Blogs | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/Blogs/2014/06/wTLAoncnYO1cPIOcFaLVOQ-1-13 http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en GOP Takes Revenge Over Immigration Order in Tax Bill. Obama Tells Them to Pound Sand. http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/11/gop-takes-immigration-revenge-tax-bill-obama-tells-them-pound-sand <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Danny Vinik describes the tax extender package <a href="http://www.newrepublic.com/article/120420/tax-extender-deal-handout-big-business" target="_blank">currently wending its way through Congress:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Imagine somebody asked you to imagine the worst possible deal on taxes. It'd probably have the following qualities:</p> <p>It would be bad for the environment.</p> <p>It would be bad for the deficit.</p> <p>It would give short shrift to the working poor.</p> <p>And it would be a bonanza for corporations.</p> <p>Unfortunately, you don&rsquo;t have to conjure up such a package. Congressional Republicans already have. And for some unfathomable reason, Senate Democrats including Harry Reid seem inclined to go along&mdash;although the White House <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_pigs_trough.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">has vowed to veto such a deal if Congress goes ahead and passes it.</p> </blockquote> <p>Actually, there's nothing all that unfathomable about what's going on. The tax extender bill may be a dog's breakfast of legitimate tax provisions running interference for a long laundry list of indefensible giveaways and corporate welfare, but it's always been supported by both parties and it would have passed long ago if not for an outbreak of routine sniping over amendments and 60-vote thresholds last spring. That aside, the whole thing is a perfect bipartisan lovefest. Republicans and Democrats alike want to make sure that corporations continue to get all their favorite tax breaks.</p> <p>In fact, the only thing that's really new here is the nature of Obama's veto threat. He's made the threat before, but primarily because the extenders weren't being paid for and would add to the deficit. The fact that middle-class tax breaks might not also be extended was sort of an afterthought. Now, however, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/26/business/congress-nears-deal-on-major-business-tax-breaks.html?hp&amp;action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;module=first-column-region&amp;region=top-news&amp;WT.nav=top-news&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">that's front and center:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The emerging tax legislation would make permanent 10 provisions, including an expanded research and development tax credit....a measure allowing small businesses to deduct virtually any investment; the deduction for state and local sales taxes....tax breaks for car-racing tracks....benefits for racehorse owners.</p> <p>....<strong>Left off were the two tax breaks valued most by liberal Democrats:</strong> a permanently expanded earned-income credit and a child tax credit for the working poor. <strong>Friday night, Republican negotiators announced they would exclude those measures as payback for the president&rsquo;s executive order on immigration,</strong> saying a surge of newly legalized workers would claim the credit, tax aides from both parties said.</p> </blockquote> <p>So there you have it. This bill is the first victim of Republican frothing over Obama's immigration order. As revenge, they left out Democratic tax priorities, and Obama is having none of it.</p> <p>This is all part of the new Obama we've seen since the midterm election, which seems to have had an oddly liberating effect on him. Over the course of just a few weeks he's been throwing sand in Republican faces will gleeful abandon: cutting climate change deals with the Chinese; demanding full net neutrality regulations from the FCC; issuing an executive order on immigration; and now threatening to veto a Republican-crafted bill unless they include expanded EITC and child tax credits. It's as though he's tired of their endless threats to go nuclear over every little thing and just doesn't care anymore. Go ahead, he's telling them. Make my day.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Congress Corporations Economy Wed, 26 Nov 2014 04:59:51 +0000 Kevin Drum 265506 at http://www.motherjones.com A Nuclear Deal With Iran Probably Won't Happen http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/11/nuclear-deal-iran-probably-wont-happen <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Over at <em>Foreign Affairs</em>, Aaron David Miller and Jason Brodsky run through four reasons that we failed to reach a nuclear deal with Iran by this weekend's deadline. <a href="http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/11/24/4_big_reasons_the_iranian_nuclear_deal_didn_t_happen_zarif_kerry" target="_blank">This is the key one:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>An internal IAEA document that was prepared in 2009 detailed an April 1984 high-level meeting at the presidential palace in Tehran in which Khamenei&nbsp;&mdash; then president of Iran&nbsp;&mdash; championed a decision by then-Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to launch a nuclear weapons program. According to the account, Khamenei said that "this was the only way to secure the very essence of the Islamic Revolution from the schemes of its enemies, especially the United States and Israel."</p> <p>....The fact is that Iran knows what it wants: to preserve as much of its nuclear weapons capacity as possible and free itself from as much of the sanctions regime as it can. The mullahs see Iran&rsquo;s status as a nuclear weapons state as a hedge against regime change and as consistent with its regional status as a great power. That is what it still wants. And that&rsquo;s why it isn&rsquo;t prepared&nbsp;&mdash; yet&nbsp;&mdash; to settle just for what it needs to do a deal. Ditto for America. And it&rsquo;s hard to believe that another six months is going to somehow fix that problem.</p> </blockquote> <p>This is why I'm skeptical that a deal can be reached. Iran wants to have nuclear weapons capability. The United States wants Iran to verifiably abandon its nuclear ambitions. Everything else is just fluff, and it's hard to see a middle ground here.</p> <p>This doesn't mean an agreement is impossible. Maybe there really is some halfway point that both sides can live with. It sure isn't easy to see it, though. The disagreement here is just too fundamental and too definitive. One side wants to be able to build a bomb, and the other side wants exactly the opposite. How do you split that baby?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum International Tue, 25 Nov 2014 22:56:17 +0000 Kevin Drum 265501 at http://www.motherjones.com Watch Killer Mike's Passionate Speech on Michael Brown http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/11/killer-mike-ferguson <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Moments before a scheduled performance in St. Louis Monday night, Killer Mike of the rap duo Run The Jewels delivered an i<a href="http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2014/11/25/killer_mike_ferguson_speech_video_the_rapper_speaks_on_the_grand_jury_decision.html" target="_blank">ncredibly forceful speech</a> about the news of a grand jury's decision not to indict Darren Wilson, the Ferguson officer who fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown more than three months ago.</p> <p>"Tonight, I got kicked on my ass when I listened to that prosecutor. You motherfuckers got me. I knew it was coming, I knew when Eric Holder decided to resign, I knew it wasn't going to be good."</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/MQs7CWKHM9w" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>"I have a twenty-year-old son and I have a twelve-year-old son and I am so afraid for them," Killer Mike told the crowd, his voice cracked through held-back tears. "When I stood in front of my wife and I hugged her and I cried like a baby, I said 'These motherfuckers got me today.'"</p> <p>The impassioned speech ended with a powerful reference to Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights leader's tragic death at the age of 39.</p> <p>"I promise if I die when I walk off this stage tomorrow, I'm going to let you know it's not about race, it's not about class, it's not about color. It is about what they killed him for: It is about poverty, it is about greed, and it is about a war machine. It is us against the motherfucking machine."</p></body></html> Mixed Media Video Music Race and Ethnicity Ferguson Tue, 25 Nov 2014 17:43:09 +0000 Inae Oh 265436 at http://www.motherjones.com Is Obama Trolling Republicans Over Immigration? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/11/obama-trolling-republicans-over-immigration <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Jonah Goldberg is unhappy with President Obama's immigration order, but he's not steaming mad about it. And I think this allows him to see some things <a href="http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-goldberg-obama-immigration-20141125-column.html" target="_blank">a little more clearly than his fellow conservatives:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Maybe President Obama is just trolling?</p> <p>....As Robert Litan of the Brookings Institution notes, Obama "could've done all this quietly, without making any announcement whatsoever." After all, Obama has unilaterally reinterpreted and rewritten the law without nationally televised addresses before. But doing that wouldn't let him pander to Latinos and, more important, that wouldn't achieve his real goal: enraging Republicans.</p> <p>As policy, King Obama's edict is a mess, which may explain why Latinos are underwhelmed by it, according to the polls. But that's not the yardstick Obama cares about most. <strong>The real goal is twofold: Cement Latinos into the Democratic coalition and force Republicans to overreact.</strong> He can't achieve the first if he doesn't succeed with the <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_immigration_pros_cons.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">second. It remains to be seen if the Republicans will let themselves be trolled into helping him.