing Syria, Just Like Obama Said He Would http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/09/were-bombing-syria-just-obama-said-he-would <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The front page is dominated almost entirely this morning by the news that we're bombing ISIS militants in Syria. I confess that this doesn't strike me as worthy of quite such breathless coverage. Two weeks ago President Obama said he was going to bomb Syria, and now he's doing it. Did anyone expect him not to follow through on this?</p> <p>But of course I get it. Bombs are headline generators whether they're expected or not. After reading all the reports, though, <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2014/09/23/what-we-do-and-dont-know-about-the-u-s-led-bombing-campaign-in-syria/" target="_blank">Dan Drezner is pessimistic:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>I said last week that I&rsquo;d start making point predictions here. So, here goes: I&rsquo;m 70 percent certain that there will be no fundamental change in the Islamic State&rsquo;s hold on territory in Syria and Iraq for the rest of this calendar year.</p> </blockquote> <p>That's probably a good bet. This isn't because aerial campaigns have no value. Of course they do. It's because in most cases they have <em>limited</em> value unless they're used in support of ground troops with a well-defined mission. And so far, there's no well-defined mission and no one is committing ground troops to the fight. Presumably the new Iraqi government will send in troops eventually, and then we'll see whether our commitment of air resources was worthwhile. Until then we just won't know.</p> <p>As an aside, for the next few months I'd treat virtually every announcement from either ISIS or the Pentagon with extreme skepticism. Some of what they say may be true and some may not, but there's really no way to know which is which. We can parse all this stuff til the cows come home, but that won't change our fundamental ignorance. Don't take anything at face value no matter where it comes from.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Iraq Military Tue, 23 Sep 2014 14:23:09 +0000 Kevin Drum 260831 at http://www.motherjones.com Chart: Happy Days Are Here Again—for the Superwealthy http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/09/income-inequality-recession-recovery <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/survival630x120.jpg"></div> <p>With Washington paralyzed on bread-and-butter issues and the midterms ahead, we put together a primer on the state of America's frozen paychecks. We'll be posting a new chart every day for the next couple of weeks. Today's chart: How the recovery left most Americans behind.</p> <p>The Great Recession officially ended <a href="http://www.nber.org/cycles.html" target="_blank">five years ago</a>, but that's news for millions of Americans: A stunning 95 percent of income growth since the recovery started has gone to the superwealthy. The top 1 percent has captured almost all post-recession income growth. Compare that with how they did during these historic booms:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/whose-recovery630.gif"></div> <p><em>Sources: Boom and recovery gains, 1% gains: <a href="http://eml.berkeley.edu/~saez/" target="_blank">Emmanuel Saez</a> and Thomas Piketty (<a href="http://eml.berkeley.edu/~saez/TabFig2012prel.xls" target="_blank">Excel</a>)</em>; average household income: <a href="http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/data/historical/household/" target="_blank">Census Bureau</a>.</p> <p><em>Illustrations and infographic design by </em>Mattias Mackler&acirc;&#128;&#139;</p> <p><em>Photos: Warner Bros; Peter Morgan/Reuters; Christoph Dernbach/DPA/ZumaPress; Steve Jennings/Wireimage/Getty Images; Bo Rader/</em>Witchita Eagle<em>/MCT/Getty Images; Kimberly White/Reuters</em></p></body></html> MoJo Charts Economy Income Inequality Top Stories Tue, 23 Sep 2014 10:45:05 +0000 Dave Gilson 260656 at http://www.motherjones.com Stop Everything And Let This 11-Year-Old Boy Give You Hope For the Future http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/09/stop-everything-and-let-11-year-old-ferguson-boy-give-you-hope-future <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/PIviFC475AU?rel=0" width="640"></iframe></p> <p>Last month, in the midst of nightly protests over the killing of unarmed Michael Brown in Ferguson, an 11-year-old boy named Marquis Govan&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2014/09/07/346484594/at-11-marquis-govan-has-some-things-to-say-about-ferguson" target="_blank">approached</a> the podium at a meeting of the St. Louis County Council, pulled the mic&nbsp;down to his height, and calmly delivered an incredibly well-informed, thoughtful, and stirring set of remarks.</p> <p>"The people of Ferguson, I believe, don't need tear gas thrown at them," he said. "I believe they need jobs. I believe the people of Ferguson, they don't need to be hit with batons. What they need is people to be investing in their businesses." He wasn't reading from notes, and the clearly stunned adults in the room gave him a round of applause when he finished.</p> <p>If all this sounds surprising from a sixth-grader, Govan, a politics junkie who lives with his great-grandmother in St. Louis, drops more adult-sized portions of knowledge in this&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/marquis-govan-11-talks-of-justice-in-ferguson/" target="_blank">interview</a> with CBS Sunday Morning. Don't miss it.</p></body></html> MoJo Video Mon, 22 Sep 2014 21:58:44 +0000 Tasneem Raja 260806 at http://www.motherjones.com Emma Watson Explains Why Feminism Has Nothing to Do With "Man-Hating" http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/09/emma-watson-feminism-un <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="473" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/Q0Dg226G2Z8" width="630"></iframe>&nbsp;</p> <p>Speaking at the United Nations headquarters this past weekend, actress Emma Watson delivered a moving speech on the importance of gender equality, explaining why feminism is a crucial issue for everyone, not just the ladies.</p> <p>"The more I've spoken about feminism, the more I have realized that fighting for women's rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating," Watson said. "If there's one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop. For the record, feminism by definition is the belief that men and women have equal rights and opportunities."