Blogs | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/Blogs/2012/02/wp-content/themes/spotlight/authors/www.knightarmco.com/davelawrence8/www.guttmacher.org/statecenter/spibs/authors/www.knightarmco.com/http%3A/It%20turns%20out%2C%20not%20surprisingly%2C%20that%20the%20bounty%20of%20cheap%20shrimp%20on%20our%20plates%20masks%20a%20veritable%20sea%20of%20ecological%20and%20social%20trouble%20far%20away.%20In%20his%20excellent%20%202008%20book%20Bottomfeeder%3A%20How%20to%20Eat%20Ethically%20in%20a%20World%20of%20Vanishing%20Seafood%2C%20the%20Canadian%20journalist%20Taras%20Grescoe%20took%20a%20hard%20look%20at%20the%20Asian%20operations%20that%20supply%20us%20shrimp.%20His%20conclusion%3A%20%22The%20simple%20fact%20is%2C%20if%20you http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en Germany Has Taken In 800,000 Syrian Refugees. Guess How Many the US Has Taken In? http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/09/germany-has-taken-800000-syrian-refugees-guess-how-many-us-has-taken <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Germany is set to take in <a href="http://qz.com/488413/germany-is-the-first-european-country-to-free-syrian-refugees-from-a-draconian-bureaucratic-trap/" target="_blank">800,000 refugees from Syria</a> by the end of the year.</p> <p>America, a country that won two World Wars, went to the moon, <em>and</em> did <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g25G1M4EXrQ" target="_blank">"the other things,"</a> has taken in, well, far fewer.</p> <p>Quoth <em><a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/03/aid-groups-senators-us-take-in-65000-syrian-refugees" target="_blank">the Guardian</a>:</em></p> <blockquote> <p>The US has admitted <a href="https://www.wrapsnet.org/default.aspx" target="_blank">approximately 1,500 Syrian refugees</a> since the beginning of the civil war there in 2011, mostly within the last fiscal year. Since April, the number of admitted refugees has more than doubled from <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/18/world/middleeast/un-calls-on-western-nations-to-shelter-syrian-refugees.html" target="_blank">an estimate</a> of 700.</p> ... <p>Anna Greene, IRC&rsquo;s director of policy &amp; advocacy for US programs, said the 1,500 people the US has admitted thus far &ldquo;doesn&rsquo;t even begin to scratch the surface of what is needed and what could really make a difference&rdquo;.</p> </blockquote> <p>Oxfam wants the US to up that number to 70,000 by the end of 2016.</p></body></html> MoJo Foreign Policy Human Rights Immigration Thu, 03 Sep 2015 22:10:16 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 283386 at http://www.motherjones.com Rhetoric vs. Reality, Police Safety Edition http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/09/rhetoric-vs-reality-police-safety-edition <!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 rhetoric:</p> <blockquote> <p><a href="http://hotair.com/archives/2015/09/02/hot-air-exclusive-scott-walker-speaks-out-on-cop-murders-and-american-leadership/" target="_blank">Scott Walker:</a> "<strong>In the last six years under President Obama,</strong> we've seen a rise in anti-police rhetoric....[This] rhetoric has real consequences for the safety of officers who put their lives on the line for us and hampers their ability to serve the communities that need their help."</p> <p><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/09/ted-cruz-obama-darren-goforth" target="_blank">Ted Cruz:</a> "Cops across this country are feeling the assault. <strong>They're feeling the assault from the president,</strong> from the top on down....That is fundamentally wrong, and it is endangering the safety and security of us all."</p> <p><a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2015/08/29/trump-in-tennessee-downplays-police-brutality-promises-to-get-rid-of-gangs/" target="_blank">Donald Trump:</a> "I know cities where police are afraid to even talk to people because they want to be able to retire and have their pension....And then you wonder what's wrong with our cities. <strong>We need a whole new mind-set.</strong>"</p> </blockquote> <p>And here's the reality. During the George Bush administration, police fatalities per 100 million residents averaged 58 per year (54 if you exclude 2001). During the Obama administration, that's dropped to 42.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_police_deaths.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 25px 0px 5px 45px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 03 Sep 2015 21:45:34 +0000 Kevin Drum 283381 at http://www.motherjones.com Donald Trump Screws Up GOP Loyalty Pledge, Making it Extra-Meaningless http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/09/donald-trump-screws-loyalty-pledge-gop <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>On Thursday, Donald Trump pledged his fealty to the Republican party with a <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/09/donald-trump-just-setting-gop-his-biggest-prank-yet" target="_blank">largely meaningless pledge</a> not to run as an independent candidate during the 2016 campaign for the White House. In doing so, it appears the billionaire presidential hopeful also affixed the wrong date to his signature:</p> <center> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Dear <a href="https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump">@realDonaldTrump</a>, it's September, not August. <a href="http://t.co/R3Jw72Wobt">pic.twitter.com/R3Jw72Wobt</a></p> &mdash; Benny (@bennyjohnson) <a href="https://twitter.com/bennyjohnson/status/639501449475530752">September 3, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></center> <p>Brilliant.</p></body></html> MoJo 2016 Elections Thu, 03 Sep 2015 18:41:02 +0000 Inae Oh 283356 at http://www.motherjones.com Marx and Keynes Put Economics on the Map, and They Can Take It Right Off Again http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/09/marx-and-keynes-put-economics-map-and-they-can-take-it-right-again <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/09/03/why-political-science-cant-and-shouldnt-be-too-much-like-economics/" target="_blank">Over at PostEverything,</a> Dan Drezner wonders why economics has managed to wield such an outsized influence within the social sciences. His strongest point&mdash;or at least the one he spends the most time on&mdash;is that economists "share a strong consensus about the virtues of free markets, free trade, capital mobility and entrepreneurialism." This makes them catnip to the plutocrat class, and therefore the favored social scientists of influential people everywhere.</p> <p>Fine, <a href="https://twitter.com/ModeledBehavior/status/639477696876138496" target="_blank">says Adam Ozimek,</a> but what about liberal economists? "Why is Paul Krugman famous? Robert Shiller? Joe Stiglitz? Jeff Sachs? 'To please plutocrats' is not a good theory." <a href="https://twitter.com/ModeledBehavior/status/639478252780785664" target="_blank">And this:</a> "Why do liberal think tanks with liberal donors supporting liberal <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_marx_keynes.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">causes hire so many economists? To please plutocrats?"</p> <p>I think Drezner and Ozimek each make good points. Here's my amateur historical explanation that incorporates both.</p> <p>The first thing to understand is that in the 19th century, economists were no more influential than other social scientists. Folks like David Ricardo and Thomas Malthus were certainly prominent, but no more so than, say, Herbert Spencer or Max Weber. What's more, economics was a far less specialized field then. John Stuart Mill had a strong influence on economics, but was he an economist? Or a philosopher? Or a political scientist? He was all of those things.</p> <p>So what happened to make economists so singularly influential in the 20th century? I'll toss out two causes: Karl Marx and John Maynard Keynes.</p> <p>The fight for and against communism defined the second half of the 20th century, and Marx had always identified economics as the underpinning of his socio-historical theories. Outside of the battlefield, then, this made the most important conflict of the time fundamentally a fight over economics. In the public imagination, if not within the field itself, the fight between communism and free markets became identified as the face of economics, and this made it the most important branch of the social sciences.