</p> </blockquote> <p>Don't get me wrong. I'm pretty certain that Obama did what he did because he really believes it's the right thing to do. Goldberg just isn't able to acknowledge that and retain his conservative cred. Still, somewhere in the Oval Office there was someone writing down pros and cons on a napkin, and I'll bet that enraging the GOP caucus and wrecking their legislative agenda made it onto the list of pros. So far, it looks like it's probably working. But if Republicans are smart, they'll figure out some way to follow Goldberg's advice and rein in their worst impulses. If they go nuts, they're just playing into Obama's hands.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Immigration Tue, 25 Nov 2014 17:07:33 +0000 Kevin Drum 265441 at http://www.motherjones.com Map: Here's How #Ferguson Exploded on Twitter Last Night http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/11/ferguson-twitter-map <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>On Monday evening, news of a grand jury's <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/11/ferguson-darren-wilson-grand-jury-decision-reaction" target="_blank">decision</a> not to indict Ferguson officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown erupted across social media. The announcement was made shortly after 8:20 PM CT and sparked massive protests around the country. The situation was particularly violent in and around the St. Louis area, with more than 60 people <a href="http://www.latimes.com/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-ferguson-arrests-20141125-story.html" target="_blank">arrested</a> overnight.</p> <p>Using the hashtag&nbsp;#Ferguson, Twitter has mapped out how the conversation took place:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="520" mozallowfullscreen="" msallowfullscreen="" oallowfullscreen="" src="http://srogers.cartodb.com/viz/64f6c0f4-745d-11e4-b4e1-0e4fddd5de28/embed_map" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p><strong>More from the chaotic scene:</strong></p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/AP762329691737.jpg" style="height: 436px; width: 630px;"><div class="caption"><strong>Police gather on the street as protesters react after the announcement of the grand jury decision. </strong>Charlie Riedel/AP</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/AP113152107546.jpg" style="height: 420px; width: 630px;"><div class="caption"><strong>Lesley McSpadden, Michael Brown's mother, is comforted outside the Ferguson police department as St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch conveys the grand jury's decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of her son. </strong>Robert Cohen/AP</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/AP766558858094.jpg" style="height: 450px; width: 630px;"><div class="caption"><strong>People watch as stores burn down. </strong>David Goldman/AP</div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> Mixed Media Maps Race and Ethnicity Tue, 25 Nov 2014 16:24:42 +0000 Inae Oh 265426 at http://www.motherjones.com Economic Growth Starting to Show Real Signs of Life http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/11/economic-growth-starting-show-real-signs-life <!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.bea.gov/newsreleases/national/gdp/gdpnewsrelease.htm" target="_blank">The latest numbers from the Commerce Department</a> show that GDP increased faster than we thought in the third quarter of 2014. Growth clocked in at 3.9 percent, an increase from the original estimate of 3.5 percent. "The economy expanded at its <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_gdp_growth_moving_average_2014_q3.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">fastest pace in more than a decade," <a href="http://online.wsj.com/articles/u-s-third-quarter-gdp-revised-up-to-3-9-advance-1416922352?mod=WSJ_hp_LEFTWhatsNewsCollection" target="_blank">says the <em>Wall Street Journal</em>.</a> "The combined growth rate in the second and third quarters was 4.25%, the best six-month reading since 2003."</p> <p>This is true, but a bit misleading since both quarters were making up for a dismal first quarter in which GDP fell by 2.1 percent. Still, even if you look at things in a more defensible way, economic growth is unquestionably picking up. The chart on the right uses a 5-quarter moving average to smooth out individual quarters that might be unusually high or low, and the trajectory of the economy is clearly on the rise. You still can't really say that things are booming, and it continues to be true that the labor market is loose and wages are pretty stagnant. Nonetheless, since 2011 growth has increased from about 1.8 percent annually to about 2.8 percent annually. Things are picking up.</p> <p>If Europe can ever manage to get its act together, we might finally start really digging ourselves out of the Great Recession. I'm not sure I see any signs of that happening soon, though.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Economy Tue, 25 Nov 2014 15:48:14 +0000 Kevin Drum 265431 at http://www.motherjones.com More Patents Does Not Equal More Innovation http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/11/more-patents-does-not-equal-more-innovation <!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.aei.org/publication/us-patent-system-strangling-us-innovation/" target="_blank">Via James Pethokoukis,</a> here's a chart from a <a href="https://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/attachments/49487-Innovation.pdf" target="_blank">new CBO report</a> on federal policies and innovation. Needless to say, you can't read too much into it. It shows the growth since 1963 of total factor productivity (roughly speaking, the share of productivity growth due to technology improvements), and there are lots of possible reasons that TFP hasn't changed much over the past five decades. At a minimum, though, the fact that patent activity has skyrocketed since 1983 with no associated growth in TFP suggests, as the CBO report says dryly, "that the large increase in patenting activity since 1983 may have made little contribution to innovation."</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_patents_productivity_0.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 15px 0px;"></p> <p>The CBO report identifies several possible innovation-killing aspects of the US patent system, among them a "proliferation of low-quality patents"; increased patent litigation; and the growth of patent trolls who impose a substantial burden on startup firms. The report also challenges the value of software patents:</p> <blockquote> <p>The contribution of patents to innovation in software or business methods is often questioned because the costs of developing such new products and processes may be modest. One possible change to patent law that could reduce the cost and frequency of litigation would be to limit patent protections for inventions that were relatively inexpensive to develop. For example, patents on software and business methods could expire sooner than is the case today (which, with renewals, is after 20 years), reducing the incentive to obtain those patents. Another change that could address patent quality, the processing burden on the USPTO, and the cost and frequency of litigation would be to limit the ability to obtain a patent on certain inventions.</p> </blockquote> <p>Personally, I'd be in favor of limiting software and business method patents to a term of zero years. But if that's not feasible, even a reduction to, say, five years or so, would be helpful. In the software industry, that's an eternity.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Economy Regulatory Affairs Tech Tue, 25 Nov 2014 04:18:40 +0000 Kevin Drum 265416 at http://www.motherjones.com Are Term Limits a Good Idea? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/11/are-term-limits-good-idea <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Jim Newton, a longtime local politics reporter in Los Angeles, wrote his final column for the <em>LA Times</em> today. In it, he offered up "a handful of changes that might make a big difference," and the one that resonates with me is his suggestion that <a href="http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-newton-column-government-fixes-20141124-column.html" target="_blank">both LA and California do away with term limits:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Elected officials who were popular with their constituents once held their seats for decades, building up experience and knowledge; now, with term limits in place, they're barely seated before they start searching for the next office. That's brought new faces but at great cost. Power has shifted from those we elect to those we don't, to the permanent bureaucracy and to lobbyists. Problems get kicked down the road in favor of attention-grabbing short-term initiatives that may have long-term consequences.</p> <p>Case in point: Why do so many public employees enjoy budget-breaking pensions? Because term-limited officials realize it is easier to promise a future benefit than to give raises now. The reckoning comes later; by then they're gone.</p> <p>Term limits locally were the work of Richard Riordan, who bankrolled the initiative and later became mayor. I asked him recently about them, and he startled me with his response: It was, he said, &ldquo;the worst mistake of my life.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>Term limits always sound good. The problem with the idea is that being a council member or a legislator is like any other job: you get better with experience. If your legislature is populated solely by people with, at most, a term or two of experience, it's inevitable that (a) they'll have an almost pathologically short-term focus, and (b) more and more power will flow to lobbyists and bureaucrats who stay around forever and understand the levers of power better.</p> <p>For what it's worth, I'd recommend a middle ground. I understand the problem people have with politicians who win office and essentially occupy sinecures for the rest of their lives. It's often a recipe for becoming insulated and out of touch with the real-world needs of constituents. But short term limits don't solve the problem of unaccountable power, they simply shift the power to other places. The answer, I think, is moderate term limits. Something between, say, ten and twenty years. That's long enough to build up genuine expertise and a genuine power base, while still preventing an office from becoming a lifetime of guaranteed employment.