Blogs | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/Blogs http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en U6 Is Now the Last Refuge of Scoundrels http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/u6-now-last-refuge-scoundrels <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>This is getting ridiculous. On Tuesday <a href="http://www.vox.com/2016/2/9/10956660/donald-trump-new-hampshire" target="_blank">Donald Trump</a> repeated his fatuous nonsense about the real unemployment rate being 42 percent. Then <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/11/upshot/the-real-jobless-rate-is-42-percent-donald-trump-has-a-point-sort-of.html?ref=topics&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">Neil Irwin</a> of the <em>New York Times</em> inexplicably decided to opine that "he's not entirely wrong" because there are lots of different unemployment rates. Et tu, Neil? Bill O'Reilly picked up on this theme today, with guest Lou Dobbs casually declaring that unemployment is "actually" 10 percent. Finally, in the ultimate indignity, <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/02/11/transcript-the-democratic-debate-in-milwaukee-annotated/" target="_blank">Bernie Sanders</a> decided to take this idiocy bipartisan: "Who denies that real unemployment today, including those who have given up looking for work and are working part-time is close to 10 percent?"</p> <p>Can we cut the crap? Trump is obviously just making shit up, but the 10 percent number is colorably legitimate. It's officially called U6, a measure of unemployment <em>plus</em> folks who have been forced to work part time <em>plus</em> workers who are "marginally attached" to the labor force. Right now it stands at 9.9 percent.</p> <p>But you can't just toss this out as a slippery way of making the economy seem like it's in horrible shape. If you're going to tout U6, you have to compare it to <em>what's normal for U6</em>. And what's normal in an expanding economy is about 8.9 percent. This means that even big, bad U6 is within a hair of its full-employment value.</p> <p>The US economy is not a house afire. That said, unemployment is low. Inflation is low. Wages are finally growing. The economy is expanding. Gasoline is cheap. Interest rates are low and houses are affordable. I'm getting a little tired of the endlessly deceitful attempts to make it look as if we're all but on the edge of economic Armageddon&mdash;and the last thing we need is for liberals to sign up for this flimflam too. It's good politics, I guess, but it's also a lie.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_u6_february_2016_0.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 5px 0px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 12 Feb 2016 05:49:02 +0000 Kevin Drum 296746 at http://www.motherjones.com Tonight's Debate Really Drove Home the Bernie vs. Hillary Dilemma http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/hillary <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Here's roughly how the first hour of tonight's debate went:</p> <blockquote> <p><em>Bernie: Free health care for everyone!</em></p> <p>Hillary: Let's not overpromise. Maybe we can get partway there. You know, one percent at a time.</p> <p><em>Bernie: When I'm president we'll have free college for everyone!</em></p> <p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_clinton_sanders_debate_2016_02_11.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Hillary: But we have to get the policy right. All the stakeholders need to buy in. It's tricky.</p> <p><em>Bernie:&nbsp; We need radical transformation of our criminal justice system!</em></p> <p>Hillary: A commission had some good ideas recently and I endorse them.</p> <p><em>Bernie: Let the children in!</em></p> <p>Hillary: Yes, but first we need an appropriate process.</p> </blockquote> <p>OK, I'm kidding. Sort of. But this is the bind Hillary Clinton is in. Bernie Sanders delivers all these big, stemwinding proposals and doesn't really have to explain how he's going to pass any of them or get them paid for. But he sure is visionary! Hillary, conversely, is just constitutionally incapable of talking like this. When a problem is raised, her mind instantly starts thinking about what works and who will vote for it and where the payfors are going to come from. And that means she sounds like an old fuddy duddy patiently explaining why your bright idea won't work. No wonder young voters don't care much for her.</p> <p>This has been true the entire campaign, of course, but I thought tonight's debate brought it into much sharper relief than usual. Did it hurt her? I've pretty much given up trying to divine the reactions of the studio audience to these debates, so I don't know. I guess that if you think we need to dream big dreams and the fuddy duddies ought to stand aside, you're more convinced than ever that Hillary is part of the problem, not part of the solution. If you have some respect for how hard the political process is, and how slowly progress is made, you're more convinced than ever that Bernie is talking through his hat and Hillary is the only reasonable choice.</p> <p>And for those who are undecided? I guess we'll find out soon enough.</p> <p><a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/02/11/transcript-the-democratic-debate-in-milwaukee-annotated/?hpid=hp_hp-top-table-main_no-name%3Ahomepage%2Fstory" target="_blank">Debate transcript here.</a></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 12 Feb 2016 04:47:45 +0000 Kevin Drum 296741 at http://www.motherjones.com Republican Tax Plans Will Be Great for the Ri—zzzzz http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/republican-tax-plans-will-be-great-ri%E2%80%94zzzzz <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Our good friends at the Tax Policy Center have now analyzed&mdash;if that's the right word&mdash;the tax plans of <a href="http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/publications/template.cfm?PubID=2000560" target="_blank">Donald Trump</a>, <a href="http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/publications/url.cfm?ID=2000547" target="_blank">Jeb Bush</a>, and <a href="http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/publications/template.cfm?PubID=2000606" target="_blank">Marco Rubio</a>. You can get all the details at their site, but if you just want the bottom line, you've come to the right place.</p> <p>The chart on the left shows who benefits the most from each tax plan. Unsurprisingly, they're all about the same: middle income taxpayers would see their take-home pay go up 3 or 4 percent, while the rich would see it go up a whopping 10-17 percent. On the deficit side of things, everyone's a budget buster. Rubio and Bush would pile up the red ink by $7 trillion or so (over ten years) while Trump would clock in at about $9 trillion. That compares to a current national debt of $14 trillion.</p> <p>No one will care, of course, and no one will even bother questioning any of them about this. After all, we already know they'll just declare that their tax cuts will supercharge the economy and pay for themselves. They can say it in their sleep. Then Trump will say something stupid, or Rubio will break his tooth on a Twix bar, and we'll move on.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_rubio_bush_trump_tax_gain.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 5px 15px;"><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_rubio_bush_trump_tax_cost.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 5px 0px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 12 Feb 2016 00:34:54 +0000 Kevin Drum 296716 at http://www.motherjones.com God Is Testing Marco Rubio http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/god-testing-marco-rubio <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Oh come on. Even Marco Rubio doesn't deserve this. Maybe it's time to ease up on the poor guy.</p> <blockquote> <blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Rubio got blueberry pancakes w blueberry syrup. He's trying to eat soft foods, he said, because he cracked a molar on a Twix bar yesterday.</p> &mdash; erica orden (@eorden) <a href="https://twitter.com/eorden/status/697812156939636736">February 11, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></blockquote> </blockquote></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 11 Feb 2016 22:29:07 +0000 Kevin Drum 296706 at http://www.motherjones.com Here's What Bernie Sanders Actually Did in the Civil Rights Movement http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2016/02/bernie-sanders-core-university-chicago <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Civil rights icon John Lewis <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2016/02/john-lewis-bernie-sanders-civil-rights" target="_blank">told reporters</a> that he never encountered Bernie Sanders when the Vermont senator was working with Lewis' Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in the 1960s. Because he made his remarks at a press conference announcing the Congressional Black Caucus PAC's endorsement of Sanders' opponent, Hillary Clinton, Lewis' comments can be seen as a mild dig at Sanders. (In the same breath he said he <em>had</em> met Bill and Hillary Clinton.)</p> <p>But it's also undoubtedly true.</p> <p>The Georgia congressman was a titan of the civil rights movement. A participant in the Freedom Rides organized by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), he went on to lead the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and still bears the scars he received at Selma. Sanders' involvement was, by comparison, brief and localized, his sacrifices limited to one arrest for protesting and a bad GPA from neglecting his studies. But Sanders was, in his own right, an active participant in the movement during his three years at the University of Chicago.</p> <p>Although Sanders did attend the 1963 March on Washington, at which Lewis spoke, most of his work was in and around Hyde Park, where he became involved with the campus chapter of CORE shortly after transferring from Brooklyn College in 1961. During Sanders' first year in Chicago, a group of apartment-hunting white and black students had discovered that off-campus buildings owned by the university were refusing to<strong> </strong>rent to black students, in violation of the school's policies. CORE organized a 15-day sit-in at the administration building, which Sanders helped lead. (James Farmer, who co-founded CORE and had been a Freedom Rider with Lewis, came to the University of Chicago that winter to praise the activists' work.) The protest ended when George Beadle, the university's president, agreed to form a commission to study the school's housing policies.