</p> <p>Then Keynes upped the ante. In the same spirit that Whitehead called philosophy a series of footnotes to Plato, economics in the second half of the 20th century was largely a series of footnotes to Keynes. Rightly or wrongly, he became the poster child for liberals who wanted to justify their belief in an activist government and the arch nemesis of conservatives who wanted no such thing. In the same way that communism was the biggest fight on the global stage, the fight over the size and scope of government was the biggest fight on the domestic stage. And since this was fundamentally a fight over economics, the field of economics became ground zero for domestic politics in advanced economies around the world.</p> <p>And that's why economists became so influential among both plutocrats and the lefty masses. Sure, it's partly because economists use lots of Greek letters and act like physicists, but mostly it's because that window dressing was used in service of the two most fundamental geo-socio-political conflicts of the late 20th century.</p> <p>So does that mean economics is likely to lose influence in the future? After all, free market capitalism and mixed economies are now triumphant. Compared to the 20th century, we're now arguing over relative table scraps. And, as Drezner points out, the profession of economics has hardly covered itself with glory in the opening years of the 21st century. Has their time has come and gone?</p> <p>Maybe. I mean, how should I know? Obviously there's a lot of inertia here, and economics will remain pretty important for a long time. But the biggest fights are gone and economists have an embarrassing recent track record of failure. If the rest of the social sciences want to mount an assault on the field, this would probably be a pretty good time to do it.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 03 Sep 2015 18:38:28 +0000 Kevin Drum 283361 at http://www.motherjones.com Kansas Republicans May Have Just Shut Down the State's Court System http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/09/why-entire-kansas-court-system-could-shut-down <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>What happens to a legal appeal when there's no court to hear it?</p> <p>That's the tricky question before Kansas Republicans today as they grapple with the results of their own law, which threatens to shutter the state court system.</p> <p>On Wednesday night, a district judge in Kansas <a href="https://www.brennancenter.org/sites/default/files/press-releases/2015-CV-156%20Memorandum%20Decision%20and%20Order.pdf" target="_blank">struck down</a> a 2014 law that stripped the state Supreme Court of some of its administrative powers. The ruling has set off a bizarre constitutional power struggle between the Republican-controlled legislature and the state Supreme Court. At stake is whether the Kansas court system will lose its funding and shut down.</p> <p>Last year, the Kansas legislature passed a law that took away the top court's authority to appoint chief judges to the state's 31 judicial districts&mdash;a policy change Democrats believe was retribution for an ongoing dispute over school funding between the Supreme Court and the legislature. (<em>Mother Jones</em> <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/05/final-front-sam-brownbacks-battle-control-kansas" target="_blank">reported</a> on the standoff this spring.) When the legislature passed a two-year budget for the court system earlier this year, it inserted a clause stipulating that if a court ever struck down the 2014 administrative powers law, funding for the entire court system would be "null and void." Last night, that's what the judge did.</p> <p>Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt <a href="http://www.kansas.com/news/politics-government/article33603570.html#storylink=cpy" target="_blank">warned</a> that last night's decision &ldquo;could effectively and immediately shut off all funding for the judicial branch.&rdquo; That would lead to chaos. As Pedro Irigonegaray, an attorney for the Kansas judge who brought the legal challenge against the administrative law, put it, &ldquo;Without funding, our state courts would close, criminal cases would not be prosecuted, civil matters would be put on hold, real estate could not be bought or sold, adoptions could not be completed."</p> <p>Both parties in the case have agreed to ask that Wednesday's ruling remain on hold until it can be appealed to the state Supreme Court, so that there is a functioning court to hear the appeal. On Thursday, a judge <a href="http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2015/sep/03/court-stays-ruling-could-strip-state-judicial-bran/" target="_blank">granted</a> the stay. Meanwhile, lawyers involved in the case and advocates for judicial independence are preparing a legal challenge to the clause of the judicial budget that withholds court funding. Sometime in the next few months, the state Supreme Court is likely to rule on whether the legislature has the right to strip the Supreme Court of its administrative authority, and whether it can make funding for the courts contingent on the outcome of a court case.</p> <p>&ldquo;We have never seen a law like this before,"&nbsp;Randolph Sherman, a lawyer involved in fighting the administrative law, said in a statement, referring to the self-destruct mechanism in the judicial budget. "[I]t is imperative that we stop it before it throws the state into a constitutional crisis.&rdquo;</p> <p><em>This story has been updated.</em></p></body></html> MoJo Crime and Justice Thu, 03 Sep 2015 17:42:03 +0000 Pema Levy 283326 at http://www.motherjones.com Florida Governor Refuses to Admit That His Own Investigators Have Cleared Planned Parenthood http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/09/florida-governor-refuses-admit-his-own-investigators-have-cleared-planned-parenth <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Good news! Florida regulators have finished their investigation of Planned Parenthood and concluded that there were no problems with their handling of fetal tissue. But you might not know that if you read their press release about the investigation. It turns out that Florida governor Rick Scott <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/florida/2015/09/8575790/scotts-office-scrubbed-release-cleared-planned-parenthood" target="_blank">preferred to keep this under wraps:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Emails between the governor&rsquo;s office and AHCA, obtained by POLITICO Florida through a public records request, show the agency prepared a press release that same day noting that <strong>&ldquo;there is no evidence of the mishandling of fetal remains at any of the 16 clinics we investigated across the state.&rdquo;</strong></p> <p><strong>Scott's office revised the release to exclude that sentence,</strong> an email sent by Scott&rsquo;s communications director, Jackie Schutz, shows. Additionally, the revised release noted the AHCA would refer physicians who worked at the clinics to the Board of Medicine for possible disciplinary action.</p> </blockquote> <p>Kinda reminds you of a half-bright middle schooler who thinks he has a genius idea, doesn't it?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 03 Sep 2015 17:08:19 +0000 Kevin Drum 283331 at http://www.motherjones.com Republicans Shot Themselves in the Foot Over Iran http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/09/republicans-shot-themselves-foot-over-iran <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Why did Republicans <a href="http://www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-iran-deal-20150902-story.html" target="_blank">fail to kill the Iran nuclear deal?</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Opponents of the deal may have miscalculated the degree of public interest in the debate. They hoped for the kind of outpouring of public anger that gave rise to the tea party and nearly doomed Obamacare in August 2010. <strong>But the Iran deal &ldquo;just hasn&rsquo;t had that kind of galvanizing effect&rdquo; on the public, said Rep. David Price (D-N.C.), who backs the agreement.</strong></p> <p>....A Republican invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address both houses of Congress in March appears to have backfired. His harsh denunciation of the negotiations then underway, which the White House portrayed as a snub of Obama&rsquo;s foreign policy, <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_iran_nuclear_deal.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">made the debate more polarizing and partisan, pushing Democrats to the president&rsquo;s side.</p> <p><strong>Another factor, said one frustrated Republican on Capitol Hill: &ldquo;Trump happened.&rdquo;</strong> The GOP leadership aide, granted anonymity to discuss the setback, said billionaire Donald Trump&rsquo;s attention-grabbing presidential campaign, along with scrutiny of Hillary Rodham Clinton&rsquo;s email server, overshadowed all other issues this summer, making it harder for the Republicans&rsquo; message to attract attention.