Blogs | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en In the Contest for Worst Automobile-Driving Species, the Winner is Homo Sapiens <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>A reader tells me this story seems <a href="" target="_blank">right up my alley:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Google, a leader in efforts to create driverless cars, has run into an odd safety conundrum: humans.</p> <p>Last month, as one of Google&rsquo;s self-driving cars approached a crosswalk, it did what it was supposed to do when it slowed to allow a pedestrian to cross, prompting its &ldquo;safety driver&rdquo; to apply the brakes. The pedestrian <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_car_in_pool.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 28px 0px 15px 30px;">was fine, but not so much Google&rsquo;s car, which was hit from behind by a human-driven sedan.</p> <p>....<strong>Dmitri Dolgov, head of software for Google&rsquo;s Self-Driving Car Project, said that one thing he had learned from the project was that human drivers needed to be &ldquo;less idiotic.&rdquo;</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>That's the spirit! And when Skynet takes over, humans will finally cease to be such a nuisance. Driverless car nirvana will be at hand.</p> <p>Ahem. In reality, of course, this whole story is sort of silly. <em>Of course</em> the biggest problem with driverless cars is humans. What else would it be? Plop a few thousand driverless cars into an empty city and they'd get along swimmingly. No one is unaware of this, least of all Google.</p> <p>But I suppose from Google's perspective, stories like this are useful as ways to calm fears about driverless cars. And there <em>is</em> a good point to be made about that: driverless cars don't have to be perfect to be useful. They just have to be at least as good as humans. So while the fact that humans are generally idiotic drivers might be a short-term annoyance, in the long run it's a huge bonus for Google. They don't have to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, just the local high school JV team.</p> <p>This, by the way, is why I'm so generally bullish on artificial intelligence. It's not because I have such a high opinion of computers, but because I have such a low opinion of humans. We really are just overclocked chimpanzees who have convinced ourselves that our weird jumble of largely Pavlovian behaviors&mdash;punctuated by regrettably rare dollops of intelligence&mdash;is deeply ineffable and therefore resistant to true understanding. Why do we believe this? Primarily for the amusingly oxymoronic reason that we aren't smart enough to understand our own brains. The silicon crowd should be able to do better before long.</p> <p><strong>POSTSCRIPT:</strong> By the way, I'm a lovely driver. It's all you other folks who are causing so many problems.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 01 Sep 2015 21:32:12 +0000 Kevin Drum 283171 at Sorry, I Don't Know Why Murder Rates Are Up In a Bunch of Big Cities <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>I've gotten enough requests to comment on this piece from the <em>New York Times</em> that <a href="" target="_blank">I guess I'd better do so:</a></p> <blockquote> <p><strong>Cities across the nation are seeing a startling rise in murders after years of declines,</strong> and few places have witnessed a shift as precipitous as this city. With the summer not yet over, 104 people have been killed this year &mdash; after 86 homicides in all of 2014.</p> <p>More than 30 other cities have also reported increases in violence from a year ago. In New Orleans, 120 people had been killed by late August, compared with 98 during the same period a year earlier. In Baltimore, homicides had hit 215, up from 138 at the same point in 2014. In Washington, the toll was 105, compared with 73 people a year ago. And in St. Louis, 136 people had been killed this year, a 60 percent rise from the 85 murders the city had by the same time last year.</p> <p>Law enforcement experts say disparate factors are at play in different cities, though no one is claiming to know for sure why murder rates are climbing. Some officials say intense national scrutiny of the use of force by the police has made officers less aggressive and emboldened criminals, though many experts dispute that theory.</p> </blockquote> <p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_crime_baseline_lead.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">The reason I haven't said anything about this until now is that I had nothing to say. I have no more idea what's driving this increase than anyone else.</p> <p>But what about lead? Here's the problem: gasoline lead explains one thing and one thing only. And that thing is the huge violent crime wave of 1960-1990 followed by the equally huge drop of 1990-2010. But that's over. What we're left with now is the baseline level of violent crime, which obviously wouldn't be zero even if there were no lead in the environment at all. And the causes of this baseline level of violent crime are all the usual suspects: poverty, race, drugs, policing, guns, demographics, and so forth. A more detailed explanation is <a href="" target="_blank">here.</a> At this point, lead is a very small contributor to the crime level.</p> <p>It's also worth pointing out that crime figures, and murder figures in particular, are extremely noisy. Lead explains long-term shifts. It doesn't explain short-term spikes or (in most cases) differences from one city to another. The current increase in murder rates could be due to lots of things, or it could just be the usual noise in the numbers. Maybe they'll go right back down next year.</p> <p>But I don't know. The only thing I do know is that lead is playing no particular role in this, either good or bad.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 01 Sep 2015 19:09:30 +0000 Kevin Drum 283166 at Let Us Now Praise Passionate Politics <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>German Lopez notes the reaction in some quarters to the <a href="" target="_blank">recent shooting of a Texas deputy sheriff:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Despite any solid leads and facts about the motives in the shooting of 10-year deputy veteran Darren Goforth, some conservative media outlets and local law enforcement officials have already settled on the <em>real</em> culprit: Black Lives Matter.</p> <p>....Fox News's Elisabeth Hasselbeck later wondered aloud on air why Black Lives Matter isn't considered a "hate group." Bill O'Reilly was more blunt, concluding the movement was indeed a "hate group."</p> <p>....It's not just Fox News &mdash; other reports painted narratives that put Black Lives Matter and police as inherently in conflict. A CNN report, for instance, described Black Lives Matter's advocacy as "anti-police rhetoric." What does it say about American society that advocating for black lives and ending racial disparities in the criminal justice system <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_speakers_corner_0.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">would qualify not as pro-equality but as anti-police?</p> </blockquote> <p>This is hardly a surprise. Nor is it limited to conservatives. Liberals frequently fault anti-abortion rhetoric when someone kills an abortion clinic worker or anti-government rhetoric when someone shoots up an IRS office.