Blogs | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en How Should the NFL Handle Domestic Violence Cases in the Future? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>I was browsing the paper this morning and came across an op-ed by sports writer Jeff Benedict about Ray Rice and the NFL's problem with domestic violence. After the usual review of the league's egregious mishandling of the Rice incident over the past few months, <a href="" target="_blank">we get this:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>So this nagging truth remains: It should not take a graphic video to get the NFL to do the right thing. For too long the NFL has had an antiquated playbook when it comes to players who commit domestic violence.</p> <p>....NFL players aren't like men in the general population, especially in the eyes of children. Rather, NFL players are seen as action heroes who epitomize strength, athleticism and toughness. That's why so many kids emulate them. And that's why one instance <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_ray_rice.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">of a celebrated player using his muscle to harm a woman is too many.</p> <p>Etc.</p> </blockquote> <p>I read to the end, but that was about it. And it occurred to me that this piece was representative of nearly everything I've read about the Rice affair. There was lots of moral outrage, of course. That's a pretty cheap commodity when you have stomach-turning video of a pro football player battering a woman unconscious in an elevator. But somehow, at the end, there was nothing. No recommendation about what the NFL's rule on domestic violence <em>should</em> be.</p> <p>So I'm curious: what should it be? Forget Rice for a moment, since we need a rule that applies to everyone. What should be the league's response to a player who commits an act of domestic violence? Should it be a one-strike rule, or should it matter if you have no prior history of violence? Should it depend on a criminal conviction, or merely on credible evidence against the player? Should it matter how severe the violence is? (Plenty of domestic violence cases are much more brutal than Rice's.) Or should there be zero tolerance no matter what the circumstances? How about acts of violence that aren't domestic? Should they be held to the same standard, or treated differently? And finally, is Benedict right that NFL players should be sanctioned more heavily than ordinary folks because they act as role models for millions of kids? Or should we stick to a standard that says we punish everyone equally, regardless of their occupation?</p> <p>Last month the NFL rushed out new punishment guidelines regarding domestic violence after enduring a tsunami of criticism for the way it handled Rice's suspension. <a href="" target="_blank">Details here.</a> Are these guidelines reasonable? Laughable? Too punitive? I think we've discussed the bill of particulars of the Ray Rice case to exhaustion at this point, so how about if we talk about something more concrete?</p> <p>Given the circumstances and the evidence it had in hand, how should the NFL have handled the Ray Rice case? And more importantly, how should they handle domestic violence cases in general? I'd be interested in hearing some specific proposals.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Crime and Justice Sex and Gender Sports Sun, 14 Sep 2014 16:07:48 +0000 Kevin Drum 260216 at This Is Why You Should Never Take Moral Lessons From Films You Stopped Watching Halfway Through <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Jordan Belfort (aka the <a href="" target="_blank">Wolf of Wall Street)</a> went to the 92nd St. Y to talk about how great and innocent and redeemed he is. The whole night was a <a href="" target="_blank">predictable shit show</a> with casual sexism and the like, but <a href="" target="_blank">this bit</a> struck me as particularly funny:</p> <blockquote> <p>Belfort said people should realize that the actions portrayed in the film were bad and not something they should follow. "If you're in this audience and you can't go to see <em>The Wolf of Wall Street</em> and realize that that's bad, then there's something wrong with you. You are fundamentally screwed up. It's obvious," Belfort said. Belfort said that he idolized Gordon Gekko's character in Oliver Stone's <em><a href="" target="_blank">Wall Street</a>.</em> He said that had perhaps Gekko fallen, then he would have felt differently. "At least in <em>The Wolf of Wall Street</em>, I lose everything. My life is destroyed. I go to jail," Belfort said.</p> </blockquote> <p>In the end of <em>Wall Street,</em> Charlie Sheen wears a wire and narcs Gekko to the feds. Gekko is sentenced to more than a decade in prison and, upon his eventual release, a<a href="" target="_blank"> year of hard Shia</a>.