</p> <p>....Democrats have felt free to back the deal in part because they heard from many in the American Jewish community who split from the more hawkish AIPAC....The dozen or so Democratic opponents in Congress come mainly from parts of New York, New Jersey and Florida with large politically conservative Jewish populations. <strong>But the opponents failed to mount a serious effort to persuade other lawmakers to buck the White House.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>First things first: don't blame this on Donald Trump. He's been scathing about the deal, and has probably drawn more attention to it than all the AIPAC-funded ads put together. As for Hillary Clinton's email woes, it would please me no end if Republicans had shot themselves in the foot by focusing the fever swamps on that and leaving no room for outrage about Iran. But I doubt it. There's always stuff going on. Nobody ever fights a political battle in a pristine environment. There was plenty of room for Iran outrage.</p> <p>As it happens, though, I think Republicans <em>did</em> shoot themselves in the foot, but in a different way. Ever since 2009, their political strategy has been relentless and one-dimensional: oppose everything President Obama supports, instantly and unanimously. They certainly followed this playbook on Iran. Republicans were slamming the deal before the text was even released, and virtually none of them even pretended to be interested in the merits of the final agreement. Instead, they formed a united, knee-jerk front against the deal practically before the ink was dry.</p> <p>This did two things. First, it made them look unserious. From the beginning, the whole point of the economic sanctions against Iran was to use them as leverage to pressure the Iranian leadership to approve a nuclear deal. But by opposing it so quickly&mdash;based on an obviously specious desire for a "better deal" that they were never willing to spell out&mdash;Republicans made it clear that they opposed any agreement that lifted the sanctions. In other words, they opposed any agreement, period.</p> <p>Second, by forming so quickly, the Republican wall of opposition turned the Iran agreement into an obviously partisan matter. Once they did that, they made it much harder for Democrats to oppose a president of their own party. A more deliberate approach almost certainly would have helped them pick up more Democratic votes.</p> <p>All that said, keep in mind that Democrats only needed 34 senators <em>or</em> 145 House members to guarantee passage. That's not a high bar for a historic deal backed by a Democratic president. In other words, it's quite possible that Republicans actually did nothing wrong. They simply never had a chance in the first place.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 03 Sep 2015 16:06:53 +0000 Kevin Drum 283311 at http://www.motherjones.com Anchor Babies Exist, But Probably Not Very Many of Them http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/09/anchor-babies-exist-probably-not-very-many-them <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Do "anchor babies" exist? Or are they just a pernicious myth invented by the anti-immigration right? The <em>LA Times</em> sent reporter Molly Hennessy-Fiske to Rio Grande City in Texas to <a href="http://www.latimes.com/nation/immigration/la-na-texas-anchor-babies-20150903-story.html" target="_blank">check things out:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>In this county in the heart of the impoverished Rio Grande Valley, so-called anchor babies have been delivered for decades, some to women who have already settled in Texas, others to those who crossed the river expressly to give birth on U.S. soil. "About six months ago I got one who was literally still wet from the river," [Dr. Rolando] Guerrero said.</p> <p>....Just how many Mexican mothers come to give birth to the babies and the cost of caring for them are unclear. <strong>"They do come on purpose," said Thalia Munoz, chief executive of Starr County Memorial.</strong> "We have to absorb the costs.&hellip; It's a persistent problem. It's a fact: They come over here for the anchor baby, they come over for the benefits."</p> <p>....The doctors said they saw fewer women coming to have babies after Texas officials ordered a surge of law enforcement and National Guard troops to the border last summer in response to an influx of Central American immigrants. Instead of gunfire at night, Margo heard U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Department of Public Safety helicopters. <strong>But since then, "slowly, it's been going back up," Guerrero said.</strong></p> <p>....At Starr County Memorial, <strong>most of the mothers the doctors see do not cross intentionally to give birth,</strong> they said &mdash; they were already living on the U.S. side of the border with families of mixed status. "I have families where I've delivered three or four" U.S.-born babies, Guerrero said.</p> </blockquote> <p>It's unlikely that we'll ever get a firm handle on how common this phenomenon is. But if the evidence of this story is typical, we can say that (a) anchor babies certainly exist, but (b) probably not in very large numbers. That's not likely to satisfy anyone, but sometimes life is like that.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 03 Sep 2015 15:07:30 +0000 Kevin Drum 283306 at http://www.motherjones.com Why Do High Schools Erase All the Test Score Gains of the Past 40 Years? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/09/why-do-high-schools-erase-all-test-score-gains-past-40-years <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>SAT scores have been dropping slowly but steadily <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/sat-scores-at-lowest-level-in-10-years-fueling-worries-about-high-schools/2015/09/02/6b73ec66-5190-11e5-9812-92d5948a40f8_story.html" target="_blank">for the past decade:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The steady decline in SAT scores and generally stagnant results from high schools on federal tests and other measures reflect a troubling shortcoming of education-reform efforts. <strong>The test results show that gains in reading and math in elementary grades haven&rsquo;t led to broad improvement in high schools, experts say.</strong> That means several hundred thousand teenagers, especially those who grew up poor, are leaving school every year unready for college.</p> <p><strong>&ldquo;Why is education reform hitting a wall in high school?&rdquo;</strong> asked Michael J. Petrilli, president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a think tank. &ldquo;You see this in all kinds of evidence. Kids don&rsquo;t make a whole lot of gains once they&rsquo;re in high school. It certainly should raise an alarm.&rdquo;</p> <p>It is difficult to pinpoint a reason for the decline in SAT scores, but educators cite a host of enduring challenges in the quest to lift high school achievement. Among them are <strong>poverty, language barriers, low levels of parental education and social ills</strong> that plague many urban neighborhoods.</p> </blockquote> <p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_9_year_17_year_test_scores_0.jpg" style="margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">I'm delighted to see an education story that acknowledges <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/08/kids-school-test-scores-charts-kevin-drum" target="_blank">the plain evidence of test score gains,</a> even if just in an aside. The simple fact is that through middle school, standardized test scores have risen significantly over both the past decade and the past four decades. Elementary and middle school test scores have <em>not</em> been either stagnant or dropping, but based on the usual reporting of this stuff, I doubt that one person in a hundred is aware of this.</p> <p>But I'm also happy to see the flip side of this acknowledged: in general, all these gains wash away in high school. On the "gold standard" NAEP test, math scores have gone up just a few points among 17 year olds and reading scores have been flat. The usual explanation is that education reforms have initially been centered on elementary and middle schools, and scores will go up for older kids once those reforms start to become widespread in high schools.