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Elections Mon, 24 Nov 2014 18:44:59 +0000 Kevin Drum 265351 at http://www.motherjones.com Obama's Immigration Order: Lots of Sound and Fury, But Not Much Precedent http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/11/obamas-immigration-order-lots-sound-and-fury-not-much-precedent <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>In the <em>New Republic</em> this weekend, <a href="http://www.newrepublic.com/article/120382/obamas-immigration-executive-order-gift-republican-presidents" target="_blank">Eric Posner warns that President Obama's recent executive action on immigration may come back to haunt liberals.</a> Obama's order was perfectly legal, he says, but "it may modify political norms that control what the president can do." And since most of the regulatory apparatus of the government is fundamentally liberal in nature, a political norm that allows presidents to suspend enforcement of rules they don't like benefits conservatives a lot more than it does liberals.</p> <p>This is not something to be taken lightly, and Posner makes his point pretty reasonably&mdash;unlike a lot of conservatives who have been busily writing gleeful, half-witted columns about suspending the estate tax or dismantling the EPA. Political norms matter, as Republicans know <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_regulation.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">very well, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2011/07/how-game-played-0" target="_blank">since they've smashed so many of them in recent years.</a> Still, there are a couple of reasons that there's probably less here than meets the eye, and Posner acknowledges them himself.</p> <p>First, although the core of Obama's authority to modify immigration law lies in his inherent power to practice prosecutorial discretion&mdash;which is rooted in the Constitution&mdash;the <em>specific</em> actions he took are justified by statutory language and congressional budgeting priorities that are unique to immigration law. <a href="http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/on-immigration-obama-may-be-cynical-but-hes-not-breaking-the-law/article/2551807" target="_blank">As conservative lawyer Margaret Stock reminds us,</a> "The Immigration and Nationality Act and other laws are chock-full of huge grants of statutory authority to the president." <a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/view_from_chicago/2014/08/why_obama_has_the_power_to_stop_millions_of_deportations_without_congress.single.html" target="_blank">And Posner himself agrees.</a> "The president&rsquo;s authority over this arena is even greater than his authority over other areas of the law." He reiterates this in his TNR piece, explaining that immigration law "falls uniquely under executive authority, as a matter of history and tradition."</p> <p>So Obama's actions may be unusually broad, but that's largely because immigration law is written to give the president considerable latitude. That's much less the case for things like the tax code or the Clean Air Act. So even though it's true, as Posner says, that most regulatory statutes "contain pockets of vagueness," there's less precedent here than it seems, and less breaking of political norms than Posner imagines.</p> <p>But there's a second reason that Obama isn't seriously breaking any political norms: they were already broken years ago. Posner himself tells the story:</p> <blockquote> <p>In 1981, Ronald Reagan entered the presidency vowing to deregulate the economy. But because the House was controlled by Democrats, Reagan could not persuade Congress to repeal as many regulatory statutes as he wanted to.</p> <p>So Reagan sought to undermine the regulatory system itself. He forced agencies to show proposed regulations to the Office of Management and Budget, a White House agency, and empowered the OMB to block or delay regulations that did not satisfy a cost-benefit test. Although OMB was told to obey the law, liberals howled that the effect of the cost-benefit test was to undercut regulation since no such test existed in the statutes under which agencies issued regulations. And when the Reagan administration could not change or repeal the rules, it cut back on enforcement. The Justice Department famously reduced enforcement of the antitrust and civil rights laws. More howls ensued.</p> <p>But the Reagan administration exhausted itself fighting against political distrust of an imperial executive and overreached by trying to deregulate in areas&mdash;like the environment&mdash;that people cared about. Republican successors&mdash;the two Bushes&mdash;did not pursue deregulation through non-enforcement with such zeal. Obama&rsquo;s deferral actions, by further normalizing non-enforcement, may reinvigorate the Reagan-era push for deregulation through the executive branch.</p> </blockquote> <p>It's become traditional that when a new president takes office he immediately suspends any of his predecessor's executive actions that have been recently implemented. At the same time, his own team begins beavering away on regulatory changes that are part of his campaign agenda. At a different level, orders are written that make it either easier or harder for agencies to implement new rules and enforce old ones. And while Reagan may not have gotten all the deregulation he wanted, the OMB has become a permanent part of the regulatory landscape, which is yet another avenue for presidents to affect the enforcement of rules. It may not get a lot of attention, but when you fiddle with the cost-benefit parameters that OMB uses, the ripple effect can be surprisingly extensive.</p> <p>In other words, agency regulations and executive orders are already major battlegrounds of public policy that are aggressively managed by the White House, regardless of which party is in power. Has Obama expanded this battleground? Perhaps. But I don't think the change is nearly as great as some people are making it out to be. Immigration law is fairly unique in its grant of power to the executive, so we don't really have to worry about President Rand Paul rewriting the tax code from the Oval Office. We do need to worry about all the other executive actions he might take, but for the most part, I don't think that's changed much. The kinds of things he can do are about the same now as they were a week ago.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Obama Regulatory Affairs Mon, 24 Nov 2014 17:28:24 +0000 Kevin Drum 265346 at http://www.motherjones.com Finland Starting to Think Hard About Joining NATO http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/11/finland-starting-think-hard-about-joining-nato <!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_finland_map.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Behold the results of Vladimir Putin's brilliant strategy of scaring the hell out of <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/finland-feeling-vulnerable-amid-russian-provocations/2014/11/23/defc5a90-69b2-11e4-bafd-6598192a448d_story.html?hpid=z4" target="_blank">every single country within bomber range of Russia:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>As Russian-backed separatists have eviscerated another non-NATO neighbor this year &mdash; Ukraine &mdash; <strong>Finnish leaders have watched with growing alarm.</strong> They are increasingly questioning whether the nonaligned path they navigated through the Cold War can keep them safe as Europe heads toward another period of dangerous standoffs between West and East.</p> <p>....The palpable anxiety in this country that many in the West consider a model of progressive and stable democratic governance reflects how unsettled Europe has become since Russia&rsquo;s annexation of Crimea in March. Many in Helsinki are convinced that Russia will not remain deterred for long and say Finland needs to fundamentally rethink elements of its security policy that have been bedrock principles for decades.</p> <p>....<strong>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s going in a terrifying direction,&rdquo; said Elisabeth Rehn, a former Finnish defense minister who favors NATO membership.</strong> &ldquo;It&rsquo;s only been 100 years since we gained our independence from Russia. Crimea was a part of Russia, too. Will they try to take back what belonged to them 100 years ago?&rdquo;</p> <p>Rehn said she doubts Russia would go that far but said the fear of Russian military aggression is real.</p> </blockquote> <p>Will Finland join NATO? Probably not anytime soon. But just think about what Putin has accomplished here. Finland stayed out of NATO for the entire four decades of the Cold War, but is now so unnerved by Russia's actions that it's seriously thinking about joining up. If Putin is truly afraid of Russia being fully surrounded by the West, his worst fears are about to come true thanks to his own actions. No one wants to be the next eastern Ukraine, and right now NATO membership is probably looking mighty appealing to a lot of people who were OK with the status quo a few years ago.</p> <p>Putin's bellicose nationalism may play well at home, but it sure isn't doing him any favors anywhere else.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum International Mon, 24 Nov 2014 16:05:07 +0000 Kevin Drum 265341 at http://www.motherjones.com Media Goes Wild Over Hagel Firing But Not Obama's Secret Afghanistan Reversal http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/11/chuck-hagel-defense-pentagon-fired-afghanistan <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>There's little the Washington-centric political-media universe loves more than the story of a fallen star. The defenestration of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has reporters and pundits in a schadenfreude-driven tizzy. Was he fired? Was he in over his head? OMG, look at how the White House is dumping on him, as he departs! Who's passing nasty notes in class about him?