Blogs | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/Blogs/2008/10/node/1814 http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en Obamacare is Working, and It Will Probably Continue to Work http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/07/obamacare-working-and-it-will-probably-continue-work <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Tyler Cowen isn't satisfied with current answers to the question of how well Obamacare is working. But although no one has firm answers to the questions he asks, I think we know more than he implies we do&mdash;especially when you widen your scope beyond just the details of the Obamacare transition over the next few years. <a href="http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2014/07/how-will-we-know-if-the-aca-is-working.html" target="_blank">Here are a few quick responses to his questions:</a></p> <blockquote> <p><strong>1. Five to ten years from now, how much do we think employment will have gone down as a result of ACA?</strong></p> <p>Take a look at Europe. The answer almost certainly is (a) perhaps a little, but not much, and (b) it's going to be swamped by other factors anyway. In fact, if Obamacare eventually leads to the end of employers being <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/Blog_Health_Ratios.gif" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">responsible for health insurance, it could end up <em>helping</em> employment. More generally, though, if you're worried about employment trends, then health care taxes and mandates should be the least of your concerns. They're just a blip by comparison to everything else going on.</p> <p><strong>1b. How will the effort to introduce greater equality of health care consumption fare if wage and income inequality continue to rise?&nbsp; Will this attempt at consumption near-equalization require massively distorting incentives?</strong></p> <p>No. Even if we move to full universal health care, it will likely raise marginal tax rates by something in the neighborhood of 6-7 points. That's nothing to sneeze at, but the bulk of it will replace current spending by employers and will do little to distort anything. The remainder is simply too little to introduce more than a modest amount of distortion in a $15 trillion economy.</p> <p><strong>2. Will ACA even have improved overall health in America?</strong></p> <p>Probably a little bit, but not a lot&mdash;though it depends on how you measure it. Especially in the under-65 age group, for example, it will do little to reduce mortality. However&mdash;and this is something I can't repeat often enough&mdash;<em>this is not the main point of universal care anyway.</em> The main point is to improve quality of life and reduce the life-shattering financial consequences of serious medical emergencies.</p> <p><strong>3. Given that prices in the individual insurance market already seem to have gone up 14-28 percent, and may go up more once political scrutiny of insurance companies lessens, what is the overall individual welfare calculation from this policy change?</strong></p> <p>Actually, prices will probably go up less in future years. The initial increase was a one-time response to the new requirements of the law, especially the addition of lots of sicker people to the insurance pool. In the future, given the competition between insurance companies, increases are likely to roughly match the rate of health care inflation.</p> <p><strong>4. Given supply side constraints, how much did ACA increase the consumption of health services in the United States?</strong></p> <p>We don't know yet. But obviously the answer is that, yes, any kind of universal health care entitlement will increase consumption. Once again, though, look at Europe. We have decades of experience in lots of different countries with a wide array of different forms of universal health care, and in every case health consumption is lower than in the US. There may well be birthing pains associated with Obamacare, but in the longer run there's simply no reason to think that it inevitably has to lead to a significant increase in consumption.</p> <p><strong>5. How much of the apparent slowdown of health care cost inflation is a) permanent, b) not just due to the slow economy, and c) due to ACA?&nbsp; Or how about d) the result of trends which have been operating slowly for the last 10-20 years?</strong></p> <p>Obviously historical evidence is never conclusive, but the historical evidence we have points very, very strongly to a permanent slowdown. There's a lot of variability in medical inflation, but one of the most underreported trends in health care reporting has been our steady, 30-year-long decline in medical inflation. There's no special reason to think this is suddenly going to change.</p> </blockquote> <p>If I were allowed only one answer to all these questions, it would be this: Just look at the rest of the world. Health care is not an area where we're confined to econometric studies and CBO models. There are dozens of countries that have implemented national health care in dozens of different ways, and we can look at how they've actually done in the real world. Almost universally, the answer is that they've done better than us on virtually every metric. Unless you really, truly believe that the United States is a unique outlier to the laws of economics, there's very little reason to believe that national health care in America would fare any worse.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Health Care Mon, 14 Jul 2014 16:12:44 +0000 Kevin Drum 256066 at http://www.motherjones.com Sacramento Should Leave AB32 Alone http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/07/sacramento-should-leave-ab32-alone <!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_carbon_tax.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">The <em>LA Times</em> scratches its editorial chin today over the prospect that California's cap-and-trade program will <a href="http://www.latimes.com/opinion/editorials/la-ed-adv-carbon-tax-20140712-story.html" target="_blank">increase the price of gasoline next year:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Gas prices already have risen by close to 50 cents a gallon since the beginning of the year, for reasons that have nothing to do with AB 32. The prospect of adding 15 cents more &mdash; though it's relatively minor compared with the overall price increase &mdash; is daunting to many drivers. Assemblyman Henry T. Perea (D-Fresno) has introduced a bill to delay the extension of the law to transportation fuels for three additional years.</p> <p>That won't do at all....The state must give drivers strong incentives to take fewer trips, carpool, use public transit and purchase electric or fuel-efficient vehicles. At the same time, state officials must remain sensitive to the effect a price increase will have on low-income and working-class Californians, especially those who commute long distances in areas where robust public transportation systems have not been built.</p> <p>....The best solution to this dilemma was proposed this year by Senate leader Darrell Steinberg: Rather than extending AB 32, impose a carbon tax on gasoline, at least for a transitional period. But make it revenue-neutral by giving the money back to taxpayers &mdash; and especially low-income taxpayers &mdash; through tax credits on the state's personal income tax.</p> </blockquote> <p>Huh? Why should we replace one tax with another, and then rebate some of it to low-income taxpayer? If that's what we want to do, why not just keep the cap-and-trade fees and offset them with the Steinberg's tax credits? What am I missing here?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Climate Change Energy Mon, 14 Jul 2014 15:20:25 +0000 Kevin Drum 256051 at http://www.motherjones.com Nothing Left to Steal? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/07/nothing-left-steal <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Megan McArdle points out that cars are a <a href="http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2014-07-14/what-will-crooks-do-when-crime-doesn-t-pay" target="_blank">lot harder to steal than they used to be:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Other forms of crime are also getting less lucrative. &ldquo;Small-time marijuana dealer&rdquo; is no longer a viable career option in several states. Robbery is also getting tougher. As credit card transactions have come to dominate cash, the potential return from mugging someone, or knocking over a gas station, has fallen dramatically. Even burglars are facing some challenges: Expensive televisions are now too big to carry unless you bring a dolly and a truck, home theater systems are often wired into the wall, and at least in my circles, women don&rsquo;t wear as much fancy jewelry or mink as they used to. For a while, small electronics made up the cash gap for burglars, muggers, and purse snatchers, but cell phone manufacturers are putting in &ldquo;kill switches&rdquo; starting in 2015, which will torpedo that market.