Blogs | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/Blogs/2010/03/undefinedadstream_jx.ads/undefined/In%20a%20speech%20on%20Monday%2C%20President%20Obama%20charged%20that%20insurance%20companies%20have%20made%20a%20calculation%20that%20they%20can%20deny%20coverage%20for%20preexisting%20conditions%2C%20drop%20coverage%20when%20people%20need%20it%20most%2C%20and%20make%20big%20profits%20%E2%80%9Cas%20long%20as%20they%20can%20get%20away%20with%20it.%E2%80%9D http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for April 17, 2014 http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/04/were-still-war-photo-day-april-17-2014 <!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-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/0417-630.jpg"></div> <div id="meta"> <div class="photo-desc" id="description_div"> <p class="rtecenter"><em>Marines put out a controlled fire on a mobile aircraft fire training device at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma April 7 during a visit from Girl Scouts. The firefighting display showed how the Marines respond to an emergency situation. The mission of Girl Scouts of America is to build the courage, confidence and character of girls, who can then make the world a better place, according to their website. The Marines are aircraft rescue and firefighting specialists with ARFF, Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, MCAS Futenma, Marine Corps Installations Pacific. (<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/marine_corps/13761993675/" target="_blank">U.S. Marine Corps photo</a> by Lance Cpl. David N. Hersey/Released)</em></p> </div> </div> </body></html> MoJo Thu, 17 Apr 2014 10:00:10 +0000 249846 at http://www.motherjones.com Film Review: "Burt's Buzz" http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/04/film-review-burts-buzz-bees <!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/6rdhPyM2IJ0" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><strong>Burt's Buzz</strong></p> <p>EVERYDAY PICTURES/FILMBUFF</p> <p>Jody Shapiro's documentary profiles Burt Shavitz, the thick-bearded, staunchly frugal, middle-aged Maine beekeeper who cofounded Burt's Bees, following his rise from hip 1960s photographer to the unlikely brand ambassador for a multimillion-dollar skin and body care empire. As a portrait of the compelling curmudgeon, <em>Burt's Buzz</em> isn't quite as penetrating as one might hope for. But it's an oddly charming peek into the world of corporate celebrity through the lens of a guy who apparently wants nothing to do with it. "No one has ever accused me of being ambitious," Shavitz says. And, of his intrusive fans: "I'd like to point the shotgun at them and tell them to be good or be gone."</p> </body></html> Mixed Media Corporations Health Thu, 17 Apr 2014 10:00:06 +0000 Asawin Suebsaeng 248956 at http://www.motherjones.com Invading Crimea May Have Cost Russia $200 Billion So Far http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/04/invading-crimea-may-have-cost-russia-200-billion-so-far <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>Russia's military actions are <a href="http://www.latimes.com/world/europe/la-fg-ukraine-20140417,0,5892399.story#axzz2z72JcgMZ" target="_blank">costing it dearly:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region last month and the instability it created in Russian financial markets were cited by government officials for record capital flight and sharply downgraded growth forecasts for the country. <strong>Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said that instead of projected 2.5% growth this year, Russia's economy might show no growth at all.</strong></p> <p>....U.S. and European sanctions to punish Russia for occupying and annexing Crimea have so far targeted only a few dozen officials and businessmen. But the prospect of broader penalties, such as a Western boycott of Russian oil and gas, have scared investors into cashing out their ruble-denominated assets for hard currency and taking their money abroad. Russia's foreign exchange reserves were drained of a record $63 billion in the first quarter of the year, Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev said Wednesday in an address to the lower house of the parliament.</p> <p>....Russian stocks fell 10% last month, wiping out further billions in capital. The ruble has lost 9% of its value since the start of the year, boosting prices for the imported food and manufactured goods on which the Russian consumer market is heavily dependent. "The acute international situation of the past two months" was the cause, Ulyukayev said, referring to the Ukraine unrest.</p> </blockquote> <p>That's a helluva big drop in economic growth. Just by itself, it represents a cost of $50 billion. Add in the flight of cash and the stock market decline, and you're somewhere in the neighborhood of $200 billion.</p> <p>Is that enough to make Russia blink? Maybe not. But it hurts, and the prospect of losing even more has got be enough to give even Vladimir Putin a few second thoughts.</p> </body></html> Kevin Drum Economy International Thu, 17 Apr 2014 04:07:07 +0000 Kevin Drum 249966 at http://www.motherjones.com Federal Court Rules North Dakota's Extreme Abortion Ban Unconstitutional http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/04/north-dakota-abortion-fetal-heartbeat-ban-unconstitutional <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>On Wednesday, a federal judge blocked a North Dakota law that would have banned all abortions after a heartbeat is detectable in the fetus, which can happen as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. The judge, Daniel Hovland, called the ban&mdash;which passed last year and was immediately challenged by the <a href="http://www.redriverwomensclinic.com/" target="_blank">Red River Women's Clinic</a>, the only abortion provider in the state&mdash;"invalid and unconstitutional," and said it would impose an "undue burden on women seeking to obtain an abortion."</p> <p>The North Dakota law is <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/judge-north-dakota-abortion-law-unconstitutional-23348578" target="_blank">one of the most far-reaching</a> abortion bans in the country. Many women aren't aware that they are pregnant until well after six weeks into a pregnancy. Under the North Dakota law, those women wouldn't be able to seek abortions at all.</p> <p>North Dakota is one of several states that have pushed laws banning abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected. In March, a federal judge struck down a <a href="http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/may/17/ark-heartbeat-abortion-law-blocked/" target="_blank">similar ban</a> Arkansas had passed last year. But losses in the courts haven't stopped these efforts from spreading&mdash;the Alabama House <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/04/alabama-abortion-bill_n_4900059.html" target="_blank">passed</a> a fetal heartbeat bill last month, and state legislatures in Wyoming, Mississippi, and Ohio have <a href="http://thinkprogress.org/health/2013/01/31/1517821/fetal-heartbeat-bills-to-watch/" target="_blank">considered</a> similar legislation in the past year.</p> </body></html> MoJo Courts Health Health Care Reproductive Rights Sex and Gender Wed, 16 Apr 2014 20:34:52 +0000 Nina Liss-Schultz 249956 at http://www.motherjones.com Martinez Aide Who Said Latino Icon "Sounds Like a Retard" Now Works at Agency Serving Mentally Disabled http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/04/matt-kennicott-ben-lujan-retard <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>On Wednesday, <em>Mother Jones</em> published a <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/04/governor-susana-martinez-new-mexico-2016" target="_blank">story</a> about New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, a rising GOP star, that draws on previously unreleased audio recordings from her 2010 campaign.</p> <p>In one of the many unflattering moments revealed by the tapes, Matt Kennicott, then Martinez's deputy campaign manager and policy director, comments on the accent of former House speaker Ben Luj&aacute;n, saying, "Somebody told me he's absolutely eloquent in Spanish, but his English? He sounds like a retard."</p> <p>As it turns out, Matt Kennicott now works for a state agency charged with providing key services to people with mental disabilities. As the Communications Director for New Mexico's <a href="http://www.hsd.state.nm.us/About_the_Department.aspx" target="_blank">Human Services Department (HSD)</a>, Kennicott is, according to his LinkedIn account, responsible for developing "messaging and talking points for various program areas." He also serves as the "chief negotiator on legislative priorities around health care and public assistance policy."</p> <p>The department's $4.97 billion budget is the largest of any state agency. It oversees mental health services for 85,000 New Mexicans, including programs for low-income individuals with disabilities and behavioral health care for people with mental illness.