</p> <p>Sanders was one of two students from CORE appointed to the commission, which included the neighborhood's alderman and state representative, in addition to members of the administration. But not long afterward, Sanders blew up at the administration, accusing Beadle of reneging on his promise and refusing to answer questions from students on its integration plan. In an open letter in the student newspaper, the <em>Chicago Maroon</em>, Sanders vented about the double-cross:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/bernieletter_0.jpg"><div class="caption">Chicago Maroon</div> </div> <p>That spring, with Sanders as its chairman, the university chapter of CORE merged with the university chapter of SNCC. Sanders announced plans to take the fight to the city of Chicago, and in the fall of 1962 he followed through, organizing picketers at a Howard Johnson in Cicero. Sanders told the <em>Chicago Maroon</em>, the student newspaper, that he wanted to keep the pressure on the restaurant chain after<strong> </strong>the&nbsp;<a href="https://durhamcountylibrary.org/exhibits/dcrhp/howardjohnson.php" target="_blank">arrest</a> of 12 CORE demonstrators in North Carolina for trying to eat at a Howard Johnson there:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/howardjohnson.jpg"><div class="caption">Chicago Maroon</div> </div> <p>Sanders left his leadership role at the organization not long afterward; his grades suffered so much from his activism that a dean asked him to take some time off from school. (He didn't take much interest in his studies, anyway.) But he continued his activism with CORE and SNCC. In August of 1963, not long after returning to Chicago from the March on Washington, Sanders was charged with resisting arrest after protesting segregation at a school on the city's South Side. He was later fined $25, according to the <em>Chicago Tribune</em>:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/berniearrest.jpg"></div> Chicago Tribune</div></body></html> MoJo 2016 Elections Thu, 11 Feb 2016 21:49:07 +0000 Tim Murphy 296676 at http://www.motherjones.com Clinton and Sanders Just Weighed In on an Old Battle in the Fight for Reproductive Rights http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2016/02/hillary-clinton-and-bernie-sanders-abortion-policy <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>B<span class="message_body">oth Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have repeatedly emphasized the importance of protecting women's reproductive rights, but </span>mostly they've focused on domestic policy. Now, looking overseas, they say the United States should change the regulation of foreign aid for abortions.</p> <p>The 1973 <a href="http://www.genderhealth.org/the_issues/us_foreign_policy/helms/" target="_blank">Helms amendment</a> blocks the use of foreign aid for women who were raped in conflict zones or developing countries and seeking an abortion. The amendment states, "No foreign assistance funds may be used to pay for the performance of abortions as a method of family planning or to motivate or coerce any person to practice abortions." The <a href="https://fundabortionnow.org/learn/hyde" target="_blank">Hyde amendment</a>, which was passed three years after the Helms amendment, prohibits federal funding from being used for elective abortions&mdash;abortions that are not because of incest, rape, or life endangerment.</p> <p>According to the <em><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/hillary-clinton-bernie-sanders-helms-amendment-abortion_us_56bcabdfe4b08ffac124143b?nz4wvcxr" target="_blank">Huffington Post</a>, </em>Clinton promised to change the Helms amendment and create an exception for rape, incest, and protecting the life of the mother. Sanders said he would use executive action to repeal the Helms amendment altogether.</p> <p>"Sen. Sanders is opposed to the Helms amendment," Arianna Jones, his deputy communications director, told the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/hillary-clinton-bernie-sanders-helms-amendment-abortion_us_56bcabdfe4b08ffac124143b?nz4wvcxr" target="_blank"><em>Huffington Post</em></a>. "As president, he will sign an executive order to allow for U.S. foreign aid to pay for abortions in cases of rape, incest or when the life of the woman is at risk. He will also work with Congress to permanently repeal both the Hyde and Helms amendments."</p> <p>Clinton was asked about the Helms amendment during her Iowa campaign, where she said she thinks rape is being used increasingly as <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2015/11/23/politics/hillary-clinton-rape-abortion-isis/" target="_blank">a war weapon. </a></p> <p>"I do think we have to take a look at this for conflict zones," Clinton <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2015/11/23/politics/hillary-clinton-rape-abortion-isis/" target="_blank">said at the town hall</a>, responding to a question from an audience member. "And if the United States government, because of very strong feelings against it, maintains our prohibition, then we are going to have to work through nonprofit groups and work with other countries to...provide the support and medical care that a lot of these women need."</p> <p>A Clinton campaign spokeswoman wrote in an email to the <em><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/hillary-clinton-bernie-sanders-helms-amendment-abortion_us_56bcabdfe4b08ffac124143b?nz4wvcxr" target="_blank">Huffington Post</a> </em>that Clinton would "fix" the Helms amendment: "The systematic use of rape as a tool of war is a tactic of vicious militias and insurgent and terrorist groups around the world. She saw first-hand as Secretary of State the suffering of survivors of sexual violence in armed conflict during her visit to Goma in 2009. She believes we should help women who have been raped in conflict get the care that they need."</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> MoJo Reproductive Rights Thu, 11 Feb 2016 21:13:43 +0000 Becca Andrews 296686 at http://www.motherjones.com No One Wants to Take Orders From Marco Rubio http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/no-one-wants-take-orders-marco-rubio <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>When the "establishment" is trying to figure out who they support in a presidential primary, I figure one of the key issues is: "Can I imagine myself taking orders from this person?"</p> <p>OK, not "orders," precisely. But you know what I mean. The president is the party leader, and one of the whole points of being part of the establishment is that you're the kind of person who accepts the leadership of your president. This explains, for example, why the establishment is horrified about Donald Trump. They can't imagine taking orders from a politically ignorant jackass like him. And they hate Ted Cruz's guts, so they can't abide the idea of taking orders from him either.</p> <p>But what about Marco Rubio? Everyone's been wondering lately why the establishment didn't rally around Rubio earlier, since he seemed like sort of an obvious choice. My guess is that it's not because they hate Rubio, or because they think he's a buffoon. But they do think he's a nervous and overly ambitious young man who's a bit of an empty suit. If he's the nominee, they'll suck it up and support him. But the idea of taking orders from this pipsqueak sticks in their craw.</p> <p>They're in quite the pickle, aren't they?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 11 Feb 2016 20:17:21 +0000 Kevin Drum 296696 at http://www.motherjones.com Here's a Chart That Puts the Bernie Bro Phenomenon In a Whole New Light http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/heres-chart-puts-bernie-bro-phenomenon-whole-new-light <!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_hillary_vote_daughters.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Why do millennials love Bernie Sanders? Here's a weirdly intriguing possibility: because they don't have enough daughters. <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2016/02/11/a-key-reason-young-people-dont-support-hillary-clinton-they-dont-have-daughters/" target="_blank">According to Michael Tesler,</a> millennial parents with sons overwhelmingly support Sanders. But millennial parents with daughters overwhelmingly support Hillary Clinton. (There's a similar effect among older voters, but it's very small.) And although Tesler doesn't say this, presumably single millennials are big Bernie fans too.</p> <p>Is this kind of eerie, or is it totally predictable? I could make a case either way. But even if it's predictable, the size of the effect is eye-popping. Make of it what you will.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 11 Feb 2016 19:12:50 +0000 Kevin Drum 296681 at http://www.motherjones.com Do Strict Photo ID Laws Massively Depress Minority Turnout? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/do-strict-photo-id-laws-massively-depress-minority-turnout <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Josh Marshall is highlighting yet again a new study that demonstrates a large effect of strict photo ID laws on minority turnout. So why haven't I? Because I honestly can't makes heads or tails of it. <a href="http://pages.ucsd.edu/~zhajnal/page5/documents/voterIDhajnaletal.pdf" target="_blank">Here are the authors:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>In the general elections, the model predicts Latino turnout was 10.3 points lower in states with photo ID than in states without strict photo ID regulations, all else equal. For multi-racial Americans, turnout was 12.8 points lower under strict photo ID laws. These effects were almost as large in primary elections. Here, a strict photo ID law could be expected to depress Latino turnout by 6.3 points and Black turnout by 1.6 points.</p> </blockquote> <p>Do you notice something missing? They mention Latinos and multi-racial voters in general elections, but not blacks. Why not? Apparently because of this:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_photo_id_turnout.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 15px 15px;"></p> <p>Their regression suggests that black turnout was <em>up</em> in states with strict photo ID laws. For some reason, though, the result isn't statistically significant, so they ignore it. Conversely, their result for primaries shows black turnout down. But even though it's a weaker result, it <em>is</em> statistically significant, so they report it.</p> <p>And there are other things that make no sense. Not only do the authors report numbers for depressed turnout that are far larger than anyone has gotten before, but they suggest that photo ID laws cause black turnout to rise while mixed-race turnout declines. That's pretty hard to fathom.</p> <p>There are other problems. Their charts are incomprehensible. They rely on data collected over the internet. And the results in this paper are precisely the opposite of what one of the authors reported just a year ago <a href="http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2490043" target="_blank">in a paper using the same methodology:</a> namely that strict photo ID laws <em>do</em> depress overall turnout, but <em>don't</em> depress minority turnout any more than white turnout ("there is little evidence that racial minorities are less likely than Whites to vote when states institute voter identification requirements").