</p> <p>The presumably forced resignation of Hagel is indeed big news. The Obama administration is confronting a host of new national security challenges: ISIS, Ukraine, Ebola. So the guy (or gal) in charge of the Pentagon has to be nimble and able to handle this expanding and shifting to-do list. And Hagel, ever since his underwhelming performance at his confirmation hearing, has not been (at least in public) a confidence-inspiring Cabinet member. So perhaps President Barack Obama can do better&mdash;though the <a href="http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/wow--36" target="_blank">elbowing</a> Hagel is receiving on the way out seems poor manners.</p> <p>Yet here's a useful exercise. Compare the red-hot media reaction to Hagel's bye-bye to the response to the <em>New York Times</em>' <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/22/us/politics/in-secret-obama-extends-us-role-in-afghan-combat.html?src=twr" target="_blank">eye-popping report </a>that Obama signed a secret order to expand the US military mission in Afghanistan next year. The story about one man&mdash;yes, one of the cool kids in DC&mdash;is at least an order of magnitude higher on the MediaReax-ometer. Any tidbit from an anonymous source about de-Hagelization gets immediate attention from tweeting journos. But the story about this significant policy shift has prompted mostly a yawn.</p> <p>In case you missed it&mdash;the story was posted online on Friday but appeared in Saturday's dead-trees edition&mdash;the <em>Times </em>revealed that Obama, who last May said the United States would have no combat missions in Afghanistan in 2015 (and only train Afghan forces and hunt Al Qaeda "remnants"), had secretly authorized American forces</p> <blockquote> <p>to carry out missions against the <a class="meta-org" href="http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/t/taliban/index.html?inline=nyt-org" title="More articles about the Taliban.">Taliban</a> and other militant groups threatening American troops or the Afghan government, a broader mission than the president described to the public earlier this year, according to several administration, military and congressional officials with knowledge of the decision. The new authorization also allows American jets, bombers and <a class="meta-classifier" href="http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/u/unmanned_aerial_vehicles/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier" title="More articles about unmanned aerial vehicles.">drones</a> to support Afghan troops on combat missions.</p> </blockquote> <aside class="marginalia related-coverage-marginalia nocontent robots-nocontent" data-marginalia-type="sprinkled" role="complementary"><div class="nocontent robots-nocontent"> <p>This is a quasi-BFD&mdash;and the result of what the <em>Times </em>called "a lengthy and heated debate that laid bare the tension inside the Obama administration between two often-competing imperatives: the promise Mr. Obama made to end the war in Afghanistan, versus the demands of the Pentagon that American troops be able to successfully fulfill their remaining missions in the country."</p> <p>In other words, Obama, for good or bad, has decided to extend the war he said he was ending. This report did not produce a cable news frenzy or a storm of tweets. But it's just as important as who's going to be in charge of implementing this major change of plans&mdash;if not more so.</p> </div> </aside></body></html> MoJo Afghanistan Foreign Policy Military Obama Top Stories Mon, 24 Nov 2014 16:03:40 +0000 David Corn 265336 at http://www.motherjones.com Chuck Hagel Resigning as Secretary of Defense http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/11/chuck-hagel-resigning-secretary-defense <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>President Barack Obama is expected to announce the resignation of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Monday. <em>The New York Times</em> reports that the president's decision to ask Hagel to step down follows a series of meetings, which concluded that a <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/25/us/hagel-said-to-be-stepping-down-as-defense-chief-under-pressure.html" target="_blank">change in leadership</a> was needed in order to deal with international threats including the Islamic State.</p> <p>Candidates for Hagel's replacement <a href="https://twitter.com/Acosta/status/536897884294508544" target="_blank">reportedly</a> include former Undersecretary of Defense Michelle Flournoy, former Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, and Senator Jack Reed (D-R.I.)&nbsp;<span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 24px; ">Hagel, the only Republican in the president's national security team, is expected to remain until a successor is named.</span></p> <p>Less than two years on the job, this is the first major resignation from Obama's cabinet following the Democrats' disappointing midterm elections. From an administration <a href="http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/first-read/defense-secretary-chuck-hagel-step-down-n254846" target="_blank">official:</a></p> <blockquote>Over the past two years, Secretary Hagel helped manage an intense period of transition for the United States Armed Forces, including the drawdown in Afghanistan, the need to prepare our forces for future missions, and tough fiscal choices to keep our military strong and ready. Over nearly two years, Secretary Hagel has been a steady hand, guiding our military through this transition, and helping us respond to challenges from ISIL to Ebola. In October, Secretary Hagel began speaking with the President about departing the Administration given the natural post-midterms transition time.</blockquote> <p>Earlier this month, Hagel announced the country's <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/11/hagel-air-force-nuclear-weapons-overhaul-icbm-larry-welch" target="_blank">nuclear weapons program </a>would be undergoing a massive overhaul after the Pentagon released a review citing antiquated equipment and poor leadership plaguing the nuclear forces.&nbsp;</p></body></html> MoJo Military Obama Mon, 24 Nov 2014 15:36:30 +0000 Inae Oh 265331 at http://www.motherjones.com One Man Should Not Dictate Immigration Policy http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/11/one-man-should-not-dictate-immigration-policy <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>You know, the more I mull over the Republican complaint about how immigration reform is being implemented, the more I sympathize with them. Public policy, especially on big, hot button issues like immigration, shouldn't be made by <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_tyranny.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">one person. One person doesn't represent the will of the people, no matter what position he holds. Congress does, and the will of Congress should be paramount in policymaking.</p> <p>Now don't get me wrong. I haven't changed my mind about the legality of all this. The Constitution is clear that each house of Congress makes its own rules. The rules of the House of Representatives are clear and well-established. And past speakers of the House have all used their legislative authority to prevent votes on bills they don't wish to consider. Both the law and past precedent are clear: John Boehner is well within his legal rights to refuse to allow the House to vote on the immigration bill passed by the Senate in 2013.</p> <p>Still, his expansion of that authority makes me uneasy. After all, this is a case where poll after poll shows that large majorities of the country favor comprehensive immigration reform. The Senate passed a bipartisan bill over a year ago by a wide margin. And there's little question that the Senate bill has majority support in the House too. So not only is the will of Congress clear, but the president has also made it clear that he'd sign the bill if Congress passed it. The only thing stopping it is one man.</p> <p>That should make us all a bit troubled. John Boehner may be acting legally. But is he acting properly?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Congress Immigration Sun, 23 Nov 2014 20:31:36 +0000 Kevin Drum 265321 at http://www.motherjones.com Chart of the Day: Unauthorized Immigrants in the United States http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/11/chart-day-unauthorized-immigrants-united-states <!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.vox.com/xpress/2014/11/23/7269313/unauthorized-immigrants-map" target="_blank">Matt Yglesias linked today</a> to a map from the Pew Hispanic Center showing which states had the highest populations of unauthorized immigrants. It was interesting but unsurprising: the biggest states (California, Texas, Florida, New York) also have the most unauthorized immigrants. This got me curious about which states had the highest <em>percentages</em> of unauthorized immigrants&mdash;which the Pew map also provides. The answer is in the chart below.</p> <p>For what it's worth, I thought the most striking thing was the fact that for all the sound and fury illegal immigration provokes, it turns out that there are only seven states in which unauthorized immigrants make up more than 4 percent of the population. In the vast majority of the country, they're a vanishingly small group.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_unauthorized_immigrant_share_population.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 5px 1px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Immigration Sun, 23 Nov 2014 17:19:44 +0000 Kevin Drum 265316 at http://www.motherjones.com Benghazi Is Over, But the Mainstream Media Just Yawns http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/11/benghazi <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>After two years of seemingly endless Benghazi coverage, how did the nation's major media cover the report of a Republican-led House committee that debunked every single Benghazi conspiracy theory and absolved the White <a href="http://intelligence.house.gov/sites/intelligence.house.gov/files/documents/Benghazi%20Report.pdf" target="_blank"><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_house_intelligence_benghazi.jpg" style="margin: 33px 0px 15px 30px;"></a>House of wrongdoing? Long story short, don't bother looking on the front page anywhere. Here's a rundown:</p> <ul><li><a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/house-panel-finds-no-intelligence-failure-in-benghazi-attacks/2014/11/21/0749a070-71dd-11e4-ad12-3734c461eab6_story.html" target="_blank">The <em>Washington Post</em></a> briefly moved its story into the top spot on its homepage this afternoon. In the print edition, it ran inside on page A12.