</p> <p>Lawrence Rael, a Democrat hoping to unseat Martinez in 2014, issued a <a href="http://roundhouseroundup.blogspot.com/2014/04/mother-jones-scorches-gov-susana.html" target="_blank">statement</a> shortly after the <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/04/governor-susana-martinez-new-mexico-2016" target="_blank">story</a> was published calling Martinez's decision to hire Kennicott at HSD "unconscionable." Kennicott did not respond to multiple requests from <em>Mother Jones</em> to comment on the clip.</p> <p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/144255338&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p> </body></html> MoJo Elections Health Health Care The Right Wed, 16 Apr 2014 20:10:09 +0000 Julia Lurie 249961 at http://www.motherjones.com An Update From Our 1 Percent World: Southern California Housing Edition http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/04/update-our-1-world-southern-california-housing-edition <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>The <em>LA Times</em> reports that the Southern California housing market is <a href="http://www.latimes.com/business/realestate/la-fi-home-prices-20140416,0,4794538.story#axzz2z4dbbuh0" target="_blank">once again getting frothy:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>But a deeper look at the market reveals a recovery divided between the rich and everyone else.</p> <p>The market for high-dollar homes is hopping, with sales on the rise and buyers launching bidding wars. But sales of low- to medium-priced homes have plummeted during the same period &mdash; with many potential buyers priced out....Those declines came even as sales of high-end homes increased. Sales of homes costing $800,000 or more grew 12%, while sales of homes costing less than $500,000 fell at twice that rate.</p> <p>...."We're getting multiple offers on just about everything," said Barry Sulpor, an agent with Shorewood Realtors in Manhattan Beach, where he said there is a new wave of tear-downs and new construction in prime beachfront locations. "The market is really on fire."</p> </blockquote> <p>I think partly this is a bit of a statistical artifact: a lot of investors were buying cheap houses a year ago, figuring they could rent them out and make a killing. That didn't work out so well, and now a lot of those houses are back on the market. Long story short, some of the increase in low-end housing prices over the past year or two has been a bit of an investor-fueled mirage, and now reality is catching up to that.</p> <p>Still, the overall picture is clear: At the lower end of the market, ordinary people have been increasingly locked out for a while, and that's still the case. Nor is it any surprise. After all, median wages have stagnated during the entire period that we so laughingly refer to as a "recovery." As always in our brave new 1 percent era, things are going pretty well for the rich. For the not-so-rich, not so well.</p> </body></html> Kevin Drum Economy Wed, 16 Apr 2014 18:24:11 +0000 Kevin Drum 249951 at http://www.motherjones.com GOP Congressional Candidate Shoots Down Drone in New Ad http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/04/montana-matt-rosendale-drone <!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/dOoXJI4vBns" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>In Montana congressional candidate Matt Rosendale's newest ad, which you can you can watch above, Rosendale aims a sighted rifle at a "government drone" and blows it away, before sending a message to the Obama administration: "Spying on our citizens&mdash;that's just wrong."</p> <p>This isn't the first attempt by Rosendale, a state representative who is seeking the GOP nomination to replace Rep. Steve Daines in Congress next fall, to make nice with his state's far-right elements. In December <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/01/matt-rosendale-montana-rothschilds-rockefellers" target="_blank">Rosendale attended</a> an event held by a group called Defend Rural America, whose founder, Kirk MacKenzie, called environmentalists "domestic terrorists." And although this is the first time a candidate has pretended to shoot down a drone, politicians <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2012/06/brief-history-politicians-blowing-things" target="_blank">have a long history</a> of blowing things up in campaign ads. In 2008, Montana Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer used a double-barreled shotgun to blast the federal Real ID law into tiny bits.</p> <p>As always, <em>Mother Jones</em> reminds you that if you must ritually annihilate a federal policy in a campaign ad, you should at least wear safety goggles and ear plugs.</p> </body></html> MoJo Elections Wed, 16 Apr 2014 17:52:29 +0000 Tim Murphy 249931 at http://www.motherjones.com Gov. Susana Martinez Reacts to Mother Jones Story: "One of the Most Desperate and Despicable Attacks" http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/04/susana-martinez-new-mexico-responds-mother-jones <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>On Wednesday morning, <em>Mother Jones</em> published <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/04/governor-susana-martinez-new-mexico-2016" target="_blank">a cover story</a> about New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, a rising star in the Republican Party, that draws&nbsp;on <a href="https://soundcloud.com/mother-jones/sets/martinez" target="_blank">previously unreleased audio recordings</a>, emails, and text messages. In these audio tapes, she and her aides use crude and often offensive language when referring to political opponents.&nbsp;Martinez's reelection campaign immediately responded.</p> <p>In an email blast to supporters, Martinez attacked&nbsp;the messenger, calling <em>Mother Jones</em> a "tabloid" and "one of the most radically liberal publications in the country." Martinez accused <em>Mother Jones</em> of "peddling false, personal attacks against me, using stolen audiotapes from our debate prep sessions four years ago." She claimed&nbsp;that "this shows just how far the Left is willing to go to stop reforms in New Mexico." In the email, Martinez does admit to calling 2010 Democratic opponent&nbsp;Diane Denish&nbsp;"the B-word," adding, "I admit it&mdash;I've had to fund the cuss jar a few times in my life." Her email ends with a plea for a campaign contribution.</p> <p>Her email neglects to address several parts of the story, such as the reports that Martinez's top adviser, Jay McCleskey, wrote "I HATE THAT FUCKING BITCH!" about a fellow GOP pol, and that a former Martinez adviser mocked New Mexico political icon Ben Luj&aacute;n for his English-speaking abilities, saying he "sounds like a retard."</p> <p>Martinez's campaign has also created a <a href="http://www.susanamartinez.com/landing/liberal-media/?utm_medium=social&amp;utm_source=t.co&amp;utm_campaign=20140416_sm-lb-motherjonestw4.16_twitter&amp;utm_content=sm">petition</a> describing <em>Mother Jones</em> as "the far-left's premier magazine" and calls the story "one of the most desperate and despicable attacks to date." The Martinez campaign's message goes on to ask supporters to sign&nbsp;a petition ostensibly to "show the D.C. liberal media that their desperate attacks have no place in our state."</p> <p>Here's the petition:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/martinez-petition-630.jpg"></div> <p>Martinez's campaign has made full use of social media in its pushback, buying a promoted tweet on Twitter urging people to "stand with me":</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/martinez-promoted-tweet-response.jpg"></div> <p>Similarly, she&nbsp;<a href="https://www.facebook.com/SusanaMartinezFan">asked&nbsp;her Facebook friends</a> to "stand with me against the D.C. liberal media and show them that their Washington-style attacks have no place in our state."</p> <p>Martinez did retweet a link to <em>Mother Jones</em>' story that was tweeted by Buzzfeed writer McKay Coppins&mdash;only to <a href="http://politwoops.sunlightfoundation.com/tweet/456434221456687104">delete her tweet</a> 14 seconds later.</p> </body></html> MoJo Elections The Right Wed, 16 Apr 2014 17:16:54 +0000 Andy Kroll 249941 at http://www.motherjones.com In Red States, the Uninsured Are Up the Creek http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/04/red-states-uninsured-are-creek <!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_gallup_uninsurance_embrace_obamacare.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 20px 15px 30px;">Gallup has previously reported a drop in the uninsurance rate among Americans following the rollout of Obamacare last year. <a href="http://www.gallup.com/poll/168539/uninsured-rates-drop-states-embracing-health-law.aspx" target="_blank">Today, they broke down these numbers</a> between states that embraced Obamacare by setting up their own exchanges and expanding Medicaid vs. states that have resisted implementing the law.</p> <p>The results are no surprise. States that embraced Obamacare&mdash;which presumably were more committed to public health in the first place&mdash;had lower uninsurance rates to start with <em>and</em> saw bigger declines. The states that resisted were the ones with the biggest uninsurance problems to start with and saw only token declines. In fact, the decline in states that embraced Obamacare was more than triple that in the other states, 2.8 percent vs. 0.8 percent.