</p> <p>The 24-year-old Watson, who was appointed a <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/07/emma-watson-un-women-goodwill-ambassador-crashes-website" target="_blank">U.N. Women Goodwill Ambassador six months ago</a>, was speaking on behalf of the "HeForShe" campaign, which urges both men and boys to join the fight for women's rights.</p> <p>In the deeply personal speech, Watson revealed she began questioning gender-based assumptions early on in her life, most notably after she began being sexualized by the media at the age of 14 and watching girlfriends quit sports because they didn't want to appear "bulky."</p> <p>Watch the inspiring speech above.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> Mixed Media Film and TV Sex and Gender Mon, 22 Sep 2014 21:41:13 +0000 Inae Oh 260801 at http://www.motherjones.com Carbon Emissions Are Higher Than Ever, and Rising http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/09/carbon-emissions-are-highest-theyve-ever-been <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Yesterday was a good day for the climate movement, as over 300,000 people&mdash;according to the event's organizers&mdash;descended on Manhattan for the biggest climate change march in history. The record-breaking turnout was a powerful sign that climate change is gaining traction in mainstream consciousness.</p> <p>But even as the marchers were marching, new science was released that underscores how just how little time the world has left to break its addiction to fossil fuels. Global carbon emissions are the highest they've ever been, and are on the rise, according to a <a href="http://http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ngeo2248" target="_blank">new climate study</a> published in <em>Nature Geoscience </em>over the weekend.</p> <p>The study totaled global carbon emissions from fossil fuel combustion and cement production&mdash;which together account for over 90 percent of total emissions&mdash;and found that they rose 2.3 percent in 2013 to their highest level ever recorded, approximately 36.1 metric gigatons.</p> <p>Emissions have been on the rise for decades, setting a new record almost every year. The rate of emissions growth has increased since the 1990s&mdash;when it was 1 percent per year&mdash;to the last decade, when the average annual growth rate has been around 3 percent. The rate of growth in 2013 was actually slower than in 2012, the study found, reflecting energy efficiency improvements in the US and Europe that have reduced the amount of carbon emitted per unit of GDP. But that obscures increasing rates of growth in emissions from China and India. Globally, greenhouse gas emissions are still on pace to trigger what scientists say could be a catastrophic amount of warming, said Pierre Friedlingstein of the University of Exeter, the study's lead author.</p> <p>"China will be twice as much in 10 years," Friedlingstein said. "We need to change the trend. There's a need to reduce emissions in every country."</p> <p>Which brings us to the really unsettling part of this report&mdash;its attempt to pin down exactly how long we have to make that happen. Climate scientists often talk about a carbon "budget," which is the total cumulative emissions that will lead to a specified level of global warming. To have a better-than-even chance to stay within a 3.6&nbsp;degree&nbsp;Fahrenheit increase over 1990s temperatures, the international standard for a reasonably safe level of warming, our global carbon budget is 3,200 gigatons. Since the Industrial Revolution, we've used up about two-thirds of that. On our current path, the study finds, we'll use up the rest in just the next 30 years.</p> <p>In other words, if the emissions trend isn't reversed before 2045, we would have to drop immediately to zero carbon emissions on the first day of 2046. Since an instantaneous gearshift like that is obviously impossible, there's a need to bring emissions under control in the short term. That way we can stretch the "budget" for many more years and not face a choice between catastrophic climate change or a plunge into the Dark Ages.</p> <p>We'll get an updated sense of how serious world leaders are about that goal at tomorrow's <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/09/heres-deal-big-un-climate-summit-next-week" target="_blank">United Nations climate summit</a>, which is meant as a curtain-raiser for major international climate negotiations next year in Paris.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Climate Desk Energy Science Mon, 22 Sep 2014 18:34:11 +0000 Tim McDonnell 260736 at http://www.motherjones.com Listen to Some of Liberia's Top Artists Sing about Ebola http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/09/listen-some-liberias-top-artists-sing-about-ebola <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Since it started in March, West Africa's Ebola outbreak has spread to five countries in the region. But its toll on the Liberian people&mdash;who account for more than <a href="http://www.mohsw.gov.lr/documents/Liberia%20Ebola%20SitRep%20125%20Sept%2017,%202014.pdf" target="_blank">half</a> of the&nbsp;<a href="http://af.reuters.com/article/drcNews/idAFL6N0RN29X20140922" target="_blank">5,700</a> cases&mdash;has been especially devastating. To instill a sense of unity amid the crisis, several Liberian organizations brought together some of the country's top artists to make a song about the crisis. The result, called "Save Liberia," debuted last week. You can listen to it below:</p> <p><iframe frameborder="no" height="100" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/168875902&amp;color=ff5500&amp;inverse=false&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_user=true" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p>"It's like '<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9BNoNFKCBI" target="_blank">We Are the World</a>' for Liberia," says Lawrence Yealue, Liberia's country director for Accountability Lab, an anti-corruption NGO that helped organize the project. "We Are the World" was a 1985 collaboration between more than 40 artists&mdash;from Michael Jackson to Bob Dylan&mdash;to raise money for famine relief in the Horn of Africa. This song, Yeaule says, will help spread a message about Ebola's seriousness to "every village and town" in Liberia.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Health International Music Mon, 22 Sep 2014 18:03:39 +0000 Alex Park 260741 at http://www.motherjones.com Who's Going to Pay For the Latest Iraq War? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/09/whos-going-pay-latest-iraq-war <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_bomb.