</li> <li><a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/23/world/middleeast/republican-led-benghazi-inquiry-largely-backs-administration.html?hp&amp;action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;module=first-column-region&amp;region=top-news&amp;WT.nav=top-news&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">The <em>New York Times</em></a> ran only a brief AP dispatch yesterday. Late today they finally put up a staff-written story, scheduled to run in the print edition tomorrow on page A23.</li> <li><a href="http://online.wsj.com/articles/house-report-cia-military-acted-properly-in-benghazi-attacks-1416616698?KEYWORDS=benghazi" target="_blank">The <em>Wall Street Journal</em></a> ran a decent piece, but it got no play on the website and ran in the print edition on page A5.</li> <li><a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2014/11/21/house-panel-debunks-benghazi-theories/19367265/" target="_blank"><em>USA Today</em></a> ran an AP dispatch, but only if you can manage to find it. I don't know if it also ran anywhere in the print edition.</li> <li>As near as I can tell, the <em>LA Times</em> ignored the story completely.</li> <li>Ditto for the US edition of the <em>Guardian</em>.</li> <li><a href="http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/11/22/leading-republican-wants-senate-to-join-house-probe-benghazi-attack/?intcmp=latestnews" target="_blank">Fox News</a> ran a hilarious story that ignored nearly every finding of the report and managed to all but say that it was actually a stinging rebuke to the Obama administration. You really have to read it to believe it.</li> </ul><p>I get that the report of a House committee isn't the most exciting news in the world. It's dry, it has no visuals, it rehashes old ground, and it doesn't feature Kim Kardashian's butt.</p> <p>Still, this is a report endorsed by top Republicans that basically rebuts practically every Republican bit of hysteria over Benghazi spanning the past two years. Is it really good news judgment for editors to treat this the same way they would a dull study on the aging of America from the Brookings Institution?</p> <p><strong>UPDATE:</strong> Late tonight, the <em>LA Times</em> finally roused itself to run a <a href="http://www.latimes.com/world/africa/la-fg-house-benghazi-20141123-story.html" target="_blank">non-bylined piece</a> somewhere in the Africa section. <strong>MORNING UPDATE: </strong>Actually, it turned out to be just a condensed version of the AP dispatch. It ran on page A7.</p> <p>I should add that the stories which <em>did</em> run were mostly fairly decent (Fox News excepted, of course). In particular, Ken Dilanian's AP report was detailed and accurate, and ran early in the morning. The problem is less with the details of the coverage, than with the fact that the coverage was either buried or nonexistent practically everywhere.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Congress International Media Sun, 23 Nov 2014 04:42:18 +0000 Kevin Drum 265311 at http://www.motherjones.com The Ohlone People Were Forced Out of San Francisco. Now They Want Part of Their Land Back. http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/11/ohlone-san-francisco-cultural-center <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/Kl4_Kg6kvzc" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>"There are only three ways to get land," said Tony Cerda, chairman of the Costanoan Rumsen Carmel Tribe, <a href="http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Ohlones-want-a-voice-on-Hunters-Point-project-3256436.php" target="_blank">in 2010</a>. "You can buy it, have it given to you, or steal it." It's clear which one of those applies to his people, the Ohlone, who lived in the central California coastal region for <a href="http://www.costanoanrumsen.org/history.html" target="_blank">thousands of years</a> prior to the arrival of Spanish missionaries in the 1700s. The Ohlone once numbered as many as 15,000 on lands stretching from the San Francisco Bay to Big Sur. But following years of enslavement under the Spanish mission system and, later, persecution by settlers, they are now largely a people in exile.</p> <p>Cerda's tribe&mdash;about 2,000 people living in the Pomona area east of Los Angeles&mdash;are now the largest contemporary Ohlone group in the state. They're leading the push for cultural recognition in the city of San Francisco. Specifically, they're asking the city for land to build a cultural center as part of a proposed <a href="http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Ohlones-want-a-voice-on-Hunters-Point-project-3256436.php" target="_blank">shoreline redevelopment project</a> in the Hunters Point Shipyard area. The area was once the location of a historic Ohlone village and burial site&mdash;one of <a href="http://ipocshellmoundwalk.homestead.com/shellmound.html" target="_blank">over 425</a> in the San Francisco Bay region.</p> <p>Ohlone leaders say a cultural center would highlight the oft-overlooked history of California's native people while serving as a permanent place for today's tribes to continue their song, dance, language, and art traditions. And they're also hoping to rebuild their cultural presence through community events like the annual Big Time Gathering, which took place in October in San Francisco's Presidio National Park. This year's gathering was the biggest yet, drawing more than 100 Native Californians from seven different tribes. Their goal is to honor their roots, says Neil Maclean, one of the event's organizers: "Through hearing them sing, seeing them dance, and joining with them in ceremony, the Ohlone will tell their side about what it is like to survive."</p></body></html> MoJo Video Race and Ethnicity Regulatory Affairs Religion Top Stories Sat, 22 Nov 2014 11:00:08 +0000 Prashanth Kamalakanthan 265066 at http://www.motherjones.com Republicans Finally Admit There Is No Benghazi Scandal http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/11/republicans-finally-admit-there-no-benghazi-scandal <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>For two years, ever since Mitt Romney <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2012/09/romney-campaign-attacks-obama-over-mythical-apology-embassy-attackers" target="_blank">screwed up</a> his response to the Benghazi attacks in order to score campaign points, Republicans have been on an endless search for a grand conspiracy theory that explains how it all happened. Intelligence was ignored because it would have been inconvenient to the White <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_house_intelligence_benghazi.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">House to acknowledge it. Hillary Clinton's State Department bungled the response to the initial protests in Cairo. Both State and CIA bungled the military response to the attacks themselves. Even so, rescue was still possible, but it was derailed by a stand down order&mdash;possibly from President Obama himself. The talking points after the attack were deliberately twisted for political reasons. Dissenters who tried to tell us what really happened were harshly punished.</p> <p>Is any of this true? The House Select Intelligence Committee&mdash;controlled by Republicans&mdash;has been investigating the Benghazi attacks in minute detail for two years. Today, with the midterm elections safely past, <a href="http://intelligence.house.gov/sites/intelligence.house.gov/files/documents/Benghazi%20Report.pdf" target="_blank">they issued their findings.</a> Their exoneration of the White House was sweeping and nearly absolute. So sweeping that I want to quote directly from the report's summary, rather than paraphrasing it. Here it is:</p> <ul><li>The Committee first concludes that the CIA ensured sufficient security for CIA facilities in Benghazi....Appropriate U.S. personnel made reasonable tactical decisions that night, and the Committee found <strong>no evidence that there was either a stand down order or a denial of available air support....</strong><br> &nbsp;</li> <li>Second, the Committee finds that there was <strong>no intelligence failure prior to the attacks.</strong> In the months prior, the IC provided intelligence about previous attacks and the increased threat environment in Benghazi, but the IC did not have specific, tactical warning of the September 11 attacks.<br> &nbsp;</li> <li>Third, the Committee finds that a mixed group of individuals, including those affiliated with Al Qa'ida, participated in the attacks....<br> &nbsp;</li> <li>Fourth, the Committee concludes that after the attacks, the early intelligence assessments and the Administration's initial public narrative on the causes and motivations for the attacks were not fully accurate....There was no protest. <strong>The CIA only changed its initial assessment about a protest on September 24, 2012, when closed caption television footage became available on September 18, 2012 (two days after Ambassador Susan Rice spoke)....</strong><br> &nbsp;</li> <li>Fifth, the Committee finds that the process used to generate the talking points HPSCI asked for&mdash;and which were used for Ambassador Rice's public appearances&mdash;was flawed....<br> &nbsp;</li> <li>Finally, the Committee found <strong>no evidence that any officer was intimidated, wrongly forced to sign a nondisclosure agreement or otherwise kept from speaking to Congress, or polygraphed because of their presence in Benghazi.</strong> The Committee also found no evidence that the CIA conducted unauthorized activities in Benghazi and no evidence that the IC shipped arms to Syria.</li> </ul><p>It's hard to exaggerate just how remarkable this document is. It's not that the committee found nothing to criticize. They did. The State Department facility in Benghazi had inadequate security. Some of the early intelligence after the attacks was inaccurate. The CIA should have given more weight to eyewitnesses on the ground.