</p> <p>These numbers will change a bit over the next couple of months as things settle down and signups are complete, but the relative differences will almost certainly remain huge. Republican governors have been almost unanimously dedicated to sabotaging Obamacare and withholding health care from their own residents, and they've been successful. I hope they're proud of themselves.</p> </body></html> Kevin Drum Health Care The Right Wed, 16 Apr 2014 17:03:20 +0000 Kevin Drum 249946 at http://www.motherjones.com LBJ Was Great. LBJ Was Horrible. Deal With It. http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/04/lbj-was-great-lbj-was-horrible-deal-it <!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_lbj_two_faces_0.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 20px 15px 30px;">David Greenberg and Michael Kazin are arguing about whether LBJ was a great president. <a href="http://www.newrepublic.com/article/117388/lbjs-legacy-why-we-need-hold-two-ideas-him-once" target="_blank">Here is Greenberg's wrap-up:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Maybe our differences really come down to this: For Michael, the enormity of the Vietnam debacle is so great that LBJ must remain forever confined to a historical doghouse. In contrast, I would submit that we have to hold both Johnson&rsquo;s great deeds and his terrible deeds in our minds at the same time. This uneasy position, I think, does more to invite or even demand continued attention to LBJ&rsquo;s presidency from historians. And it implies a moral verdict on the man that is, in my view, ultimately more unsettling than a tout court denial of any esteem for him whatsoever.</p> </blockquote> <p>Yes. A thousand times yes. There's no need to rate LBJ or any other president on a scale from 1 to 10. He was a great president in some areas and a terrible one in others. That's it. You can't put those two things in a blender and come to a single, homogenized conclusion, no matter how badly you want to.</p> <p>This isn't like Mussolini making the trains run on time, or Hitler building the autobahn, trivial achievements that simply don't bear on either man's place in history. LBJ's domestic achievements were gigantic. His foreign policy failures were equally gigantic. That's it. That's what happened, and that's who he is. We just have to live with it.</p> </body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 16 Apr 2014 15:43:49 +0000 Kevin Drum 249936 at http://www.motherjones.com In War, Truth Is the First Casualty http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/04/war-truth-first-casualty <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>David Herszenhorn reports that Tuesday marked yet another day of "bluster and hyperbole, of the misinformation, exaggerations, conspiracy theories, overheated rhetoric and, occasionally, outright lies" that have marked the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/16/world/europe/russia-is-quick-to-bend-truth-about-ukraine.html?hp&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">Russian response to the crisis in Ukraine:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>It is an extraordinary propaganda campaign that political analysts say reflects a new brazenness on the part of Russian officials. And in recent days, it has largely succeeded &mdash; at least for Russia&rsquo;s domestic audience &mdash; in painting a picture of chaos and danger in eastern Ukraine, although it was pro-Russian forces themselves who created it by seizing public buildings and setting up roadblocks.</p> <p>....To watch the television news in Russia is to be pulled into a swirling, 24-hour vortex of alarmist proclamations of Western aggression, sinister claims of rising fascism and breathless accounts of imminent hostilities by the &ldquo;illegal&rdquo; Ukrainian government in Kiev, which has proved itself in recent days to be largely powerless.</p> <p><strong>The Rossiya 24 news channel, for instance, has been broadcasting virtually nonstop with a small graphic at the bottom corner of the screen that says &ldquo;Ukrainian Crisis&rdquo; above the image of a masked fighter,</strong> set against the backdrop of the red-and-black flag of the nationalist, World War II-era Ukrainian Insurgent Army, which inflicted tens of thousands of casualties on Soviet forces.</p> <p>Over the course of several hours of coverage on Tuesday, Rossiya 24 reported that four to 11 peaceful, pro-Russian &ldquo;supporters of federalization&rdquo; in Ukraine were killed near the town of Kramatorsk in eastern Ukraine when a mixed force of right-wing Ukrainians and foreign mercenaries strafed an airfield with automatic gunfire from helicopter gunships before landing and seizing control.</p> <p>In fact, on the ground, a small crowd of residents surrounded a Ukrainian commander who had landed at the airfield in a helicopter, and while there were reports of stones thrown and shots fired in the air, only a few minor injuries were reported with no signs of fatalities.</p> </blockquote> <p>Thank God we live in America, where this kind of thing doesn't happen.</p> </body></html> Kevin Drum International Media Wed, 16 Apr 2014 15:00:56 +0000 Kevin Drum 249926 at http://www.motherjones.com A Single Pot Plant Uses HOW Much Water?! http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2014/04/your-pot-habit-sucks-salmon <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>Like college sophomores philosophizing over bong hits late at night, the California North Coast's booming marijuana farms languish in the smoky haze of paradox. On the one hand, they're hyperregulated&mdash;that is to say, illegal (with the exception of farms licensed to grow for the medical trade).&nbsp;On the other hand, being illegal, they're essentially not regulated at all, as my colleague Josh Harkinson showed in a <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/03/marijuana-weed-pot-farming-environmental-impacts" target="_blank">recent piece</a>.</p> <p>A rogue grower tending a plot on a California state park isn't worried about running afoul of state fish-and-wildlife authorities for illegally diverting a stream for irrigation. Instead, he's scrambling to avoid being busted on federal drug charges&mdash;and will thus grab any resource necessary to churn out a fast and plentiful pot harvest.</p> <p>And with California's drought <a href="http://www.water.ca.gov/news/newsreleases/2014/040114word.pdf">settling in for a long, hot summer</a>, that's bad news for ecosystems that rely on the state's increasingly scarce surface waters&mdash;including&nbsp;the once-prolific Northern California salmon run. A <a href="http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20140412/articles/140419825#page=0" target="_blank">recent article</a> in the Mendocino County <em>Press Democrat </em>shows just how dire things have gotten in the state's pot-farm-heavy "Emerald Triangle" (Mendocino, Humboldt, and Trinity counties).</p> <p>The piece looks at a forthcoming study from the California Fish and Wildlife Department on three key Emerald Triangle watersheds. Using satellite imagery, the researchers found that pot cultivation had skyrocketed in the areas since 2009,&nbsp;rising between 75 percent and 100 percent. The three watersheds contain an average of 30,000 pot plants each, they found. (Here's a <a href="http://srweb.sar.dc.publicus.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/bilde?Site=SR&amp;Date=20140412&amp;Category=ARTICLES&amp;ArtNo=140419825&amp;Ref=EP&amp;NewTbl=1&amp;item=1&amp;MaxW=750&amp;border=0" target="_blank">nifty map</a>). And they're thirsty. According to the <em>Press Democrat, </em>"Researchers estimate each plant consumes 6 gallons of water a day. At that rate, the plants were siphoning off 180,000 gallons of water per day in each watershed&mdash;all together more than 160 Olympic-sized swimming pools over the average 150-day growing cycle for outdoor plants."</p> <p>Mind you, that's just in the three watersheds the researchers looked at. According to the <em>Press Democrat</em>, there are <a href="http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20140121/articles/140129912">more than 1 million pot plants in Mendocino alone</a>&mdash;not counting legal ones licensed for the medical market.</p> <p>Already, the region's salmon tributaries are under severe pressure&mdash;as many as 24 went dry last year, the <em>Press Democrat</em> reports. And even without the drought, there just isn't enough water available to keep the pot crop humming and the salmon moving along, state Fish and Wildlife Senior Environmental Scientist Scott Bauer told the paper.</p> <p>And water diversions aren't the only vice indulged in by large-scale pot growers. Last year, the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board <a href="http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/northcoast/publications_and_forms/available_documents/pdf/2013/130611_MarijuanFactSheet.pdf">listed</a> a few others, including land-grading and dam-making that leads to stream-clogging erosion; wanton use of pesticides&mdash;most egregiously, wildlife-killing <a href="http://www.times-standard.com/ci_21075742/pot-farm-poison-study-find-marijuana-grows-likely" target="_blank">rat poison</a>; and "discarding of trash and haphazard management of human waste."