</p> <p>Beyond that, the authors have applied so many controls that it's hard to tell if there's any real data left by the time they're done. Check this out:</p> <blockquote> <p>We also control for individual demographic characteristics...age...education level...family income...nativity...gender, marital status...having children, being a union member, owning a home, being unemployed, and religion...and whether the respondent was registered to vote in the pre-election survey...We also have to incorporate other state level electoral laws...early voting...all-mail elections...no excuse absentee voting...the limit on the number of days before the election that residents can register to vote....Finally, to help identify the independent effect of ID laws, our analysis has to include the electoral context surrounding each particular election...political competitiveness of each state...the presence of different electoral contests...whether the Senatorial and Gubernatorial contests are open seats or not, whether the Senatorial and Gubernatorial contests are uncontested or not, and finally the region (South or not).</p> </blockquote> <p>Holy hell! I wonder how they decided on these controls rather than others? They don't say.</p> <p>It's quite possible that the analysis in this study is too sophisticated for me to understand. I'm hardly a statistical guru. In fact, I can't even tell precisely what their regressions are measuring. The numbers in the table don't seem to bear any relationship to the results reported in the text. So maybe I just have no idea how to read this stuff.</p> <p>But for now, I'd take this with a huge grain of salt until someone with the right chops weighs in on it. I don't doubt that strict photo ID laws depress turnout among minorities, but I doubt very much the effect is as big as this study suggests.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 11 Feb 2016 18:04:06 +0000 Kevin Drum 296661 at http://www.motherjones.com Civil Rights Hero John Lewis Slams Bernie Sanders http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2016/02/john-lewis-bernie-sanders-civil-rights <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), the progressive icon who led the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) during the civil rights movement, on Thursday dismissed Sen. Bernie Sanders' participation in that movement.</p> <p>When a reporter asked Lewis to comment on Sanders' involvement in the movement&mdash;Sanders&nbsp;as a college student at the University of Chicago was active in civil rights work&mdash;the congressman brusquely interrupted him. "Well, to be very frank, I'm going to cut you off, but I never saw him, I never met him," Lewis said. "I'm a chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee for three years, from 1963 to 1966. I was involved in the sit-ins, the freedom rides, the March on Washington, the march from Selma to Montgomery, and directed their voter education project for six years. But I met Hillary Clinton. I met President Clinton."</p> <p>The preeminent civil rights hero's pooh-poohing of Sanders came at a press conference where the Congressional Black Caucus PAC announced its endorsement of Hillary Clinton for president. The PAC is somewhat separate from the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), which is a group of 46 African American members of the House. (All its members are Democratic but one.) But the PAC is chaired by Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), a CBC member, and its 20-person board is made up of seven CBC members and several lobbyists, lawyers, and consultants. Some media accounts are depicting this endorsement as the action of the CBC. But Rep. Keith Ellison, a Minnesota Democrat and a CBC member, sent out an accusatory <a href="https://twitter.com/keithellison/status/697809288203522048" target="_blank">tweet</a> shortly before the endorsement, complaining, "Cong'l Black Caucus (CBC) has NOT endorsed in presidential. Separate CBCPAC endorsed withOUT input from CBC membership, including me." Ellison is one of two House members who have officially backed Sanders.</p> <p>The CBC PAC endorsement of Clinton was hosted at the Capitol Hill headquarters of the Democratic National Committee, which raises questions about the DNC's supposed impartiality in the Clinton-Sanders race. An official at the Democratic National Committee says that the party had nothing to do with the CBC PAC's event, which was held at DNC headquarters on Capitol Hill. "Members of Congress who are dues paying members of the [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] can reserve the space," he told <em>Mother Jones</em> in an email.</p> <p>As <em>Mother Jones</em> <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/05/bernie-sanders-university-of-chicago-free-love" target="_blank">reported</a> previously, Sanders was involved in the campus chapter of the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE), another civil rights group:</p> <blockquote> <p>During his junior year, Sanders, by then president of the university's CORE chapter, led a picket of a Howard Johnson's restaurant in Chicago, part of a coordinated nationwide protest against the motel and restaurant chain's racially discriminatory policies. Sanders eventually resigned his post at CORE, citing a heavy workload, and took some time off from school.</p> </blockquote> <p>Under Sanders' leadership, the CORE group at University of Chicago joined forces with SNCC's campus chapter, held sit-ins to protest segregation in university-owned apartment buildings, and raised money for voter registration efforts focused on African Americans.</p> <p>The CBC PAC endorsement comes at a key time in the Democratic primary contest, as Clinton and Sanders head toward the next primary in South Carolina on February 27. The Democratic electorate in that state has a high percentage of African Americans, and a crucial question for both campaigns is whether Sanders can find support with black voters or whether Clinton will maintain her commanding lead in the polls among this group. Political observers have pointed to South Carolina as the state where Clinton has a shot at arresting Sanders' post-New Hampshire momentum due to her standing with black voters. With the fight on for black voters, endorsements from the African American community are important for each campaign&mdash;and Lewis' comments won't help Sanders.</p> <p>Watch Lewis' remarks:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-video" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">WATCH: Rep. John Lewis on <a href="https://twitter.com/BernieSanders">@BernieSanders</a>' civil rights record: "I never saw him. I never met him."<a href="https://t.co/KApfLPumiJ">https://t.co/KApfLPumiJ</a></p> &mdash; ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) <a href="https://twitter.com/ABCPolitics/status/697834499166511104">February 11, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p><em>This post has been updated to include comment from the DNC.</em></p></body></html> MoJo 2016 Elections bernie sanders Thu, 11 Feb 2016 18:00:14 +0000 Pema Levy and Tim Murphy 296636 at http://www.motherjones.com Get Your Memes Right: The 1994 Crime Bill Didn't Create Mass Incarceration http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/get-your-memes-right-1994-crime-bill-didnt-create-mass-incarceration <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>German Lopez points out today that the 1994 crime bill <a href="http://www.vox.com/2016/2/11/10961362/clinton-1994-crime-law" target="_blank">wasn't responsible for mass incarceration:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>States preside over the great bulk of the US justice system. So it's actually state policies that fueled mass incarceration....Federal criminal justice policy, including much of the 1994 crime law, focuses almost entirely on the federal system, particularly federal prisons....<strong>In the US, federal prisons house only about 13 percent of the overall prison population.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>That's true. And there's one other thing to add to that: by 1995, when the crime bill took effect, state and federal policies had long since been committed to mass incarceration. <a href="http://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=nps" target="_blank">Between 1978 and 1995</a> the prison population had already increased by more than 250 percent. Between 1995 and its peak in 2009, it increased only another 40 percent&mdash;and even that was due almost entirely to policies already in place.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_prison_population_crime_bill_0.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 20px;"></p> <p>Depending on your reading of history, mass incarceration was either (a) a reasonable response to a huge crime wave, (b) a defensible idea that got way out of hand, or (c) a racist scourge that destroyed the black community. In fact, there's a good case that it was all three of these things: there really was a big surge in crime in the 70s and 80s that created a growing pool of violent offenders; even the defenders of mass incarceration mostly agree that it had already gone too far by the early 90s; and it's difficult to believe that it ever would have gone as far as it did if it weren't for the contemporary media-political inspired hysteria over black "predators" flooding our neighborhoods.</p> <p>That said, whatever else the 1994 crime bill did, it didn't create the carceral state or even give it much of a boost. That had happened many years before.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 11 Feb 2016 16:53:20 +0000 Kevin Drum 296631 at http://www.motherjones.com The NSA's Credibility Takes Another Hit http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/nsas-credibility-takes-another-hit <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Henry Farrell passes along the news that the NSA is merging two of its major divisions <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2016/02/10/the-nsa-is-massively-reorganizing-itself-thats-going-to-hurt-its-credibility/" target="_blank">into a single directorate:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The NSA has traditionally had two big responsibilities. The first&nbsp;&mdash; spying and surveillance&nbsp;&mdash; gets the lion's share of public attention (and, it would appear, resources). Yet the second responsibility&nbsp;&mdash; protecting U.S. networks from external attack&nbsp;&mdash; is <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_nsa_logo.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">also very important....<strong>Protecting private U.S. networks and computers from intrusion means creating secure cryptographic standards that make it a lot harder for outsiders to break in.