</p> <p>But those are routine after-action critiques, ones that were fully acknowledged by the very first investigations. Beyond that, every single conspiracy theory&mdash;without exception&mdash;was conclusively debunked. There was no stand down order. The tactical response was both reasonable and effective under the circumstances. The CIA was not shipping arms from Libya to Syria. Both CIA and State received all military support that was available. The talking points after the attack were fashioned by the intelligence community, not the White House. Susan Rice followed these talking points in her Sunday show appearances, and where she was wrong, it was only because the intelligence community had made incorrect assessments. Nobody was punitively reassigned or polygraphed or otherwise intimidated to prevent them from testifying to Congress.</p> <p>Read that list again. Late on a Friday afternoon, when it would get the least attention, a Republican-led committee finally admitted that every single Benghazi conspiracy theory was false. There are ways that the response to the attacks could have been improved, but that's it. Nobody at the White House interfered. Nobody lied. Nobody prevented the truth from being told.</p> <p>It was all just manufactured outrage from the beginning. But now the air is gone. There is no scandal, and there never was.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Congress International Military Sat, 22 Nov 2014 06:02:08 +0000 Kevin Drum 265306 at http://www.motherjones.com Brazil's Dietary Guidelines Are So Much Better Than the USDA's http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2014/11/brazil-schools-usda-dietary-guidelines <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>As anyone who has read Marion Nestle's <em>Food Politics </em>or Michael Pollan's <em>In Defense of Food</em> knows, the US Department of Agriculture's attempts to issue dietary advice have always been haunted by industry influence and a reductionist vision of nutrition science. The department finally ditched its silly pyramids a few years ago, but its <a href="http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/" target="_blank">guidelines</a> remain vague and arbitrary (for example, how does dairy merit inclusion as one of five food groups?).</p> <p>In Brazil, a hotbed of sound <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2013/07/obesity-and-big-food-ideas-brazil" target="_blank">progressive nutritional thinking</a>, the Ministry of Health has proven that governmental dietary advice need not be delivered in timid, industry-palatable bureaucratese. Check out its plain-spoken, unimpeachable, and down-right industry-hostile new guidelines (hat tip <a href="http://www.foodpolitics.com/2014/11/brazilian-dietary-guidelines-are-based-on-foods-food-patterns-and-meals-not-nutrients/" target="_blank">Marion Nestle</a>):</p> <blockquote> <p><br> 1.&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Make natural or minimally processed foods the basis of your diet<br> 2.&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Use oils, fats, salt, and sugar in small amounts when seasoning and cooking natural or minimally processed foods and to create culinary preparations<br> 3.&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Limit consumption of processed foods<br> 4.&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Avoid consumption of ultra-processed products<br> 5.&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Eat regularly and carefully in appropriate environments and, whenever possible, in company<br> 6.&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Shop in places that offer a variety of natural or minimally processed foods<br> 7.&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Develop, exercise and share culinary skills<br> 8.&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Plan your time to make food and eating important in your life<br> 9.&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Out of home, prefer places that serve freshly made meals<br> 10.&nbsp;&nbsp; Be wary of food advertising and marketing</p> </blockquote> <p>Meanwhile, over on <a href="http://civileats.com/2014/11/20/5-food-policy-lessons-the-u-s-could-learn-from-latin-america/" target="_blank"><em>Civil Eats</em></a>, the dissident nutritionist Andy Bellatti places Brazil's new approach on a fascinating list of five food-policy ideas the US could learn from Latin American nations.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> Tom Philpott Food and Ag Sat, 22 Nov 2014 05:00:07 +0000 Tom Philpott 265291 at http://www.motherjones.com Native Children Have the Same Rate of PTSD as Combat Veterans http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/11/native-children-have-same-rate-ptsd-combat-veterans <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Here's the most sobering statistic you'll see today: American-Indian and Alaskan Native children experience PTSD at the same rate at veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to a new report from a Department of Justice advisory committee, 22 percent of American-Indian and Alaskan Native juveniles have PTSD&mdash;three times higher than the national rate. Among other proposals, the committee recommends Congress grant tribes the ability to prosecute non-Indians who abuse children. Under the 2013 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, Congress empowered tribes to prosecute non-Indians who commit domestic violence, but left other crimes, like sexual abuse, untouched.</p> <p>You can read the full report here:</p> <div class="DC-note-container" id="DC-note-188681">&nbsp;</div> <script src="//s3.amazonaws.com/s3.documentcloud.org/notes/loader.js"></script><script> dc.embed.loadNote('//www.documentcloud.org/documents/1368962-finalaianreport/annotations/188681.js'); </script></body></html> MoJo Health Human Rights Race and Ethnicity Fri, 21 Nov 2014 20:22:13 +0000 Tim Murphy 265281 at http://www.motherjones.com Friday Cat Blogging - 21 November 2014 http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/11/friday-cat-blogging-21-november-2014 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Here in Drumland we have a new version of the Second Commandment. Here's the rewrite:</p> <blockquote> <p>Thou shalt not bow down thyself to any other cats: for I, the Lord thy Hilbert, am a jealous cat.</p> </blockquote> <p>Here's the backstory. Last week I got slightly concerned that Hopper was getting a bit less sociable. It was nothing big. She was still perfectly friendly, but she never jumped into our laps anymore. She's always had too much energy to be much of a lap cat, but when we first got her she'd occasionally get tuckered out and curl up with us.</p> <p>Long story short, my concern was completely misplaced. It turns out the reason she was avoiding our laps was because of Hilbert. Even if he was three rooms away, his spidey sense would tingle whenever she curled up with us, and he'd rush over to demand attention. Eventually he'd push her off completely, and apparently Hopper got tired of this. So she just stopped jumping into our laps.</p> <p>But as soon as we began restraining Hilbert, it turned out that Hopper was delighted to spend a spare hour or so with her human heating pads. This was easier said than done, since Hilbert really, really gets jealous when he sees Hopper on a lap. There's always another lap available for him, of course, but that's not the lap he wants. He wants whatever lap Hopper is sitting in. Keeping him away is an endless struggle.</p> <p>But struggle we do, and we figure that eventually Hilbert will learn there are laps aplenty and Hopper will realize that sitting in a lap isn't an invitation to be abused by her brother. Peace and love will then break out. Someday.</p> <p>In the meantime, here's this week's catblogging. On the left, Hopper is curled up in a sink that just fits her. Like so many cats, she's convinced that we humans might not know how to use the bathroom properly, so she always likes to come in and supervise. On the right, Hilbert is upstairs surveying his domain. Probably checking to ensure that no one else is sitting in a lap.</p> <p><img align="left" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_hopper_2014_11_21_0.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 5px 4px 5px 0px;"><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_hilbert_2014_11_21.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 5px 0px 5px 4px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 21 Nov 2014 19:55:06 +0000 Kevin Drum 265266 at http://www.motherjones.com Republicans Finally Sue Over Obamacare -- And There's Even a Surprise Included http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/11/republicans-finally-sue-over-obamacare-and-theres-even-surprise-included <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>House Republicans finally filed their long-awaited lawsuit against President Obama today, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/22/us/politics/obamacare-lawsuit-filed-by-republicans.html" target="_blank">and it actually contained a surprise:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The suit also challenges what it says is President Obama&rsquo;s unlawful giveaway of roughly $175 billion to insurance companies under the law. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the administration will pay that amount to the companies over the next 10 years, though the funds have not been appropriated by Congress. The lawsuit argues that it is an unlawful transfer of funds.</p> <p>....If the lawsuit is successful, poor people would not lose their health care, because the insurance companies would still be required to provide coverage &mdash; but without the help of the government subsidy, the companies might be forced to raise costs elsewhere. The subsidies reduce the co-payments, deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs that consumers incur when they go to doctors and hospitals.</p> </blockquote> <p>Long story short, it turns out there are two parts to the suit. The first part challenges Obama's delay of the employer mandate, and it's entirely symbolic. After all, it's only a delay. Even if Republicans win, by the time the case makes it all the way through the court system it will be moot. The delay will be over by then and the employer mandate will be in place.</p> <p>But this second part is unexpected. Republicans are arguing that a provision of the law called Cost Sharing Reduction wasn't automatically funded, as were most parts of the law. The law <em>authorizes</em> CSR, but no appropriation was ever made, so it's illegal to actually pay out these funds.