</p> <p>That won't stop, but it should. People and groups have to be free to condemn abortion or police misconduct or anything else&mdash;sometimes soberly, sometimes not. And it's inevitable that this will occasionally inspire a maniac somewhere to resort to violence. There's really no way around this. It's obviously something for any decent person to keep in mind, but it doesn't make passionate politics culpable for the ills of the world. We can't allow the limits of our political spirit to be routinely dictated by the worst imaginable consequences.</p> <p>This is no apology for obviously incendiary speech. If you get on your soapbox and tell your followers to kill the pigs or murder the child murderers, then you bear a share of blame for what happens next. That's both common sense and legal reality.</p> <p>But we also need common sense toward speech that's less immediately incendiary but still fiery or angry&mdash;or both. This is where change, liberal and conservative alike, comes from. It's sadly inevitable that in a country of 300 million, even the minuscule fraction that fears change enough to go on a killing rampage amounts to a lot of people. But it's neither a good reason to rein in our political vigor nor a good reason to blame passionate engagement in politics for every related tragedy. That way lies atrophy and rot.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 01 Sep 2015 18:22:49 +0000 Kevin Drum 283156 at Science Marches On: We Now Have a Yard Sale That Runs Backward In Time <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">A sentence to ponder:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The world's longest yard sale runs for nearly 700 miles along a mostly vertical line connecting Alabama and Michigan, from the first Thursday in August through the first Sunday.</p> </blockquote> <p>But what if the first Sunday comes before the first Thursday? Do they cancel the sale that year? Does it run backward through time? I demand answers.</p> <p>(Via Tyler Cowen.)</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 01 Sep 2015 16:50:47 +0000 Kevin Drum 283141 at September Is Here! Time for Republicans to Get ... Um ... Something About Donald Trump. <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_gop_field_rcp_2015_09_01.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">It's September! Hooray! The kids are back in school and Donald Trump's reign over the silly season will soon be coming to an end. Finally, we can start to get serious about choosing our next presi&mdash;</p> <p>Wait. WTF? Trumpmentum's sagging fortunes have turned around? He's now even further in the lead? Well crap.</p> <p>The Republican field really needs to get its act together. They can't go on being afraid of him because he's "tapping into something real," or whatever the latest excuse is. It's time for some nuclear-level attack ads. The problem, I assume, is that everybody in the race wants someone <em>else</em> to waste their money attacking Trump, so they're all left in a weird kind of prisoner's dilemma where no one is willing to go first. They better figure out soon that this is a losing strategy.</p> <p>Oh well. The higher they go, the farther they fall. Amirite?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 01 Sep 2015 16:23:04 +0000 Kevin Drum 283136 at The Average Family Pays a Federal Income Tax Rate of 5% <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Ross Douthat writes today about the split on taxes between the Republican donor class and <a href="" target="_blank">the average Republican voter:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The donorist vision, in my experience, has its own distinctives: It&rsquo;s less interested in the specifics of the Laffer curve or any other economic theory, and more inclined to take a vaguely Randian view of high taxes as an unjust punishment for success....</p> <p>Then the average Republican voter has a different perspective still....This prototypical Republican voter, who might be pulling in $45,000 working a trade or $95,000 running a small business (or vice versa), isn&rsquo;t necessarily being <em>soaked</em> by the federal income tax, but he or she remains an anti-tax voter because even small tax fluctuations year to year feel like an immediate threats to the ability to save, to plan, to expand or preserve a business, to buy a home and put money away for college and think about retirement and generally preserve their peace of mind.</p> </blockquote> <p>Douthat's post was inspired by Donald Trump's heresies on taxes, but I wouldn't read too much into that. <a href="" target="_blank">As I noted yesterday,</a> it looks to me as if Trump is slowly but steadily moving in the direction of Republican orthodoxy with only a few minor populist concessions.</p> <p>But I was happy to see Douthat acknowledge that the average Republican voter is not exactly being soaked by taxes. As it happens, that's putting it mildly. The median family in America earns about $65,000. That family, on average, <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_average_fed_income_tax_rate.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">pays a federal income tax rate of <a href="" target="_blank">about 5 percent.</a></p> <p>In other words, for the average voter this isn't about money. Even the hardest core tea partiers can't possibly be outraged at the prospect of paying 5 percent of their income to Uncle Sam. The plain truth is that middle-class tax cuts are becoming all but impossible these days: the average family no longer pays enough in taxes to even notice a small change up or down. And the trend over the past few decades has been nothing but down anyway.</p> <p>And yet, taxes continue to be a potent message. Why? It's not because of payroll taxes. Numerous polls have shown that most voters consider these fair because they pay for Social Security and Medicare benefits down the road. Nor do state income taxes change the overall picture much.</p> <p>Republicans have been in this quandary for a while. Cutting taxes is pretty much all they've got on the economic front, but there's not a whole lot left to cut for the average Joe. And yet, the anti-tax message really does continue to resonate. Why? I'd suggest two things.</p> <p>First, most people are bad at math. They may be paying about 5 percent of their income in federal taxes, but if you ask them, they'd probably guess it's more like 20 or 30 percent. Republicans have long complained that weekly withholding makes taxes invisible, and they have a point. But right now, that works in their favor.</p> <p>Second, a lot of people are afraid that Democrats will <em>raise</em> their taxes. This prospect carries more punch than the prospect of a cut from Republicans.</p> <p>In any case, even though Donald Trump is coming around to Republican orthodoxy on taxes, I do think he's highlighting a real dilemma for Republicans. Raising taxes on hedge fund managers is no big deal. They can be thrown under the bus if necessary. But the other half of Trump's message is about reducing taxes on average middle-class families. That may still be a potent message, but even now it's not as potent as it was 30 years ago. And going forward, Democrats are eventually going to figure out a way to make it clear that federal income taxes really aren't very onerous anymore.<sup>1</sup> When that happens, it's bye bye tax cuts for the rich&mdash;because the only way you can sell tax cuts for the rich is to hide them behind tax cuts for the middle class. For simple mathematical reasons, that particular con is coming to an end.</p> <p><sup>1</sup>Of course, they haven't figured this out yet, so maybe I'm being too optimistic.