</p> <p>Of course, like any other crop, pot <em>could</em> be grown in ecologically responsible ways. For example, "if growers collected all their water during the rainy season and stored it in permitted tanks or ponds&mdash;like many other farmers&mdash;marijuana's water consumption would not be such an issue," one environmental watchdog told the <em>Press Democrat</em>. And in dry years like this one, at least some pot fields could be fallowed, leaving more water for wildlife.</p> <p>But since pot farming is illegal, growers have little incentive to act as land stewards. Indeed, they tend to sneak onto&mdash;and trash&mdash;state and federal parkland to plant their illicit crop. If pot farms were legal, growers could be held accountable for their environmental footprint. As one activist told Harkinson for his <em>Mother Jones </em>story, "It is not the growers who are a disease. They are just a symptom. The real disease is the failed drug war."</p> <p>Of course, legal agriculture isn't a paragon of environmental responsibility, and criminal pot farms aren't the only operations wreaking water havoc in California. As I <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2014/04/california-drought-groundwater-drilling">wrote recently</a>, the state's ag-heavy Central Valley is currently in the midst of sucking dry its fossil water resources, driven largely by a boom in tree nut production and a near-complete lack of regulation of groundwater pumping. The situation has gotten so dire that even big farming interests, which have for decades fought back any pumping regulations, <a href="http://www.mercurynews.com/science/ci_25453902/california-drought-after-years-overpumping-groundwater-state-may" target="_blank">are openly considering the possible need for smarter water rules.</a></p> <p>But that debate can't even begin among pot growers&nbsp;until they can no longer hide in the shadows cast by the drug war.</p> </body></html> Tom Philpott Food and Ag Marijuana Top Stories Wed, 16 Apr 2014 10:00:10 +0000 Tom Philpott 249876 at http://www.motherjones.com We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for April 16, 2014 http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/04/were-still-war-photo-day-april-16-2014 <!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-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/0416-630x354.jpg"></div> <div id="meta"> <div class="photo-desc" id="description_div"> <p class="rtecenter"><em>Marines with the Maritime Raid Force, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit prepare to enter the well deck aboard the USS San Diego during Amphibious Squadron Marine Expedtionary Unit Integration Training (PMINT) off the coast of San Diego, Calif. April 8, 2014. PMINT is the first at-sea event in the MEU&rsquo;s predeployment training program at which they have the opportunity to conduct amphibious based operations while embarked on a ship. (<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/marine_corps/13780839594/" target="_blank">U.S. Marine Corps photo</a> by Cpl. Demetrius Morgan/Released)</em></p> </div> </div> </body></html> MoJo Wed, 16 Apr 2014 10:00:08 +0000 249836 at http://www.motherjones.com Unsportsmanlike Conduct in the NBA Follows an Inverted U-Shaped Curve http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/04/unsportsmanlike-conduct-nba-follows-inverted-u-shaped-curve <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>Over at 538, Benjamin Morris asks <a href="http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/just-how-bad-were-the-bad-boys/" target="_blank">"Just How Bad Were the Bad Boys?"</a> The bad boys in question are the Detroit Pistons basketball team of the late 80s, who had a reputation for being unusually aggressive on the court. Did they deserve their reputation? To test this, Morris looks at how many technical fouls they racked up, a good measure of unsportsmanlike conduct. In fact, he takes a look at the total number of technical fouls for the entire league, and finds that the number rose steadily until 1995 and then started a long-term decline.</p> <p>I promise this is just for fun, but I've overlaid another line against Morris's chart. Not a perfect fit, granted, but not too far off, either. I'm sure a few of you can guess what it is, can't you?</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_bad_boys_lead_1.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 90px;"></p> </body></html> Kevin Drum Science Sports Wed, 16 Apr 2014 05:56:37 +0000 Kevin Drum 249916 at http://www.motherjones.com Medical Inflation Is Up, But It's Probably Just a Blip http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/04/medical-inflation-its-probably-just-blip <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>Sarah Kliff reports that health care spending <a href="http://www.vox.com/2014/4/15/5612900/health-spending-growth-fast" target="_blank">ticked upward at the end of 2013:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>A four-year slowdown in health spending growth could be coming to an end....Federal data suggests that health care spending is now growing just as quickly as it was prior to the recession.</p> <p>....The Altarum Institute in Ann Arbor, Mich. tracks health spending growth by month. It saw an uptick in late 2013 that has continued into preliminary numbers for 2014. Separate data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, which tracks the growth or consumer spending by quarter, shows something similar: health spending grew by 5.6 percent in the last quarter of 2013, the fastest growth recorded since 2004.</p> </blockquote> <p>Inflation in the final quarter of 2013 ran a little over 1 percent, which means health care spending rose 4.5 percent faster than the overall inflation rate. That's a lot. But it's also <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_healthcare_cost_growth_small.jpg" style="margin: 20px 5px 15px 30px;">only one quarter, and it's hardly unexpected. Take a look at the chart on the right, which shows how much per capita health care spending has increased over and above the inflation rate for the past 40 years. There are two key takeaways:</p> <ul> <li>Medical inflation has been on a striking long-term downward path since the early 80s.</li> <li>There's a ton of noise in the data, with every decline followed by a subsequent upward correction.</li> </ul> <p>The HMO revolution of the 90s sent medical inflation plummeting. Then a correction. Then another big drop. And another upward correction. Then another drop. If that's followed by an upward correction for a few years, it would hardly be a surprise.</p> <p>Nonetheless, the long-term trend is pretty clear, and it shows up no matter how you slice the data. For many years, medical inflation was running as much as 4-6 percent higher than overall inflation. Today that number is 1-2 percent, and the variability seems to be getting smaller. What's more, that 1-2 percent number matches the long-term trend during the entire postwar period (see chart below). There's good reason to think that it might be the natural rate of medical inflation, with the 80s and early 90s as an outlier. That's where I'd put my money, anyway.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_real_medical_inflation_long_view.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 5px 10px;"></p> </body></html> Kevin Drum Economy Health Care Wed, 16 Apr 2014 01:25:50 +0000 Kevin Drum 249911 at http://www.motherjones.com Donald Rumsfeld Will Never Overpay His Taxes http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/04/donald-rumsfeld-will-never-overpay-his-taxes <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>Via Steve Benen, I see that Donald Rumsfeld sends the IRS a letter every year when he files his taxes. <a href="http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/rumsfeld-and-sad-commentary-governance" target="_blank">Here it is:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>I have sent in our federal income tax and our gift tax returns for 2013. As in prior years, it is important for you to know that I have absolutely no idea whether our tax returns and our tax payments are accurate. I say that despite the fact that I am a college graduate and I try hard to make sure our tax returns are accurate.</p> <p>The tax code is so complex and the forms are so complicated, that I know I cannot have any confidence that I know what is being requested and therefore I cannot and do not know, as I suspect a great many Americans cannot know, whether or not their tax returns are accurate. As in past years, I have spent more money that I wanted to....</p> </blockquote> <p>Etc. Two things here:</p> <ul> <li>As a longtime feeder at the public trough, Rumsfeld is surely aware that the IRS isn't responsible for the complexity of the tax code. Congress is. He needs to write an annual letter to his representative in Congress instead. As a resident of Washington DC, of course, he doesn't really have one, but that's a whole different story. However, I'm sure Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton would be delighted to receive his letter anyway.