</p> </blockquote> <p>Well, perhaps in years to come thieves will turn to technology to improve their productivity. I don't know how, but then again, we rarely predict technological revolutions in advance, do we? Maybe new smartphone apps will allow thieves to target more lucrative mugging victims? Or geolocation apps will predict which homes are likely to contain the most easily fencible items? Or maybe sophisticated data mining operations will produce new and innovative opportunities for blackmail. Beats me. But somehow offense and defense always seem to keep up with each other, don't they?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Crime and Justice Mon, 14 Jul 2014 14:57:09 +0000 Kevin Drum 256046 at http://www.motherjones.com This Video Of a Sudden Freak Hail Storm At the Beach Is Insane http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/07/there-are-no-atheists-in-hail-storms <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>This <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=idjyusDUGSc" target="_blank">video</a> was reportedly taken at a beach in Siberia Saturday. It is terrifying.</p> <p>Imagine just being at the beach, enjoying your weekend, when all of a sudden IT'S THE END OF THE WORLD!</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/idjyusDUGSc" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>(<em>via <a href="http://digg.com/video/hail-beach-siberia" target="_blank">Digg)</a></em></p></body></html> Mixed Media Mon, 14 Jul 2014 13:11:35 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 256041 at http://www.motherjones.com Your Almond Habit Is Sucking California Dry http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2014/07/your-almond-habit-sucking-califoirnia-dry <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>California farmers will reap a record 2.1 billion pounds of almonds this year, the USDA <a href="http://www.mercedsunstar.com/2014/06/30/3725461/usda-forecasts-record-almond-crop.html">estimates</a>&mdash;about three times as much as they did in 2000. That's great news for the world's growing horde of almond eaters, because the state's groves supply 80 percent of the global harvest. As this chart shows, California has been planting more and more almonds over the past two decades:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="400" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="http://cf.datawrapper.de/mJI52/2/" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>And those almonds are miniature cash cows:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="400" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="http://cf.datawrapper.de/NVtD1/2/" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>But in the long term, the almond boom may prove bad news for everyone who relies on California's farms for sustenance. You might have heard that the state, supplier of half of US-grown produce, is locked in its <a href="http://www.climate.gov/news-features/event-tracker/california-facing-worst-drought-record">worst drought on record</a>. Meanwhile, it takes 1.1 gallons of water to produce a single almond, as my colleagues Alex Park and Julia Lurie have <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/02/wheres-californias-water-going">shown</a>. You don't have to scramble to figure how many almonds make up 2.1 billion pounds to realize that that's a hell of a lot of water.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/tom-philpott/2014/07/your-almond-habit-sucking-califoirnia-dry"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Tom Philpott Food and Ag Top Stories Mon, 14 Jul 2014 10:00:08 +0000 Tom Philpott 255926 at http://www.motherjones.com Germany Just Won the World Cup—And Celebrated With This Epic Selfie http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/07/germany-just-won-world-cup-selfie <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Just after <a href="http://www.espnfc.us/fifa-world-cup/story/1948310/germany-1-0-argentina-mario-gotze-seals-fourth-world-cup-triumph" target="_blank">beating Argentina 1-0 </a>in the final game of the 2014 World Cup, Germany's Lukas Podolski and Bastian Schweinsteiger snapped one the most epic selfies ever.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>AHA! <a href="http://t.co/iK5hbfm7Hr">pic.twitter.com/iK5hbfm7Hr</a></p> &mdash; Lukas-Podolski.com (@Podolski10) <a href="https://twitter.com/Podolski10/statuses/488445583104155648">July 13, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p>&nbsp;</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>World Cup selfie <a href="http://t.co/ZQMB5Tv1uB">pic.twitter.com/ZQMB5Tv1uB</a></p> &mdash; Huffington Post (@HuffingtonPost) <a href="https://twitter.com/HuffingtonPost/statuses/488443834083577856">July 13, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></body></html> Mixed Media Sports Sun, 13 Jul 2014 23:11:56 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 256036 at http://www.motherjones.com Economic Growth Looks Pretty Grim These Days http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/07/economic-growth-really-looks-pretty-grim-these-days <!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_atlanata_fed_gdp_forecast_july_2014.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Via James Hamilton, the Atlanta Fed is <a href="http://www.frbatlanta.org/cqer/researchcq/gdpnow.cfm" target="_blank">now making its GDP forecasts publicly available.</a> As you can see, they've gotten steadily more pessimistic since April and are now predicting a growth rate of 2.6 percent in the second quarter.</p> <p>Now, there are two way to look at this. The glass-half-full view is: Whew! That huge GDP drop in Q1 really was a bit of a blip, not an omen of a coming recession. The economy isn't setting records or anything, but it's back on track.</p> <p>The glass-half-empty view is: Yikes! If the dismal Q1 number had really been a blip, perhaps caused by bad weather, we'd expect to see makeup growth in Q2. But we're seeing nothing of the sort. We lost a huge chunk of productive capacity in Q1 and apparently we're not getting it back. From a lower starting level, we're just going to continue along the same old sluggish growth path that we've had for the past few years. All told, GDP in the entire first half of 2014 hasn't grown by a dime.</p> <p>I am, by nature, a glass-half-empty kind of person, so feel free to write off my pessimism about this. Nonetheless, the GHE view sure seems like the right one to me. It's just horrible news if it turns out that during a "recovery" we can experience a massive drop in GDP and then do nothing to make up for it over the next quarter. It's even worse news that the unemployment rate is going <em>down</em> at the same time. I know that last month's jobs report was relatively positive, but in the longer view, how can unemployment decrease while GDP is flat or slightly down? Not by truly decreasing, I think. It happens only because there's a growing number of people who are permanently left behind by the economy and fall out of the official statistics.</p> <p>But hey. This is just a forecast. Maybe the Atlanta Fed is wrong. We'll find out in a couple of weeks.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Economy Sun, 13 Jul 2014 15:16:13 +0000 Kevin Drum 256026 at http://www.motherjones.com Mexican Government: Freight Trains Are Now Off-Limits to Central American Migrants http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/07/mexico-central-american-migrants-train-beast <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>On Thursday, a <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/07/10/us-usa-immigration-mexico-idUSKBN0FF03M20140710" target="_blank">freight train derailed</a> in southern Mexico. It wasn't just any train, though: It was <em>La Bestia</em>&mdash;"the Beast"&mdash;the infamous train many Central American immigrants ride through Mexico on their way to the United States. When the Beast went off the tracks this week, some 1,300 people who'd been riding on top were stranded in Oaxaca.