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 01 Sep 2015 15:47:45 +0000 Kevin Drum 283126 at Kentucky Clerk Continues to Defy Supreme Court by Refusing to Issue Marriage License to Gay Couple <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The Supreme Court on Monday night denied an emergency application from a defiant Kentucky clerk who is refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. Today, Kim Davis, of the Rowan County Clerk's office, is <a href="" target="_blank">once again refusing to comply</a> with a lower court's order by denying marriage licenses to anyone, gay or straight.</p> <p>When asked by a same-sex couple on Tuesday morning under whose authority she was failing to obey the high court, Davis answered, "under God's authority." She then told the crowd to leave and threatened to call the police.</p> <center> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Davis came out of office briefly to speak to couple (part 1) <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Hillary Thornton (@HillaryWKYT) <a href="">September 1, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Davis out of office (part 2) <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Hillary Thornton (@HillaryWKYT) <a href="">September 1, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script></center> <p>The Supreme Court denied Davis's <a href="" target="_blank">application </a>to turn away same-sex couples seeking marriage licenses because it did not align with her religious beliefs. Her appeal marks the first time since June's historic <a href="" target="_blank">Supreme Court decision</a> that the justices have had to deal with the issue again.</p> <p>If she continues to defy the court, Davis could be found in contempt and face possible jail time and fines. A hearing is set for Thursday.</p></body></html> MoJo Gay Rights Supreme Court Tue, 01 Sep 2015 14:44:19 +0000 Inae Oh 283116 at Lone Gay Marriage Holdout Acting "Under the Authority of God" <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">Sigh.</a></p> <blockquote> <p>A county clerk in Kentucky who objects to same-sex marriage on religious grounds denied licenses to gay couples on Tuesday, just hours after the Supreme Court refused to support her position.</p> <p>In a raucous scene in the little town of Morehead, two-same-sex couples walked into the Rowan County Courthouse, trailed by television <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_kim_davis.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">cameras and chanting protesters on both sides of the issue, only to be told by the county clerk, Kim Davis, that she was denying them marriage licenses &ldquo;under the authority of God.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>The optimist in me says that if the biggest backlash to the Supreme Court's gay marriage decision is one clerk in a tiny town in Kentucky, then we've gotten off pretty easy. And really, the more I think about it, that really does seem like the main takeaway from this.</p> <p>But it's obvious that the endgame here is for Kim Davis to be fired, or tossed in jail for contempt. The Supreme Court itself has ordered her to issue licenses, so she has no further legal recourse. Only recourse to God.</p> <p>I'm now curious to see what the Republican field will make of this. On the one hand, most of them are treating the primary contest as a zero-sum race to see who can move furthest to the right. On the other hand, do they really want to get on the wrong side of gay marriage <em>and</em> immigration? On the third hand, there's the whole rule of law thing. And on the fourth hand, Donald Trump is not an anti-gay warrior. He's the guy everyone is responding to, so maybe that means this will stay low key.</p> <p>The Huckabees and Carsons of the world will surely support Davis. The rest of the field....probably not. That's my guess. Then again, if video of Davis being hauled off to the county pen ends up on a 24/7 loop on Fox News, who knows? Defying the will of a small groups of pissed off base voters is not something the Republican field is exactly famous for.</p> <p><strong>UPDATE:</strong> <a href="" target="_blank">Greg Sargent confirms my sense</a> that holdouts like Davis are very rare. "In the seven southern states where the backlash might have been expected to be fiercest, only one &mdash; Alabama &mdash; still has multiple counties that are holding out. One other &mdash; Kentucky &mdash; has only two remaining counties holding out." The national campaign director for Freedom to Marry says that, all things considered, "things are going exceedingly smoothly."</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 01 Sep 2015 14:38:20 +0000 Kevin Drum 283121 at Pope Francis Will Allow Priests to Forgive Women Who Have Had Abortions <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>On Tuesday, Pope Francis announced that during the church's upcoming Holy Year of Mercy, which runs from December 8, 2015, to November 20, 2016, he will allow priests the discretion to forgive women who have had abortions. The move effectively lifts the church's policy that can lead to women being excommunicated for procuring an abortion, for the time being at least. In normal circumstances, these women are required to seek forgiveness from a senior priest who specializes in such confessions, which can be a complicated process.</p> <p>In a <a href="" target="_blank">letter from the Vatican</a>, Francis called on the church to practice mercy toward women who seek such forgiveness:</p> <blockquote> <p>For this reason too, I have decided, notwithstanding anything to the contrary, to concede to all priests for the Jubilee Year the discretion to absolve of the sin of abortion those who have procured it and who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it. May priests fulfil (sic) this great task by expressing words of genuine welcome combined with a reflection that explains the gravity of the sin committed, besides indicating a path of authentic conversion by which to obtain the true and generous forgiveness of the Father who renews all with his presence.</p> </blockquote> <p>While the announcement still condemns abortions as a major transgression&mdash;a Vatican spokesman on Tuesday <a href="" target="_blank">emphasized</a> the decision is by "no means an attempt to minimize the gravity of the sin"&mdash;the move continues what some are calling Francis' more <a href="" target="_blank">progressive papacy</a>, compared with that of his predecessors.</p></body></html> MoJo Religion Reproductive Rights Tue, 01 Sep 2015 13:58:45 +0000 Inae Oh 283111 at 54% of Republicans Think Obama Is a Muslim <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>You know, I thought this nonsense had stopped. I don't know <em>why</em> I thought it had stopped&mdash;out of sight, out of mind?&mdash;but apparently it hasn't. Crikey.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_ppp_obama_muslim_2015_08_31.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 110px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Tue, 01 Sep 2015 01:34:14 +0000 Kevin Drum 283106 at Sovereign Citizens Leapfrog Islamic Extremists as America's Top Terrorist Threat <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_greatest_terrorist_threats.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Who do actual law enforcement officers see as the biggest terrorist threats in America? Surprise! <a href="" target="_blank">It's not Islamic radicals:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Approximately 39 percent of respondents agreed and 28 percent strongly agreed that Islamic extremists were a serious terrorist threat. In comparison, <strong>52 percent of respondents agreed and 34 percent strongly agreed that sovereign citizens were a serious terrorist threat.