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Andrew Sullivan wonders why fiscal conservatives aren't asking some searching questions about the <a href="http://dish.andrewsullivan.com/2014/09/22/does-the-gop-really-give-a-shit-about-the-debt/" target="_blank">cost of the ISIS campaign:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The ISIS campaign is utterly amorphous and open-ended at this point&nbsp;&mdash; exactly the kind of potentially crippling government program Republicans usually want to slash. It could last more than three years (and that&rsquo;s what they&rsquo;re saying at the outset); the cost is estimated by some to be around $15 billion a year, but no one really knows. The last phase of the same war cost, when all was said and done, something close to $1.5 trillion &ndash; and our current travails prove that this was one government program that clearly failed to achieve its core original objectives, and vastly exceeded its original projected costs.</p> <p>If this were a massive $1.5 trillion infrastructure project for the homeland, we&rsquo;d be having hearing after hearing on how ineffective and crony-ridden it is; there would be government reports on its cost-benefit balance; there would be calls to end it tout court. But a massive government program that can be seen as a form of welfare dependency for the actual countries&nbsp;&mdash; Turkey, Iran, Jordan, Kurdistan&nbsp;&mdash; facing the crisis gets almost no scrutiny at all.</p> </blockquote> <p>Yep. The only problem with Sullivan's post is the headline: "Does The GOP Really Give A Shit About The Debt?" Surely that's not a serious question? Of course they don't. They care about cutting taxes on the rich and cutting spending on the poor. The deficit is a convenient cudgel for advancing that agenda, but as Sullivan says, "it is hard to resist the conclusion, after the last few weeks, that it&rsquo;s all a self-serving charade."</p> <p>Indeed it is. And not just after the last few weeks. After all, if they did care, they'd be demanding that we raise taxes to fund the cost of our latest military adventure. Right?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Congress Iraq Military Mon, 22 Sep 2014 18:00:56 +0000 Kevin Drum 260751 at http://www.motherjones.com It's Time For Kansas to Rejoin the Real World http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/09/its-time-kansas-rejoin-real-world <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The Republican governor of Kansas has pauperized his state in order to fund tax cuts for the rich, while the Republican Secretary of State is <a href="http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/kobachs-ballot-disclaimer-worsens-kansas-circus" target="_blank">busily trying to game the midterm ballot</a> to ensure the reelection of the current Republican senior senator. I'd think this was a parody from the <em>Onion</em> if I didn't know it was for real. I sure hope the good folks of Kansas finally manage to come to their senses this November.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Elections Mon, 22 Sep 2014 17:27:48 +0000 Kevin Drum 260746 at http://www.motherjones.com Everyone Please Calm Down About the White House Jumper http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/09/everyone-please-calm-down-about-white-house-jumper <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>In response to the fence-jumper who got inside the White House before being apprehended, the Secret Service is considering the possibility of creating a larger "buffer zone" <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/secret-service-considers-screening-tourists-outside-white-house-adding-barriers/2014/09/21/f4edb4a4-41f1-11e4-b437-1a7368204804_story.html?wpmk=MK0000200" target="_blank">around 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>One proposal is to keep people off the sidewalks around the White House fence and create several yards of additional barrier around the compound&rsquo;s perimeter. Another is <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_white_house_tourist.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">to screen visitors as far as a block away from the entrance gates.</p> </blockquote> <p><a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/secret-service-messes-up-and-we-pay-the-price-no-way/2014/09/22/3c81ded0-4256-11e4-9a15-137aa0153527_story.html?hpid=z1" target="_blank">Petula Dvorak is outraged:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Now the Secret Service &mdash; which hasn&rsquo;t exactly covered itself in glory the past few years &mdash; wants us to pay for its mistake, to once again intrude on more public space and make suspects out of millions of visitors, residents and office workers who come near the White House every day. To further encroach on the country&rsquo;s most important values: our openness and our freedom.</p> <p>The security gurus think they might want to keep people off the sidewalks around the nation&rsquo;s most famous residence. Or maybe screen tourists a block away from the White House. They want to Anschluss even more public space to expand The Perimeter around 1600 Pennsylvania, amping up the feeling of hostility, fear and paranoia that already pervades the heart of our nation.</p> </blockquote> <p>Dvorak speaks for me, and I hope she speaks for plenty of others too. This crap has just got to stop. We simply can't continue this endless series of insane overreactions every time something bad happens. Sometimes an incident is just an incident. In this case, the Secret Service needs to examine its procedures and probably tighten up a thing or two. That's it.</p> <p>This is a case where no-drama Obama really needs to step in. For God's sake, let's dial down the drama on this whole affair. It's nowhere near as big a deal as it's being played up to be.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Civil Liberties Mon, 22 Sep 2014 16:19:55 +0000 Kevin Drum 260731 at http://www.motherjones.com Obamacare Isn't Perfect, But That's No Reason to Give Up On It http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/09/obamacare-isnt-perfect-thats-no-reason-give-it <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/09/how-discriminate-against-pre-existing-conditions-two-easy-tiers" target="_blank">A few days ago</a> I noted that health insurance companies were starting to price certain drugs at higher rates. Not just certain brands of drugs, but entire classes of drugs. This is being done in an apparent attempt to discourage patients with certain conditions from applying for insurance. Better to have some other insurance company pick up the cost of their expensive illness.