</p> <p>How do 1,300 people fit on a cargo train, you ask? By crowding on like this:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/la-bestia-on-board.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Central Americans on the Beast, June 20 </strong>Rebecca Blackwell/AP</div> </div> <p>After years of turning a blind eye to what's happening on La Bestia, the Mexican government claims it now will try to keep migrants off the trains. On Friday, Mexican Interior Secretary Miguel &Aacute;ngel Osorio Chong <a href="http://www.proceso.com.mx/?p=376951" target="_blank">said in a radio interview</a> that the time had come to bring order to the rails. "We can't keep letting them put their lives in danger," he said. "It's our responsibility once in our territory. The Beast is for cargo, not passengers."</p> <p></p><div id="mininav" class="inline-subnav"> <!-- header content --> <div id="mininav-header-content"> <div id="mininav-header-image"> <img src="/files/images/motherjones_mininav/migrants_225.jpg" width="220" border="0"></div> <div id="mininav-header-text"> <p class="mininav-header-text" style="margin: 0; padding: 0.75em; font-size: 11px; font-weight: bold; line-height: 1.2em; background-color: rgb(221, 221, 221);"> More <em>MoJo</em> coverage of the surge of unaccompanied child migrants from Central America. </p> </div> </div> <!-- linked stories --> <div id="mininav-linked-stories"> <ul><span id="linked-story-252671"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/06/child-migrants-surge-unaccompanied-central-america"> 70,000 Kids Will Show Up Alone at Our Border This Year. What Happens to Them?</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-252866"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/06/unaccompanied-kids-immigrants-deported-guatemala"> What's Next for the Children We Deport? </a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-255056"> <li><a href="/mojo/2014/06/map-unaccompanied-child-migrants-central-america-honduras"> Map: These Are the Places Central American Child Migrants Are Fleeing </a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-255721"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/07/texas-we-dont-turn-our-back-children"> "In Texas, We Don't Turn Our Back on Children"</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-256001"> <li><a href="/mojo/2014/07/mexico-central-american-migrants-train-beast"> Mexican Government: Freight Trains Are Now Off-Limits to Central American Migrants</a></li> </span> </ul></div> <!-- footer content --> </div> <p>The announcement comes on the heels of President Obama's <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/07/obama-emergency-appropriations-unaccompanied-child-migrants" target="_blank">$3.7 billion emergency appropriations</a> request to deal with the ongoing surge of unaccompanied Central American child migrants arriving at the US-Mexico border. Many Central Americans take the trains to <a href="http://www.fronterasdesk.org/content/8932/riding-la-bestia-immigration-train" target="_blank">avoid checkpoints</a> throughout Mexico&mdash;and the <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/americas/02/24/mexico.migrant.kidnappings/" target="_blank">robbers and kidnappers</a> known to prey on migrants. But riding the Beast can be even more perilous. Migrants often must bribe the gangs running the train to board, and even then, the dangers are obvious: Many riders have died falling off the train, or lost limbs after getting caught by its slicing wheels.</p> <p>Why, though, hasn't the Mexican government cracked down sooner? Adam Isacson, a regional-security expert at the nonprofit Washington Office on Latin America, says the responsibility of guarding the trains often has fallen to the rail companies&mdash;who usually turn around and argue that since the tracks are on government land, it should be the feds' problem. (Notably, the train line's concession is <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/homero-aridjis/migrants-train-of-death-america-_b_5568288.html" target="_blank">explicitly for freight</a>, not passengers.)</p> <p>In his radio interview, Osorio Chang also signaled a tougher stance against Central American migrants, in general. "Those who don't have a visa to move through our country," he said, "will be returned."</p> <p><strong><em>For more of </em></strong><strong>Mother Jones<em>'</em></strong><strong><em> reporting on unaccompanied child migrants, see all of our <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/topics/child-migrants" target="_blank">latest coverage here</a>.</em></strong></p></body></html> MoJo Crime and Justice Immigration International child migrants Sat, 12 Jul 2014 17:20:14 +0000 Ian Gordon 256001 at http://www.motherjones.com Here Is a Video Of a Crane Destroying a Truck http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/07/here-video-crane-destroying-truck <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>So, as the <em><a href="http://www.dailydot.com/lol/crane-operator-smash-truck/" target="_blank">Daily Dot</a> </em>points out, <a href="http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=ccd_1405124702" target="_blank">this video</a> is almost certainly staged, but who cares? It's nuts.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="http://www.liveleak.com/ll_embed?f=96e4f3a03272" width="630"></iframe></p></body></html> Mixed Media Sat, 12 Jul 2014 16:37:25 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 256011 at http://www.motherjones.com There's New Information on What Happened in Benghazi and It Discredits GOP Claims http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/07/benghazi-stand-down-corn-hardball <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>David Corn and Michelle Bernard joined Chris Matthews on <a href="http://www.msnbc.com/hardball-with-chris-matthews/watch/new-benghazi-information-hurts-gop-claims-302555203939" target="_blank">MSNBC's Hardball</a> to discuss the latest Benghazi scandal bubble burst.</p> <p><iframe border="no" height="500" scrolling="no" src="http://player.theplatform.com/p/2E2eJC/EmbeddedOffSite?guid=n_hardball_4bengh_140711_259101" width="635"></iframe></p> <p><em>David Corn is </em>Mother Jones'<em> Washington bureau chief. For more of his stories, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/authors/david-corn">click here</a>. He's also on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/davidcorndc">Twitter</a>.</em></p></body></html> MoJo The Right Sat, 12 Jul 2014 10:00:07 +0000 256006 at http://www.motherjones.com Friday Cat Blogging - 11 July 2014 http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/07/friday-cat-blogging-11-july-2014 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>For a variety of reasons, fresh catblogging just didn't happen this week. So I'm going to do what everyone else does when they fail to meet an editorial deadline: run some old stuff and pretend it's an extra-special feature. So here you are: rarely seen archival footage from January 14, 2007, Domino's first day at home after we picked her up from the shelter. As you can see, she immediately made her way to a book about a magical cat who refrains from eating its shipmate. This was a good influence, I think.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_domino_2014_07_11.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 68px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 11 Jul 2014 18:53:44 +0000 Kevin Drum 255976 at http://www.motherjones.com This Is How HBO Makes the World of "Game Of Thrones" So Spectacularly Real http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/07/how-hbo-makes-world-game-thrones-so-spectacularly-real <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Season four of "Game of Thrones" is up for <a href="http://www.emmys.com/sites/default/files/Downloads/66th-nominations-list-v2.pdf" target="_blank">19 awards</a> at the 66th Emmys, including Outstanding Special and Visual Effects. This <a href="http://vimeo.com/100095868" target="_blank">recently released video</a> shows how HBO's visual effects wizards&mdash;led by VE Supervisors Joe Bauer and Joern Grosshans&mdash;make George R.R. Martin's books not only come alive but truly jump out of the screen.