</strong></p> <p>....There was significant concern about the resurgence of the radical far right [following the election of President Obama], but it appears as though law enforcement is, at present, less concerned about these groups.</p> </blockquote> <p>That's odd. The authors of this report apparently don't consider the sovereign citizens part of the radical right. But their roots are in the Posse Comitatus movement, and they identify strongly with both the white supremacist Christian Identity movement and the anti-tax movement. That's always sounded like the right-wing on steroids to me.</p> <p>I'm not trying to foist responsibility for these crazies on the Republican Party, any more than I'd say Democrats are responsible for animal rights extremists. Still, their complaints seem like preposterous caricatures of right-wing thought, in the same way that animal rights extremism bears a distant but recognizable ancestry to lefty principles.</p> <p>In any case, <a href="" target="_blank">this comes via Zack Beauchamp,</a> who explains the sovereign citizens movement in more detail for the uninitiated.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 31 Aug 2015 22:39:58 +0000 Kevin Drum 283096 at Donald Trump Goes Willie Horton on Jeb Bush <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Donald Trump's latest attack on Jeb Bush may strike a familiar chord for those who remember&nbsp;the 1988 presidential race.</p> <p>On Monday afternoon,&nbsp;Trump released a video on Instagram that assails&nbsp;Bush for a supposedly lenient stance on undocumented immigration. The video cites a 2014 quote from Bush in which he referred to people who illegally cross the border:&nbsp;"Yes, they broke the law, but it's not a felony; it's an act of love." Then the attack ad flashes pictures of three undocumented immigrants, all charged with murder.&nbsp;(Only one of the trio has been convicted.)</p> <p>The ad is reminiscent of the infamous 1988 Willie Horton ad, aired by George H.W. Bush supporters, that accused Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis of being soft on crime by supporting a state program that allowed&nbsp;weekend passes for prisoners. (Horton, who was a convicted murderer serving a life sentence in Massachusetts, raped a woman while out on a furlough.) The ad sparked a controversy, with critics claiming it exploited&mdash;or fueled&mdash;racist sentiments.&nbsp;</p> <p>Here's the new Trump ad:</p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-version="4" style=" background:#FFF; border:0; border-radius:3px; box-shadow:0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width:658px; padding:0; width:99.375%; width:-webkit-calc(100% - 2px); width:calc(100% - 2px);"> <div style="padding:8px;"> <div style=" background:#F8F8F8; line-height:0; margin-top:40px; padding:28.125% 0; text-align:center; width:100%;"> <div style=" background:url(data:image/png;base64,iVBORw0KGgoAAAANSUhEUgAAACwAAAAsCAMAAAApWqozAAAAGFBMVEUiIiI9PT0eHh4gIB4hIBkcHBwcHBwcHBydr+JQAAAACHRSTlMABA4YHyQsM5jtaMwAAADfSURBVDjL7ZVBEgMhCAQBAf//42xcNbpAqakcM0ftUmFAAIBE81IqBJdS3lS6zs3bIpB9WED3YYXFPmHRfT8sgyrCP1x8uEUxLMzNWElFOYCV6mHWWwMzdPEKHlhLw7NWJqkHc4uIZphavDzA2JPzUDsBZziNae2S6owH8xPmX8G7zzgKEOPUoYHvGz1TBCxMkd3kwNVbU0gKHkx+iZILf77IofhrY1nYFnB/lQPb79drWOyJVa/DAvg9B/rLB4cC+Nqgdz/TvBbBnr6GBReqn/nRmDgaQEej7WhonozjF+Y2I/fZou/qAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC); display:block; height:44px; margin:0 auto -44px; position:relative; top:-22px; width:44px;">&nbsp;</div> </div> <p style=" margin:8px 0 0 0; padding:0 4px;"><a href="" style=" color:#000; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:normal; line-height:17px; text-decoration:none; word-wrap:break-word;" target="_top">This is no "act of love" as Jeb Bush said...</a></p> <p style=" color:#c9c8cd; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px; margin-bottom:0; margin-top:8px; overflow:hidden; padding:8px 0 7px; text-align:center; text-overflow:ellipsis; white-space:nowrap;">A video posted by Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on <time datetime="2015-08-31T16:16:53+00:00" style=" font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px;">Aug 31, 2015 at 9:16am PDT</time></p> </div> </blockquote> <script async defer src="//"></script><p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Here's the Willie Horton spot:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="473" src="" width="630"></iframe></p></body></html> MoJo 2016 Elections Elections Immigration Jeb Bush Mon, 31 Aug 2015 19:31:09 +0000 Miles E. Johnson 283051 at Breaking: Another Massive Explosion Rocks Industrial City in China <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Another huge explosion has erupted in China, this time in the eastern city of Dongying, according to the<em> People's Daily</em>, a Chinese state-run newspaper:</p> <center> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Breaking: A blast seen and heard in a chemical industry zone in Lijin, Dongying City of Shandong around 23:25 Mon. <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; People's Daily,China (@PDChina) <a href="">August 31, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script></center> <p>The cause of the blast is not yet known. Earlier in August, the city of Tianjin, one of China's largest industrial shipping centers, was rocked by massive explosions inside warehouses that reportedly stored hazardous chemicals and <a href="" target="_blank">"explosive materials."</a> The explosions killed at least <a href=";rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=3&amp;cad=rja&amp;uact=8&amp;ved=0CCMQqQIwAmoVChMIiPm8yoHUxwIVAcyACh0_MAmY&amp;;usg=AFQjCNGbAJc_hXCgjTXRAvRIeZ6VrbAq7g&amp;sig2=TP0LfuxwtgT1InbuSkHhmw" target="_blank">150 people. </a></p> <p><em>This is a breaking news post. We will update as more information becomes available. </em></p></body></html> MoJo Health Care Mon, 31 Aug 2015 19:19:10 +0000 Inae Oh 283071 at It's Not the Economy, Stupid. The Spanish Language Is the Ur-Motive of Anti-Immigration Sentiment. <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_english_language.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Ed Kilgore on the conservative hostility <a href="" target="_blank">toward illegal immigration:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>This very weekend I was reading an advance copy of an upcoming book that includes the results of some intensive focus group work with what might be called the "angry wing" of the GOP base. <strong>The author notes that one thing that simply <em>enrages</em> grass-roots conservatives is the use of non-English languages by immigrants.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Yep. You can read all about it <a href="" target="_blank">from one of Kilgore's predecessors,</a> who wrote about it during our last big try at immigration reform in 2006. It's based on an <a href="" target="_blank">excellent piece by Chris Hayes,</a> written before he sold out to the bright lights and big paychecks of cable television.