</li> <li>The big reason taxes are complicated is because people do complicated things with their money&mdash;often with the express aim of lowering their taxes. Nobody is forced to do this. If you want, you can just add up all your income and pay the statutory rate without worrying about deductions and loopholes and capital gains rates and so forth. That will make your taxes easy. But if you're the kind of person who has enough money to hire expensive accountants to manage your carefully tailored investments, then you have enough money to pay those accountants to do your taxes too.</li> </ul> <p>In any case, none of this really matters. No matter how much Rumsfeld pays in taxes, it will never be enough to make up for the damage he's done to this country over his lifetime. He should stop whining. He owes us.</p> </body></html> Kevin Drum Regulatory Affairs Tue, 15 Apr 2014 21:52:21 +0000 Kevin Drum 249901 at http://www.motherjones.com Everyone on the Far Right Loves Militia-Backed Rancher Cliven Bundy—Except Glenn Beck http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/04/right-wing-loves-militia-rancher-cliven-bundy-except-glenn-beck <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>Conservative activists and media outlets have generally embraced the cause of Cliven Bundy, a Nevada cattle rancher who inspired a gang of protesters&mdash;many of them armed&mdash;to face off with federal law enforcement this weekend. But one figure on the right has taken a surprising stand against Bundy's supporters: former Fox News host Glenn Beck.</p> <p>On Saturday, a large group of anti-government protesters converged on a Bureau of Land Management base camp in rural Nevada to protest the federal government's seizure of Bundy's cows. Bundy had for years grazed hundreds of cattle on protected lands controlled by the federal government and refused to pay the resulting court-ordered fines. This month, after nearly 20 years of consistently beating Bundy in court, the BLM moved to confiscate his cattle. A judge ordered Bundy not to physically interfere. In response, Bundy assembled protesters to confront the BLM officers who were holding his livestock.</p> <p>After a dramatic, two-day standoff, federal officers backed down and handed the cows over to Bundy to avoid violence. Astonishing <a href="http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/nevada-rancher-feds-face-over-cattle-n79271" target="_blank">photos from the scene</a> show protesters perched on a highway overpass and hunkered down in the brush with long-range weapons; one photo appears to show a man on the bridge <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2014/04/15/everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-long-fight-between-cliven-bundy-and-the-federal-government/" target="_blank">aiming down at the BLM base camp.</a></p> <p>The involvement of armed militiamen&mdash;and Bundy's promise to "do whatever it takes" to reclaim his cattle&mdash;doesn't appear to phase conservative activists who have turned Bundy into a cause c&eacute;l&egrave;bre. Before this weekend's confrontation, <em>National Review Online</em>, <em>Fox &amp; Friends, </em>and <em>American</em><em> Thinker</em> all blamed the government for <a href="http://mediamatters.org/blog/2014/04/10/right-wing-media-are-throwing-gas-on-a-ranchers/198841" target="_blank">mounting tensions</a>. Two groups affiliated with Americans for Prosperity, a political organization funded primarily by the Koch brothers, spent the weekend tweeting their support for Bundy, <em>Media Matters</em> <a href="http://mediamatters.org/blog/2014/04/11/feds-turn-from-landlords-to-warlords-koch-group/198857" target="_blank">reported</a><em>.</em> Sean Hannity, who on Friday <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=armAcbEO1PE#t=255" target="_blank">hailed Bundy</a> as a capitalist hero&mdash;"When your cattle graze there, that keeps the price of meat down for every American consumer"&mdash;invited Bundy back on the air Monday for <a href="http://mediamatters.org/video/2014/04/14/hannity-gives-platform-for-lawless-rancher-to-d/198892" target="_blank">a second, easygoing interview</a> in which he made only glancing reference to the armed confrontation.</p> <p>Beck, though, in an episode of his show broadcast Monday, said he fully supports Bundy's principles but <a href="http://www.glennbeck.com/2014/04/14/inciting-violence-doesnt-solve-anything-glenn-denounces-violence-in-response-to-nevada-ranch-conflict/" target="_blank">couldn't look past</a> his supporters:</p> <blockquote> <p class="rteindent1">The problem here is that Bundy hasn't been all that clear on this&hellip;He's a rancher. And so he's not used to making his sound bite case in this sound bite world. But the problem with that lack of clarity is some of the supporters that he's attracting. He is drawing in the decent, small government proponents from groups such as the tea party&hellip;I know there's some people that listen [to] and watch me. And they are sick of the government regulations hampering themselves, small businesses, farming, I'm with you on that.</p> <p class="rteindent1">But when you're not really super clear, it also draws another element, drawing in the violent, anti-government groups. The, I think, right's version of Occupy Wall Street. We did some research online on PsyID [a social-media analysis tool] today, and found that there's about 10 to 15 percent of the people who are talking about this online that are truly frightening. They don't care what the facts are&mdash;they just want a fight. And you see it in some of these pictures.</p> </blockquote> <p>At this point, video played behind Beck of protesters scuffling with federal officers.</p> <blockquote> <p class="rteindent1">I don't know who these people are. They all might be great. But here they are, they're acting, they're enraged, they're enraged. And they're confronting the federal government officials. I get that. But this is not the way to win&hellip;I want to be clear, 100 percent clean on one thing all of us should agree on, and unfortunately, I don't believe we do, both left and right. And that is, we need to agree on, we condemn those who use violence. Inciting violence doesn't solve anything. I vehemently denounce anyone who even hints at such tactics&hellip;People can spot anger and vengeance from a mile away. And when I saw that video where they were lunging and jumping at the agents, calling them scumbags, I thought, this is our side's Occupy Wall Street. It's happening all over again, and it will end the same way.</p> </blockquote> <p>Beck didn't specifically call out the armed protesters, and the<em> Blaze</em>, a website that is part of his media empire, <a href="http://mediamatters.org/blog/2014/04/10/right-wing-media-are-throwing-gas-on-a-ranchers/198841" target="_blank">played up</a> the federal government's role in bringing the crisis to a head. Beck claims the facts of the federal government's actions against Bundy are "convoluted" (when they're <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2014/04/15/everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-long-fight-between-cliven-bundy-and-the-federal-government/" target="_blank">pretty well established</a>) and equates heavily armed protesters with Occupy Wall Street. But there's no doubt that he took a stand against the extreme elements among Bundy's supporters. And when Glenn Beck approximates a reasonable position on the same night that a blood moon rises, you've got to second-guess the folks who say <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/04/blood-moon-end-of-days-john-hagee" target="_blank">the world isn't coming to an end</a>.</p> </body></html> MoJo The Right Top Stories Tue, 15 Apr 2014 21:36:32 +0000 Molly Redden 249866 at http://www.motherjones.com This is the Best/Worst Campaign Video of 2014 http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/04/what-is-this-chris-mcdaniel-video <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>Depending on where you stand, this is either the best piece of political performance art of the 2014 election or the worst. Or maybe it's both. Supporters of <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/04/chris-mcdaniel-bryan-fischer-reparations" target="_blank">embattled</a> Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel, who is challenging longtime incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) in the June primary, have composed this charming jingle, asking Cochran to "please come home." These kinds of supporter-generated videos can often be tacky and amateurish, or woefully off-message. But this&mdash;this is art. Watch:</p> <p class="rtecenter"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="473" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/k27-HC90dzc" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Lyrics below:</p> <blockquote> <p>Won't you come home Thad Cochran,<br> Won't you come home,<br> You've been there way too long,<br> We sent you up there, to do what's right,<br> But now you done us wrong</p> <p>Remember that crazy health care, that gun control,<br> You voted for was oh so wrong,<br> Well, it's really a shame,<br> And you're partly to blame,<br> Thad Cochran won't you please come home.