</p> <p>The reason this is happening is that Obamacare prohibits insurance companies from turning away customers with pre-existing conditions. So instead they need to find cleverer ways of making sure they're someone else's problem. <a href="http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2014/09/unintended_cons_5.html" target="_blank">David Henderson comments:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>I predict that none of this will cause Kevin Drum to reconsider his pre-existing view that pricing for pre-existing conditions should be illegal.</p> </blockquote> <p>Quite right. When it comes to Obamacare, there are two kinds of people. Henderson is the first kind. Whenever they hear about a problem, their invariable response is that this proves Obamacare is a hopeless mess and needs to be abandoned.</p> <p>I'm the second kind. When I hear about a problem, my response is that we need to try to fix it. This is because I believe everyone should have access to decent health care at a reasonable price, and one way or another, we need to figure out how to provide it. We don't give up just because it's hard.</p> <p>For what it's worth, this particular problem is not something that's taken any of us by surprise. Capitalism has a well-known capacity for motivating people to find clever ways to make money, and Obamacare supporters were all keenly aware that insurance companies would try to game the rules to maximize their profits. It was one of those things that required constant vigilance. Unfortunately, that never happened because it turned out that Republicans in Congress are so uncompromisingly opposed to Obamacare that they've prevented problems of any kind from being addressed, apparently in the hope that someday these problems will grow serious enough that the public will turn against the whole thing.</p> <p>I guess you can decide for yourself if you consider that a praiseworthy response to a law you don't like. I consider it loathsome myself. As for my pre-existing view about pre-existing conditions, that's easily explained. I supported Obamacare as a good first step, but if I had my way the whole edifice would get torn down and replaced with a sensible national health care plan of the kind used by virtually every other civilized country on the planet. This is because health care of the kind that civilized people desire simply isn't a good that can be efficiently provided by the free market, for reasons that are fairly obvious to anyone familiar with the literature. Nor is this just an academic point. Half a century of experience shows us that national health care works better on nearly every measure than our Rube Goldberg system. It's not perfect, because nothing ever is. But it would be a big step forward.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Health Care Mon, 22 Sep 2014 15:57:09 +0000 Kevin Drum 260726 at http://www.motherjones.com The Great "Out-0f-Network" Scam Is Eating Patients Alive. And It's Supposed To. http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/09/great-out-0f-network-scam-eating-patients-alive-and-its-supposed <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Over the weekend, Elizabeth Rosenthal gave us the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/21/us/drive-by-doctoring-surprise-medical-bills.html" target="_blank">latest installment in her series of rage-inducing stories about the American health care system.</a> Like all the others in the series, it was all but ignored by the rest of the world. I guess everyone was too busy panicking over the White House fence jumper or figuring out ways to one-up each other in their withering scorn for Roger Goodell.</p> <p>Or, like me, they've just given up even hoping that anyone will ever do anything about it. Saturday's installment was about a medical practice that infuriates me more than almost any other: the routine practice of creating artificial and insanely high "list prices" for procedures that bear no relation to reality and exist for only one reason: to occasionally take advantage of the people who are most vulnerable to abusive pricing. That includes the uninsured, who can least afford it, and those who are already on the gurney going into surgery, who are barely in any condition to fight back.</p> <p>Rosenthal's latest piece is about the increasingly common practice of calling in "assistants" during surgical procedures who aren't covered by the patient's insurance and are therefore not subject to rates negotiated with the insurance company. This allows them to charge as much as they feel like, and then to harass patients with bill collectors forever unless they pay up. Here's a graphic that accompanied the article:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_out_of_network_charges.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 40px;"></p> <p>The stomach-turning part of this is that it's so obvious what's going on. Clearly, the muscle and skin graft in the first example can be done for about $2,000, which produces a decent income for the doctor. So what's the reason for list price topping $150,000? There isn't one. It's solely so doctors can scam the occasional patient and make a fast buck. As long as it's not a Medicare or Medicaid procedure, and it's out-of-network, there are no rules. So why not?</p> <p>Are these assistants pals of the primary surgeon who get called in occasionally as a wink-wink-nudge-nudge buck-raking favor for a friend? Does it happen more randomly than that? Who knows. But there's a limit to what patients can do. They're in prep for surgery, there are tubes in their arms, and they get handed a bunch of papers to sign. Who knows what they say? Are they going to check? Are they going to read all the fine print? No and no, even if they're aware that this kind of stuff can happen. Which most patients aren't. A few weeks later they get the bill and their jaw drops to the floor. It's the same thing that happens to uninsured patients who don't have the benefit of insurer-negotiated rates when they land in the ER.</p> <p>And there's virtually no way to negotiate anyway. Have you ever tried to mark up a consent form? Have you ever tried to get a hospital to agree to an out-of-pocket max before an operation? Are you laughing hard enough yet? Insurance companies can do this, but ordinary schlubs like you and me can't.</p> <p>This is a scam, plain and simple. So why does it continue? Let's allow James J. Donelon, the Republican insurance commissioner of Louisiana, to explain:</p> <blockquote> <p>This has gotten really bad, and it&rsquo;s wrong. But when you try to address it as a policy maker, you run into a hornet&rsquo;s nest of financial interests.