</strong> The problem is that other networks in other countries are likely to start using the same standards. This means that the better that the NSA does at securing U.S. computers and networks against foreign intrusion, the harder it is going to be for the NSA to break into foreign computers and networks that use the same standards. <strong>If, alternatively, it cheats by promoting weak standards, the security of U.S. networks will be weakened, but it will also be easier for the NSA to break into foreign ones.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>As Farrell points out, the Snowden leaks showed that the NSA <em>did</em> cheat: they deliberately tried to introduce weaknesses into crypto standards so they'd be able to break into foreign networks. This makes their merger of offense and defense a big problem:</p> <blockquote> <p>When the NSA had visibly separate organizational structures, with separate budget lines for offense (attacking other people's systems) and defense (defending one's own systems), <strong>it helped reassure outside observers a little that the defense perspective has its internal advocates within the organization, even if those advocates often lost.</strong> In a combined structure, that is no longer the case. Outsiders will find it harder to adjudicate whether the organization is prepared to prioritize defense over offense (at least some of the time).</p> <p>And that has consequences....It may make it less likely that businesses will trust the NSA with information about vulnerabilities....It may further erode the dominance of U.S. security standards (and U.S. firms) in world markets. <strong>It will surely make the cryptographic community more skeptical of cooperating with the NSA.</strong> Because the NSA is the kind of organization it is, it has great difficulty in communicating its true intentions and getting others to believe them, even when it wants to. Split organizational structures (which are costly because they go along with budget lines, factional fighting and so on) are one of the very few ways that it can credibly communicate its priorities to outsiders, and reassure them, if it wants to reassure them, that it is interested in protecting networks as well as subverting them.</p> </blockquote> <p>To be honest, I'm surprised the crypto community&mdash;especially overseas&mdash;is willing to cooperate with the NSA <em>at all</em>, given what we now know. They are plainly pretty obsessed with sneaking backdoors into both crypto standards and network devices. If the Snowden leaks didn't destroy their credibility on this subject forever, I'm not sure what would.</p> <p>In any case, this is some boring bureaucratic news that might have some real-world consequences. You'll probably never hear about it again, so I figured it might be worth hearing about it at least once.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 11 Feb 2016 15:44:03 +0000 Kevin Drum 296621 at http://www.motherjones.com A Film Producer Is Tweeting Awfully Sexist Descriptions for Female Characters http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2016/02/film-producer-tweeting-all-awful-descriptions-female-characters <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Meet Jane! She's lithe, leggy, and spirited&mdash;attractive, but too much of a professional to show she cares. Most days she wears jeans, and she makes them look good. She was a model once, but living an actual life has taken its toll.</p> <p>If that sounds like a garbage way to introduce a woman, well that's exactly the way that <a href="http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3819444/" target="_blank">Ross Putman</a>&mdash;a cinematographer and producer of such gems as <em>Trigger Finger </em>and <em>First Girl I Loved&mdash;</em>says female characters are routinely described in the movie scripts he's read. He's taken to social media to publicize them. According to Putman's Twitter bio, the characters' names have been swapped for Jane; otherwise the descriptions are word for word from the scripts.</p> <center> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">JANE pours her gorgeous figure into a tight dress, slips into her stiletto-heeled fuck-me shoes, and checks herself in the dresser mirror.</p> &mdash; Ross Putman (@femscriptintros) <a href="https://twitter.com/femscriptintros/status/697323851714154496">February 10, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Though drop-dead beautiful, JANE (40) has the appearance of someone whose confidence has been shaken. She is a raw, sexual force, impeded.</p> &mdash; Ross Putman (@femscriptintros) <a href="https://twitter.com/femscriptintros/status/697310179457499136">February 10, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">This is JANE. She&rsquo;s lithe, leggy, spirited, outgoing, not afraid to speak her mind, with a sense of humor as dry as the Sonoran Desert.</p> &mdash; Ross Putman (@femscriptintros) <a href="https://twitter.com/femscriptintros/status/697272534689980418">February 10, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">His wife JANE is making dinner and watching CNN on a small TV. She was model pretty once, but living an actual life has taken its toll.</p> &mdash; Ross Putman (@femscriptintros) <a href="https://twitter.com/femscriptintros/status/697284112558661632">February 10, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">A gorgeous woman, JANE, 23, is a little tipsy, dancing naked on her big bed, as adorable as she is sexy. *BONUS PTS FOR BEING THE 1ST LINE</p> &mdash; Ross Putman (@femscriptintros) <a href="https://twitter.com/femscriptintros/status/697239137951158272">February 10, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></center> <p>While it's not surprising to see Hollywood treating female leads as sexual objects, this series of verbatim descriptions illustrate just how bad the situation is. Here's hoping Jane gets to play the role of a fully realized woman soon.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Film and TV Sex and Gender Thu, 11 Feb 2016 15:37:06 +0000 Inae Oh 296616 at http://www.motherjones.com Why Are Millennials In Love With Bernie Sanders? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/why-are-millennials-love-bernie-sanders <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Why are the young 'uns all voting for Bernie? If you can avoid the condescension that typically poisons this topic, it's actually an interesting question. It would hardly be worth asking if Bernie were outpolling Hillary by, say, 60-40 percent among millennials, but lately he seems to be outpolling her by about 85-15 percent. That's crazy. Santa Claus would have a hard time pulling numbers like that against the Grinch.</p> <p>So I'm going to noodle over this. WARNING: I'm not planning to come to any conclusions here. I'm just pondering possibilities sort of randomly and taking a look at whatever relevant data I can find. If you're interested, come along for the ride.</p> <p>First up, John Cole offers what I consider sort of the conventional wisdom. Millennials are attracted to Sanders because they're <a href="https://www.balloon-juice.com/2016/02/10/this-not-hard-they-just-have-a-different-perspective/" target="_blank">pissed off about their grim economic prospects:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>When we are talking about the youth vote, we&rsquo;re talking about the people who have been straight up fucked by the current political establishment....They are <strong>saddled with debt,</strong> their economic opportunities are <strong>far more limited</strong> than that of any recent generation, and while they are working three jobs and paying for the SS benefits of current and soon to be retirees, they&rsquo;re <strong>fed catfood commissions by &ldquo;reasonable&rdquo; Democrats</strong> and told they are being selfish by the Boomer generation&nbsp;&mdash; the generation that while achieving many great things, has left a fucking mess to deal with.</p> </blockquote> <p>So what about that? Here's <a href="https://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/data/historical/household/" target="_blank">median income</a> and <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/10/student-loan-debt-median-income_n_3573683.html" target="_blank">student debt</a> among millennials since 2000:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_millennial_median_income.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 3px;"><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_millennial_student_debt.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 0px;"></p> <p>Millennial income has certainly gone down, but no more than any other group up to age 55. Relative to everyone else, there's not really much to see there. On the debt front, there's not much question that college students are being squeezed harder every year. Still, since 2000 student debt has only gone up about $10,000&mdash;and that includes all the folks who have racked up $100,000 bills to go to law school or business school. For most undergrads, it's less than that. As for the cat food commissions, even in the worst case they haven't recommended anything more than very small cuts in the rate of growth of Social Security.</p> <p>Next up, here's the <a href="http://polling.reuters.com/#poll/TR131/filters/RESP_AGE:-4,PARTY_ID_:1/suggested/0" target="_blank">Reuters rolling poll of millennials</a> for the past couple of months:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_millennial_sanders_vs_clinton.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 5px;"></p> <p>There are two things to notice. First, Sanders <em>isn't</em> ahead 85-15. He's ahead by about 60-40. That's not all that surprising. Second, although Hillary Clinton has been losing millennial support steadily since the middle of last year, there was a huge change over the course of only five days at the beginning of January. Even taking into account poll noise, that's fairly astonishing. What happened during that week? Nothing comes immediately to mind.</p> <p>What else? <a href="https://newrepublic.com/article/129632/millennial-voters-ask-much-hate" target="_blank">Clio Chang</a> offers a couple of additional economic observations: "While unemployment has dropped to 4.9 percent overall, it is at 16 percent for those between the ages of 16 and 19, and 8.2 percent for 20-to-24-year-olds....Young people today are also much less likely to have employer-sponsored health care than in the past." Here's unemployment among millennials compared to the overall unemployment rate:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_millennial_unemployment.