</p> <p><a href="http://vimeo.com/100095868" target="_blank">Watch</a>:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" mozallowfullscreen="" src="//player.vimeo.com/video/100095868" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="630"><br></iframe></p></body></html> Mixed Media Film and TV Fri, 11 Jul 2014 16:42:11 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 255951 at http://www.motherjones.com A Progress Report on "Reform Conservatism" http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/07/progress-report-reform-conservatism <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Does the new generation of "reform conservatives" represent real change for the Republican Party? In policy terms, not really. They've offered up a few variations on popular conservative themes (reducing taxes via child tax credits instead of cuts in top marginal rates, for example), but for the most part they've just nibbled around the edges. David Frum, however, <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/07/dont-knock-the-reform-conservatives/374247/" target="_blank">says this is still a good start:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>What matters most about the reformers is not the things they say but the things they don&rsquo;t. They don&rsquo;t abuse the long-term unemployed. They don&rsquo;t advocate tighter monetary policy in the midst of the worst slump since the 1930s. They don&rsquo;t urge an immigration policy intended to drive wages even lower than they have already tumbled.</p> <p>They don&rsquo;t pooh-pooh the risks of a government default on its obligations, as many conservatives did when radicals in the GOP forced debt-ceiling confrontations in 2011 and 2013. They don&rsquo;t blame budget deficits for the slow recovery from the crisis of 2009. They don&rsquo;t shrug off the economic and social troubles of 80 percent of the American nation.</p> </blockquote> <p>Fair enough. At the same time, there have always been successful conservatives who were tonally distinct from the tea party. Paul Ryan is the best-known example. He's mild-mannered and speaks in the language of an accountant. He always seems reasonable and willing to engage. He doesn't participate in tea party histrionics. In short, he doesn't say any of the things Frum mentions above.</p> <p>And yet, Ryan remains a tea party darling, and for good reason: his budget is a radically right-wing enterprise. Perhaps the most genuinely radical, genuinely right-wing enterprise in all of Washington.</p> <p>So the question for the reform conservatives is: What's next? Are they trying to build credibility with conservatives so they can later nudge them in a new direction? Or are they mostly just trying to put a friendly veneer on an essentially tea partyish agenda? We don't know yet, because so far they haven't been willing to take many risks. And with good reason. As a friend emailed just a few minutes ago, "The reformers are one bad suggestion away from being fully Frumanized out of the party."</p> <p>I wish the reformers luck. And I don't really blame them for their timidity so far. Still, it's far too early to tell how serious they are. We'll just have to wait and see.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum The Right Fri, 11 Jul 2014 16:40:03 +0000 Kevin Drum 255966 at http://www.motherjones.com Lebron James Is Going Back to Cleveland http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/07/lebron-james-going-back-cleveland <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><a href="http://www.si.com/nba/2014/07/11/lebron-james-cleveland-cavaliers" target="_blank">Boom. </a></p></body></html> Mixed Media Sports Fri, 11 Jul 2014 16:39:17 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 255961 at http://www.motherjones.com Does Financial Literacy Matter? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/07/does-financial-literacy-matter <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>We recently received the grim news that American schoolkids are behind their international peers when it comes to financial literacy. We can add this to the pile of grim news about American schoolkids being behind their international peers in math, science, reading, and every other subject imaginable.</p> <p>Is this actually true? Well, it depends on which tests you rely on and which countries you compare to. And when you disaggregate by income and race you often end up with different results. Still, it's a good horror story, and one <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_financial_literacy.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">we can't seem to get enough of. The financial literacy debacle fits right in.</p> <p>But forget for a moment whether American high school students really suck at financial literacy. The <em>Economist</em> raises an entirely different question: <a href="http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2014/07/financial-literacy?fsrc=rss" target="_blank">does it even matter?</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Perhaps most important, courses in personal finance do not appear to have an impact on adult behaviour. As Buttonwood has pointed out, the knowledge that students acquire in school when they are in their teens does not necessary translate into action when they have to deal with mortgages and credit-card payments later in life. One study, for example, found that financial education has no impact on household saving behaviour. As a paper by Lewis Mandell and Linda Schmid Klein suggests, the long-term effectiveness of high-school classes in financial literacy is highly doubtful. It may simply be the case that the gap in time is too wide between when individuals acquire their financial knowledge, as high-school students, and when they're in a position to apply what they have learned.</p> </blockquote> <p>Now, I've long had my doubts whether <em>any</em> of the actual knowledge I learned in high school matters. Habits matter. Basic skills matter. The ability to figure out how to figure out stuff matters. Learning to sit still and concentrate for half an hour at a time matters. But trigonometry? <em>Catcher in the Rye</em>? The history of the Gilded Age? That's not so clear. Maybe financial literacy falls into the same category.</p> <p>Alternatively, it may be that education has little impact on our behavior in general. We all know that the way to lose weight is to eat less and exercise more, and yet that knowledge does us little good. Most of us overeat anyway. Likewise, even if we know that interest charges on credit card debt can eat us alive, we might just go ahead and buy that snazzy new big-screen TV anyway.</p> <p>Who knows? Maybe education outside of (a) basic skills and (b) highly specific skills used in our professions really doesn't matter much. If that turned out to be true, I can't say it would surprise me an awful lot. Being a Renaissance Man may be overrated.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Education Fri, 11 Jul 2014 15:56:14 +0000 Kevin Drum 255956 at http://www.motherjones.com Prior Experience Doesn't Matter (Much) http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/07/prior-experience-doesnt-matter-much <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Tyler Cowen points to yet another story today about how HR departments are using big data to hire and manage employees, and it's fairly interesting throughout. However, my appreciation for the power of this approach was certainly enhanced <a href="http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/2/e3561cd0-dd11-11e3-8546-00144feabdc0.html#axzz373wnekp7" target="_blank">when I read the following:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>For Xerox this means putting prospective candidates for the company&rsquo;s 55,000 call-centre positions through a screening test that covers a wide range of questions....The results are surprising. Some are quirky: employees who are members of one or two social networks were found to stay in their job for longer than those who belonged to four or more social networks (Xerox recruitment drives at gaming conventions were subsequently cancelled). Some findings, however, were much more fundamental: <strong>prior work experience in a similar role was not found to be a predictor of success.