</p> <p>Maybe. But that excuse is starting to look old in the tooth. And even if high schools haven't seen a lot of reforms yet, why is it that they seem to have a <em>negative</em> effect on student performance? If math scores were up, say, ten points by the end of middle school and remained ten points up by the end of high school, that would be one thing. High schools wouldn't be adding anything, but they wouldn't be doing any harm either. But that's not the case. Kids come out of middle school better prepared today, but come out of high school no better than they did in 1971. High school is actually <em>erasing</em> gains.</p> <p>This is, needless to say, troubling. Poverty, language barriers, low levels of parental education and social ills are problems at all ages, so that explains little. Nor does disaggregating scores by race, since demographic changes have been similar at all age levels. But the plain truth is that the only thing that really matters is how well prepared kids are when they finish high school. All the test score gains in the world mean nothing if they're gone by age 17. This is something we really need to figure out.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 03 Sep 2015 14:22:34 +0000 Kevin Drum 283301 at http://www.motherjones.com Kentucky Clerk Held in Contempt of Court for Refusing to Issue Gay Marriage Licenses http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/09/kentucky-clerk-kim-davis-contempt-court <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><em><strong>Update (9/3/2015, 1:09 p.m. EST):</strong> A federal judge has found Kim Davis in contempt of court. She has been taken into federal custody.</em></p> <center> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">BREAKING: Judge sends Rowan Clerk <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/KimDavis?src=hash">#KimDavis</a> to jail until she agrees to comply with his order to issue marriage licenses.</p> &mdash; heraldleader (@heraldleader) <a href="https://twitter.com/heraldleader/status/639484195694346240">September 3, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></center> <p><em>Explaining his decision, US District Judge David Bunning told Davis, "You don&rsquo;t strike me as someone who's contentious. I simply [find that] making this contempt finding is necessary."</em></p> <p><em>"Oaths means things," he added, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/sep/03/kentucky-clerk-contempt-of-court-marriage-licenses?CMP=twt_gu" target="_blank">according to the Guardian</a>. Davis will be released if she agrees to comply with the judge's order to issue marriage licenses. "The court cannot condone the willful disobedience of its lawfully issued order," the judge <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/04/us/kim-davis-same-sex-marriage.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">said</a>.</em></p> <center> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Judge Bunning said that he wasn't convinced fines would have compelled Rowan County clerk Kim Davis comply with order to issue licenses</p> &mdash; Ryland Barton (@RylandKY) <a href="https://twitter.com/RylandKY/status/639485973856976897">September 3, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></center> <p>Kim Davis, the <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/09/kentucky-clerk-gay-marriage-license-supreme-court" target="_blank">defiant Rowan county clerk</a> who cited "God's authority" for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, appeared in court Thursday in Kentucky. Groups both supporting and opposing Davis held dueling, boisterous rallies in front of throngs of journalists outside the courthouse. US District Judge David Bunning heard a motion from lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union Davis arguing Davis should be held in <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2015/09/03/politics/kentucky-clerk-same-sex-marriage-kim-davis/index.html" target="_blank">contempt of court</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p>The appearance came amid Davis's ongoing failure to comply with the Supreme Court's landmark ruling that invalidated gay marriage bans nationwide. Since the decision in June, Davis has refused to issue marriage licenses <a href="http://http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/02/us/same-sex-marriage-kentucky-kim-davis.html" target="_blank">to both straight and same-sex couples</a>. Despite the Supreme Court denial of her emergency application requesting a delay on Monday, Davis continued to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples, creating testy scenes inside and outside the clerk's office, and drawing national attention.</p> <p>The showdown in Kentucky, the first time the issue of same-sex marriage has returned to the Supreme Court since June, has become a lightening rod for gay marriage opponents who argue that Davis' religious beliefs should allow her to defy the constitutional mandate. Both legal experts and same-sex marriage supporters say she has no legal standing.</p> <p>The scene on Thursday:</p> <center> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Supporters of KY Clerk Kim Davis are demonstrating outside federal courthouse in Ashland for 11am contempt hearing. <a href="http://t.co/7wFKTtOBlM">pic.twitter.com/7wFKTtOBlM</a></p> &mdash; Dominic Holden (@dominicholden) <a href="https://twitter.com/dominicholden/status/639414048342306817">September 3, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></center> <p>"The ACLU has asked she&nbsp;be fined in an amount sufficient to compel her compliance to the court's ruling," Ria Tabacco Mar, an ACLU attorney, <a href="http://www.newsweek.com/aclu-files-contempt-motion-against-kentucky-clerk-refusing-issue-same-sex-367529" target="_blank">told <em>Newsweek</em>.</a> "No one wants Kim Davis to go to jail, we just want her to follow the law and do her job."</p> <p><em>This is a breaking news post, and we'll update with more information as it becomes available.</em></p></body></html> MoJo Gay Rights Supreme Court Thu, 03 Sep 2015 13:56:33 +0000 Inae Oh 283296 at http://www.motherjones.com Chart of the Day: The Future of Health Care Costs Looks Surprisingly Rosy http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/09/chart-day-future-health-care-costs-looks-surprisingly-rosy <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>You've seen various versions of this chart from me before, but perhaps you'd like to see it from a pair of highly-qualified researchers rather than some shorts-clad blogger? Not a problem. <a href="http://www.nber.org/papers/w21501.pdf" target="_blank">A recent paper</a> out of the Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics at USC shows that the annual increase in health care costs has been dropping steadily for more than 30 years. The green arrow shows the trendline.</p> <p>Obviously this won't go on forever. But once again, it shows that the recent slowdown in health care costs isn't just an artifact of the Great Recession. That probably helped, but the downward trend far predates the recession. Bottom line: there will still be spikes and valleys in the future, but there's every reason to think that the general trend of health care costs over the next few decades will be either zero (i.e., equal to overall inflation) or pretty close to it.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_healthcare_annual_increase_1960_2015.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 5px 0px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 03 Sep 2015 01:25:43 +0000 Kevin Drum 283291 at http://www.motherjones.com Donald Trump Has Lost Between $1 and $6 Billion Over His Business Career http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/09/donald-trump-has-lost-between-1-and-6-billion-over-his-business-career <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>This post is about Donald Trump&mdash;sorry!&mdash;but the topic is something I've been a little curious about for a while: how much of Trump's wealth is inherited vs. earned? The basics are easy: Trump's father turned over control of the family real estate business to him in 1974. At the time, it was worth about $200 million. Trump would eventually inherit one-fifth of this, so his share of the company was worth about $40 million to start with.</p> <p>Over at <em>National Journal</em>,&nbsp;Shirish D&aacute;te estimates that if Trump had put that money into an index fund of S&amp;P 500 stocks, it would be worth about $3 billion today. If he'd taken the $200 million he was reportedly <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_s_and_p_return_1974_2014.