</p> <p>2nd Chorus</p> </blockquote> <blockquote> <p>Won't you come home Thad Cochran,<br> Won't you come home,<br> Our party's gone off track,<br> With Chris McDaniel, we've got a chance,<br> To bring our party back,</p> <p>So pack your suitcase, and grab your hat,<br> Then catch a ride and get here fast,<br> We know you did your best,<br> But it's time for a rest,<br> We hope this term be your last!</p> <p>3rd Chorus<br> Won't you come home Thad Cochran,<br> Won't you come home,<br> You're spending way too much,<br> You've raised the ceiling of debt so high,<br> This country can't catch up...</p> <p>And your pork barrel, is filled so full,<br> I think that it just may bust!<br> Please hear our call, as we plead one and all,<br> Thad Cochran, won't you please come home.</p> </blockquote> <p>Note: Thad Cochran doesn't wear a hat:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"> <img alt="" class="image" src="/files/cochran.jpg"><div class="caption">Pete Marovich/ ZumaPress</div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p> </body></html> MoJo Elections Music Offbeat Tue, 15 Apr 2014 20:54:19 +0000 Tim Murphy 249886 at http://www.motherjones.com Google Ponders Using Its Search Algorithms to Encourage Encryption http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/04/google-ponders-using-its-search-algorithms-encourage-encryption <!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://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2014/04/14/google-may-push-sites-to-use-encryption/?mod=e2tw" target="_blank">From the <em>Wall Street Journal</em>:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>In a move that experts say could make it harder to spy on Web users, <strong>Google is considering giving a boost in its search-engine results to websites that use encryption,</strong> the engineer in charge of fighting spam in search results hinted at a recent conference.</p> <p>The executive, Matt Cutts, is well known in the search world as the liaison between Google&rsquo;s search team and website designers who track every tweak to its search algorithms....Google uses its search algorithm to encourage and discourage practices among web developers. Sites known to have malicious software are penalized in rankings as are those that load very slowly, for instance. In total, the company has over 200 &ldquo;signals&rdquo; that help it determine search rankings, most of which it doesn&rsquo;t discuss publicly.</p> </blockquote> <p>I don't want to make too big a deal out of this, but I'm a little nervous about the power Google is demonstrating here. Google has a <a href="http://searchengineland.com/bing-ends-2013-with-all-time-high-in-us-market-share-but-google-also-up-comscore-181876" target="_blank">two-thirds share of the search market,</a> which makes it an effective monopoly in this space, and they're none too transparent about just how they exploit this dominance. Encrypting web sites is probably a good thing to encourage, but it's hardly necessary for every site. Nor is it clear just what Google would decide counts as proper encryption. Do some encryption standards and suppliers stand or fall based on whether Google's algorithm recognizes them?</p> <p>I haven't given this a ton of thought, so just take this as a bit of noodling. To the extent that Google's algorithms are genuinely aimed at producing the most useful results for people, it's hard to fault them. When they start to go beyond that, though, things get a little gray. What comes next after this? It's worth some thought.</p> </body></html> Kevin Drum Corporations Tech Tue, 15 Apr 2014 17:14:24 +0000 Kevin Drum 249821 at http://www.motherjones.com Fox News Is About to Get a New Pet Rock http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/04/fox-news-about-get-new-pet-rock <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>Oh man, a whole new set of conspiracy theories <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/16/us/politics/census-survey-revisions-mask-health-law-effects.html?hp&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">is about to take flight:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The Census Bureau, the authoritative source of health insurance data for more than three decades, is changing its annual survey so thoroughly that it will be difficult to measure the effects of President Obama&rsquo;s health care law in the next report, due this fall, census officials said.</p> <p>....An internal Census Bureau document said that the new questionnaire included a &ldquo;total revision to health insurance questions&rdquo; and, in a test last year, produced lower estimates of the uninsured. Thus, officials said, it will be difficult to say <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_conspiracy_theory.jpg" style="margin: 20px 5px 15px 30px;">how much of any change is attributable to the Affordable Care Act and how much to the use of a new survey instrument.</p> <p><strong>&ldquo;We are expecting much lower numbers just because of the questions and how they are asked,&rdquo; said Brett J. O&rsquo;Hara, chief of the health statistics branch at the Census Bureau.</strong> With the new questions, &ldquo;it is likely that the Census Bureau will decide that there is a break in series for the health insurance estimates,&rdquo; says another agency document describing the changes. This &ldquo;break in trend&rdquo; will complicate efforts to trace the impact of the Affordable Care Act, it said.</p> </blockquote> <p>I admit that this sure seems like a bad time to suddenly decide we need a new methodology for counting the uninsured, even if it has been in the works for a while. But it doesn't matter if it's almost certainly bureaucratic inertia at work here, not political skullduggery. The Fox News set is going to have a field day with this. <em>The feds are unskewing their own numbers! Probably on direct orders from the White House!</em> I expect Darrell Issa to commence hearings next week.</p> <p>Yeesh. Can't we just delay these changes for a year or two? Even if the old numbers were inaccurate, it would still be nice to keep a stable baseline for comparison through 2015 or so.</p> </body></html> Kevin Drum Health Care Obama The Right Tue, 15 Apr 2014 16:32:21 +0000 Kevin Drum 249816 at http://www.motherjones.com Is the Crisis in Ukraine About to Wind Down? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/04/crisis-ukraine-about-wind-down <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>I've been watching the unfolding events in Ukraine with the usual rising mix of apprehension and horror, but I haven't blogged about it much since I don't have anything to add in the way of insight or analysis. <a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/war_stories/2014/04/vladimir_putin_may_not_invade_ukraine_can_russia_s_president_succeed_without.html" target="_blank">So instead I'll turn the mike over to Fred Kaplan, who does:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Contrary to appearances, the crisis in Ukraine might be on the verge of resolution. The potentially crucial move came today when interim President Oleksandr Turchynov said that he would be open to changing the country&rsquo;s political system from a republic, with power centered in the capital Kiev, to a federation with considerable autonomy for the regional districts.</p> <p>That has been one of Russian President Vladimir Putin&rsquo;s key demands....If Putin can win this demand&mdash;and the political, economic, and cultural inroads it would provide&mdash;an invasion would be not just be unnecessary, it&rsquo;d be loony. War is politics by other means, and a revamping of Ukraine&rsquo;s power structure would accomplish Putin&rsquo;s political aims by less costly means.</p> <p>....Sending [NATO] fighter aircraft to Poland and the Baltic states, mobilizing warships to the Black Sea, ratcheting up sanctions with threats of more to come&mdash;all this sends a signal that the West won&rsquo;t stand by. In fact, Putin has done more to rivet the NATO nations&rsquo; attention, and perhaps get them to boost their defense budgets, than anything in the past decade.</p> <p>But Obama and the other Western leaders also know they&rsquo;re not going to go to war over Ukraine. Putin knows this, too. At the same time, if he&rsquo;s at all rational (and this is the worrying thing&mdash;it&rsquo;s not clear that he is), Putin would calculate that escalation is not a winning strategy for him. He could invade the eastern slices of Ukraine, especially around Donetsk, but he couldn&rsquo;t go much further. The move would rile the rest of Ukraine to take shelter under the EU&rsquo;s (and maybe NATO&rsquo;s) wing, and it would rouse the Western nations to rearm to an extent unseen in 20 years (and to a level that the Russian economy could not match).</p> </blockquote> <p>I keep thinking that even from a nationalistic Russian point of view, the cost of invading and holding eastern Ukraine is simply too large. The game isn't worth the candle. And yet....who knows? Rationality is sometimes in short supply. I'd still bet against a Russian invasion, especially if Putin can get much of what he wants without it, but it would be a pretty iffy bet.