</p> </blockquote> <p>And there you have it. It's a great racket that allows doctors to extort loads of money from those in the most pain and with the least ability to fight back. None of them want the gravy train to end, and that's your "financial interests" right there. It's shameless and venal and there's no excuse for it. And that's America's health care system.</p> <p>In good conscience, I'm not even sure I can recommend that you read the whole piece. It will probably send your blood pressure skyrocketing and possibly send you to the ER, where you'll be pauperized by the very practice the article is about. You have been warned.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Health Care Mon, 22 Sep 2014 14:36:37 +0000 Kevin Drum 260721 at http://www.motherjones.com Watch John Oliver Explain Just How Mind-Bogglingly Ridiculous Beauty Pageants Are http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/09/watch-john-oliver-explain-just-how-mind-boggling-ridiculous-beauty-pageants-are <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Beauty pageants are a pretty insane and demeaning thing for us to still be doing as a society in 2014. I mean, yes, <em>Miss Congeniality </em>was an OK film, but the sequel was awful. Also, the whole thing&mdash;beauty pageants, not the <em>Miss Congeniality</em> franchise&mdash;sort of stinks of sexism and mores best left to rot in the '50s.</p> <p>Here's John Oliver taking the Miss America pageant (and its somehow more mockable competitor Miss USA) to task.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/oDPCmmZifE8?rel=0" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><strong>Also read: "<a href="http://www.motherjones.com/media/2011/01/peggy-orenstein-cinderella-ate-my-daughter" target="_blank">Are Disney Princesses Evil?</a>"</strong></p></body></html> Mixed Media Film and TV Mon, 22 Sep 2014 13:57:06 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 260716 at http://www.motherjones.com This Afghan Policewoman Died Fighting the Taliban. Now Right-Wingers Are Desecrating Her Photo. http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/09/afghan-policewoman-photo-burka-lana-slezic <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Malalai Kakar was a police officer in Afghanistan. She was also a mother of six, a feminist, and a fearsome threat to the Taliban, who gunned her down in 2008. You would know some of Kakar's story if you'd come across Lana &Scaron;lezic's <a href="http://lanaslezic.com/afghanistan-women/" target="_blank">captivating photography </a>of <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/photoessays/2009/05/afghan-women/01" target="_blank">women in Afghanistan</a> in <em>Mother Jones </em>and other publications. But the right-wing Britain First party recently co-opted a photo of Kakar&mdash;taken in 2005 just before she headed out on a raid to free a kidnap victim&mdash;using it as propaganda in the online "ban the burka" campaign. Its August 30 Facebook post using the image has been shared more than 44,000 times. The photo didn't make headlines though until Friday, when Australian senator Jacqui Lambie of the <a href="http://palmerunited.com/" target="_blank">Palmer United Party</a> (created in 2013 by mining magnate Clive Palmer) shared the photo <a href="https://www.facebook.com/jacqui.lambie.9/posts/498336336969791" target="_blank">on her Facebook page</a>, prompting news outlets to ask &Scaron;lezic whether she was aware how her photograph was being used.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/64-WUA-SLEZL-036.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>&Scaron;lezic's original image as it appeared in the <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/toc/2007/07" target="_blank">July/August 2007 issue</a> of <em>Mother Jones</em></strong><br> &nbsp;</div> </div> <p>&Scaron;lezic was appalled. "The way her image has been misused for inflammatory purposes has left me, well, somewhat speechless," she says. She immediately contacted both Britain First and Lambie asking them to remove the photo, but neither has complied.&nbsp;Lambie told the <a href="http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/senator-jacqui-lambies-antiburqa-post-desecrated-image-photographer-says-20140920-10jnc3.html" target="_blank"><em>Sydney Morning Herald</em></a> that she "absolutely stands by it" and won't take the photo off her page. On Saturday she posted a "Letter to the Editor" on Facebook calling &Scaron;lezic's <a href="http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-09-19/jacqui-lambie-ban-the-burka-photo-believed-to-be-policewoman/5757438" target="_blank">response</a> a "<a href="https://www.facebook.com/jacqui.lambie.9" target="_blank">gross over-reaction</a>," adding that "<span class="userContent" data-ft='{"tn":"K"}'><span class="text_exposed_show">Malalai Kakar would have been the first to agree with my call to ban the burka."</span></span></p> <p>&Scaron;lezic told the <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/australasia/photographer-horrified-after-claims-britain-first-used-picture-of-first-afghan-policewoman-killed-by-taliban-for-ban-the-burka-campaign-9745959.html" target="_blank"><em>Independent</em></a>, "It's a complete misrepresentation of the truth. It insults everything she stood for, it insults her and her family and suggests a story that is opposite of the truth. It is also an infringement of intellectual property." She has filed a <a href="https://www.facebook.com/help/contact/208282075858952" target="_blank">copyright complaint</a> with Facebook.</p> <p>&Scaron;lezic spent two years in Afghanistan documenting the plight of women and girls, and her <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/photoessays/2007/06/hidden-half-women-afghanistan/02" target="_blank"><em>Mother Jones</em> photo essay including Kakar's image</a> was a National Magazine Award finalist in 2008.</p> <blockquote> <p>During my two years in Afghanistan, I spent time with Malalai and her family on several trips to Kandahar. I spent time with her in her office while she consoled and helped women who were victims of domestic violence, rape, and forced marriage. I went out on a kidnapping raid with her, witnessed her apprehending a kidnapper and freeing the young teenage girl from his home. She really was a heroine for me, the light at the end of a very dark two year tunnel. Because of her, I believed there was hope for Afghan women and girls. When she was assassinated by the Taliban in September 2008 in front of her home and child, that hope, that light was extinguished.