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 15px 10px;"></p> <p>They move pretty much in sync, and the unemployment rate for 20-24 years olds is about the same as it was in the mid-2000s. On health care, however, Chang is certainly right. Employer health care coverage has <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/health_policy/trends_hc_1968_2011.htm" target="_blank">steadily</a> <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhis/earlyrelease/quarterly_estimates_2010_2015_q123.pdf" target="_blank">declined</a> since 2000, and the cost of health care borne by workers (premiums + out-of-pocket costs) has <a href="https://cdn.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Affordability-report3.pdf" target="_blank">gone up 21 percent</a> just in the past six years:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_millennial_employer_healthcare_coverage_2.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 3px;"><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_millennial_healthcare_cost_0.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 0px;"></p> <p>This is a big deal, though it's worth noting that it's affected everyone, not just millennials. If anything, millennials might be less affected by this since they generally have lower health care needs than older workers.</p> <p><a href="http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/17/opinions/burns-millennials-bernie-sanders/" target="_blank">Dasha Burns</a> suggests that college-educated millennials feel betrayed by the lack of good jobs after they graduate: "Morale really hit a low as we were figuring out how to pay (or repay) for college while realizing the promised exchange of higher education for good job was a myth from generations past." But according to EPI, unemployment among college grads has <a href="http://www.epi.org/publication/the-class-of-2015/" target="_blank">recovered to nearly pre-recession levels</a> while the college wage premium has <a href="http://stateofworkingamerica.org/chart/swa-wages-figure-4n-college-wage-premium/" target="_blank">continued to rise steadily.</a> And although college grads suffered income hits during the Great Recession, so did everyone else. In fact, college grads actually <a href="https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d14/tables/dt14_502.30.asp" target="_blank">fared better</a> than most other groups:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_millennial_college_wage_premium_0.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 15px 5px;"><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_millennial_college_income_loss_0.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 15px 0px;"></p> <p>With the exception of student debt, the problems of millennials generally seem little different than those of middle-aged workers. Both have been hit by higher health care costs. Both have suffered through wage stagnation for decades, followed by wage decline during the Great Recession. Both suffered high unemployment following the financial crash, and both have recovered at about the same rate. But if that's the case, why does Bernie Sanders appeal so strongly to millennials but not to older voters?</p> <p>Needless to say, there's only so much that raw data can tell you, especially when it presents a very mixed picture. Maybe it's dispassionately policy based: they like Bernie's dovish foreign policy and hawkish Wall Street policy. Maybe it's all up to intangibles: millennials are simply more attracted to a passionate, straight-talking idealist than middle-aged voters are. Or, for all the talk of how gloomy millennials are, maybe it's because they <em>haven't</em> given up. They're still willing to take a flyer on a guy who says he can fix things without endless compromise.</p> <p>And assuming it's not just a statistical artifact, there's the mystery of the huge Bernie surge during five days in January. What's up with that?</p> <p>Beats me. As I said at the top, <em>h</em><span class="st"><em>ypotheses non fingo</em>. I don't know what's really going on and I'm not going to pretend otherwise. Take all this data for what it's worth&mdash;which might be nothing.</span></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 11 Feb 2016 14:15:20 +0000 Kevin Drum 296576 at http://www.motherjones.com Here's the Latest Ohio Anti-Abortion Bill On Kasich's Desk http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2016/02/gov-kasich-bill-defund-planned-parenthood <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Gov. John Kasich, fresh from his strong showing in New Hampshire last night, is likely to sign <a href="http://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legislation/legislation-summary?id=GA131-HB-294" target="_blank">an Ohio bill</a> into law that prohibits some state and federal funding from being distributed to facilities that perform and promote<strong> </strong>what are known as "nontherapuetic abortions"&mdash;abortions performed in cases that are not related to rape, incest, or life endangerment of the mother&mdash;even though the funds are not used to pay for any abortion services. The measure effectively strips Ohio<strong>'</strong>s Planned Parenthood affiliates of $1.3 million in funding.</p> <p>The new law targets specific Planned Parenthood programs for services such as HIV and STI testing, as well as cancer screenings, rape prevention programs, and sex education for youth in foster care and the juvenile detention system.</p> <p>The cuts will also affect the <a href="https://www.plannedparenthood.org/planned-parenthood-greater-ohio/education-training/education-programs/healthy-moms-healthy-babies" target="_blank">Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies</a> program, a neighborhood outreach effort by Ohio's Planned Parenthood that offers support and education to high-risk African American women in Mahoning and Trumbull counties. These women receive in-home visits throughout their pregnancies and for the first two years after giving birth. In these impoverished areas, African American women are twice as likely to give birth to a baby with a low birth weight than the population at large. Ohio ranks <a href="http://www.cleveland.com/healthfit/index.ssf/2015/08/ohio_ranks_45th_nationally_on.html#incart_2box_healthfit_index.ssf" target="_blank">45th nationally</a> for its infant mortality rate, and has one of the highest rates of infant death for African American mothers in the country.</p> <p>While the law eliminates state funding for Planned Parenthood, it affects less than 7 percent of Planned Parenthood's annual budget for its Ohio affiliate. Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio will still receive about <a href="http://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/politics/2016/02/09/reality-check-what-defunding-planned-parenthood-really-mean/80047086/" target="_blank">$2.4 million</a> from<strong> </strong><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/09/clinics-map-planned-parenthood" target="_blank">Medicaid reimbursements</a>, which are protected by federal law.</p> <p>In her testimony opposing the measure, Kelli Arthur Hykes, director of public health policy at Columbus Public Health, pointed to the lack of capacity in local health departments to make up for the shortfall: "For example, in Columbus, we estimate that with additional funding, we would be able to grow our sexual health and women's health services by about 10 percent over the next few years. This would barely put a dent in the anticipated need, especially if there is an immediate loss of funding for Planned Parenthood before a local health department could ramp up services."</p> <p>Wednesday morning, in a failed effort to halt passage of the legislation, Planned Parenthood supporters <a href="https://twitter.com/CeliaAnn/status/697479950622916608" target="_blank">delivered valentines to lawmakers,</a> expressing their love for women's health care and asking the lawmakers to vote against the measure. The bill passed the House in a <a href="https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legislation/legislation-votes?id=GA131-HB-294" target="_blank">62-32 vote</a>.</p> <p>It is possible this measure might lead to a replication of what happened in Texas after Planned Parenthood was <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2012/02/texas-axes-health-programs-women" target="_blank">defunded</a> there in 2012. A recent study published in the <em>New England Journal of Medicine</em> <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2016/02/texas-family-planning-study" target="_blank">showed an increase</a> in birth rates among low-income Texas women and a decrease in contraception insurance claims.</p> <p>Kasich, who gained new prominence in the GOP presidential race after unexpectedly placing second in the New Hampshire primary, has a <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/07/wolf-sheeps-clothing-gov-kasichs-reproductive-rights-record" target="_blank">long, consistent history</a> of <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/09/john-kasich-targets-abortion-providers" target="_blank">fighting</a> reproductive rights in Ohio. In his five years in office, Kasich has signed <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/07/wolf-sheeps-clothing-gov-kasichs-reproductive-rights-record" target="_blank">every anti-abortion bill</a> to cross his desk as governor. When a female voter in New Hampshire asked him about Planned Parenthood, he was clear about his stance: "<a href="http://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/politics/2016/02/09/reality-check-what-defunding-planned-parenthood-really-mean/80047086/" target="_blank">We're not gonna fund it</a>." His rise in the Republican field prompted an immediate response from Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio, which circulated what was described as a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/planned-parenthood-john-kasich_us_56bb7998e4b0b40245c4f47c?rmgqfr" target="_blank">"five-figure ad buy" </a>showcasing his record on reproductive rights.</p> <p>"John Kasich has systematically enacted measure after measure to make it more difficult for women to access reproductive care and safe and legal abortion," <a href="http://plannedparenthoodaction.org/elections-politics/newsroom/press-releases/ohio-bill-cuts-hiv-programs-sex-ed-infant-mortality-prevention-and-violence-prevention-programs-tens-thousands/" target="_blank">said Cecile Richards</a>, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. "And now, under his leadership, it could get even worse."</p></body></html> MoJo Reproductive Rights Thu, 11 Feb 2016 11:00:16 +0000 Becca Andrews 296526 at http://www.motherjones.com Marcobot Is Now Programmed to Repeat... Repeat... Repeat http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/marcobot-now-programmed-repeatrepeatrepeat <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>A friend passes along Marco Rubio's annoyance with all the folks who are mocking his habit of robotic talking point repetition. Here he is on Sean Hannity's show tonight:</p> <blockquote> <p>First of all, it's silly because, yes, it might be the 80th time that reporter heard it, but if I'm at a town hall in Iowa or New Hampshire, that might be the only time that those people hear it....And it may be the 100th time that a member of the press corps heard it, but it might be the first and only time that that voter gets to hear it.