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">worth in 1982 and done the same, he'd be worth $8 billion. So how does that compare to Trump's actual net worth? <a href="http://www.nationaljournal.com/twentysixteen/2015/09/02/1-easy-way-donald-trump-could-have-been-even-richer-doing-nothing" target="_blank">Here's D&aacute;te:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>&ldquo;Every year, Trump shares a lot of information with us that helps us get to the figures we publish. But he also consistently pushes for a higher net worth&mdash;especially when it comes to the value of his personal brand,&rdquo; <em>Forbes</em> reporter Erin Carlyle wrote this June, explaining the magazine&rsquo;s assessment that Trump was worth <strong>$4.1 billion,</strong> less than half of his claimed net worth. A subsequent review by Bloomberg found he was worth <strong>$2.9 billion.</strong></p> <p>....Perhaps the most deeply researched account of his wealth is a decade old: the book <em>TrumpNation</em>, by former <em>New York Times</em> journalist Tim O&rsquo;Brien, who found three sources close to Trump who estimated that he was worth <strong>between $150 million and $250 million</strong>....Trump wound up suing O&rsquo;Brien for defamation, claiming his book had damaged his business. The suit was eventually dismissed, but not before Trump sat for a deposition in which he admitted that he routinely exaggerated the values of his properties.</p> <p>....That 2007 deposition also revealed that in 2005, two separate banks had assessed Trump&rsquo;s assets and liabilities before agreeing to lend him money. One, North Fork Bank, decided he was worth <strong>$1.2 billion,</strong> while Deutsche Bank found he was worth no more than <strong>$788 million.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>So....at a guess, Trump is worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $2 billion in 2015. Anything above that is based on valuations of his personal brand&mdash;which might be worth something in theory, but buys no jet fuel or campaign ads. In terms of actual, tangible net worth, he's worth considerably less than the $3 billion (or $8 billion) he'd be worth if he'd just dumped his share of the family fortune into a Vanguard fund.</p> <p>In other words, over the course of the past four decades, Trump's business acumen has netted him somewhere between -$1 billion and -$6 billion. Ouch. Virtually every person in America can claim a better financial record than that.</p> <p>Now, in fairness, D&aacute;te's numbers for the S&amp;P fund assume that all dividends are reinvested, which would have meant Trump had no income to live on. Obviously he spends a fair amount every year, and if you take that into account the Vanguard strategy wouldn't look as good. Plus, of course, there's the fact that D&aacute;te is a THIRD-RATE LOSER who is JEALOUS of Trump's BRILLIANT CAREER and does anything he can to DEMEAN Trump's SUCCESS. So take him with a grain of salt.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 02 Sep 2015 23:06:38 +0000 Kevin Drum 283281 at http://www.motherjones.com Hillary Clinton Announces Support to Ban Wall Street Bonuses for Government Officials http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/09/hillary-clinton-golden-parachutes-elizabeth-warren <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>On Monday, Hillary Clinton came out in support of legislation seeking to end the so-called "golden parachute" payouts that traditionally benefit private sector executives who take on jobs within the federal government&mdash;a practice long criticized by Wall Street reformers such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren.</p> <p>"The American people need to be able to trust that every single person in Washington&mdash;from the President of the United States all the way down to agency employees&mdash;is putting the interests of the people first," Clinton wrote in an blog post for the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/hillary-clinton/wall-street-revolving-door_b_8064504.html?ncid=tweetlnkushpmg00000067" target="_blank"><em>Huffington Post</em></a>, published Monday. "We want to do more to make sure that happens."</p> <p>Clinton's backing of the the Financial Services Conflict of Interest Act comes after a report in the <em>Intercept</em> last month that revealed <a href="https://theintercept.com/2015/07/30/two-big-reasons-hillary-clinton-isnt-taking-elizabeth-warrens-revolving-door-dare/" target="_blank">two senior-level State Department officials</a> during her time as secretary,&nbsp;Thomas Nides and Robert Hormats, had received hefty payments from Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs respectively after taking on jobs with the State Department.</p> <p>In July, Warren issued a challenge to all presidential candidates to support the legislation, <a href="http://www.thenation.com/article/elizabeth-warren-just-issued-a-major-challenge-to-all-presidential-contenders/" target="_blank">calling</a> it "a bill any presidential candidate should be able to cheer for."</p> <p>&iuml;&raquo;&iquest;"We have a presidential election coming up," she told a crowd in Phoenix. "I think anyone running for that job&mdash;anyone who wants the power to make every key economic appointment and nomination across the federal government&mdash;should say loud and clear that they agree: we don't run this country for Wall Street and mega corporations. We run it for people."</p> <p>Clinton's announcement on Monday shows she is listening closely to what Warren has to say.</p> <p>Since announcing her second run for president, the former secretary of state has embraced a number of policies close to Warren's heart, specifically on Wall Street reform. Last December, Clinton <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/02/hillary-clinton-liz-warren-nice-little-chat" target="_blank">reportedly met privately with Warren</a> to discuss her policy ideas. News of the conversation signaled Clinton could be ready to take a more populist approach to her campaign for the White House.</p></body></html> MoJo 2016 Elections Money in Politics Wed, 02 Sep 2015 19:33:00 +0000 Inae Oh 283266 at http://www.motherjones.com Hillary Clinton's Favorability Ratings Are Right In Their Normal Groove http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/09/hillary-clintons-favorability-ratings-are-right-their-normal-groove <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2015/09/02/what-hillarys-sinking-poll-numbers-really-mean-in-one-chart/" target="_blank">Greg Sargent says</a> that Hillary Clinton's tanking favorability ratings should take no one by surprise. It's what happens every time an election starts up and she's once again viewed as a partisan political figure. "Her drop was probably inevitable once she made the transition from Secretary of State &mdash; a job that carries the trappings of above-politics statesmanship, or if you prefer, states-womanship &mdash; to candidate for president."</p> <p>There's much more at the link, but the annotated chart below pretty much tells the story. When she's removed from the fray, her unfavorability ratings bounce around between 20 and 40 percent. When she's involved in an election, they go up to 45-55 percent or even a little higher. The same thing is happening this time around.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_hillary_clinton_unfavorability_0.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 30px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 02 Sep 2015 18:55:16 +0000 Kevin Drum 283271 at http://www.motherjones.com 3 Hurricanes Are Hitting the Pacific at the Same Time, and the View From Space Is Amazing http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/09/three-hurricanes-pacific-photos <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Astronauts aboard the International Space Station are marveling at a particularly awesome view from orbit right now. This week marks the first time that three major hurricanes&mdash;dubbed Kilo, Ignacio, and Jimena&mdash;have been captured simultaneously churning across the Pacific Ocean, according to the United Kingdom's Met Office. (The National Hurricane Center <a href="https://twitter.com/EricBlake12/status/637729647246094336" target="_blank">agrees</a>.)</p> <p>The storms are being fueled by warmer waters caused by this year's El Ni&ntilde;o, the global climate event that occurs every five to seven years, bringing drought to places like Australia, while heaping rain on the Western United States. The Met Office says temperature anomalies in this part of the world are currently at their highest since 1997-98.</p> <p><a href="http://blog.metoffice.gov.uk/2015/09/02/active-pacific-tropical-cyclone-season-continues/" target="_blank">According to the Met Office</a>: "Hurricanes Kilo, Ignacio and Jimena were all at category 4 simultaneously in the Pacific east of the International Dateline&mdash;the first time three major hurricanes have been recorded at the same time in this region." The Met Office says tropical cyclone activity across the northern hemisphere this year is about 200 percent above normal. Six hurricanes have crossed the central Pacific, more than in any other year on record, the agency says.