</p> <p>In any case, I wonder how long this "federation" will last? If Putin is smart, he can bide his time and just wait. A federated Ukraine could organically turn into eastern and western Ukraine with a bit of patience and without firing a shot. In the end, that would probably suit Russia's interests better than outright annexation.</p> </body></html> Kevin Drum International Tue, 15 Apr 2014 16:03:05 +0000 Kevin Drum 249806 at http://www.motherjones.com Cliven Bundy Exposes the Cravenness of the Modern Right http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/04/cliven-bundy-exposes-cravenness-modern-right <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>Like a lot of people, Ed Kilgore is distressed at the outpouring of support on the right for <a href="http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/political-animal-a/2014_04/tax_day_and_patriotism049898.php" target="_blank">Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Call it "individualism" or "libertarianism" or whatever you want, but those who declare themselves a Republic of One and raise their own flags are in a very literal sense being unpatriotic.</p> <p>That's why I'm alarmed by the support in many conservative precincts for the Nevada scofflaws who have been exploiting public lands for private purposes and refuse to pay for the privilege because they choose not to "recognize" the authority of the United States. Totally aside from the double standards involved in expecting kid-glove treatment of one set of lawbreakers as opposed to poorer and perhaps darker criminal suspects, fans of the Bundys are encouraging those who claim a right to wage armed revolutionary war towards their obligations as Americans. It makes me <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_bundy_nevada.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 20px 15px 30px;">really crazy when such people are described as "superpatriots." Nothing could be more contrary to the truth.</p> </blockquote> <p>The details of the Bundy case have gotten a lot of attention at conservative sites, but the details really don't matter. Bundy has a baroque claim that the United States has no legal right to grazing land in Nevada; for over a decade, every court has summarily disagreed. It's federal land whether Bundy likes it or not, and Bundy has refused for years to pay standard grazing fees&mdash;so a couple of weeks ago the feds finally decided to enforce the latest court order allowing them to confiscate Bundy's cattle if he didn't leave. The rest is just fluff, a bunch of paranoid conspiracy theorizing that led to last week's armed standoff between federal agents and the <a href="http://mediamatters.org/blog/2014/04/10/right-wing-media-are-throwing-gas-on-a-ranchers/198841" target="_blank">vigilante army created by movement conservatives.</a></p> <p>The fact that so many on the right are valorizing Bundy&mdash;or, at minimum, tiptoeing around his obvious nutbaggery&mdash;is a testament to the enduring power of Waco and Ruby Ridge among conservatives. The rest of us may barely remember them, but they're totemic events on the right, fueling Glenn-Beckian fantasies of black helicopters and jackbooted federal thugs for more than two decades now. Mainstream conservatives have pandered to this stuff for years because it was convenient, and that's brought them to where they are today: too scared to stand up to the vigilantes they created and speak the simple truth. They complain endlessly about President Obama's "lawlessness," but <em>this</em> is lawlessness. It's appalling that so many of them aren't merely afraid to plainly say so, but actively seem to be egging it on.</p> </body></html> Kevin Drum Crime and Justice Guns Regulatory Affairs Tue, 15 Apr 2014 15:12:04 +0000 Kevin Drum 249801 at http://www.motherjones.com GOP Senate Candidate Looks For Help From Radio Host Who Wants to Jail Gays http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/04/chris-mcdaniel-bryan-fischer-reparations <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>Mississippi GOP Senate candidate Chris McDaniel appeared&nbsp;on a radio program on Monday hosted by a controversial&nbsp;social conservative activist who has called for gay people to be <a href="http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/fischer-make-homosexuality-criminal-offense" target="_blank">imprisoned</a> and has said the "the spirit of the Antichrist is at work" in the Obama White House.</p> <p>McDaniel, a state senator who is challenging incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran for the GOP nomination, has taken heat over the last week for past comments he made on his own radio show, "The Right Side," which were&nbsp;<a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/01/mississippi-senate-candidate-laments-lack-muslim-movie-villains-audio" target="_blank">reported</a> by <em>Mother Jones</em> in January. The comments, recently picked up by the <a href="http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2014/04/10/miss-senate-hopeful-chris-mcdaniel-riffed-on-mamacita-reparations/" target="_blank"><em>Wall Street Journal</em></a>, featured a riff on the merits of using taxpayer funds to pay reparations to the&nbsp;descendants of slaves. "If they pass reparations, and my taxes are going up, I ain't paying taxes," the tea party favorite said in 2006. His appearance Monday on "Focal Point" with host Bryan Fischer, the issues director for the American Family Association, was an opportunity to clear the record.</p> <p>"They're desperate," McDaniel told Fischer. "And when these politicians and the establishment in Washington feels threatened, they always react with desperation. I was a conservative talk radio [host], actually it was a Christian conservative talk radio show for three and a half four years I hosted that. Two hours a day. And this is the best they've got? Most of it is way out of context anyway. They were talking about reparations, for example&mdash;let me be real clear, I'm against reparations. I don't know why that's a bad thing to say. Maybe Sen. Cochran's <em>for</em> reparations? He should clarify that for us. But I'm against it. And some of the other things, we were just sitting there, no harm was meant."</p> <p>In other clips from "The Right Side," McDaniel alleged that Democrats were plotting to make polygamy legal in all 50 states, and that Hollywood was <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/01/mississippi-senate-candidate-laments-lack-muslim-movie-villains-audio" target="_blank">whitewashing</a> the evils of Islam. He mocked San Francisco "elites" by alleging a correlation between IQ and "gender misidentification," and blamed an uptick of gun violence in Canada on hip-hop. Shootings, McDaniels&nbsp;claimed, are "a problem of a culture that values prison more than college; a culture that values rap and destruction of community values more than it does poetry; a culture that can't stand education."</p> <p>But Fischer's show&nbsp;is an unusual choice for a politician looking to launder his reputation as a conservative shock-jock. In March, Fischer <a href="http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/fischer-spirit-antichrist-work-obama" target="_blank">told</a> his listeners that while he didn't think President Obama is the antichrist, "the spirit of the Antichrist is at work" in the Oval Office. He has said that people turn to homosexuality (which he'd like criminalized) when the Devil <a href="http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/bryan-fischer-urges-gay-people-remove-satanic-force-their-brain-makes-them-gay" target="_blank">takes over their brains</a>. He once called for a Sea World Orca whale to be Biblically stoned after it killed its trainer. He <a href="http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/bryan-fischer-explains-why-he-only-hires-women-secretaries" target="_blank">said</a> the secretarial&nbsp;job in his office is "reserved for a woman because of the unique things that God has built into women." Even some Republicans have distanced themselves from Fischer&mdash;at the 2011 Values Voters Summit in Washington, D.C., Mitt Romney condemned Fischer's "poisonous language."</p> <p>McDaniel has received the backing of major Republican groups, including the Senate Conservatives Fund and Club for Growth, but still faces an uphill battle. An April survey from Harper Polling gave Cochran a double-digit edge over McDaniel, 52&ndash;35.</p> </body></html> MoJo Elections Gay Rights Religion Tue, 15 Apr 2014 14:36:20 +0000 Tim Murphy 249771 at http://www.motherjones.com We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for April 15, 2014 http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/04/were-still-war-photo-day-april-15-2014 <!