</p> </blockquote> <p>"See how different those two sentences are?" asks my friend. "One says 80th and the other says 100th.&nbsp; And it's 'that reporter' versus 'the press corps.'"</p> <p>Poor Marco. This stuff is now so lodged in his brain that he probably couldn't stop himself if he tried. It's amazing how thoroughly Chris Christie has gotten inside his OODA loop.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 11 Feb 2016 06:20:17 +0000 Kevin Drum 296606 at http://www.motherjones.com President Obama Shows How to Defend Pragmatism the Right Way http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/president-obama-shows-how-defend-pragmatism-right-way <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>So did President Obama kinda sorta endorse Hillary Clinton and her pragmatic approach to politics in his Springfield speech today? Not really. He was pretty focused on the bitterness and polarization of contemporary political culture and what <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_obama_hillary_clinton.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">we could do about it. But there were a few places where he seemed like he was giving Hillary a little boost <a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/02/10/remarks-president-address-illinois-general-assembly" target="_blank">if you cocked your ears just right:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>I learned by talking to your constituents that if you were willing to listen, it was possible to bridge a lot of differences....<strong>They understand the difference between realism and idealism;</strong> the difference between responsibility and recklessness. They had the maturity to know what can and cannot be compromised, and to admit the possibility that the other side just might have a point.</p> <p>....Our progress has never been inevitable. It must be fought for, and won by all of us, with the kind of patriotism that our fellow Illinoisan, Adlai Stevenson, once described <strong>not as a &ldquo;short, frenzied outburst of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.&rdquo;</strong></p> <p>....Trying to find common ground doesn't make me less of a Democrat or less of a progressive. <strong>It means I&rsquo;m trying to get stuff done</strong>....Rather than accept the notion that compromise is a sellout to one side, we&rsquo;ve got to insist on the opposite&nbsp;&mdash; that it can be a genuine victory that means progress for all sides.</p> </blockquote> <p>Obama's defense of realism vs. idealism and his irritation toward "short, frenzied" outbursts of emotion could be read as implicit criticisms of Bernie Sanders. Likewise, his defense of his progressive record includes a deliberate echo of Hillary Clinton's description of herself as a "progressive who likes to get things done."</p> <p>It's not much, and it was relatively subtle. Still, even when he acknowledged that our democracy "seems stuck" and "we have to find a new way of doing business," he didn't endorse anything revolutionary. Quite the contrary. It became yet another chance to urge pragmatism and hard work: "In a big, complicated democracy like ours, if we can&rsquo;t compromise, by definition, we can&rsquo;t govern ourselves."</p> <p>It's unfortunate for Hillary that she can't defend this kind of politics effectively. Obama somehow makes the hard slog of slow change sound noble and heroic. Hillary makes it sound workmanlike at best and defeatist at worst. She may not ever have the simple kind of elevator pitch that Bernie Sanders has, but if she could make her brand of pragmatism sound just a little more uplifting&mdash;a little more vital&mdash;I'll bet she'd be having a lot fewer problems right now.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 11 Feb 2016 06:10:40 +0000 Kevin Drum 296596 at http://www.motherjones.com Uninsured Rate Ticks Up a Bit at End of 2015 http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/uninsured-rate-ticks-bit-end-2015 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Every quarter I take a look at the CDC's survey of the uninsured to see how Obamacare is doing. So far it's doing pretty well. However, the CDC data is always six months behind, and a few days ago I noticed that <a href="http://www.gallup.com/poll/188045/uninsured-rate-fourth-quarter-2015.aspx" target="_blank">Gallup's more timely survey</a> showed an increase in the uninsured rate over the last two quarters of 2015. I figured I'd have to wait another month <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_cdc_uninsured_q3_2015.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">to see if the CDC confirmed this, but their <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhis/earlyrelease/quarterly_estimates_2010_2015_q123.pdf" target="_blank">latest data</a> came out earlier than I expected. Sure enough, in the third quarter they show a small increase in the uninsured.</p> <p>Unfortunately, I don't have anything trenchant to say about this. The data is a little noisy, and this might be nothing more than the usual bouncing around. Or it might represent a normal uptick at the end of the year, as people lose insurance before the new signup period. It's probably not really possible to say until we have quite a bit more data. And it's worth noting that the uninsured rate is still more than a percentage point below the original CBO projection.</p> <p>But the raw data is the raw data. Good or bad, it's here for everyone to noodle over.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 11 Feb 2016 05:03:55 +0000 Kevin Drum 296586 at http://www.motherjones.com Does Obama Still Have That Old-Time Magic? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/does-obama-still-have-old-time-magic <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>In a few minutes President Obama will be back in Springfield making a speech addressed to his supporters. "You've taken on the painstaking work of progress," he says. "You've helped us find that middle ground where real change is won....I hope you'll tune in today at 2:30 p.m. Eastern." <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/images/Blog_Obama_FDR.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">Andrew Sprung figures this is basically going to be <a href="http://xpostfactoid.blogspot.com/2016/02/coming-today-obama-message-for-hillary.html" target="_blank">an endorsement of Hillary Clinton:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Obama just sent an email to supporters announcing a speech to be delivered this afternoon. I imagine it will be a message "for" Clinton&nbsp;&mdash; both to support her and to model a coherent pitch for incremental change.</p> <p>....Then there's "the painstaking work of progress" and the 'middle ground where real change is won." Those are memes pointed at this moment, in which the frontrunners in both parties are calling for radical, fundamental change.... Incrementalism is a tough sell, but Obama has made it throughout his career, and he does so more effectively than Clinton. He's more successful because he's better at articulating the long-term goal and how the incremental steps move toward them, as well as the historical framework in which those steps fit.</p> </blockquote> <p>But will it work? Personally, I've always viewed Obama as a cautious, pragmatic, mainstream liberal. But his strongest supporters never saw him that way. They really believed he was going to revolutionize Washington DC and end all the bickering. He'd pass universal health care, rein in Wall Street once and for all, and stop climate change in its tracks.</p> <p>But he didn't. And the conventional wisdom says that his supporters from 2007&mdash;when he first went to Springfield to announce his candidacy&mdash;are disappointed in him. He turned out to be just another go-along-get-along guy, and now he wants to foist a go-along-get-along gal on us. Sorry. No sale. We're feeling the Bern these days.</p> <p>We'll see. But I will say this: If Obama really wants to help Hillary Clinton, he can't afford too much subtlety. Any criticism of radical change will be read by liberals as primarily an attack on Donald Trump unless he makes it crystal clear what he's talking about. Tune in at 2:30 and find out!</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 10 Feb 2016 19:21:55 +0000 Kevin Drum 296536 at http://www.motherjones.com Here's Why Bernie Sanders Doesn't Say Much About Welfare Reform http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/heres-why-bernie-sanders-doesnt-say-much-about-welfare-reform <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Clio Chang and Samuel Adler-Bell want to know why Bernie Sanders hasn't spent more time blasting the Clinton-era welfare reform law and proposing <a href="https://newrepublic.com/article/128878/missing-bernies-revolution-welfare-reform" target="_blank">concrete ways to address poverty:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>While Sanders frequently repeats and laments the statistic that one in five American children live in poverty, neither he nor Clinton has put forward a specific plan to address it. And neither spends much time talking about food stamps, housing subsidies, or the Earned Income Tax Credit, all essential programs for the poor.</p> <p>Liberal pundits have criticized Clinton for defending her husband&rsquo;s welfare legislation&mdash;and for parroting the conservative caricature of welfare beneficiaries as "deadbeats"&mdash;but so far, it hasn&rsquo;t created any serious problems for her campaign. But this, perhaps, is to be expected from a more moderate Democrat. <strong>The oversight is arguably a more glaring problem for Sanders, who voted against the welfare bill and harshly condemned it in his 1997 book, but hasn&rsquo;t made it an issue in the primary.</strong> In August, he told Bloomberg, with uncharacteristic restraint, "I think that history will suggest that that legislation has not worked terribly well."</p> </blockquote> <p>One reason for this restraint may be simple: perhaps Sanders believes that the best approach to poverty is to enact his broad economic revolution. Once that's done, poverty will start to decrease.</p> <p>But there's another possible reason: maybe welfare reform has turned out not to be an especially big deal. After all, by 1996 the old AFDC program accounted for <a href="https://aspe.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/pdf/180706/4spending.pdf" target="_blank">only about $20 billion in spending,</a> a tiny fraction of the total welfare budget&mdash;and the difference in spending between AFDC and the TANF program that took its place is <a href="https://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/114th-congress-2015-2016/reports/49887-TANF.pdf" target="_blank">even more minuscule.