</p> <p>The view from space is incredible:</p> <center> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Three major hurricanes pictured together over Pacific for first time - ever <a href="http://t.co/ZsVT0rcD00">http://t.co/ZsVT0rcD00</a> <a href="http://t.co/ms2IHvsBxG">pic.twitter.com/ms2IHvsBxG</a></p> &mdash; Independent US (@IndyUSA) <a href="https://twitter.com/IndyUSA/status/638829215995985920">September 1, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">3 Pacific cyclones, a hurricane off Africa -- <a href="https://twitter.com/JaneJaeLee">@JaneJaeLee</a> finds out what's going on. <a href="http://t.co/hZGZjwEHrO">http://t.co/hZGZjwEHrO</a> via <a href="https://twitter.com/NatGeo">@NatGeo</a></p> &mdash; Jeffrey L Katz (@JeffreyLKatz) <a href="https://twitter.com/JeffreyLKatz/status/639056471196610561">September 2, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Hurricane <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Jimena?src=hash">#Jimena</a> lurking in the Pacific. <a href="http://t.co/TMOSFn8vGR">pic.twitter.com/TMOSFn8vGR</a></p> &mdash; Kjell Lindgren (@astro_kjell) <a href="https://twitter.com/astro_kjell/status/638137675350831104">August 30, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Historic central/eastern Pacific outbreak- 3 major hurricanes at once for the first time on record! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ElNino?src=hash">#ElNino</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/climate?src=hash">#climate</a> <a href="http://t.co/t4fdIZwhOO">pic.twitter.com/t4fdIZwhOO</a></p> &mdash; Eric Blake (@EricBlake12) <a href="https://twitter.com/EricBlake12/status/637729647246094336">August 29, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></center> <p>The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration <a href="http://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/global-warming-and-hurricanes" target="_blank">says</a> manmade global warming is likely to drive up the number of intense hurricanes like these around the world&mdash;despite a predicted overall drop in all types of weaker, tropical storms. By the end of the century, hurricanes will likely produce substantially higher rainfall&mdash;up to 20 percent more&mdash;than present-day hurricanes.</p> <p>So far, Hawaii appears to be safe, and no humans are in the paths of destruction, allowing us to enjoy the spectacular view.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Climate Desk Wed, 02 Sep 2015 18:05:36 +0000 James West 283251 at http://www.motherjones.com Freddie Gray Hearings Open Amid Police Clashes http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/09/freddie-gray-hearings-open-with-police-clashes <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Hearings in the case against six Baltimore police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray <a href="http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/freddie-gray/bs-md-ci-freddie-gray-hearing-20150902-story.html" target="_blank">began this morning</a> against an all-too-familiar backdrop of police confrontations with protesters.</p> <p>The first pretrial hearing of the case, involving six officers charged in <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/06/medical-examiner-freddie-gray-homicide" target="_blank">Gray&rsquo;s death in police custody</a>, opened with victories for the prosecution, as a judge denied motions to dismiss the case and to recuse the state's attorney. Outside the courthouse, protesters clashed with police. People on the scene described police <a href="https://twitter.com/revshiz/status/639078091822878720" target="_blank">grabbing women</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/anyaparampil/status/639069662492393473" target="_blank">harassing members of the press</a>, and restricting sidewalk access to the courthouse. Netta Elzie, a prominent black activist, also tweeted an account of Kwame Rose, another black activist and Baltimore resident, being hit by a police car and promptly arrested.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-video tw-align-center" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Baltimore. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/FreddieGray?src=hash">#FreddieGray</a>. Baltimore police just arrested <a href="https://twitter.com/kwamerose">@kwamerose</a> <a href="http://t.co/p43ERG0Xml">pic.twitter.com/p43ERG0Xml</a></p> &mdash; ShordeeDooWhop (@Nettaaaaaaaa) <a href="https://twitter.com/Nettaaaaaaaa/status/639070203708620800">September 2, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet tw-align-center" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Baltimore's finest. Protest. 2015. <a href="https://t.co/bTgUXAOnLW">https://t.co/bTgUXAOnLW</a></p> &mdash; deray mckesson (@deray) <a href="https://twitter.com/deray/status/639071910295412737">September 2, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p>Inside the court, Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams <a href="http://news.yahoo.com/latest-gray-hearing-deputies-reporters-gather-120902199.html" target="_blank">denied motions</a> to recuse State&rsquo;s Attorney Marilyn Mosby from the case and to dismiss charges because of alleged prosecutorial misconduct on behalf of Mosby. Defense attorneys for the six officers, who&nbsp;face charges ranging from involuntary manslaughter to second-degree assault, <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/crime/defense-marilyn-mosby-should-recuse-herself-from-freddie-gray-case/2015/05/08/d701c51c-f5c8-11e4-bcc4-e8141e5eb0c9_story.html" target="_blank">argued</a> that Mosby should recuse herself, citing her relationship to the Gray family's attorney and her husband's position as a city councilman as reasons for a conflict of interest.</p> <p>This story will be updated as it develops.</p></body></html> MoJo Crime and Justice Race and Ethnicity Wed, 02 Sep 2015 17:51:11 +0000 Miles E. Johnson 283246 at http://www.motherjones.com Iran Will Always Be Three Months Away From Having Nukes http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/09/iran-will-always-be-three-months-away-having-nukes <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Paul Waldman writes about the asymmetric political risks that Democrats and Republicans face <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2015/09/02/in-an-unusual-development-congressional-dems-display-admirable-backbone/" target="_blank">over the Iran nuclear deal:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>If the agreement proves to be a failure &mdash; let&rsquo;s say that Iran manages to conduct a nuclear weapons program in secret, then announces to the world that they have a nuclear weapon &mdash; it will indeed be front-page news, and the Democrats who supported the deal might suffer grave political consequences. <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_nuclear_explosion.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">So in order to vote yes, they had to look seriously at the deal and its alternatives, and accept some long term political peril.</p> <p>By contrast, there probably is less long term risk for Republicans in opposing the deal.</p> <p>It&rsquo;s true that if the deal does achieve its goals, it will be added to a list of things on which Republicans were spectacularly wrong, but which led them to change their opinions not a whit....Iraq War....Bill Clinton&rsquo;s tax-increasing 1993 budget....George Bush&rsquo;s tax cuts....But if the deal works as intended, what will be the outcome be? Iran without nuclear weapons, of course, but that is a state of being rather than an event. There will be no blaring headlines saying, &ldquo;Iran Still Has No Nukes &mdash; Dems Proven Right!&rdquo; Five or ten years from now, Republicans will continue to argue that the deal was dreadful, even if Iran&rsquo;s nuclear ambitions have been contained.</p> </blockquote> <p>In a way, it's actually worse than this. Even if Iran doesn't get nukes there will be endless opportunities to raise alarms that it's going to happen <em>any day now</em>. Israeli leaders have been warning that Iran is three months away from a nuclear bomb for over two decades. There will always be new studies, new developments, and new conflicts that provide excuses for hysterical Fox News segments telling us we're all about to die at the hands of the ayatollahs. To see this in action, just take a look at Obamacare. All the top line evidence suggests it's working surprisingly well. Maybe better than even its own supporters thought it would. But that hasn't stopped a torrent of alarming reports that provide countless pretexts for predicting Obamacare's imminent doom. Premiums are going up 40 percent! Workers' hours are being slashed! You won't be able to see your family doctor anymore! Death panels!