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>This was something I always scratched my head about back when I was a hiring manager. Obviously you want someone with work experience that's related to the job you're trying to fill, but an awful lot of my fellow managers seemed pretty obsessed with finding candidates with almost identical experience. I understood the attraction of hiring someone who seemed like they could be slotted in immediately and hit the ground running, but it still seemed misplaced. Which would you rather hire? Someone fairly good with exactly the right experience, or someone really good who might take a month or two to learn some new things? I'd choose the latter in a heartbeat.</p> <p>On the other hand, I suppose valuing experience highly might be a good idea if you really had no faith in your ability to distinguish good from really good. And the truth is that most of us probably don't. So maybe finding perfect fits makes more sense than I gave it credit for. After all, back in the Middle Ages we didn't have access to Xerox's whiz-bang big data.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tech Fri, 11 Jul 2014 14:53:58 +0000 Kevin Drum 255946 at http://www.motherjones.com We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for July 11, 2014 http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/07/were-still-war-photo-day-july-11-2014 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p class="rtecenter"><em>A group of US Marines, the Silver Eagles, say goodbye and prepare to deploy to the Western Pacific. <span class="meta-field photo-desc " id="yui_3_16_0_rc_1_1_1405087576232_1379">(US Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Sarah Cherry.)</span></em></p></body></html> MoJo Military Fri, 11 Jul 2014 14:10:54 +0000 255941 at http://www.motherjones.com New Study: Lobbying Doesn't Help Company Profits—But It's Great For Executive Pay http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/07/lobbying-executive-pay <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Who really profits when companies drop millions on lobbying? A <a href="http://mercatus.org/sites/default/files/Sobel-Relationship-Political-Connections.pdf" target="_blank">new paper</a> by Russell Sobel and Rachel Graefe-Anderson of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University suggests a surprising answer: Corporate America's record expenditures on political influence may be doing little for the companies doing the spending, but a lot for their executives' pocketbook.</p> <p>"Our main finding suggests that the top executives of firms are the ones who are able to capture the benefits of firm political connections," the paper says. The researchers mined a trove of PAC contributions and lobbying <a href="http://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/top.php?showYear=2013&amp;indexType=i" target="_blank">data</a> from the Center for Responsive Politics and matched it with a variety of standard corporate performance indicators. They found that no matter how much lobbying or political contributions a company pays for, there's almost no significant rise in the company's overall performance&mdash;but executive compensation does rise significantly.&nbsp;The only exceptions were the banking and finance industries, where companies also appear to gain some benefits.</p> <p>Regardless of who benefits, influence spending still registers in the billions of dollars: As the chart below shows, the amount of money spent on lobbying annually more than doubled to $3.3 billion between 1998 and 2013. In 2012 alone, the two leading spenders, the pharmaceuticals and insurance sectors, dropped more than $409 million on lobbying and more than $107 million on political contributions.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="400" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="http://cf.datawrapper.de/vgJyB/1/" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> MoJo Charts Congress Corporations Economy Income Inequality Fri, 11 Jul 2014 07:00:12 +0000 Alex Park 255876 at http://www.motherjones.com Here Are the Court Records of the Restraining Order Against Alleged Texas Murderer Ronald Lee Haskell http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/07/restraining-order-ronald-lee-haskell <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><a href="http://www.click2houston.com/news/deputies-at-least-six-killed-in-shooting-in-spring-area/26871346">On Wednesday evening</a>, Ronald Lee Haskell, disguised as a Fed-Ex delivery man, gained entry to the&nbsp;home of his sister-in-law and her spouse, Stephen and Katie Stay, demanding the whereabouts of his estranged ex-wife. Haskell would go on to shoot the Stays and their five children, killing everyone except his 15-year-old niece, and only surrendering to police after <a href="http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_HOUSTON_SUBURBAN_SHOOTING?SITE=MYPSP&amp;SECTION=HOME&amp;TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&amp;CTIME=2014-07-09-23-22-34">a three-and-a-half hour standoff</a>.</p> <p>In July of&nbsp;2013, Haskell's wife <a href="http://www.nbcnews.com/news/crime-courts/wife-texas-slaying-suspect-had-protection-order-against-him-n152696">filed a protective order</a> against him in Cache County, Utah, where they lived at the time. In October 2013, Haskell's protective order was converted to a "mutual&nbsp;restraining order<strong>"</strong> as part of their divorce and custody proceedings. This crucial step likely meant that Haskell was legally allowed to have guns again under both state and federal law<strong>.</strong></p> <p>Read the full docket of Haskell's protective order proceedings below. Read the full details of the case, as well <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/07/domestic-violence-guns-bills-texas-haskell-stay-murder" target="_blank">our analysis of domestic-violence-related gun laws here</a>.</p> <div class="DV-container" id="DV-viewer-1215826-2014-07-10-14-45-56-4-copy">&nbsp;</div> <script src="//s3.amazonaws.com/s3.documentcloud.org/viewer/loader.js"></script><script> DV.load("//www.documentcloud.org/documents/1215826-2014-07-10-14-45-56-4-copy.js", { width: 630, height: 550, sidebar: false, container: "#DV-viewer-1215826-2014-07-10-14-45-56-4-copy" });</script><noscript> <a href="http://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/1215826/2014-07-10-14-45-56-4-copy.pdf">Court Record of Protective and Restraining Orders Against Ronald Lee Haskell (PDF)</a> <br><a href="http://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/1215826/2014-07-10-14-45-56-4-copy.txt">Court Record of Protective and Restraining Orders Against Ronald Lee Haskell (Text)</a></noscript></body></html> MoJo Guns Fri, 11 Jul 2014 00:45:29 +0000 Hannah Levintova 255921 at http://www.motherjones.com Boehner's First Lawsuit: Obamacare is the Lucky Winner http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/07/boehners-first-lawsuit-obamacare-lucky-winner <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>I am pleased to report that John Boehner has taken my advice. He introduced a House resolution today that would give him authority to sue the president, and <a href="http://docs.house.gov/meetings/RU/RU00/20140716/102507/BILLS-113pih-HRes___.pdf" target="_blank">here's what it says:</a></p> <blockquote> <p><em>Resolved,</em> That the Speaker may initiate or intervene in one or more civil actions on behalf of the House of Representatives...to seek appropriate ancillary relief...with respect to implementation of (including a failure to implement) any provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act....</p> <p>Blah blah blah.</p> </blockquote> <p>And just which provision of Obamacare does Boehner plan to target? <a href="http://www.latimes.com/nation/politics/politicsnow/la-pn-house-lawsuit-obamacare-20140710-story.html" target="_blank">Here you go:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>"In 2013, the president changed the healthcare law without a vote of Congress, <strong>effectively creating his own law by literally waiving the employer mandate and the penalties for failing to comply with it</strong>," Boehner said in a statement. "That's not the way our system of government was designed to work. No president should have the power to make laws on his or her own."</p> </blockquote> <p>Well, Obama didn't "literally waive" the employer mandate, he just delayed it for two years. But close enough!</p> <p>Now, there are two sides to this. On the positive side for Boehner, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/03/obama-announces-yet-another-delay-part-obamacare" target="_blank">it's fairly defensible as these things go.