</a> The truth is that it's barely noticeable compared to <em>increases</em> in social welfare spending during the 90s from changes to CHIP, EITC, the minimum wage, and so forth.</p> <p>On that score, it's worth taking a look at social welfare spending more broadly. But what's the best way? We spend just shy of a trillion dollars a year on social welfare and safety net programs, but that number bounces up and down when the economy goes into recession and more people need help. That tells us more about the economic cycle than it does about anti-poverty programs. Instead, we need to look at spending per person in poverty. This gives us a better idea of how <em>policy</em> has responded to poverty over the past few decades. So here it is:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_welfare_spending.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 13px;"></p> <p>I chose 150 percent of the poverty level as my metric, but the truth is that it doesn't matter much. This chart looks pretty much the same whether you show total spending, per capita spending, or spending per family below the poverty level. If you remove Medicaid from the mix, the spending increase isn't as steep but otherwise looks little different.</p> <p>There are two obvious takeaways from this. First, overall spending on social welfare programs has increased by 3x since 1980. That's pretty substantial. Second, if the 1996 welfare reform act had any effect on this steady rise in spending, you'd need a chart the size of my house to make it out. Perhaps Bernie Sanders knows this, and understands that in the great scheme of things, welfare reform just isn't worth fighting over anymore.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 10 Feb 2016 18:24:58 +0000 Kevin Drum 296521 at http://www.motherjones.com Two Prominent Black Intellectuals Just Delivered More Bad News for Clinton http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2016/02/two-prominent-black-intellectuals-just-came-out-bernie-sanders <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>After a crushing loss in New Hampshire on Tuesday night, Hillary Clinton may be having an even worse morning. As her campaign turns to South Carolina, where she hopes to win the primary with the support of African American voters on February 27, two prominent black intellectuals issued forceful statements Wednesday morning that could boost her rival, Bernie Sanders.</p> <p>"I will be voting for Sen. Sanders," Ta-Nehisi Coates, a correspondent for <em>The</em> <em>Atlantic </em>and the author of the 2015 National Book Award winner <em>Between the World and Me,</em> said Wednesday in an <a href="http://www.democracynow.org/2016/2/10/ta_nehisi_coates_is_voting_for" target="_blank">interview</a> on <em>Democracy Now!</em> Coates has written critically of Sanders recently for not embracing reparations for African Americans as part of his economic and social justice platform.</p> <p>A much stronger rebuke of Clinton came from Michelle Alexander, the author of <em>The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness</em>, who blasted the former secretary of state in an <a href="http://www.thenation.com/article/hillary-clinton-does-not-deserve-black-peoples-votes/" target="_blank">essay</a> published Wednesday on the website of <em>The Nation </em>titled "Why Hillary Clinton Doesn't Deserve the Black Vote." In it, Alexander argued that the economic and criminal justice policies of the Bill Clinton administration, from the 1994 crime bill to welfare reform in 1996, were devastating to African Americans&mdash;and that Hillary Clinton was a force in that administration whose role should be scrutinized and whose current positions on criminal justice and racial equality are not strong enough.</p> <p>Ironically, perhaps, Alexander cites Coates at the end of the essay in also critiquing Sanders.</p> <blockquote> <p>This is not an endorsement for Bernie Sanders, who after all voted for the 1994 crime bill. I also tend to agree with Ta-Nehisi Coates that the way the Sanders campaign handled the question of reparations is one of many signs that Bernie doesn't quite get what's at stake in serious dialogues about racial justice. He was wrong to dismiss reparations as "divisive," as though centuries of slavery, segregation, discrimination, ghettoization, and stigmatization aren't worthy of any specific acknowledgement or remedy.</p> <p>But recognizing that Bernie, like Hillary, has blurred vision when it comes to race is not the same thing as saying their views are equally problematic. Sanders opposed the 1996 welfare-reform law. He also opposed bank deregulation and the Iraq War, both of which Hillary supported, and both of which have proved disastrous. In short, there is such a thing as a lesser evil, and Hillary is not it.</p> </blockquote> <p>Coates and Alexander are by no means the first black intellectuals to express skepticism of Clinton and endorse Sanders. Princeton University professor Cornel West, for example, has campaigned with Sanders. On Wednesday morning, Sanders <a href="http://www.npr.org/2016/02/10/466276101/bernie-sanders-dines-with-al-sharpton-in-harlem" target="_blank">traveled to Harlem</a> to have breakfast with the Rev. Al Sharpton.</p> <p>Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the <em>Washington Post</em> <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2016/02/09/jim-clyburn-considering-endorsing-clinton-as-harry-reid-reiterates-neutrality-pledge/" target="_blank">reported</a> that Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), the most prominent black politician in South Carolina, is considering endorsing Clinton. She still has plenty of backing in the black political establishment. But the comments from Coates and Alexander Wednesday are a sign that the degree of support Clinton is counting on from the black community might be slipping away, and that she may not be able to sew up the black vote in South Carolina, as her supporters have long predicted.</p></body></html> MoJo 2016 Elections Crime and Justice Hillary Clinton bernie sanders Wed, 10 Feb 2016 17:55:55 +0000 Pema Levy 296511 at http://www.motherjones.com The 2016 Election Is Likely to Be a Close One http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/2016-election-likely-be-close-one <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><span class="trb_ar_by_nm_pm"><span class="trb_ar_by_nm_au" data-byline-withoutby=""><span itemprop="author">In the <em>LA Times</em> today, Maria Bustillos says she can't support Hillary Clinton because of her vote for the Iraq War, her ties to Wall Street, her sellout "pragmatism," and the fact that Henry Kissinger recently said complimentary things about her. "</span></span></span>Those are words that should cause any real progressive of <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_sanders_pointing.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">any gender to damn near have an aneurysm." It's hard to argue with that.</p> <p>So far, no problem. Those are all good reasons to vote for Bernie. <a href="http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-0210-bustillos-female-bernie-voter-20160210-story.html" target="_blank">But what comes next is pretty disturbing:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Much as I support Sanders' lifelong, rock-ribbed liberalism, I might have been persuaded to vote for a Democrat somewhat to the right of him in hopes of bringing some moderate Republicans along for the ride&mdash;especially in view of that party's clown car primary. But none of those halfway-reasonable leftists ran: not Al Gore, not Russ Feingold, not Elizabeth Warren. And the very clownishness of that madly tootling Republican vehicle, I believe, <strong>virtually ensures that whichever Democrat secures the nomination will win the general.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>I wonder how common this belief is? Not too common, I hope, because it's wishful thinking in the extreme. Democrats have held the White House for eight years and the economy is in okay but not great shape. Those are not great fundamentals for a Democratic victory.</p> <p>Now, it's also true that demographic shifts are making the electorate steadily more Democratic. And candidate quality matters: If Republicans nominate a Donald Trump or a Ted Cruz, they'll be shooting themselves in the foot. Nonetheless, every bit of history and political science modeling suggests that this will <em>at least</em> be a close election&mdash;and possibly one that favors Republicans at the start.</p> <p>You should vote for whomever appeals to you. But if you're operating under the delusion that Democrats can literally nominate anyone they want because nobody sane will vote for any of those crazy Republicans, you'd better think twice. This is a belief that betrays both a lazy liberal insularity about the nature of the electorate and an appalling amnesia about a political era that's brought us Ronald Reagan, Newt Gingrich, Tom DeLay, Dick Cheney, Paul Ryan, and the entire tea party. This election is no runaway, folks.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 10 Feb 2016 17:06:01 +0000 Kevin Drum 296506 at http://www.motherjones.com You May Officially Stop Wigging Out About Twitter http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/you-may-officially-stop-wigging-out-about-twitter <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Finally we have some closure. Not in the presidential campaign, of course, which remains in chaos, but in our Twitter feeds. Today we learned that Twitter's new "algorithm" is apparently a feature that curates which tweets you see first <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/11/technology/twitter-announcement-q4-earnings.html?hp&amp;action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;clickSource=story-heading&amp;module=second-column-region&amp;region=top-news&amp;WT.nav=top-news" target="_blank">if you've been away for a while:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The company, based in San Francisco, announced on Wednesday that it would start showing a selection of tweets that a user who has been away from the service might want to see. &ldquo;There are lots of people on Twitter who follow hundreds or even thousands of accounts,&rdquo; Jeff Seibert, Twitter&rsquo;s senior director of product, said in an interview. <strong>&ldquo;When they come back to Twitter, there&rsquo;s actually too much for them to catch up on.&rdquo;</strong></p> <p>Tweets in this update can come from any time, from minutes to hours ago. The idea is to put important tweets up top so the user does not have to wade through less interesting information.</p> <p>....To avoid another panic among its more loyal users, Twitter is carrying out the latest change slowly. <strong>Users will initially have the option to switch on the new feature in the settings menu before it becomes a default setting. Everyone who doesn&rsquo;t like it will be able to turn it off.