</p> <p>So have no worries. Iran could be nuclear free in 2050 and Bill Kristol's grandkids will still be warning everyone else's grandkids that the ayatollahs are <em>this close</em> to getting a bomb. It's kind of soothing, in a way, like a squeaky door that you'd miss if you ever oiled it.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 02 Sep 2015 17:43:45 +0000 Kevin Drum 283256 at http://www.motherjones.com Here's the Price Tag for CAP's New Child Care Program: About $100 Billion http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/09/heres-price-tag-caps-new-child-care-program-about-100-billion <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The Center for American Progress&mdash;aka "Hillary's Think Tank"&mdash;has released <a href="https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/early-childhood/report/2015/09/02/119944/a-new-vision-for-child-care-in-the-united-states-3/" target="_blank">"A New Vision for Child Care in the United States."</a> But it's not really very new. It's just a tax credit that varies with income. If you're at the poverty level, you'd get a tax credit of about $13,000 paid directly to the child care facility of your choice. If you make more, the tax credit <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_cap_child_care.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">would be less. The maximum out-of-pocket expense for families would range from 2 percent at the low end to 12 percent at the high end.</p> <p>Does this sound familiar? It should: it bears a strong family resemblance to Obamacare.</p> <p>But it might be a good idea regardless of how new it really is. I'm certainly a fan of both preschool and subsidized child care. The big question is going to be how much it costs, and that's something the authors don't address. There's probably a reason for that. My very rough horseback calculation suggests it could run up a tab of $100 billion per year. Maybe more.<sup>1</sup><strong>[See update below.] </strong></p> <p>That's a lot of money. How's it going to be paid for? <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/09/02/this-could-be-the-new-big-idea-about-childcare-from-democrats/" target="_blank">Danielle Paquet asked CAP about this,</a> and was told vaguely that "restructuring the tax system" and "closing wasteful loopholes" might do the trick. I dunno. That's a lot of wasteful loopholes.</p> <p>Needless to say, this is one of the downsides of taking public policy seriously. If you're Donald Trump, you just tell everyone not to worry. "I'm going to be great for the kids," and he'll take care of it from there. But if you're a Democrat, you normally feel obliged to present an actual plan that can actually work in the real world&mdash;and that means people can attach a price to it. And that, in turn, means you can be badgered about how you're going to pay for it.</p> <p>Politically speaking, this is something that Democrats will need to be careful about. There's a temptation among liberals to be the anti-Trump, tossing out dozens of detailed white papers to solve all the world's problems. But this gives conservatives an opening to add up the cost of all those white papers and start bellowing about how their very own proposals prove that Democrats want to bankrupt the country and tax millionaires into insolvency. It's best to tread carefully here.</p> <p>On the other hand, maybe Hillary could benefit from a small dose of Trumpism. Maybe she should adopt CAP's proposal and just declare that she's going to soak the rich to pay for it. Why pussyfoot around it? After all, polls show that taxing the rich at higher rates is a pretty popular idea. Maybe it's time to go bullroar populist and just beat the tar out of the malefactors of great wealth.</p> <p>Then again, maybe not. That doesn't really sound much like Hillary, does it?</p> <p><sup>1</sup>The program is for kids aged 0-4. My estimate is based on about 20 million kids qualifying, with an average tax credit in the neighborhood of $8,000 each. That's $160 billion. If two-thirds of all families take advantage of this tax credit, that comes to about $100 billion. Needless to say, more detailed cost estimates are welcome.</p> <p><strong>UPDATE:</strong> I am mistaken. CAP estimates a cost of $40 billion for their proposal, which they believe would not just help working families, but also stimulate the economy:</p> <blockquote> <p>The economy as a whole benefits from policies that help working families. As an example, the Canadian province of Quebec developed a nearly universal child care assistance program, and economists at the University of Quebec and the University of Sherbrooke estimate that the program boosted women&rsquo;s labor force participation by nearly 4 percentage points, which in turn boosted GDP by 1.7 percentage points.</p> </blockquote> <p>I'm habitually skeptical of claims that social programs will recoup all or part of their costs by boosting the economy, but it's probably true in this case. The effect of increased employment on GDP is pretty straightforward. The policy question, of course, is <em>how much</em> this will offset the program costs. But then, that's always the policy question, isn't it?</p> <p>In any case, I'm not sure how CAP gets to $40 billion, and it strikes me as a little low. But it might be right. It would be interesting to see an estimate from a reliable third-party source.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 02 Sep 2015 16:21:58 +0000 Kevin Drum 283241 at http://www.motherjones.com September Is All Set to Be Ben Carson Month http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/09/september-all-set-be-ben-carson-month <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Donald Trump's moment in the spotlight is up. He won't go gently into that good night, but go he will. The big question at this point is who will replace him as the tea party's temporary favorite? The answer appears to be Ben Carson, the retired <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_ben_carson_hands.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">neurosurgeon who made a name for himself among conservatives with a speech at the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast. Here's a short excerpt:</p> <blockquote> <p>The PC police are out in force at all times....We&rsquo;ve got to get over this sensitivity....what we need to do in this PC world is forget about unanimity of speech and unanimity of thought....PC is dangerous....one last thing about political correctness, which I think is a horrible thing, by the way....I&rsquo;m not politically correct....</p> </blockquote> <p>Do you notice a trend? Carson also talked about HSAs (a replacement for Obamacare) and tithing (a 10 percent flat tax) and the deficit (bad) and education (good) and moral decay (ruined the Roman empire) and, yes, even mentioned God a few times. But political correctness is his real schtick, and he hates it even more than Trump.</p> <p>But why? Since Carson seems set to become the Next Big Thing, Ed Kilgore decided to explain him to us. In the first GOP debate, Carson made mention of the "Alinsky Model," which enjoyed a brief vogue among conservatives a few years ago and then sort of disappeared from sight. <a href="http://talkingpointsmemo.com/cafe/the-secret-to-ben-carsons-success-calm-bedside-manner" target="_blank">Kilgore takes off from there:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The &ldquo;Alinsky Model&rdquo; is a dog whistle to a certain breed of conspiracy minded hard-core conservative, as is the identification of [Hillary] Clinton with the &ldquo;secular progressive movement.&rdquo; Both are references some might recognize from Glenn Beck&rsquo;s many discourses, and both are meant to describe people who are actively and consciously working through deceit to enslave if not destroy (Carson&rsquo;s word) America. <strong>The Alinsky Model&rsquo;s main weapon, according to most aficionados of this sort of thinking, is &ldquo;political correctness,&rdquo;</strong> which happens to be Dr. Ben Carson&rsquo;s favorite phrase for everything he is fighting against.</p> <p>....The more you listen to Carson talking about &ldquo;political correctness,&rdquo; the more it becomes obvious he&rsquo;s not attacking college speech codes or disputes over racial or ethnic or gender terms, but liberal elite mockery of right-wing conspiracy theories....In this context, it becomes clear that Carson&rsquo;s occasional &ldquo;gaffes&rdquo; aren&rsquo;t really accidents, but what he believes: <strong>Obamacare is the worst thing since slavery; Obama might be planning to cancel elections; Democrats are opening the borders to bring in immigrants who will increase the welfare population and thus keep Democrats in power.