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Film and TV Sat, 13 Sep 2014 18:08:20 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 260211 at How Superbugs Hitch a Ride From Hog Farms Into Your Community <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Factory-scale farms don't just house hundreds of genetically similar animals in tight quarters over vast cesspools collecting their waste. They also house a variety of bacteria that live within those unfortunate beasts' guts. And when you dose the animals daily with small amounts of antibiotics&mdash;a common practice&mdash;the bacteria strains in these vast germ reservoirs quite naturally develop the ability to withstand anti-bacterial treatments.</p> <p>Antibiotic-resistant bacteria leave these facilities in two main ways. The obvious one is meat: As Food and Drug Administration <a href="">data</a> <a href="">show</a>, the pork chops, chicken parts, and ground beef you find on supermarket shelves routinely carry resistant bacteria strains. But there's another, more subtle way: through the people who work on these operations.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/tom-philpott/2014/09/think-antibiotic-resistant-bacteria-stop-factory-farm-door-think-again"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Tom Philpott Food and Ag Health Top Stories Sat, 13 Sep 2014 10:00:09 +0000 Tom Philpott 260181 at Unredacted Court Docs Reveal Yahoo's Name and Other Top-Secret Stuff <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Yahoo has <a href="" target="_blank">just released</a> 1,500 pages of previously classified documents relating to its <a href="" target="_blank">legal challenge</a> to the government's warrantless wiretapping program. Yahoo lost the case in 2008 and was ordered to cooperate with National Security Agency or face a $250,000 fine for every day that it withheld its customers' data. The ruling in Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which was released to the public only in heavily redacted form, became a legal precedent for the warrantless wiretapping program that was later revealed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.</p> <p>Today, based on a successful appeal by Yahoo, a slightly less redacted version of that court ruling finally became public.</p> <p>Below, I've posted the more lightly redacted version released today as well as the redacted version of the ruling released in 2008. A side-by-side reading of the two documents may offer some insight into how the government has sought to cover up the true nature of its surveillance activities, or it might just be an example of how little has changed.</p> <p>The new version of the ruling is notable for what it doesn't disclose: Key evidence presented by the government. A block of text that had previously been removed from the ruling still does not fully explain why warrantless searches are necessary to thwart terrorists:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/excerptWEB.gif"></div> <p>Scanning the 1,500 pages of newly unsealed documents will take a while. Here are few examples of new information contained in the partially unredacted ruling:</p> <ul><li>The name of the plaintiff (Yahoo) and its law firm</li> <li>A footnote defining the term "surveillance" to mean "acquisitions of foreign intelligence information." But part of the definition of the term still remains redacted.</li> <li>The date when the government moved to force Yahoo to comply with the order (November 21, 2007)</li> <li>A mention of "linking procedures" (defined as "procedures that link [redacted] targets.") as a one of the safeguards against unreasonable searches</li> </ul><p>You can help us out by pointing out any other interesting tidbits in the comments; we'll note additional highlights here if we find anything worth noting.</p> <p>The slightly less redacted ruling released today:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="DV-container" id="DV-viewer-1301184-11-yahoo702-fisc-merits-opinion-1">&nbsp;</div> <script src="//"></script><script> DV.load("//", { width: 630, height: 800, sidebar: false, text: false, pdf: false, container: "#DV-viewer-1301184-11-yahoo702-fisc-merits-opinion-1" }); </script><p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The original redacted court ruling:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="DV-container" id="DV-viewer-1300547-fiscr082208-2">&nbsp;</div> <script src="//"></script><script> DV.load("//", { width: 630, height: 800, sidebar: false, text: false, pdf: false, container: "#DV-viewer-1300547-fiscr082208-2" }); </script><p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> MoJo Civil Liberties Tech NSA Fri, 12 Sep 2014 21:59:59 +0000 Josh Harkinson 260116 at The Great State Of California Will Not Be Split Into Six Mediocre States <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>One day a <a href="" target="_blank">lemming</a> will fly. That day is <a href="" target="_blank">not today</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>Backers of a much-publicized initiative to split California into six separate states failed to collect enough valid signatures to qualify the measure for the November 2016 ballot. the secretary of state's office said Friday.