</p> <p>Do they have a case? This is a brand new allegation, so I don't think anyone has yet had a chance to look into it. But if I had to guess, I'd say it's probably about as specious as every other allegation against Obamacare. Unfortunately, though, that doesn't mean the Supreme Court won't uphold it. You never know these days. In the meantime, conservatives are likely to be dizzy with excitement over the whole thing since (a) it involves a clear constitutional question about appropriating funds, and (b) it would hurt poor people. That's quite a twofer.</p> <p>Of course, the suit still has to survive challenges to Congress' standing to sue in the first place, and that might kill it before any court even begins to judge the merits of the case. Wait and see.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Congress Health Care Obama Fri, 21 Nov 2014 17:55:40 +0000 Kevin Drum 265286 at http://www.motherjones.com President Obama Acted Unilaterally on Immigration and the Right Is Predictably Outraged http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/11/president-obama-acted-unilaterally-immigration-and-right-outraged <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>President Barack Obama, who has issued fewer executive orders than any president since Grover Cleveland, issued a set of directives this week to protect 5 million undocumented residents from deportation. The <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/11/obama-executive-action-immigration-senate" target="_blank">new executive actions</a> will allow undocumented parents of US citizens to stay in the country, and allow children who were brought to the United States by their parents to apply for employment visas. It also, according to various Republican critics, cements Obama's status as a dictator, a king, an emperor, and maybe even a maniac bent on ethnic cleansing:</p> <p><strong>Obama is a king.</strong> "The president acts like he's a king," Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2014/09/26/politics/rand-paul-obama/" target="_blank">said</a>. "He ignores the Constitution. He arrogantly says, 'If Congress will not act, then I must.' These are not the words of a great leader. These are the words that sound more like the exclamations of an autocrat."</p> <p><strong>This will lead to anarchy. </strong>"The country's going to go nuts, because they're going to see it as a move outside the authority of the president, and it's going to be a very serious situation," retiring Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) told <em><a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2014/11/19/usa-today-capital-download-with-tom-coburn/19263969/" target="_blank">USA Today</a>. "</em>You're going to see&mdash;hopefully not&mdash;but you could see instances of anarchy. ... You could see violence."</p> <p><strong>He could go to jail. </strong>Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) told <a href="http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2014/11/19/alabama_rep_mo_brooks_says_obama_s_executive_action_over_immigration_could.html" target="_blank"><em>Slate</em></a> that the president might be committing a felony: "At some point, you have to evaluate whether the president's conduct aids or abets, encourages, or entices foreigners to unlawfully cross into the United States of America. That has a five-year in-jail penalty associated with it."</p> <p><strong>Is ethnic cleansing next?</strong> When asked by a talk-radio called on Thursday if the new executive actions would lead to "ethnic cleansing," Kansas Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach said <a href="http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/kris-kobach-obama-ethnic-cleansing" target="_blank">it just might</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>What protects us in America from any kind of ethnic cleansing is the rule of law, of course. And the rule of law used to be unassailable, used to be taken for granted in America. And now, of course, we have a President who disregards the law when it suits his interests. And, so, you know, while I normally would answer that by saying, 'Steve, of course we have the rule of law, that could never happen in America,' I wonder what could happen. I still don't think it&rsquo;s going to happen in America, but I have to admit, that things are, things are strange and they're happening.</p> </blockquote> <p>Kobach is hardly a fringe figure. He was <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/03/kris-kobach-anti-immigration-laws-sb-1070" target="_blank">the architect</a> of the self-deportation strategy at the core some of the nation's harshest immigration laws.</p></body></html> MoJo Congress Immigration Top Stories Fri, 21 Nov 2014 17:25:14 +0000 265271 at http://www.motherjones.com Winnie the Pooh Banned From Playground For Wrong Reason http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/11/winnie-pooh-banned-playground-because-people-are-stupid <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Goodmorning. Here is <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/news/winnie-the-pooh-banned-from-polish-playground-for-being-an-inappropriate-hermaphrodite-9872278.html" target="_blank">something stupid</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>Winnie the Pooh has been banned from a Polish playground because of his &ldquo;dubious sexuality&rdquo; and &ldquo;inappropriate&rdquo; dress.</p> <p>The much-loved animated bear was suggested at a local council meeting to decide which famous character should become the face of the play area in the small town of Tuszyn. But the idea soon sparked outrage among more conservative members, with one councillor even denouncing poor Pooh as a &ldquo;hermaphrodite&rdquo;.</p> <p>&ldquo;The problem with that bear is it doesn&rsquo;t have a complete wardrobe,&rdquo; said Ryszard Cichy during the discussion. &ldquo;It is half naked which is wholly inappropriate for children."</p> <p>&ldquo;The author was over 60 and cut [Pooh&rsquo;s] testicles off with a razor blade because he had a problem with his identity,&rdquo; she said.</p> </blockquote> <p>Here's the thing, Winnie the Pooh <em>should</em> <em>be banned</em> but not because he doesn't wear pants. He should be banned because he glamorizes stealing honey and tells children to play with bees. It's like he's never even seen <em>My Girl</em>.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Fri, 21 Nov 2014 16:23:35 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 265261 at http://www.motherjones.com Obama's Immigration Plan Is Both Good Policy and Remarkably Shrewd Politics http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/11/obamas-immigration-plan-both-good-policy-and-remarkably-shrewd-politics <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>There are questions about whether President Obama's immigration plan is legal. There are questions about whether it's good policy. And then there are questions about whether it's smart politics. On the latter point, I'd say that Obama has been unusually shrewd, almost single-handedly <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/21/us/politics/in-immigration-fight-some-in-gop-fear-alienating-latinos.html" target="_blank">demolishing the plans of Republican leaders for the next two years:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>All but drowned out by Republicans' clamorous opposition to President Obama's executive action on immigration are some leaders who worry that their party could alienate the fastest-growing group of voters, for 2016 and beyond, if its hottest heads become its face.</p> <p>They cite the Republican Party's official analysis of what went wrong in 2012&hellip;"If Hispanics think that we do not want them here," the report said, "they will close their ears to our policies."</p> <p>&hellip;"Clearly with Republicans not having gotten to a consensus in terms of immigration, it makes it a lot more difficult to talk about immigration as a unified voice," said David Winston, a Republican pollster who advises House leaders. "There are some people &mdash; because there's not a consensus &mdash; that somehow end up having a little bit louder <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_steve_king_canteloupe.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 25px;">voice than perhaps they would normally have."</p> <p>Among them is Representative Steve King of Iowa&hellip;</p> </blockquote> <p>Ah yes, Steve King of Iowa. The odds of shutting him up are about zero, and with primary season approaching he's going to become the de facto leader of the anti-immigration forces. In the same way that Republican candidates all have to kiss Sheldon Adelson's ring and swear eternal loyalty to Israel if they want access to his billions, they're going to have to kiss King's ring and swear eternal hostility to any kind of immigration from south of the border&mdash;and they're going to compete wildly to express this in the most colorful ways possible. And that's a big problem. Expressing loyalty to Israel doesn't really have much downside, but effectively denouncing the entire Hispanic population of the United States is going to steadily destroy any hopes Republicans have of ever appealing to this fast-growing voting bloc.</p> <p>And that's not all. Republican leaders are not only fearful of next year's primaries branding the GOP forever as a bunch of xenophobic maniacs, they're afraid it's going to wipe out any chance they have over the next two years of demonstrating to voters that they're a party of adults. <a href="http://www.latimes.com/nation/politics/la-na-immigration-fight-20141120-story.html" target="_blank">Here's the <em>LA Times</em>:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The strong reaction by Republican leaders has less to do with opposition to the nuts and bolts of the president's immigration policy and more to do with fear and anger that the issue will derail the agenda of the new Republican majority before the next Congress even convenes.</p> <p>Republican leaders who had hoped to focus on corporate tax reform, fast-track trade pacts, repealing the president's healthcare law and loosening environmental restrictions on coal are instead being dragged into an immigration skirmish that they've tried studiously to avoid for most of the last year.