</a> It's not a slam dunk, but you can make a decent case that Obama really did overstep the plain text of the law. However, the downside is that Obama probably doesn't care much about this. It's a fairly minor provision of the law, and if he loses the case it doesn't do any serious damage to Obamacare. In fact, the only damage it does is to the small employers who asked for the delay. So really, Boehner is only setting himself up to oppose the interests of small businesses.</p> <p>But here's the really interesting thing about this: Boehner is suing over a provision of the law that's been delayed until 2016. But a lawsuit like this takes a while. It'll take a while to file the documents, and then a while longer to get on the calendar of a district court. Then another while for a hearing and a ruling, and then yet another while for an appeal. Then yet another while if the White House asks for an en banc review. And then finally yet another while as it goes up to the Supreme Court. How long altogether? I'd guess a minimum of a year and a half, and probably more like two years. So the best case for conservatives is that the Supreme Court takes it up in late 2015. By the time they're ready to rule, it's moot because the mandate has taken effect and Obama is out of office.<sup>1</sup></p> <p>Boehner is smart enough to know all this perfectly well. In other words, he knows that this is purely a symbolic gesture. Not only does Obama not really care much about it, but it's vanishingly unlikely that the Supreme Court will ever hear the case. That makes it an almost perfect piece of theater. Neither side cares much, and it will never be decided. Boehner gets to say he's doing something, Obama gets some mileage out of mocking him, and that's it. The real-world impact is literally zero.</p> <p>And that might be just what Boehner wants.</p> <p><sup>1</sup>This assumes that any court is willing to grant Boehner standing to sue in the first place.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Congress Health Care Obama Fri, 11 Jul 2014 00:25:42 +0000 Kevin Drum 255931 at http://www.motherjones.com Watch the Ads Obama Is Airing in Central America to Keep Kids From Coming to the US http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/07/unaccompanied-child-migrants-us-government-tv-ads <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><div align="center"> <p><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="300" scrolling="no" src="http://www.dvidshub.net/video/embed/347898" style="border: none; overflow: hidden; width: 500px; height: 300px;" width="500"></iframe></p> </div> <p>Preparing for his dangerous trip north, a Central American teen stops to pen a letter to his uncle in the United States. He writes that his mom is telling him to think hard about the risks: the gangs on the trains, the cartels that kidnap migrants, the days of walking through the desert. But those roadblocks, he writes, are worth it: "I see myself earning a bunch of money in the United States, and my mom here without any worries."</p> <p></p><div id="mininav" class="inline-subnav"> <!-- header content --> <div id="mininav-header-content"> <div id="mininav-header-image"> <img src="/files/images/motherjones_mininav/migrants_225.jpg" width="220" border="0"></div> <div id="mininav-header-text"> <p class="mininav-header-text" style="margin: 0; padding: 0.75em; font-size: 11px; font-weight: bold; line-height: 1.2em; background-color: rgb(221, 221, 221);"> More <em>MoJo</em> coverage of the surge of unaccompanied child migrants from Central America. </p> </div> </div> <!-- linked stories --> <div id="mininav-linked-stories"> <ul><span id="linked-story-252671"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/06/child-migrants-surge-unaccompanied-central-america"> 70,000 Kids Will Show Up Alone at Our Border This Year. What Happens to Them?</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-252866"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/06/unaccompanied-kids-immigrants-deported-guatemala"> What's Next for the Children We Deport? </a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-255056"> <li><a href="/mojo/2014/06/map-unaccompanied-child-migrants-central-america-honduras"> Map: These Are the Places Central American Child Migrants Are Fleeing </a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-255721"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/07/texas-we-dont-turn-our-back-children"> "In Texas, We Don't Turn Our Back on Children"</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-256001"> <li><a href="/mojo/2014/07/mexico-central-american-migrants-train-beast"> Mexican Government: Freight Trains Are Now Off-Limits to Central American Migrants</a></li> </span> </ul></div> <!-- footer content --> </div> <p>So begins a new public service announcement aimed at keeping Central American kids from joining the <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/06/child-migrants-surge-unaccompanied-central-america" target="_blank">tens of thousands of unaccompanied child migrants</a> who have been apprehended by US authorities in the last year. The PSA soon turns dark, though: After the teen says goodbye to his mother, and his uncle puts down the letter he's been reading, the camera pulls back from a close-up of the boy, dead on the desert floor. A narrator urges viewers: "They're our future. Let's protect them."</p> <p>US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) developed the TV ads, as well as <a href="http://www.cbp.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Dangers%20Poster%202.pdf" target="_blank">posters</a> and marimba-infused <a href="http://www.cbp.gov/video/opa/la-bestia-norte.wav" target="_blank">radio spots</a>, as part of its million-dollar Dangers Awareness Campaign. Rolled out shortly after Vice President Joe Biden's <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2014/06/20/politics/us-central-american-immigration/" target="_blank">trip to Guatemala</a> in June, the campaign is an attempt to counter rumors that unaccompanied kids will be allowed to stay in the United States. The ads emphasize that the journey is extremely dangerous and that children won't get legal status if they make it across the border.</p> <p>The campaign will run for 11 weeks, CBP spokesman Jaime Ruiz told the <a href="http://bigstory.ap.org/article/us-launches-media-campaign-immigration-dangers" target="_blank">Associated Press</a>. "We want a relative that is about to send $5,000, $6,000 to a relative in El Salvador to see this message and say, 'Oh my God, they're saying that the journey is more dangerous,'" Ruiz said. "We try to counter the version of the smuggler."</p> <p>Here's the other televised PSA, in which two silhouettes&mdash;a would-be migrant and a smuggler&mdash;discuss heading north, the smuggler turning increasingly aggressive and his shadow occasionally turning into that of a coyote, the slang word for a smuggler:</p> <div align="center"> <p><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="300" scrolling="no" src="http://www.dvidshub.net/video/embed/347904" style="border: none; overflow: hidden; width: 500px; height: 300px;" width="500"></iframe></p> </div> <p>(Notably, CBP created slightly different versions of each of the stories for El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, the three countries that have sent the most unaccompanied minors to the US. Watch them all <a href="http://www.dvidshub.net/feature/dangerscampaign#.U77IWahvkrf" target="_blank">here</a>.)</p> <p>This type of campaign isn't anything new. For years, the <a href="http://tucson.com/news/local/border/gps-device-giveaway-is-effort-to-save-lives/article_2299081d-e064-5825-a6b9-a52927c2e6c4.html" target="_blank">Mexican government</a> has produced ads about the dangers of walking through the Arizona desert, and several years ago the Department of Homeland Security, as part of CBP's <a href="http://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/local-media-release/2012-06-05-040000/border-safety-initiative-kicks-el-paso-texas" target="_blank">Border Safety Initiative</a>, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/music/2009/may/04/us-government-immigrants-album" target="_blank">distributed CDs to Latin American radio stations</a> with sad songs aimed at slowing immigration from the south. With so many variables at play, it's virtually impossible to measure their effect.