</p> <p>Supporters of the Six Californias measure sponsored by Tim Draper, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist, turned in more than 1.13 million signatures. But a statewide sampling showed that only 752,685 of them were from voters registered in California, short of the 807,615 needed to qualify for the ballot, the secretary of state said.</p> </blockquote> <p>Happy Friday!</p></body></html> MoJo Fri, 12 Sep 2014 21:55:53 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 260196 at Friday Cat Blogging - 12 September 2014 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>A few of you have written to ask if we plan to get another cat. The answer is probably yes, but not immediately.&nbsp; And what does "not immediately" mean? There's no telling. A new cat could walk into our lives tomorrow, or it might take a little while longer. We'll see.</p> <p>In the meantime, my mother's cats continue to be perky and photogenic, and ever since she learned how easy it is to take pictures with her iPad and email them directly to me, I've been getting more photos of her brood. Below you can see the latest. Mozart has pretty plainly settled in to alpha cat status, and Ditto just as plainly isn't quite sure he's happy about that. But it's too late. Ditto has the bulk, but I think Mozart has whatever indefinable feline quality it is that makes him boss. It's his house now.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_mozart_ditto_2014_09_12.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 40px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 12 Sep 2014 18:55:04 +0000 Kevin Drum 260171 at See for Yourself Just How Damn Complicated the Middle East Has Become <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="mid east relationship chart" class="image" src="/files/mid-east-top_0.jpg"><div class="caption">David McCandless/The Information Is Beautiful Project</div> </div> <p>Behold, the Middle East! If we could just understand what all the strong countries, the falling-apart countries, the unrecognized-countries, the "non-state actors", and the outside powers all thought of each other, we might be able to chart a clear way forward, right? Don't get your hopes up, although the latest project by British data visionary David McCandless is a really valiant effort to make sense of it all nonetheless.</p> <p>McCandless' charted 38 regional players&mdash; from Afghanistan to Yemen, Al Qaeda to the European Union&mdash; and connected each to its major friends and enemies. The result is a tangled ball that illustrates the enormously complicated relationships in the region. (You can parse each actor's relationships on the full, <a href="" target="_blank">interactive version</a> on McCandless' site, Information Is Beautiful, which you should really check out.)&nbsp;</p> <p>McCandless calls this work an "ongoing, evolving diagram," so it may be missing a few connections (Russia's <a href="" target="_blank">close, getting closer</a> relationship with Iraq, for instance). If you have more ideas, he welcomes input at the email address posted on his site.</p></body></html> MoJo Charts Afghanistan Foreign Policy Iraq Fri, 12 Sep 2014 17:49:57 +0000 Alex Park 260156 at Pennsylvania Teenager Simulates Oral Sex With Jesus Statue, Faces 2 Years in Prison <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Teenagers are prone to dumb, tasteless pranks, but one 14-year-old is facing prison time for his latest stunt. The teen, from Everett, Pennsylvania, hopped on top of a statue of a kneeling Jesus&mdash;in front of an organization called "Love in the Name of Christ"&mdash;and <a href="" target="_blank">simulated oral sex with the statue's</a> face. Naturally, he posted the pictures to Facebook, which made their way to authorities.</p> <p>Officials in Bedford County charged the teen (whose name hasn't been released) with desecration of a venerated object, invoking a <a href=";SECTION=HOME&amp;TEMPLATE=DEFAULT" target="_blank">1972 Pennsylvania statute</a> that criminalizes "defacing, damaging, polluting or otherwise physically mistreating in a way that the actor knows will outrage the sensibilities of persons likely to observe or discover the action." You'd think an appropriate punishment for a kid violating this seldom-invoked law might be picking up trash or, at worst, paying a fine. If convicted, he faces much worse: two years in juvenile detention.</p> <p>Truth Wins Out, a LGBT advocacy nonprofit, has argued that the law is unconstitutional because it violates the establishment clause&mdash;"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion"&mdash;and free speech rights&mdash;"Congress shall make no law abridging the right to hump a statue of Jesus."