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Now see? That's not so bad, is it? I will definitely be giving this a try. If it doesn't work out for me, I'll turn it off.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 10 Feb 2016 16:03:59 +0000 Kevin Drum 296491 at http://www.motherjones.com The Daily News Just Expertly Called Out Donald Trump's "Brain Dead" New Hampshire Supporters http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2016/02/daily-news-donald-trump-new-hampshire <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>As expected, Donald Trump <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2016/02/donald-trump-wins-new-hampshire-networks-predict" target="_blank">won</a> the New Hampshire Republican primary on Tuesday with 35 percent of the vote. His double-digit victory, while unsurprising, did finally prove Trump could turn his high polling numbers into real votes.</p> <p>The <em>Daily News</em> had plenty to say about Trump's resounding win and the "brain dead" New Hampshire voters who catapulted him to victory:</p> <center> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Tomorrow's front page:<br> DAWN OF THE BRAIN DEAD - Trump comes back to life with N.H. win: <a href="https://t.co/rkj242rGEf">https://t.co/rkj242rGEf</a> <a href="https://t.co/LRWPDIJJfL">pic.twitter.com/LRWPDIJJfL</a></p> &mdash; New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) <a href="https://twitter.com/NYDailyNews/status/697246214681665536">February 10, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></center> <p>Tell us how you really feel, <em>Daily News</em>.</p></body></html> Mixed Media 2016 Elections Media Wed, 10 Feb 2016 13:06:43 +0000 Inae Oh 296486 at http://www.motherjones.com Are Cage-Free Eggs All They're Cracked Up to Be? http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2016/02/corporations-are-going-cage-free-whats-next-hens <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Cage-free eggs, once a niche product for ethically minded (and well-off) shoppers, are suddenly a hot commodity with an unlikely customer: Big Food. <a href="http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20160201005160/en/SONIC-Announces-Timeline-Source-Serve-100-Cage-Free" target="_blank">Sonic</a> and <a href="http://www.hsi.org/news/press_releases/2016/02/burger-king-global-cage-free-egg-commitment-020116.html" target="_blank">Burger King</a> are the latest to join a slate of<strong> </strong>companies promising to ditch eggs produced by caged hens.</p> <p>They follow an unlikely trailblazer: McDonald's, which <a href="https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&amp;ion=1&amp;espv=2&amp;ie=UTF-8#q=mcdonalds%20cage%20free" target="_blank">announced in September</a> that it would go cage-free by the end of 2025. That decision unleashed a "<a href="http://civileats.com/2016/01/28/what-you-need-to-know-about-the-corporate-shift-to-cage-free-eggs/" target="_blank">tidal wave</a> of commitments," says Paul Shapiro, vice president of farm animal protection at the Humane Society of the United States. The list now includes most major American fast-food chains, retailers including Target and Walmart, and&nbsp;food service providers, like Aramark and Sodexo.</p> <p>Although the number of cage-free birds increased 37 percent last year, they remain less than 10 percent of the nation's 277 million hens, <a href="http://www.aeb.org/farmers-and-marketers/industry-overview" target="_blank">according to</a> the US Department of Agriculture. Now large egg producers are <a href="http://www.wattagnet.com/articles/24914-us-cage-free-egg-layer-flock-is-rapidly-increasing" target="_blank">scrambling</a> to catch up by investing in new cage-free facilities&mdash;a swift about-face for an industry that once vehemently fought efforts to eliminate the cramped, paper-sized&nbsp;"<a href="http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/confinement_farm/facts/battery_cages.html" target="_blank">battery cages</a>" in which the vast majority of hens spend their lives. In 2008, when California voted on <a href="https://ballotpedia.org/California_Proposition_2,_Standards_for_Confining_Farm_Animals_%282008%29" target="_blank">Proposition 2</a>, a measure that mandated that hens should be able to fully spread their wings "without touching the side of an enclosure or other egg-laying hens," United Egg Producers, the industry's primary trade group, spent $10 million in a failed effort to defeat the initiative.<strong> </strong>But this October, UEP President Chad Gregory told <em>Politico </em>that the group <a href="http://www.politico.com/story/2015/09/egg-industry-hands-animal-advocates-big-win-in-cage-free-fight-213905" target="_blank">wouldn't put up a fight</a> in Massachusetts, where a measure modeled after California's will be on the ballot in November.</p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><strike><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Screen%20Shot%202016-02-02%20at%201.18.42%20PM.png"></strike> <div class="caption"><strong><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2015/01/you-cant-produce-eggs-industrial-scale-without-breaking-few-hens" target="_blank">What does cage-free really mean</a>? </strong></div> </div> <p>Most companies, including McDonald's, have given egg producers up to a decade to change how they house their hens. As <em>Wired</em> <a href="http://www.wired.com/2016/01/the-insanely-complicated-logistics-of-cage-free-eggs-for-all/" target="_blank">charts</a> in detail, the industry is choosing to gradually phase out, rather than dismantle, a production system that's been designed since the 1950s to provide maximum efficiency. Today, Americans demand 6 billion to 7 billion eggs each month, and they expect every dozen to come relatively cheap.</p> <p>That means that while cage-free is often portrayed as a nostalgic return to pre-mechanized farming, the newest egg facilities are not like your grandfather's bucolic little chicken farm. At nonorganic farms, where outdoor access isn't required, large egg producers are primarily <a href="http://www.wattagnet.com/articles/24914-us-cage-free-egg-layer-flock-is-rapidly-increasing" target="_blank">building</a> multitiered aviaries&mdash;stacked arrangements in which thousands, if not tens of thousands of birds roam throughout the barn, hopping from level to level. "There are birds by your feet, your knees, your shoulders&mdash;cities of birds," explains Shapiro.</p> <p>Giving hens the simple ability to move around prevents many of the worst health problems associated with battery cages, Shapiro says, by strengthening brittle bones and allowing them to act on their natural instincts to roost and forage.</p> <p>But in these large, industrial aviaries, the birds "don't typically go outside," says Shapiro. And letting a flock of birds roam within a closed, confined aviary presents its own concerns.<strong> </strong>A three-year <a href="http://www2.sustainableeggcoalition.org/final-results" target="_blank">study</a> produced by a <a href="http://www2.sustainableeggcoalition.org/" target="_blank">consortium</a> of egg providers, academics, and advocacy groups found that aviaries had nearly twice the death rate of caged systems. Most of the difference had to do with aggression between the birds and outbreaks of cannibalism.</p> <p>Cannibalism is a learned behavior, a nasty symptom of industrial breeding and housing, says Joy Mench, an animal behavior specialist at the University of California-Davis who co-led the study. Outbreaks are more likely to flare up in densely stocked aviaries, where hens are given unfettered access to other birds. And for that reason, aviary managers continue to rely on the standard industry practice to lessen the risks of pecking: cutting off the sharp tips of the hens' beaks.</p> <p>Reduced air quality in the closed barns is another concern for both birds and workers, who need to spend more time managing the hens in a cage-free system. In battery cage systems, birds were separated from their waste. Without that separation, ammonia buildup can occur when feces aren't removed in a timely fashion, particularly in cold climates. But the most acute problem is that a moving flock clogs the air with dust.<strong> </strong>"There were days when you could hardly stand to walk into that aviary," says Mench, referring to the Midwestern egg facility where the study was conducted. "You couldn't see 4 feet in front of your face."</p> <p>Additionally,<strong> </strong>in both caged and uncaged systems, disease spreads like wildfire.<strong> </strong>Last year's avian flu outbreak, which <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2015/04/avian-flu-bites-us-poultry-industry" target="_blank">killed millions of hens</a> and sent egg prices skyrocketing, is thought to have originated in backyard flocks but took its heaviest toll as it blazed through crowded industrial barns.</p> <p>"People are going to love that they are cage-free, but you have to look at the whole system," says Janice Swanson, a professor at Michigan State University and a co-author of the study. "It's going to be a lot of work before cage-free is environmentally sustainable and actually does what we want it to do for the hens."</p> <p>The study suggested that bigger, so-called <a href="http://www.bhwt.org.uk/egg-industry/enriched-cages/" target="_blank">"enriched" cages</a>, with room for the multiple birds to move and exhibit more natural behaviors, may be a better bet for health and safety than aviaries. Those systems are legal under California law, which didn't ban cages but instead mandated minimum space requirements. But since they don't meet the corporate cage-free pledges, egg producers don't have an incentive to build them.</p> <p>So while cage-free systems remove many of the inherent cruelties of battery cages, the welfare of the hens inside them hinges on how these facilities,&nbsp;which can range from packed industrial aviaries to smaller farms with ample space and outdoor access,<strong> </strong>are designed and managed. That can be difficult to decipher from the labels on an egg carton.</p> <p>If you're looking to further mitigate the cruelty behind your next omelet, the Humane Society <a href="http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/confinement_farm/facts/guide_egg_labels.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/" target="_blank">recommends</a> looking past labels like "vegetarian-fed," "natural," or "farm fresh," which are stamped on cartons for marketing purposes. Pasture-raised, certified organic, or free-range are typically better bets for eggs produced by a happier, healthier hen&mdash;if you can stomach the higher cost.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/how-to-read-egg-label-full.jpg"></div> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> Blue Marble Food and Ag Regulatory Affairs Wed, 10 Feb 2016 11:00:09 +0000 Gregory Barber 295521 at http://www.motherjones.com