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-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/0415-630x354.jpg"></div> <div id="meta"> <div class="photo-desc" id="description_div"> <p class="rtecenter"><em>Cpl. Rashawn Poitevien, 6th Marine Regiment, 3rd Battalion, Headquarters and Service Company, Scout Snipers Platoon, engages targets downrange with an M40A5 during the Talon Exercise at Yuma Proving Grounds, Ariz., March 28, 2014. (<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/marine_corps/13777949135/" target="_blank">U.S. Marine Corps photo</a> by Lance Cpl. Christopher A. Mendoza/Released)</em></p> </div> </div> </body></html> MoJo Tue, 15 Apr 2014 14:17:13 +0000 249786 at http://www.motherjones.com Tom's Kitchen: Stir-Fried Beef With Celery, Carrots, and Kohlrabi http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2014/04/toms-kitchen-vintage-str-fried-beef <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body> <p>This recipe owes its existence to the confluence of three unrelated events:</p> <p>&bull; At the very end of a busy recent trip to San Francisco, I ate lunch at a restaurant called <a href="http://missionchinesefood.com/" target="_blank">Mission Chinese</a>, a hipster homage to Americanized Chinese food. I had the "Kung Pao pastrami"&mdash;an expertly rendered twist on a venerable strip-mall standard.</p> <p>&bull; While on the plane home, I read a <em>New York Times</em> style <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/03/fashion/normcore-fashion-movement-or-massive-in-joke.html">piece</a> on "#normcore," an internet meme/elaborate joke/contrived fashion trend that involves the "less-ironic (but still pretty ironic) embrace of bland, suburban anti-fashion attire": stuff like "dad jeans" and Teva sandals.</p> <p>&bull; The night after I returned from my trip, my mother invited me over for dinner&mdash;a simple stir-fried pork dish familiar from my childhood. She brandished a book I hadn't seen in years: an opulently splattered first edition of <em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Joyce-Chen-Cook-Book/dp/0397002858" target="_blank">Joyce Chen Cookbook</a>, </em>the 1962 opus that taught a generation of Americans (including my mom) how to cook Chinese. Just like in the old days, she served it over white rice&mdash;a swerve from her decades-long fixation on brown.</p> <p>Sitting there, transported by that vintage stir-fry to my '70s childhood of <a href="http://www.retroland.com/toughskin-jeans/#.U0rLPoKQGB0">Toughskins</a> and pre-hipster <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chuck_Taylor_All-Stars">Chuck Taylors</a>, it hit me: old-school, US-inflected Chinese is a culinary embodiment of #normcore. Plus, it's really good! (When made with decent ingredients.)</p> <p>It wasn't long before I was busy in my own kitchen, contriving my own #normcore stir fry. Since I was having a few friends over, I wanted to find the "less-ironic (but still pretty ironic)" sweet spot&mdash;<em>and</em> produce something delicious.</p> <p>From <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joyce_Chen" target="_blank">Joyce Chen</a>'s recipe for beef with green peppers&mdash;a childhood staple&mdash;I settled on a protein: "Flank steak is fairly inexpensive and easy to slice," Chen instructs. And she's as right in 2014 as she was in 1962. I found a beautiful cut of it at Austin's excellent neo-old-school, whole-animal butcher shop <a href="http://www.saltandtime.com/" target="_blank">Salt and Time</a>. I also borrowed from Chen the method for flavoring the stir fry: you marinate the meat in soy sauce sweetened with a little sugar and thickened with corn starch&mdash;giving the finished product a lovely glaze&mdash;which I goosed up with ginger, green onions, garlic and chili pepper (Chen treats aromatics like ginger and garlic as potent substances to be used in tiny amounts, and her book is devoid of hot peppers.)</p> <p>For vegetables, green bell peppers felt too on-the-nose #normcore for me. So from that Kung Pao dish I had at Mission Chinese, I lifted the idea of&nbsp; celery, which strikes me as both a pretty #normcore vegetable itself, and also quite delicious and underused. Carrots, too, seemed right. But I only had a little of each, so I filled out the dish in decidedly un-normcore fashion: with a gorgeous bulb of kohlrabi leftover from the previous week's farmer's market run. That kohlrabi bulb sported a generous set of leaves&mdash;similar to kale, a related vegetable&mdash;so I threw those in, too.</p> <p>A vegetarian was among the guests, so I had to come up with a non-meat alternative protein. Tofu would have been the straight-ahead #normcore move, but all I had in the fridge was a block of tempeh, so I went with it. Here's what I came up. Enjoy with canned beer&mdash;Bud Light if you want to go full-on you-know-what, or a new-wave canned craft brew like <a href="http://brew.oskarblues.com/ob-beers/year-round/dales-pale-ale/" target="_blank">Dale's Pale Ale</a> if you want a twist.</p> <p><strong>Stir-Fried Beef With Vegetables</strong></p> <p>(Serves four, with leftovers.)</p> <p>4 spring onions<br> 2 cloves of garlic, crushed and peeled<br> 1 knuckle-sized nob of fresh ginger, peeled with the edge of a spoon<br> 1 tablespoon (organic) corn starch<br> 1 tablespoon sugar<br> 1 teaspoon of crushed red chili flakes<br> Freshly ground black pepper<br> 3 tablespoons of good soy sauce (my favorite is the Japanese brand Ohsawa Nama Shoyu)<br> 1 tablespoon rice vinegar<br> 1 pound of flank steak<br> 2 stalks of celery<br> 2 carrots<br> 1 bulb of kohlrabi<br> A few kohlrabi leaves (optional; kale will do as well).<br> Peanut oil, for stir frying<br> More soy sauce, rice vinegar, and black pepper, to taste</p> <p>First make the beef marinade. Cut the spring onions to separate the white and green parts. Slice the green parts into two-inch sections, set aside.&nbsp; Coarsely chop the white parts, and place them in the bowl of a mortar-and-pestle (a small food processor will also work here). Chop the ginger and garlic and add it to the mortar. Top with the corn starch, sugar, chili flakes, and a good grind of black pepper. Crush everything vigorously together into a paste.&nbsp; Add the soy sauce and vinegar, and mix it with the pestle. Dump the marinade into a medium-sized bowl. Cut the steak, against the grain, into quarter-inch strips about two inches long. Add the beef to the marinade, along with the green onion tops, and toss to coat well. Set aside.</p> <p>Now prep the vegetables. Slice the carrots, kohlrabi, and celery into two-inch match sticks. (Here's a great <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6OOKNdwyuKA" target="_blank">Jamie Oliver video</a> that explains how to do that better than I ever could in words). Set the carrots and kohlrabi aside in one bowl, and the celery in another. Slice the kohlrabi or kale leaves, if using, into thin strips, and set aside.</p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/IMG_4729_0.JPG"></div> <p>Now the stir fry begins. Set a bowl large enough to incorporate all the ingredients by the stovetop. Put your biggest, heaviest skillet&mdash;or wok&mdash;over high heat and add enough oil to cover the bottom. When the oil shimmers, add the celery sticks and saut&eacute;, using two spatulas to keep them constantly moving. Continue until they're just cooked&mdash;they should retain a little crunch. Place them in the large bowl.</p> <p>Put a little more oil in the pan&mdash;still over high heat&mdash;and add the carrot and kohlrabi sticks. Cook them as you did the celery sticks, and then dump them in the same bowl when they're done. Repeat with the kale leaves, if using.</p> <p>Again, add a bit of oil to the hot pan. Dump in the meat, onion greens, and the marinade. Spread the meat out across the pan's bottom, so it forms a single layer. Let it sizzle for a minute&mdash;this will allow it to caramelize a bit&mdash;and then toss with the two spatulas as with the vegetables, until the meat is cooked through. Add the meat to the big bowl, and toss everything together&mdash;the glaze that coats the meat will also coat the veggies. Taste, add a bit more soy, pepper, and vinegar to taste. Serve over brown rice&mdash;or white.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"> <img alt="" class="image" src="/files/IMG_4762.JPG"><div class="caption"><strong>The tempeh version: #notsonormcore, but still delicious. </strong></div> </div> <p><strong>If there's a vegetarian coming to dinner:</strong> Before you start the vegetables for the main dish&mdash;in a medium-sized bowl, mix two tablespoons of olive oil, two of soy sauce, and a dash of maple syrup. Take a block of tempeh and cut it lengthwise into quarter-inch strips. Add the tempeh to the bowl and toss. letting it marinate for at least 5 minutes. (This is a twist on the tempeh technique from Heidi Swanson's great cookbook <em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Super-Natural-Every-Day-Well-Loved/dp/1580082777" target="_blank">Super Natural Every Day</a>.</em>) Put a separate skillet over medium heat, add a little peanut or coconut oil. When the oil shimmers, remove the tempeh from its marinade with a slotted spoon and stir fry until it's cooked through. Place it in a bowl. Then, as each round of veggies come off the main skillet, add a portion to the tempeh. When done, toss together, along with a bit of the marinade.</p> </body></html> Tom Philpott Food and Ag Tom's Kitchen Tue, 15 Apr 2014 10:00:10 +0000 Tom Philpott 249721 at http://www.motherjones.com