</p> </blockquote> <p>&Scaron;lezic adds a plea to the public:</p> <blockquote> <p>I'm asking you to lend your voice, your thoughts, your tweets and whatever else you can to send a message back to these people who without consent, without thought, without pause posted such a vulgar misappropriation of Malalai and everything she stood for. She was an extraordinary human being who fought for the rights of Afghan women and girls. Her memory should be respected.</p> </blockquote> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="Malalai Kakar" class="image" src="/files/malalaicounseling630.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Lt. Colonel Malalai Kakar (left) counseling a woman in her office </strong>Lana &Scaron;lezic</div> </div></body></html> MoJo Afghanistan Top Stories Mon, 22 Sep 2014 10:00:08 +0000 Elizabeth Gettelman 260686 at http://www.motherjones.com Stereolab's Laetitia Sadier Delivers a Captivating New Solo Album http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/09/music-review-laetitia-sadiers-new-solo-album-something-shines <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/IKYb_3P9O4g?rel=0" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><strong>Laetitia Sadier<br><em>Something Shines</em><br> Drag City</strong></p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%">&nbsp;</div> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Screen%20Shot%202014-09-12%20at%202.45.00%20PM.png"></div> <p>Best known as the singer for the long-running British-French band Stereolab&mdash;now on an indefinite hiatus&mdash;Laetitia Sadier has always been able to address pointedly political and deeply personal concerns with equal eloquence. The debut of Sadier's side project, Monade, was titled <em>Socialisme ou Barbarie</em>, while her first solo outing, <em>The Trip</em>, was her attempt to come to grips with her sister's suicide. On this captivating third solo album, she continues to range far and wide, mixing acoustic sounds with the retro-futurism that made Stereolab's electro-pop so inviting. Whether asking tersely, "Do the rich need the poor to be rich?" on "Oscuridad," or accentuating the positive on the soaring, Beach Boys-inspired "Life Is Winning," her serene, lovely voice is a remarkable oasis of calm that's sure to make you feel better about things to come.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Music Mon, 22 Sep 2014 10:00:07 +0000 Jon Young 260191 at http://www.motherjones.com Roger Goodell's Life Just Got a Whole Lot Worse This Weekend http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/09/roger-goodells-life-just-got-whole-lot-worse-today <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>There's been a mountain of talk about the Ray Rice domestic violence case, but the evidence about exactly what happened and when it happened has remained stubbornly fuzzy. That changed this weekend. <a href="http://espn.go.com/espn/otl/story/_/id/11551518/how-ray-rice-scandal-unfolded-baltimore-ravens-roger-goodell-nfl" target="_blank">ESPN's blockbuster piece,</a> like all stories of this nature, relies a lot on unnamed sources and therefore still isn't quite rock solid. Unnamed sources can have their own agendas, after all. But on the surface, anyway, it seems pretty damn close to rock solid. And it looks very, very bad for Roger Goodell, the Baltimore Ravens, and the NFL. Read it.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sports Sun, 21 Sep 2014 19:40:13 +0000 Kevin Drum 260706 at http://www.motherjones.com How Can The Atlantic Give Us 5,000 Words on Prison Life Without Interviewing Prisoners? http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/09/how-can-atlanti-give-us-5000-words-prison-life-without-interviewing-prisoners <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>As someone who writes about prisons, and who two spent years behind bars, I devour nearly everything written about it, especially the long-form stuff. So I was excited when I saw that <em>The Atlantic&rsquo;s </em>latest issue had a major story called &ldquo;<a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2014/09/how-gangs-took-over-prisons/379330/">How Gangs Took Over Prison</a>.&rdquo;</p> <p>Then I read it. Anyone who has ever survived anything traumatic&mdash;domestic abuse, rape, torture, war&mdash;knows the particular jolt that happens in the body when someone makes light of that thing that you once thought could destroy you. I am a former prisoner&mdash;I was held captive in Iran from 2009-2011&mdash;and a survivor of solitary confinement. In my experience as a reporter who writes about prisons, it is surprisingly rare that I come across people outside of the prison system who justify long-term solitary confinement. Even within the world of prison administrators many are against it. The last two times I&rsquo;ve attended the American Correctional Association conferences, there have been large, well attended symposiums on the need to curb the use of isolation.</p> <p>Graeme Wood, the writer of the <em>Atlantic </em>story, gives a different impression of the practice. He visits Pelican Bay State prison, which probably has more people in solitary confinement for longer periods than any other prison in the world. He goes to the Security Housing Unit, or SHU, where people are kept in solitary confinement or, as he gently puts it, are &ldquo;living without cellmates.&rdquo; When he enters, he says it&rsquo;s &ldquo;like walking into a sacred space&rdquo; where the silence is &ldquo;sepulchral.&rdquo; The hallways &ldquo;radiate&rdquo; and the prisoners are celled in the &ldquo;branches of (a) snowflake.&rdquo; Beautiful.</p> <p>It&rsquo;s difficult to understand why Wood does not find it worth mentioning that the cells in those snowflakes are each 7x11 feet and windowless. Men literally spend decades in those cells, alone. I&rsquo;ve been to Pelican Bay, and <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/10/solitary-confinement-shane-bauer">wrote a story about it</a> in 2012. I met a man there who hadn&rsquo;t seen a tree in 12 years. Wood tells us categorically that everyone there is a hard-core gang member. This is what the California Department of Corrections consistently claims, but if Wood did a little digging, he would find that number of the prisoners locked away in the SHU are jailhouse lawyers. There are people like Dietrich Pennington who has been in the SHU for six years because, in his cell, he had a <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/documents/458735-pennington-return-to-order-to-show-cause#document/p3/a78407">cup with a dragon on it</a>, a <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/documents/458736-pennington-v-jacquez-declaration#document/p5/a77561">newspaper article</a> written by another prisoner, and a <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/documents/458735-pennington-return-to-order-to-show-cause#document/p30/a78414">notebook</a> filled with references to black history, which a gang investigator counted as evidence of gang ideology. People get locked away in the SHU based on all kinds of <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/10/7-surprising-items-get-prisoners-thrown-solitary">flimsy evidence</a> that doesn&rsquo;t involve violence. I won&rsquo;t say it&rsquo;s a breeze to get ahold of the documentation of this stuff, but it&rsquo;s not anything a seasoned reporter like Wood couldn&rsquo;t handle.