</p> <p>I agree that language is probably the key original driver of anti-immigrant sentiment, though it's long since inspired further animus based around crime, gangs, social services, and other culture-related issues. The odd thing is that this is one of the few areas where I think the anti-immigrationists have a bit of a point. It's not a very <em>big</em> point, since (a) Spanish occupies no <em>official</em> role in the United States, and (b) Latin American immigrants all end up speaking English by the second and third generations anyway. Hell, the third-generation Latino who speaks lousy Spanish is practically a cliche.</p> <p>That said, I've long believed that having multiple official languages makes it very hard to sustain a united polity. The Swiss manage, but the whole reason they're famous for it is because it's so unusual. Even the Belgians and Canadians have trouble with it, and they're pretty tolerant people.</p> <p>Would a congressional declaration that English is the official language of the United States do anything to calm anti-immigrant fervor? At this point, probably not. But if it were written narrowly and carefully, I'd probably support it. I figure that if God considered a single common language such a boon that it threatened his dominion, it must be pretty powerful stuff.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 31 Aug 2015 19:17:02 +0000 Kevin Drum 283076 at The Conservative Tax Borg Has Finally Absorbed Donald Trump <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The <em>New York Times</em> reports that Republican leaders are alarmed at <a href=";action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;module=first-column-region&amp;region=top-news&amp;WT.nav=top-news&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">one particular aspect of Donald Trump's popularity:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>In recent weeks, Mr. Trump has threatened to impose tariffs on American companies that put their factories in other countries. He has threatened to increase taxes on the compensation of hedge fund managers. And he has vowed to change laws that allow American companies to benefit from cheaper tax rates by using mergers to base their operations outside the United States.</p> <p>Alarmed that those ideas might catch on with some of Mr. Trump&rsquo;s Republican rivals &mdash; as his immigration policies have &mdash; the Club for Growth, an anti-tax think tank, is pulling together a <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_trump_tired.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">team of economists to scrutinize his proposals and calculate the economic impact if he is elected.</p> </blockquote> <p>First things first: Trump and the Club for Growth have been feuding ever since Trump entered the race. The Club says it's because Trump had previously supported universal health care and a one-time tax on individuals worth more than $10 million. Trump says it's because the Club tried to shake him down for a $1 million donation and he refused to give it to them. The truth is&mdash;oh, who cares what the truth is? It's just another Trump feud.</p> <p>Anyway, Trump repudiated his wealth tax idea a long time ago, but he <em>has</em> supported (a) a progressive income tax, (b) closing loopholes for hedge fund managers, (c) tariffs on companies that move factories to Mexico, and (d) corporate inversions. But wait! In his interview with Sarah Palin, <a href="" target="_blank">Trump inched closer to Republican orthodoxy on taxes:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>We have to simplify our tax code. You have hedge fund guys that are paying virtually no tax and they're making a fortune....Now you can go to a fair tax or a flat tax, but the easiest way and the quickest way, at least on a temporary basis, is simplification of the code: get rid of deductions, reduce taxes.</p> </blockquote> <p>OK. So Trump definitely wants to eliminate the carried-interest loophole that allows hedge fund managers to pay very little in federal income tax. But he's no longer opposed to a flat tax. It's just that on a "temporary" basis he wants to broaden the base and reduce rates. This is as orthodox as it gets.</p> <p>As for the tariffs on companies that move to Mexico, that's just bluster not to be taken seriously. And reining in corporate inversions is a pretty bipartisan goal. It would presumably be part of a corporate tax overhaul that would end up being revenue neutral.</p> <p>On taxes, then, Trump has all but caved in. The only serious part of his schtick that's no longer garden-variety Republican dogma is his desire to close the carried-interest loophole. And even this is small potatoes: it would raise one or two billion dollars per year, which could easily be offset by a tiny tax cut somewhere else. There's really nothing left for even Grover Norquist to dislike.</p> <p>So no worries! Trump is becoming fully absorbed by the Republican borg on taxes. Aside from the Mexico stuff, which is just campaign trail bombast, there's nothing left that would raise net taxes or offend conservative sensibilities in any way. Whew.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 31 Aug 2015 18:12:12 +0000 Kevin Drum 283056 at This Week's Great Showdown: Denali vs. McKinley <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>So the big news this weekend was President Obama's decision to change the name of Mt. McKinley back to Denali. As near as I can tell, the only people who truly care about this are:</p> <ul><li>Alaskans</li> <li>Ohioans</li> <li>Mountain climbers</li> <li>Trivia buffs</li> </ul><p>Of these, Alaskans are pro-Denali; Ohioans are proudly pro-McKinley; mountain climbers have been calling it Denali for years already; and trivia buffs are almost certainly pro-Denali since they love it whenever something changes that allows them to pedantically correct other people.</p> <p>So far&mdash;to my pleasant surprise, I admit&mdash;there's been very little complaining about how Obama is&mdash;again!&mdash;bending to the forces of political correctness and identity politics by kowtowing to the icy cold branch of the native American community. But the week is young and the easily outraged are probably still rubbing the sleep out of their eyes. Give them time.</p> <p>For the time being, though, the pro-McKinley side has only the Ohioans, who have been battling Alaskans over this for decades. Ohioans are mighty defenders of William McKinley, proud son of Niles, Ohio. So proud, in fact, that one of their own renamed Denali to Mt. McKinley in 1896 merely because McKinley had just been <em>nominated</em> for president. Alaskans probably had no idea this was even happening, and in any case they weren't yet a state and could do little about it. <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_denali_campbell.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">They finally tried to officially reverse this power grab in the 70s, <a href="" target="_blank">but sneaky Ohioans took advantage of a loophole</a> to prevent the US Board on Geographic Names from acting. That ended yesterday when Obama decided to rename America's highest peak himself.</p> <p>The obvious solution to all this is to rename Ohio's tallest mountain. Unfortunately, Ohio is flat and has no mountains at all. <a href="" target="_blank">Its highest point is Campbell Hill,</a> topping out at a pedestrian 1,550 feet. They could rename it McKinley Hill&mdash;unless, of course, that would outrage the descendants of Charles D. Campbell&mdash;but that's quite a comedown from the majesty of Denali, as the pictures on the right show.