</p> <p>&hellip;To many, stark warnings from Boehner and McConnell sound more like pleas to the president to avoid reenergizing the GOP's conservative wing, whose leaders are already threatening to link the president's immigration plan to upcoming budget talks.</p> </blockquote> <p>For what it's worth, I think Obama deserves credit for an unusually brilliant political move here. Some of this is accidental: he would have announced his immigration plan earlier in the year if he hadn't gotten pushback from red-state Democratic senators who didn't want to deal with this during tough election battles. Still, he stuck to his guns after the midterm losses, and the result seems to be almost an unalloyed positive for his party.</p> <p>The downside, after all, is minimal: the public says it's mildly unhappy with Obama using an executive order to change immigration rules. But that's a nothingburger. Outside of the Fox News set that's already convinced Obama is a tyrant bent on shredding the Constitution, this simply isn't something that resonates very strongly or for very long. It will be forgotten in a few weeks.</p> <p>The upside, conversely, is potentially huge. Obama has, indeed, waved a red flag in front of congressional tea partiers, turning them into frothing lunatics who want to shut down the government and maybe even impeach him. This has already turned into a huge headache for John Boehner and Mitch McConnell, who really don't want this to be the public face of the party. In addition, it's quite possibly wrecked the Republican agenda for the next year, which is obviously just fine with Obama. And it's likely to turn next year's primary season into an anti-Hispanic free-for-all that does permanent damage to the GOP brand.</p> <p>And that's not even counting the energizing effect this has on Democrats, as well as the benefit they get from keeping a promise to Hispanics and earning their loyalty for the next few election cycles.</p> <p>Is there a price to be paid for this? If you think that maybe, just maybe, Republicans were willing to work with Obama to pass a few constructive items, then there's a price. Those items might well be dead in the water. If you don't believe that, the price is zero. I'm more or less in that camp. And you know what? Even the stuff that might have been passable&mdash;trade authority, the Keystone XL pipeline, a few tweaks to Obamacare&mdash;I'm either opposed to or only slightly in favor of in the first place. If they don't happen, very few Democrats are going to shed any real tears.</p> <p>That leaves only presidential appointments, and there might be a downside there if you think that initially Republicans were prepared to be halfway reasonable about confirming Obama's judges and agency heads. I kinda doubt that, but I guess you never know. This might be a genuine downside to unleashing the tea party beast.</p> <p>So: the whole thing is politically pretty brilliant. It unifies Democrats; wrecks the Republican agenda in Congress; cements the loyalty of Hispanics; and presents the American public with a year of Republican candidates spitting xenophobic fury during primary season. If you're President Obama, what's not to like?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum 2016 Elections Immigration Obama The Right Fri, 21 Nov 2014 15:29:30 +0000 Kevin Drum 265256 at http://www.motherjones.com Has Obama Gone Too Far? 5 Key Questions Answered About the Legality of His Immigration Plan http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/11/obama-immigration-legal <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>I've been paying only moderate attention to the whole issue of President Obama's executive order on immigration, and it's only over the past few days that I've started trying to learn more about the legal issues involved. And I confess that I've been a little surprised by what I've discovered. As near as I can tell, both liberal <em>and</em> conservative legal scholars&mdash;as opposed to TV talking heads and other professional <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/images/Blog_Immigration_Sign.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">rabble-rousers&mdash;agree that Obama has the authority to reshape immigration enforcement in nearly any way he wants to. Here are answers to five key questions about the legality of the immigration plan Obama announced tonight:</p> <ol><li><strong>The linchpin of Obama's executive action is the president's inherent authority to engage in prosecutorial discretion,</strong> and just about everyone agrees that this authority is nearly unconditional. Speaking to a meeting of the conservative Federalist Society, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/18/federalist-society-obama-immigration_n_6182350.html" target="_blank">Christopher Schroeder said:</a> "I think the roots of prosecutorial discretion are extremely deep. The practice is long and robust. The case law is robust." <a href="http://www.newrepublic.com/article/120328/obama-immigration-executive-action-why-it-will-be-legal" target="_blank">Erwin Chemerinsky and Samuel Kleiner agree:</a> "It has always been within the president&rsquo;s discretion to decide whether to have the Department of Justice enforce a particular law. As the Supreme Court declared in <em>United States v. Nixon</em>, 'the Executive Branch has exclusive authority and absolute discretion to decide whether to prosecute a case.'"<br> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>OK, but exempting entire categories of people from prosecution?</strong> It turns out that current immigration law explicitly recognizes this. <a href="http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/on-immigration-obama-may-be-cynical-but-hes-not-breaking-the-law/article/2551807" target="_blank">Margaret Stock,</a> a Republican immigration lawyer and a Federalist Society member, says: "The Immigration and Nationality Act and other laws are chock-full of huge grants of statutory authority to the president. Congress gave the president all these powers, and now they are upset because he wants to use them. Other presidents have used the same authority in the past without an outcry."<br> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>But are those grants really broad enough?</strong> Apparently so. In fact, immigration law provides the president an unusually <em>broad</em> scope for executive action. <a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/view_from_chicago/2014/08/why_obama_has_the_power_to_stop_millions_of_deportations_without_congress.single.html" target="_blank">Eric Posner writes:</a> "The president&rsquo;s authority over this arena is even greater than his authority over other areas of the law....In 2012, the Supreme Court recognized the vast discretion of the president over immigration policy. In the case <em>Arizona v. United States</em>, the court struck down several Arizona laws that ordered state officials to enforce federal immigration laws, on pain of state penalty....As [Adam] Cox puts it, in a recent academic article, the court&rsquo;s reasoning "gives executive branch officials near complete control over the content of immigration law.'"<br> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Still, even if this is true in theory, is it really true in practice?</strong> As it turns out, yes, there's plenty of prior precedent for exactly this kind of thing. <a href="http://www.latimes.com/nation/politics/politicsnow/la-pn-immigration-executive-order-one-of-many-20141117-story.html" target="_blank">As the <em>LA Times</em> reports,</a> "Obama would not be the first president to push through immigration reform by working outside of Congress." In fact, presidents from FDR through Bill Clinton have issued executive orders that deferred deportation for various categories of undocumented immigrants. And while it's true that Obama's action will likely affect more people than any of the previous ones, that's a political issue, not a legal one. From a strictly legal viewpoint, Obama is doing something that has plenty of past precedent.<br> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Finally, what about work permits?</strong> Even if Obama can legally defer prosecution&mdash;a right conferred by both constitutional authority and statutory language&mdash;does that also give him the right to issue work permits to immigrants affected by his order? Surprisingly, perhaps, that has a long pedigree too&mdash;one that goes back not just to DACA (Obama's 2012 mini-DREAM executive order), but well before that. <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2014/08/06/how-far-can-obama-go-on-deportations/" target="_blank">David Leopold,</a> former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, explains: "The federal regulations governing employment under immigration law existed well before DACA. Under those regulations, any undocumented immigrant granted deferred action &mdash; under programs that preceded DACA or coincide with it &mdash; had already been able to apply for employment authorization....The president&rsquo;s authority to grant work status long precedes DACA, and while it does apply to DACA and would apply to its expansion, it is not a direct outgrowth or creation of either."</li> </ol><p>It's an open question whether Obama's actions are politically wise. It might force Republicans into an uncomfortable corner as they compete loudly to denounce Obama's actions, further damaging their chances of appealing to Hispanics in future elections. Alternatively, it might poison any possibility of working constructively with congressional Republicans over the next couple of years, which might further degrade Democratic approval ratings. There's also, I think, a legitimate question about whether liberals should be cheering an expansion of presidential power, whether it's legal or not.</p> <p>That said, Obama's actions really do appear to be not just legal, but fairly uncontroversially so among people who know both the law and past precedent. Republicans may not like what Obama is doing, and they certainly have every right to fight it. But they should stop spouting nonsense about lawlessness and tyranny. That's just playground silliness.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Immigration Fri, 21 Nov 2014 05:27:40 +0000 Kevin Drum 265211 at http://www.motherjones.com