</p> <p>Keep in mind that the UN considers solitary confinement for anything more than 15 days to be torture or cruel and inhumane treatment. University of California-Santa Cruz psychology professor Craig Haney did a review of psychological literature and found that there hasn't been a single study of involuntary solitary confinement that didn't show negative psychiatric symptoms after 10 days. He found that a full 41 percent of SHU inmates reported hallucinations. The corrections department&rsquo;s own data shows that, from 2007 to 2010, inmates in isolation killed themselves at eight times the rate of the general prison population.</p> <p>Wood, on the other hand, makes the experience of living in one of those cells sound transcendental. It is as if everyone is &ldquo;on one of those interstellar journeys that span multiple human lifetimes.&rdquo;</p> <p>It&rsquo;s hard to know where that impression came from because, in his story on prison gangs, Wood doesn&rsquo;t interview prisoners. Well, that&rsquo;s not completely true. He does go to the doors of several inmates&rsquo; cells&mdash;with prison staff&mdash;to ask them about prison gangs, then tells us breathlessly that almost no one would talk to him. Wood travels to England to interview a scholar on prison gangs, but there is no indication that he attempted to conduct a single serious interview with a prisoner. Not that California makes this easy&mdash;since 1996, the state has given prison authorities full control over which inmates journalists can interview in person. But still, you can write to anyone. Nearly every one of the dozens of people I&rsquo;ve written in the SHU have eagerly written back.</p> <p>Wood tells us that no prisoner can talk about gangs because doing so would mean death. Yet there are plenty who do. I&rsquo;ve had inmates break down gang culture to me in letters, and I didn&rsquo;t even ask them to. There are whole wards in prisons for gang dropouts, many of which are eager to talk about the life they left behind. There are former prisoners like <a href="http://andrenorman.com/">Andre Norman</a> who used to be in gangs and now make their living by exposing gang culture. These people are primary sources that could have given Wood intimate details and a nuanced understanding. They&rsquo;d also tell him about what it&rsquo;s like to live in a place like Pelican Bay, though chances are he wouldn&rsquo;t find anyone who would describe living in the SHU as &ldquo;interstellar.&rdquo;</p> <p>It&rsquo;s remarkable that a publication as reputable as <em>The Atlantic</em> would run such a thinly sourced story. Its 5,000 words are based almost entirely on four sources: an academic, the spokesperson of Pelican Bay, the warden, and the gang investigator. Wood prints their claims straight away. At the beginning of the story, for example, Wood is standing with the prison&rsquo;s spokesperson, Lt. Chris Acosta, and together they are looking out onto the yard, observing prisoners and their behavior. Then he quotes Acosta saying, &ldquo;There&rsquo;s like 30 knives out there right now. Hidden up their rectums.&rdquo;</p> <p>Well hold on a second. How did Acosta know that? Did Wood verify this? How did his editor let that one slide?</p> <p>Claims like this make what could be an interesting story hard to trust, and the piece is full of them&mdash;the size of the bar of soap on an inmate&rsquo;s sink indicates what kind of phone he shoved up his ass; requests for halal food are a way to &ldquo;create work for the staff&rdquo; rather than a sign of religious conviction. Since when does this pass as acceptable journalism? Prison reporting is tricky, sure. When I reported on Pelican Bay, I had to take pains to verify every claim a prisoner made through extensive <a href="http://www.documentcloud.org/public/search/projectid:%206701-solitary">documentation</a> or verification by prison officials. No good journalist would print a claim made by an inmate about a guard, for example, without carefully corroborating it. Many prisoners have an agenda. But so do guards and wardens. Prison officials have a long record of trying to stymy public inquiry. I was recently <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/08/armed-guards-ushered-me-out-prison-convention">booted from a prison convention</a>&mdash;for which I was registered&mdash;for my reporting. When you have two sets of people, like inmates and prison administrators, who each have interests in misrepresenting each other, you make every effort to verify their claims about each other. Those are the ground rules of journalism.</p> <p>One last thing. Jokes about things in prisoners&rsquo; asses are not funny. In a presentation for Wood, a gang investigator likens gang leaders to 1980s Chrysler chairman Lee Iacocca. As an aside to us readers, Wood quips, &ldquo;I have found it impossible to look at a picture of Iacocca without imagining him stuffing his cheeks and rectum with razor blades.&rdquo; It sickens me that I am meant to laugh at this.&nbsp;</p></body></html> MoJo Media Prisons Sun, 21 Sep 2014 17:34:03 +0000 Shane Bauer 260701 at http://www.motherjones.com Friday Cat Blogging - 19 September 2014 http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/09/friday-cat-blogging-19-september-2014 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_squirrel_2014_09_19.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 20px 15px 30px;">We have a very busy squirrel in our backyard. He is tireless in his quest to find pine cones and bury them in our garden. In fact, every time Marian goes out to do some gardening, she routinely digs up half a dozen pine cones. They're everywhere. But squirrels are squirrely little critters, and it's hard to catch them in the act. Yesterday, however, our local squirrel was zipping across our fence with a pine cone in its mouth, and stopped just long enough for me to acquire hard photographic evidence of his hardworking ways. If I were a squirrel, I'd spend my autumns just keeping an eye on this guy so that I could pilfer his treasure during winter.