</p> <p>What to do? Nothing much, I suppose, except for Ohio's congressional delegation to rant and rave about Obama's unilateral power grab etc. That's fine. Hometown pride demands no less. Even at that, though, I have to give props to Rep. Bob Gibbs for <a href="" target="_blank">this masterpiece of outrage:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>I hope my colleagues will join with me in stopping this constitutional overreach. President Obama has decided to ignore an act of Congress in unilaterally renaming Mt. McKinley in order to promote his job-killing war on energy.</p> </blockquote> <p>Constitutional overreach? Sure, whatever. That's garden variety stuff by now. But how does removing the name of America's 25th president advance Obama's job-killing war on energy? Inquiring minds want to know.</p> <p>As for the political implications, all you need to know is this: Alaska has three electoral votes. Ohio has 18 and is routinely a critical swing state. You may draw your own conclusions from this.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 31 Aug 2015 16:51:20 +0000 Kevin Drum 283046 at Ohio Republicans Are Freaking Out About the Denali Name Change <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>On Sunday, President Barack Obama announced that the official name for the highest peak in North America, Alaska's Mount McKinley, would formally be changed to its Athabascan name: Denali. This makes a lot of sense. The mountain was known as Denali long before a gold prospector dubbed it McKinley after reading a newspaper headline in 1896, and it has officially been known as "Denali" in Alaska for about a century, according to the state's board for geographic names. The state and its Republican legislature have been asking Washington to call the mountain Denali for decades. And for decades, the major obstacle to getting this done has been Ohio, McKinley's home state.</p> <p>We need not spend much time discussing Ohio in this space, but suffice it to say that Ohioans are a very proud, if sometimes misinformed, people, and the birthplace of mediocre presidents won't just take the marginalization of those mediocre presidents lying down. It will fight! To wit, the state's congressional delegation has decided to show off that old Ohio fighting spirit by condemning the decision in sternly worded press releases and tweets. Here's GOP Sen. Rob Portman:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">This decision by the Administration is yet another example of the President going around Congress (4/5)</p> &mdash; Rob Portman (@senrobportman) <a href="">August 31, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Pres McKinley was a proud Ohioan, and the mountain was named after him, as a way to remember his rich legacy after his assassination (2/5)</p> &mdash; Rob Portman (@senrobportman) <a href="">August 31, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>No it wasn't! McKinley was assassinated in 1901. The mountain was named McKinley in 1896, by a random gold prospector who had just returned from the Alaskan Range to find that the governor of Ohio had won the Republican presidential nomination. This is like naming the highest point in the continent after Mitt Romney. Is Portman suggesting that the fix was in as early as 1896? Did <a href="" target="_blank">Czolgosz</a> really act alone? Was Teddy Roosevelt in on it? My God! Congress did pass a law in 1917 formally recognizing McKinley as the mountain's name, but that was really just paperwork.</p> <p>Let's see what else they've got:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Boehner stmt: naming continent's highest mt 4 McKinley was "testament 2 his great legacy" including Ohio govship, victory in Spanish-Am War</p> &mdash; Julie Davis (@juliehdavis) <a href="">August 31, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>The Spanish-American War hadn't happened yet in 1896&mdash;William Randolph Hearst <a href="" target="_blank">wouldn't start that</a> for another two years! Okay. Here's GOP Rep. Bob Gibbs, all but engraving his sternly worded response on obsidian:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">My full statement on <a href="">@POTUS</a> ignoring an Act of Congress and changing the name of Mount McKinley. <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Rep. Bob Gibbs (@RepBobGibbs) <a href="">August 31, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>Job-killing name change!</p> <p>I haven't seen this much loathing directed at Denali <a href="" target="_blank">since the last time I went on Yelp</a>.</p></body></html> MoJo Obama Top Stories Mon, 31 Aug 2015 15:36:47 +0000 Tim Murphy 283031 at Waiting For Number 34 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>President Obama has the support of 31 Democratic senators for his Iran nuclear deal. So naturally we're now beginning to ponder the <a href="" target="_blank">truly important stuff:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>It looks increasingly likely that the nuclear agreement will survive its congressional trial&nbsp;&mdash; even opponents are starting to accept that seeming inevitability.</p> <p>Which leaves just one question: Who will be the deal-clinching senator No. 34?</p> </blockquote> <p>Quite so. Who will be the history maker? Or, if you prefer, the final nail in the coffin of treachery? <em>This</em> is what truly matters.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 31 Aug 2015 15:34:41 +0000 Kevin Drum 283041 at Black Employees at a Trump Casino Were Reportedly Removed Whenever the Donald Arrived <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>It was only recently that Republican presidential candidate and front-runner Donald Trump said he'd be willing to physically <a href="" target="_blank">fight</a> Black Lives Matter activists if they interrupted him on stage. Now, a <a href="" target="_blank">new report from the </a><em><a href="" target="_blank">New Yorker</a> </em>relays an alarming account of how black employees at one of Donald Trump's Atlantic City properties were routinely kept from view when the real estate magnate came to town. From writer Nick Paumgarten:</p> <blockquote> <p>I met a bus driver named Kip Brown, who worked the Port Authority route, up and back each morning, for Academy Bus Lines. He had been at Academy for fifteen years and was No. 3 in seniority, out of seventy drivers in the region. As ridership has fallen, Academy has been cutting back on its schedule. The number of visitors arriving by bus is an eighth of what it was a quarter century ago. In the spring, Brown, just forty-seven, retired.</p> </blockquote> <blockquote> <p>Now he was looking for work as a livery driver. Brown also used to work in the casinos, at the Showboat, bussing tables, and at Trump&rsquo;s Castle, stripping and waxing floors. "When Donald and Ivana came to the casino, the bosses would order all the black people off the floor," he said. "It was the eighties, I was a teen-ager, but I remember it: they put us all in the back."</p> </blockquote> <p>For more on how Trump feels about "<a href="" target="_blank">the blacks</a>," head over to <em>Gawker's</em> decidedly nasty collection of quotes.</p></body></html> Mixed Media 2016 Elections Race and Ethnicity Mon, 31 Aug 2015 15:03:04 +0000 Inae Oh 283021 at Robert Kagan Thinks America's Problem Is Too Little War <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Over the weekend<sup>1</sup> Robert Kagan wrote an essay in the <em>Wall Street Journal</em> titled <a href="" target="_blank">"America's Dangerous Aversion to Conflict."</a> That seemed....wrong, somehow, so I read it. Mostly it turned out to be a tedious history lesson about the run-up to World War II, <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_war_kuwait.