</p> <p>But with <a href="http://www.latimes.com/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-senate-immigration-hearing-20140709-story.html" target="_blank">more than 57,000</a> unaccompanied kids apprehended in the United States since October&mdash;a situation that CBP head R. Gil Kerlikowske called "difficult and distressing on a lot of levels" when speaking to members of the Senate homeland security committee on Wednesday&mdash;the government seems willing to try anything.</p></body></html> MoJo Video Crime and Justice Immigration International child migrants Thu, 10 Jul 2014 21:59:22 +0000 Ian Gordon 255861 at http://www.motherjones.com Fine. I Retract My Defense of Optics. http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/07/fine-i-retract-my-defense-optics <!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, conservatives were all atwitter over the fact that President Obama had been photographed playing pool and drinking a beer the previous night in Denver. A mere thousand miles away, there was a humanitarian crisis on the border! How out of <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_eyeball_0.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">touch can a guy get? Clearly this was Obama's Katrina moment.</p> <p>This combined two of the right's favorite Obama-era tropes. First, it was about his millionth Katrina moment. Conservatives still can't get it through their heads that George Bush's Katrina moment was never really about those famous photographs of him mugging with a guitar while the levees were being breached in New Orleans and later staring moodily out an airplane window at the flooding below. It was about "heckuva job, Brownie." It was about his casual near-destruction of FEMA over the previous four years. It was about the startling contrast between his laggard response to Katrina and his near-frenetic response to the Terri Schiavo panderfest just a few months earlier. But conservatives simply refuse to believe this. They're convinced it was all about an unfair photographic comparison, and they're determined to make a Democratic president suffer the same fate.</p> <p>Second, it's become practically a parlor game for conservatives to chastise Obama for engaging in some kind of social activity while there's a serious crisis somewhere. This is an evergreen faux complaint. After all, there's almost always <em>something</em> serious going on <em>somewhere</em>, which means you can always figure out an excuse to haul out this chestnut.</p> <p>Now, to some extent none of this matters as long as it's just a partisan response from the professional right. But yesterday it metastasized into something more over Obama's answer to a question about why he wasn't heading down to the border to see the refugee crisis for himself. "I'm not interested in photo-ops," he said. "I'm interested in solving a problem." This almost instantly turned into a misquote: "I don't do photo-ops." And with that, the mainstream press started piling on too.</p> <p>This was, obviously, ridiculous. First of all, Obama didn't say that he doesn't do photo-ops. That would have been idiotic. What he very plainly said was that <em>in this particular case</em> he wasn't interested in doing a photo-op. He had introduced a plan to address the crisis and he was in Texas to discuss it with state officials. That's where he wanted to keep the focus.</p> <p>And with that, as if to mock me, the whole thing exploded into a moronic national conversation about the optics of shooting pool in Denver but not going to the border to have his photograph taken with wistful-looking Latin American children. This came just a couple of days after <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/07/defense-optics" target="_blank">I had defended</a> the word <em>optics</em> against Jamison Foser, and plainly Foser had turned out to be right. The mere availability of the word seemed to change the whole tone of the coverage. <a href="http://www.slate.com/blogs/weigel/2014/07/10/the_obama_doesn_t_do_photo_ops_meme_and_the_distractable_media.html" target="_blank">As Dave Weigel put it,</a> "The president is the star of most D.C. political stories, obviously, so many stories end up being about whether they help or hurt him. The problem is that the press can't be sure if they will, or won't." So they just guess.</p> <p>Now, I suppose I still have a feeble defense to offer. I did say there were good and bad uses of <em>optics</em>, and this just happened to be one of the bad ones. But the speed with which one photograph and one misquote saturated the punditocracy and morphed into an inane conversation about optics surely makes Foser's case for him.</p> <p>So I give up. There <em>are</em> still good uses of the word <em>optics</em>, but as long as the press remains so addicted to dumb uses that have obvious roots in transparent partisan nonsense, it's probably best to insist that they go cold turkey. No more optics, guys. Not until you demonstrate an ability to use the word like adults.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Media Thu, 10 Jul 2014 21:21:26 +0000 Kevin Drum 255911 at http://www.motherjones.com Americans Are Surprisingly Stressed Out About News and Politics http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/07/americans-are-surprisingly-stressed-out-about-news-and-politics <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Via Wonkblog, here's a fascinating little chart <a href="http://www.rwjf.org/content/dam/farm/reports/surveys_and_polls/2014/rwjf414295" target="_blank">courtesy of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.</a> They just released a survey about the causes of stress, and things like health and money problems are predictably the biggest <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_stress_events.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">sources. But how about all those niggling little daily causes of stress? What are the biggest routine things that send you into conniptions?</p> <p>Well, it turns out that two of the biggest contributors to high blood pressure are watching the news and hearing about what politicians are up to. And boy howdy, does this beg for a follow-up. I really, really want to know what news sources cause the most stress. Is it listening to NPR? Watching Fox News? Getting your daily Limbaugh fix? Reading Kevin Drum's blog?</p> <p>Perhaps the mere act of making you think about this is, at this very moment, making you red in the face. Then again, maybe not. I want to know more. Who's most stressed out by the news? Liberals? Conservatives? Everyone? And what outlets cause the most stress? Obviously my money is on the Drudge/Fox/Limbaugh axis, but maybe I'd be surprised. I want to hear more about this.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Media Thu, 10 Jul 2014 18:26:53 +0000 Kevin Drum 255871 at http://www.motherjones.com Singer and Hardcore LGBT Rights Supporter Demi Lovato Made This Lovely Video for Marriage Equality http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/07/demi-lovato-gay-rights-video-marriage-equality-human-rights-campaign <!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="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/zx5GjuKr--0" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Singer and actress <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demi_Lovato#Philanthropy" target="_blank">Demi Lovato</a> is a strong <a href="https://twitter.com/ddlovato/status/349907949323436032" target="_blank">supporter</a> of LGBT rights. She played a lesbian character on Fox's <a href="http://www.rollingstone.com/movies/videos/glee-recap-guest-star-demi-lovato-shares-lesbian-kiss-20131004" target="_blank"><em>Glee</em></a>, served as the <a href="http://www.out.com/entertainment/music/2014/06/27/demi-lovato-pride-2014%E2%80%99s-mvp" target="_blank">Grand Marshal</a> of the Los Angeles Pride Parade this year, and has <a href="http://roygbiv.jezebel.com/demi-lovato-releases-new-video-supporting-marriage-equa-1602732616/+burtreynoldsismyspiritguide1" target="_blank">spoken openly</a> about her grandfather's homosexuality. "I believe in gay marriage, I believe in equality," Lovato told <a href="http://www.cambio.com/2013/11/22/demis-new-image-neon-lights-was-my-grown-up-sexy-video/" target="_blank"><em>Cambio</em></a> magazine. "I think there's a lot of hypocrisy with religion&hellip;I just found that you can have your own relationship with God, and I still have a lot of faith."