</p> <p>In other news, certain of my family members were annoyed with my choice of catblogging photo last week. They wanted the picture of Mozart snoozing on my mother's car with his face reflected in the paint job. Well, patience is a virtue, and this week that's the picture you get. As for next week, who knows? Perhaps by then we'll no longer have a need for guest cats.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_mozart_2014_09_19.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 65px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 19 Sep 2014 18:47:45 +0000 Kevin Drum 260641 at http://www.motherjones.com Quote of the Day: Nathan Deal Is Tired of Barack Obama's Treachery http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/09/quote-day-nathan-deal-tired-barack-obamas-treachery <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>From Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, apparently upset that his tax-fighting economic policies aren't yet producing a <a href="http://dyn.politico.com/printstory.cfm?uuid=428D4B88-7DBB-46D4-98DE-B9C7F69A0F4F" target="_blank">paradise on earth:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>It&rsquo;s ironic that in a year in which Republican governors are leading some of the states that are making the most progress, that they almost, without exception, are classified as having a bump in their unemployment rates. Whereas states that are under Democrat governors&rsquo; control, they are all showing that their unemployment rate has dropped. And I don&rsquo;t know how you account for that. <strong>Maybe there is some influence here that we don&rsquo;t know about.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Maybe! It might be that the Obama administration is cooking the books to make Republicans looks bad. Or maybe Democrats in Georgia are deliberately refusing work in order to spike the unemployment numbers. Or&mdash;and this is my suspicion&mdash;maybe computers have finally acquired human-level intelligence and they don't like Nathan Deal! If I were a computer, I sure wouldn't.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum The Right Fri, 19 Sep 2014 17:26:40 +0000 Kevin Drum 260631 at http://www.motherjones.com When I Was 5, I, Um -- What Were We Just Talking About? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/09/when-i-was-5-i-um-what-were-we-just-talking-about <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_shrug.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">I remember approximately diddly-squat<sup>1</sup> about my childhood. But why? Melissa Dahl <a href="http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2014/09/dudes-have-horrible-memories.html" target="_blank">explains the latest research to me today:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The way parents tend to talk to their sons is different from the way they talk to their daughters. Mothers tend to introduce more snippets of new information in conversations with their young daughters than they do with their young sons, research has shown. And moms tend to ask more questions about girls&rsquo; emotions; <strong>with boys, on the other hand, they spend more time talking about what they should do with those feelings.</strong></p> <p>This is at least partially a product of parents acting on gender expectations they may not even realize they have, and the results are potentially long-lasting, explained Azriel Grysman, a psychologist at Hamilton College who studies gender differences and memory. &ldquo;The message that girls are getting is that talking about your feelings is part of describing an event,&rdquo; Grysman said....&ldquo;And it&rsquo;s quite possible, over time, that those tendencies will help women establish more connections in their brains of different pieces of an event, which will lead to better memory long-term.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>So I can blame my crappy memory on my mother? Cool.</p> <p><sup>1</sup>This is a technical term used by neurologists and memory researchers.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Science Fri, 19 Sep 2014 17:06:55 +0000 Kevin Drum 260626 at http://www.motherjones.com Guy Buys First New iPhone, Immediately Drops It On National TV http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/09/guy-buys-first-new-iphone-immediatley-drops-it-national-tv <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>It's new iPhone day! All around the globe thousands of hungry ducks are lining up to be one of the first few to get their hands on Cupertino's fresh new phones. In Perth, "a boy called Jack" got the very first one. Naturally, he was swarmed by media, which led to this:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/YbehPQfu3K0?rel=0" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Thankfully, <a href="http://mashable.com/2014/09/18/australian-perth-drop-apple-iphone/" target="_blank">the iPhone was not hurt</a>.</p> <p><em>Mother Jones </em>Senior Australian <a href="http://twitter.com/jameswest2010" target="_blank">James West </a>was not immediately available for comment.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Tech Fri, 19 Sep 2014 16:22:21 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 260621 at http://www.motherjones.com Republicans Really, Really Want to Send Ground Troops Into Iraq http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/09/republicans-really-really-want-send-ground-troops-iraq <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>I missed this <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/18/us/politics/for-first-time-most-americans-disapprove-of-obamas-handling-of-terrorism.html?_r=0" target="_blank">NYT/CBS poll</a> when it came out a couple of days ago, but a friend pointed it out to me this morning. I don't think much comment is necessary. It's pretty easy to see how the fight against ISIS is going to turn into a massive game of Munich-mongering and appeasement-baiting in short order. Yikes.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_poll_ground_troops_isis.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 5px 6px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Iraq Military Obama The Right Fri, 19 Sep 2014 14:44:42 +0000 Kevin Drum 260616 at http://www.motherjones.com