</strong> Even though these are not unusual beliefs in the fever swamps of the far right, they are exotic for a major-party presidential candidate.</p> <p>....And there&rsquo;s something extra special about an African-American preemptively labeling suspected incidents of racism and sexism as mere political incorrectness, which he then defends as essential free speech! Let it rip!</p> </blockquote> <p>Ladies and gentlemen, this is your next man of the moment. Like Trump, he specializes in mood affiliation politics: nice, easy, common-sense solutions to all our problems, without bothering to explain how any of this stuff can actually work. Unlike Trump, he has a very calm demeanor. So if you like your third-grade comfort food politics with a side of bombast, Trump is your guy. But if you like it smooth and affable, Carson is. Take your pick.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 02 Sep 2015 15:31:32 +0000 Kevin Drum 283226 at http://www.motherjones.com Ted Cruz Blames President Obama for Inciting Murder of Texas Cop http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/09/ted-cruz-obama-darren-goforth <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Following the brutal murder of Texas Deputy Sheriff Darren Goforth over the weekend, Sen. Ted Cruz is <a href="http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/ted-cruz-goes-after-obama-gun-crime" target="_blank">blaming</a> the Obama administration, especially the president, for inspiring anti-police sentiment and incidents of gun violence toward law enforcement officials.</p> <p>"Cops across this country are feeling the assault," Cruz told reporters when campaigning in Milford, New Hampshire, on Monday. "They're feeling the assault from the president, from the top on down as we see. Whether it's in Ferguson or Baltimore, the response of senior officials, of the president, of the attorney general, is to vilify law enforcement.</p> <p>"That is fundamentally wrong, and it is endangering the safety and security of us all," he added.</p> <p>The Texas senator and presidential hopeful even accused President Barack Obama of staying "silent" on Goforth's murder, when in fact the president condemned the shooting and violence against police officers as <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2015/08/31/obama-targeting-police-completely-unacceptable/71499082/" target="_blank">"completely unacceptable.</a>" On his way to Alaska on Monday, Obama also phoned Goforth's wife to express his condolences.</p> <p>Cruz is hardly the first to denounce the president for provoking anti-police hostilities. Following the murders of two New York Police Department officers in December, former Mayor <a href="http://video.foxnews.com/v/3955392125001/rudy-giuliani-on-murder-of-two-nypd-officers/?#sp=show-clips" target="_blank">Rudy Giuliani went on Fox News</a> and accused Obama of disseminating "propaganda" that "everybody should hate the police."</p></body></html> MoJo 2016 Elections Crime and Justice Guns Wed, 02 Sep 2015 14:59:03 +0000 Inae Oh 283201 at http://www.motherjones.com Iran Deal Now Assured of Passage http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/09/iran-deal-now-assured-passage <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The Iran nuclear agreement picked up its 34th supporter in the Senate this morning, assuring that even if Congress rejects the deal (which it probably will), it won't be able to override President Barack Obama's veto of the rejection.</p> <p>In the end, this probably didn't matter much, since Nancy Pelosi says the House already had enough votes to sustain a veto, but it never hurts to be sure. Next up: If Obama can round up 41 votes, the Senate won't even be able to reject the deal in the first place and no veto will be necessary. I think that's a long shot, since now, with passage secured, it leaves wavering senators free to vote against it in the knowledge that their vote won't matter. We'll see.</p> <p><strong>UPDATE:</strong> And the 34th and deciding senator is&hellip;drum roll, please&hellip;Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski, who is retiring next year.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Foreign Policy Obama Top Stories Wed, 02 Sep 2015 14:20:17 +0000 Kevin Drum 283211 at http://www.motherjones.com You Will Die Alone in a Ditch With a Headache—But at Least the Headache Won't Have Been Your Fault http://www.motherjones.com/contributor/2015/09/true-happiness-requires-sacrifice <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Alcohol is great. Maybe not health-wise, and maybe not for your uncle who has a bunch of DUIs, but, in general, society has long agreed that alcohol is great. The bad thing about alcohol is that sometimes drinking it makes your head hurt the next day. In the world, we call this a hangover. Some people get them worse than other people. The lucky ducks who seem spry and dandy no matter how much they put away the night before often offer unluckier ducks #smarttips for not getting hangovers.<em> </em><em>Drink water! Eat grease! Meditate! Pray! Have you tried barre classes?</em> These tips probably never work for you&mdash;or at least never work <em>consistently</em> for you. (Everything works anecdotally once in a while.) But that's probably your fault, right? I mean everything is your fault. That's why you drink so much in the first place. Your parents got divorced because of you. Your spouse is unhappy because of you. The Dow Jones is down because of you. America is entangled in a never-ending mess in the Middle East because of you. Hollywood keeps rebooting Spider-Man because of you. These hangover tips aren't working because of you, too, right?</p> <p><a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/health-34072712" target="_blank">Wrong</a>.</p> <blockquote> <p>Raiding the fridge or downing glasses of water after a night of heavy drinking won't improve your sore head the next day, Dutch research suggests.</p> <p>Instead, a study concluded, the only way to prevent a hangover is to drink less alcohol.</p> </blockquote> <p>The bad news is: You will die with a headache. The good news is: It won't be your fault.</p></body></html> Contributor Science Ben's Thoughts Wed, 02 Sep 2015 14:18:29 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 283206 at http://www.motherjones.com You Are Haunted By Regret. Soon You Will Be Haunted By Even More Regret. http://www.motherjones.com/contributor/2015/09/does-mcdonalds-deliver <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>You shouldn't eat fast food because fast food is bad for you but if you do eat fast food&mdash;and you will eat fast food at least once in a while because no one can be perfect all the time&mdash;then you could probably do worse than eat a <a href="http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2013/09/11/steak_egg_mcmuffin_can_mcdonalds_improve_on_perfection.html" target="_blank">Sausage McMuffin with Egg</a>, <a href="http://www.buzzfeed.com/venessawong/mcdonalds-all-day-breakfast-starts-oct-6" target="_blank">which will finally be available all-day, along with the rest of McDonald's breakfast menu, starting October 6. </a></p></body></html> Contributor Food and Ag Ben's Thoughts Wed, 02 Sep 2015 13:32:42 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 283196 at http://www.motherjones.com I Have No Headline Worthy of Donald Trump's Latest http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/09/i-have-no-headline-worthy-donald-trumps-latest <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>I hesitate to drop the P-bomb, but <a href="https://twitter.com/paul_w_hoffman/status/638888254469574656" target="_blank">this bit of word salad from Donald Trump</a> is eerily Palinesque. How is it possible that <em>Spy</em> magazine is no longer around to explain this to the world?</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_trump_argle_bargle.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 15px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 02 Sep 2015 01:53:17 +0000 Kevin Drum 283191 at http://www.motherjones.com In the Contest for Worst Automobile-Driving Species, the Winner is Homo Sapiens http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/09/contest-worst-automobile-driving-species-winner-homo-sapiens <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>A reader tells me this story seems <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/02/technology/personaltech/google-says-its-not-the-driverless-cars-fault-its-other-drivers.html" 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 http://www.motherjones.com