</p> <p>Now, she's made a <a href="https://twitter.com/ddlovato/status/487028791202422785" target="_blank">video</a> (watch above) with the Human Rights Campaign in support of marriage equality. The video, <a href="http://www.hrc.org/blog/entry/demi-lovato-stars-in-web-video-for-hrcs-americans-for-marriage-equality-cam" target="_blank">released</a> on Wednesday, is part of HRC's recently re-launched Americans for Marriage Equality campaign, which includes messages from <a href="http://americansformarriageequality.org/videos/videos-hillary-clinton-supports-marriage-equality#1" target="_blank">Hillary Clinton</a>, <a href="http://americansformarriageequality.org/videos/videos-bryan-cranston-supports-marriage-equality#1" target="_blank">Bryan Cranston</a>,&nbsp;<a href="http://americansformarriageequality.org/videos/videos-monique-stands-up-for-marriage-equality#5" target="_blank">Mo'Nique</a>, and <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OS641L5khMI" target="_blank">Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman</a>. Here is Lovato's message:</p> <blockquote> <p>Hey, guys, I'm Demi Lovato, and I'm an American for marriage equality. I believe that love comes in all different shapes, sizes, and colors. So whether you're LGBT or straight, your love is valid, beautiful, and an incredible gift. So let's protect love and strengthen the institution of marriage by allowing loving, caring, and committed same-sex couples to legally marry. Please join me and the <a href="http://www.gallup.com/poll/169640/sex-marriage-support-reaches-new-high.aspx" target="_blank">majority</a> of American citizens who support marriage equality.</p> </blockquote> <p>"We reached out to her [a couple months ago] knowing what a supporter of LGBT equality she is, and thought she would be great for this campaign," <a href="http://www.hrc.org/blog/author/charlie-joughin" target="_blank">Charles Joughin</a>, an HRC spokesman, told <em>Mother Jones</em>. He also mentioned that they have more Americans for Marriage Equality videos lined up featuring other big names, from pro-athletes and movie stars to politicians and civil rights leaders. HRC will likely be released one video a week over the coming months.</p> <p>When asked if Lovato has any further plans to work with the LGBT civil rights group, Joughin said that nothing was discussed, but that they'd be more than happy to do so. "She certainly has done a lot for the larger movement&hellip;We haven't taken it into consideration, but we're such big fans of her we'd be thrilled to work with her in the future. Whether she's doing work with HRC, or elsewhere, I am certain this is a cause she's very committed to."</p> <p>Now check out this video about Lovato sticking it to Russian president Vladimir Putin (and his <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/02/world-congress-families-russia-gay-rights" target="_blank">anti-gay policies</a>) during her New York City gay pride performance this summer. During the show, two of Lovato's male backup dancers shared a kiss; <a href="https://twitter.com/ddlovato/statuses/483439394213224448" target="_blank">one</a> of them appeared to be naked and was holding a <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-trending-28113228" target="_blank">picture of Putin's face over his crotch</a>:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/dSQnSJKcg5Y" width="630"></iframe></p></body></html> Mixed Media Video Film and TV Gay Rights Human Rights Thu, 10 Jul 2014 18:22:07 +0000 Asawin Suebsaeng 255846 at http://www.motherjones.com 40 Percent of Colleges Haven't Investigated a Single Sexual Assault Case in 5 Years http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/07/college-campus-sexual-assault <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>According to the <a href="http://www.mccaskill.senate.gov/download/campus-sexual-assault-survey-results" target="_blank">results of a national survey</a>&nbsp;commissioned by Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and the Senate Subcommittee on Financial and Contracting Oversight, nearly half the country's four-year colleges haven't conducted&nbsp;a single sexual assault investigation&nbsp;in the past five years. The <a href="http://www.mccaskill.senate.gov/pdf/McCaskillSurveyCampusSexualAssaults.pdf" target="_blank">survey</a>&nbsp;was completed by 236 four year-institutions across the country&mdash;private and public, small and large<span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 24px;">&mdash;but in order to encourage candid reporting,&nbsp;</span>the names of the schools surveyed were not released.</p> <p>Here's what scores of survivors of sexual assault in college have to deal with, according to the <a href="http://www.mccaskill.senate.gov/download/campus-sexual-assault-survey-results" style="line-height: 24px;" target="_blank">results</a>:</p> <ul><li><strong>Simply not receiving an investigation:</strong> Forty-one percent of schools hadn't investigated a single sexual assault in the past five years, despite the fact that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and the <a href="http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/04/29/fact-sheet-not-alone-protecting-students-sexual-assault" target="_blank">White House</a>, one in five undergraduate women experience sexual assault during college. Meanwhile, more than 20 percent of the country's largest private schools conducted fewer investigations than the number of sexual assault incidents that they reported to the Department of Education.</li> <li><strong>Having no clue what to do:</strong> One in three schools don't train students on what constitutes sexual assault or how to respond to it. Among private, for-profit schools, 72 percent don't provide students with any sexual assault training.</li> <li><strong>Untrained, uncoordinated law enforcement:</strong> Though in general colleges work with a number of parties to keep campuses safe&mdash;like campus police, security guards, and local law enforcement&mdash;30 percent don't actually train the school's law enforcement on how to handle reports of sexual assault, while a staggering 73 percent of institutions don't have protocols on how the school should work with local law enforcement to respond to sexual assault.</li> <li><strong>The athletic department deciding if you were raped:</strong> Yes, you read that correctly. Thirty percent of public colleges give the athletic department oversight of sexual violence&nbsp;cases involving athletes.</li> <li><strong>Your peers deciding if you were raped:</strong> Experts agree that students shouldn't be part of adjudication boards in sexual assault cases&mdash;friends or acquaintances of the survivor or alleged perpetrator face a conflict of interest, and those involved in a sexual assault likely don't want to divulge the details of the assault to, say, someone they recognize from chemistry class. Still, 27 percent of schools reported students participating in the adjudication of sexual assault claims.</li> <li><strong>Untrained faculty, staff, and medical professionals:</strong> Often, the first person to whom a student reports sexual assault is a member of the college's faculty or staff. But 20 percent of schools don't provide any sexual assault response training to faculty and staff, and only 15 percent of schools provide access to Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners&mdash;nurses who are trained to provide medical and other services to survivors of sexual assault.</li> <li><strong>Knowing that the perpetrator still plays sports and goes to frat parties:</strong>&nbsp;Only 51 percent of schools impose athletic team sanctions against student-athletes who have been deemed perpetrators of sexual assault, and 31 percent impose fraternity or sorority sanctions.</li> <li><strong>Seeing the perpetrator on campus, even if you don't want to:</strong> Nineteen percent of institutions don't impose orders that would require the perpetrator of the assault to avoid contact with the survivor.</li> </ul><p>McCaskill says that the results of the survey demonstrate failures at "nearly every stage of institutions' response" to sexual assault. Together with Sens. Richard Blumenthal&nbsp;(D-Conn.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), she plans to unveil legislation addressing the campus assault later in the summer.</p></body></html> MoJo Education Reproductive Rights Sex and Gender Thu, 10 Jul 2014 17:46:38 +0000 Julia Lurie 255811 at http://www.motherjones.com