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">basically a long version of the "Munich!" argument that conservatives make every time we fail to go to war with somebody. But there was also this:</p> <blockquote> <p>President George H.W. Bush and his national security adviser, Brent Scowcroft, sent half a million American troops to fight thousands of miles away for no other reason than to thwart aggression and restore a desert kingdom that had been invaded by its tyrant neighbor.</p> <p>....A little more than a decade later, however, the U.S. is a changed country. Because of the experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan, <strong>to suggest sending even a few thousand troops to fight anywhere for any reason is almost unthinkable.</strong> The most hawkish members of Congress don't think it safe to argue for a ground attack on the Islamic State or for a NATO troop presence in Ukraine. There is no serious discussion of reversing the cuts in the defense budget, even though the strategic requirements of defending U.S. allies in Europe, Asia and the Middle East have rarely been more manifest while America's ability to do so has rarely been more in doubt.</p> </blockquote> <p>This is one of the tropes that conservative hawks haul out with tiresome predictability, but it's flat wrong. Even now, when Americans have every reason to be skeptical of military action in the Mideast, poll after poll shows a surprising acceptance of it. Whether the subject is Iran, Syria, or ISIS, it's plain that many Americans are already primed for military action, and many more can be talked into it pretty easily. The United States has fought half a dozen major wars in the past quarter century, and the surprising thing isn't that we've gotten war weary. Quite the contrary: the surprising thing is that we're plainly ready to keep it up given the right incentive.</p> <p>Kagan's argument is also dishonest in a couple of common ways. First, he argues that sending "even a few thousand troops" anywhere is now unthinkable. This is nonsense. Over the past few months we've already sent a few thousand troops to fight ISIS, and this has barely raised a peep even from liberals. There <em>is</em> an aversion to sending a hundred thousand ground troops to fight ISIS and starting up another full-scale war and occupation of Iraq. If Kagan objects to that, fine. But that's what we're talking about, and Kagan should own up to it.</p> <p>Second, after spending several paragraphs singing the praises of our military response during the Cold War, Kagan bemoans our unwillingness to send troops to Ukraine. But again, that's nonsense. During the Cold War, we fought plenty of proxy wars but never, never, never sent troops to fight the Soviets directly. Not in Hungary. Not in Czechoslovakia. Not in Afghanistan. If Kagan wants us to be <em>more</em> belligerent toward Russia than we ever were toward the old Soviet Union, that's fine too. But he needs to say so, rather than subtly rewriting history.</p> <p>Kagan, like so many other hawks, is intent on pretending that the threats we face today are as dangerous as any in the past century. But that's simply not true. World War I, World War II, and the Cold War were almost unimaginably greater threats to the world than a few minor territorial grabs by Vladimir Putin, a civil war in Syria, and the takeover of a chunk of Iraq by a ragtag group of delusional jihadists. Pretending otherwise does Kagan's reputation no favors.</p> <p><sup>1</sup>Actually, Kagan wrote this over a weekend <em>in 2014</em>. I'm not really sure why it popped up during my perusal of the <em>Journal</em> last night. But I suppose it doesn't matter: Kagan would likely say the same thing today that he did a year ago.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 31 Aug 2015 15:00:59 +0000 Kevin Drum 283036 at Apple Hates Me. I Hate Them Right Back. <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_apple_logo.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Apple has never allowed ad-blocking software on the iPhone or iPad. This is one among many reasons that I ditched both. Not because I hate ads all that passionately, but because it's an example of the obsessive corporate control Apple maintains over its environment. But it's <em>my</em> iPad, dammit. If I want a different virtual keyboard, why can't I get one? If I want access to a file, why does Apple forbid it? If I want ad-blocking software, why should Apple be allowed to stop me?</p> <p>Apple is still a serial offender on this front, but apparently they've decided to relent on ad-blocking software. As usual, though, <a href="" target="_blank">there appears to be a deeper story here:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The next version of Apple&rsquo;s mobile-operating system, due out as early as next month, will let users install apps that prevent ads from appearing in its Safari browser.</p> <p>....<strong>Apple says it won&rsquo;t allow ad blocking within apps,</strong> because ads inside apps don&rsquo;t compromise performance as they do on the browser. That distinction serves Apple&rsquo;s interests. <strong>It takes a 30% cut on money generated from apps,</strong> and has a business serving ads inside apps. What&rsquo;s more, <strong>iOS 9 will include an Apple News app, which will host articles from major news publishers.</strong> Apple may receive a share of the revenue from ads that accompany those articles.</p> </blockquote> <p>The basic lay of the land here&mdash;assuming the <em>Wall Street Journal</em> has this right&mdash;is that Apple's move is aimed at Google, which makes most of its revenue from browser ads. Conversely, it doesn't hurt companies like Facebook much, since they have dedicated apps. In the big picture, this motivates more and more companies to build Apple-specific apps, since those will become more lucrative over time. And it helps Apple's bottom line since it gets a cut of the revenue. Plus it annoys Google.</p> <p>So here's the lesson: Apple is happy to allow users more control over their devices as long as it also happens to benefit Apple. If it doesn't, then tough.</p> <p>This is why I generally loathe Apple. Obviously all companies are run in their own self-interest, but Apple carries this to absurd lengths. Say what you will about Microsoft, but they've never pulled this kind of crap on their customers. If I buy a Windows machine, I can do pretty much anything I want to it.</p> <p>Needless to say, lots and lots of people couldn't care less about this, and Apple has made a ton of money catering to them. But I care. Whether it's because Steve Jobs insisted on the one perfect way of using a computer, or because Apple's accountants want to limit customers' choices in order to maximize corporate revenue, Apple has never cared much about allowing me to choose how <em>I</em> prefer to use a computer. That's not thinking different. It's how IBM operated half a century ago. And it sucks.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Mon, 31 Aug 2015 02:08:43 +0000 Kevin Drum 283016 at Hair Update: Short Wins By a Landslide <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>So what does the commentariat think on the hair front? Here's a smattering of comments from folks who like my new, shorter hair:</p> <blockquote> <p>DM: Makes you look quietly studly and stoic.</p> <p>JS: The short look, with the T-shirt, is hot. You'll just have to get used to the idea that you're going to turn female heads when you walk into a restaurant.</p> <p>EVC: Even without the tattoos, you look so much more hip and bad-ass. It's a good look.</p> <p>CLD: It's like Johnny Depp in Black Mass, it's the new look.</p> <p>SG: Clean, cool, contemporary. And it makes you look ten years younger.</p> <p>RS: As a personal finance professor, I like that you can have your wife cut it with at home electric hair clipper package; it's easy at that length!</p> <p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_kevin_head_mohawk.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">LD: It's more interesting, less like an insurance salesman from the '50's.</p> </blockquote> <p>And here's a smattering of comment from the one person who likes my old, longer hair:</p> <blockquote> <p>JD: Your old hair is so cute. And you might as well enjoy it while you can, because, face it, the day will come when it will all go away anyway. Dad did not have much hair at your age.</p> </blockquote> <p>Well....but Dad didn't have much hair by the time he was 30, either. I plan to take after my maternal grandfather, who kept his hair into his 90s. In any case, the new hair wins by about 487 to 1. But let's face it: the vote was rigged from the start. Nobody was going to vote for that old hair. Besides, if I were sporting a polka-dot mohawk you guys would all vote for it. Don't lie. You know you would.</p> <p>So that's that. Short hair wins. However, it turns out that none of your votes counted anyway. Marian voted for the new hair, and she outvoted all of you. Funny how that works.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sun, 30 Aug 2015 15:25:04 +0000 Kevin Drum 283006 at The Internet Is Making Us Sicker <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The placebo effect, as we all know, is the mechanism by which we sometimes feel better even when we're given meds that later turn out to be sugar pills. The mere expectation that we will get better somehow helps us actually get better. The most eye-popping example of the placebo effect is probably <a href="" target="_blank">this one here.</a></p> <p>But there's also a dark side to this. I don't know if it has an official name, so let's call it the anti-placebo effect.<sup>1</sup> Basically, it means that your mind can invent miserable side effects from taking medication merely because you know that certain side effects are possible. <a href="" target="_blank">Take cholesterol-lowering statins, for example:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>At the Mayo Clinic here, Dr. Stephen L. Kopecky, who directs a program for statin-intolerant patients, says he is well aware that middle-age and older adults who typically need statins may blame the drugs for aches, pains and memory losses that have other causes. <strong>He also knows his patients peruse the Internet, which is replete with horror stories about the dangers of statins.</strong></p> <p>Yet he, like other doctors, also thinks some statin intolerance is real despite what clinical trials have shown. The problem: In the vast majority of cases, there is no objective test to tell real from imagined statin intolerance.</p> </blockquote> <p>So there you have it: the internet is making us sicker. Does it make up for this by also making us healthier? I have my doubts. It is a spawn of evil.</p> <p>And no, you still can't take mine away. However, this is one of the reasons why I've avoided reading about multiple myeloma on the internet. I figure it's unlikely to help, and might very well hurt.</p> <p><sup>1</sup>Turns out it's called the <a href="" target="_blank"><em>nocebo effect</em>.</a> How about that?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sun, 30 Aug 2015 14:37:02 +0000 Kevin Drum 283011 at Soon We Will All Be Little More Than Organic FedEx Packages <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>On Saturday the <em>New York Times</em> ran this headline: <a href="" target="_blank">"Christie Proposes Tracking Immigrants Like FedEx Packages."</a> We are, of course, supposed to be scandalized by this. After all, if "anchor babies" is dehumanizing to immigrants, surely treating them <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_fedex_packages.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">like FedEx packages is nothing short of brutalizing. The article goes on to explain:</p> <blockquote> <p>Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey said on Saturday that if he were elected president he would combat illegal immigration by creating a system to track foreign visitors the way FedEx tracks packages. Mr. Christie, who is far back in the pack of candidates for the Republican presidential nomination, said at a campaign event in New Hampshire that he would ask the chief executive of FedEx, Frederick W. Smith, to devise the tracking system.</p> </blockquote> <p>Uh huh. This is, of course, part of the Trump-inspired "can you top this" game of being tough on illegal immigration. That's a bit of a yawn, though, since we went through the same thing during the 2012 primaries. What's more interesting is that Christie's schtick is Trump-inspired in an entirely different way: pretending that business people can be slotted effortlessly into government positions where they'll kick some free-market ass and get our government moving again. Trump started this by claiming that he'd send Carl Icahn over to China because he's a "killer" and would quickly put the Chinese in their place. Now Christie is following suit.</p> <p>So what's next?</p> <ul><li>Hillary Clinton says she'll hire Bill Gates to run Obamacare.</li> <li>Ted Cruz says he'll get the Koch Brothers to whip the EPA into shape.</li> <li>Ben Carson says he'll ask Warren Buffett to run the IRS.</li> <li>Scott Walker says that Jeff Bezos is the man to fix the GSA.</li> <li>Bernie Sanders says he'll pick Oprah Winfrey as his education czar.</li> <li>Jeb Bush says he'll bring in Sergei Brin to run the CIA.</li> <li>John Kasich says he'll nominate Mitt Romney to get the VA on track.</li> </ul><p>Who else would be able to fix up an inept government agency in a few months? Or maybe it should be the other way around: Are there any government agencies that <em>couldn't</em> be reformed in short order by the right kind of steely-eyed business leader?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sun, 30 Aug 2015 13:00:09 +0000 Kevin Drum 283001 at Health Update <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Ha ha. Just kidding. It will be several months before we know how effective the new chemo meds are. However, I can tell you that (a) so far I'm suffering no side effects, (b) my routine lab tests are all fine, and (c) I feel pretty good. I'm sleeping OK, my energy level is nearly back to normal, my stomach has finally recovered, and my hair is growing back.</p> <p>And speaking of hair, that's the real purpose of this post. My hair has now grown back to the point that I have a decision to make: keep it as is, or let it grow to its old length? It's not like my old hair was any great shakes, but still, after 55 years you get accustomed to things. On the other hand, the new do does have advantages. Easy upkeep. No worries about wind or hat hair. Cheaper haircuts.</p> <p>Comparison photos are below. Anyway, feel free to vote in comments. Old hair or new?</p> <p><img align="left" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_kevin_head_2004.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 4px 5px 60px;"><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_kevin_head_2015_0.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 4px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sun, 30 Aug 2015 00:52:49 +0000 Kevin Drum 282981 at