</p> <p>Pennsylvania is not the only state with a "venerated objects" law&mdash;<a href="" target="_blank">many states have some version of it</a>, but most define "desecration" as vandalizing or otherwise physically harming an object of civic or religious significance. Alabama, Tennessee, and Oregon have laws like Pennsylvania's, which can be interpreted to punish individuals&mdash;like this bold, dumb teenager&mdash;who simply decide to do something offensive.</p></body></html> MoJo Civil Liberties Religion Fri, 12 Sep 2014 17:39:40 +0000 Sam Brodey 260106 at If You Want Good Workers, You Need to Pay Market Wages <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Today the <em>Wall Street Journal</em> is running <a href="" target="_blank">yet another article</a> about the inability of manufacturing companies to attract good employees. <a href="" target="_blank">And Dean Baker is annoyed:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>If employers can't get enough workers then we would expect to see wages rising in manufacturing.</p> <p>They aren't. Over the last year the average hourly wage rose by just 2.1 percent, only a little higher than the inflation rate and slightly less than the average for all workers. This follows several years where wages in manufacturing rose less than the economy-wide average....If an employer wants to hire people she can get them away from competitors by offering a higher wage. It seems that employers in <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_wages_manufacturing.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">the manufacturing sector may need this simple lesson in market economic to solve their skills shortage problem.</p> </blockquote> <p>The chart on the right shows what Baker is talking about. It's a slightly different series than the one he uses in his post, but it makes the same point. Manufacturing wages are rising <em>more slowly</em> than in the rest of the economy. If manufacturing companies are really desperate for qualified workers, they have a funny way of showing it.</p> <p>Now, it's possible that what they really mean is that they don't think they can be competitive if they have to pay higher wages. So they want lots of well-qualified employees to work for below-market wages. And who knows? That's possible. But if that's really the problem, then apprentice programs and skills training aren't likely to solve it.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Economy Fri, 12 Sep 2014 17:28:14 +0000 Kevin Drum 260151 at Quote of the Day: Salt Your Pasta Water, Capiche? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">From Starboard Value LP,</a> a private investment firm critical of Olive Garden's current management:</p> <blockquote> <p>If you Google "How to cook pasta", the first step of Pasta 101 is to salt the water. How does the largest Italian dining concept in the world not salt the water for pasta?</p> </blockquote> <p>Quite so. On the other hand, Starboard refers to Olive Garden as an "Italian dining concept," which is a strike against them. So I guess I don't know who to root for in this monumental battle for control of low-quality quasi-Italian food.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Food and Ag Fri, 12 Sep 2014 15:53:39 +0000 Kevin Drum 260136 at Surprise! Our Arab Allies Aren't Really Going to Do Anything to Help Us Fight ISIS <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Here is the <a href=";action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;version=LedeSum&amp;module=first-column-region&amp;region=top-news&amp;WT.nav=top-news&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">least surprising story of the day:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Many Arab governments grumbled quietly in 2011 as the United States left Iraq, fearful it might fall deeper into chaos or Iranian influence. Now, the United States is back and getting a less than enthusiastic welcome, with leading allies like Egypt, Jordan and Turkey all finding ways on Thursday to avoid specific commitments to President Obama&rsquo;s expanded military campaign against Sunni extremists.</p> <p>....The tepid support could further complicate the already complex task Mr. Obama has laid out for himself in fighting the extremist Islamic State in Iraq and Syria: He must try to confront the group without aiding Syria&rsquo;s president, Bashar al-Assad, or appearing to side with Mr. Assad&rsquo;s Shiite allies, Iran and the militant group Hezbollah, against discontented Sunnis across the Arab world.</p> </blockquote> <p>If Arab countries just flatly didn't want to support our anti-ISIS effort, that wouldn't be surprising. American intervention in the Middle East hardly has an enviable history of success. It would be entirely understandable if they just wanted us to keep our noses out of things.</p> <p>But that's not what's going on. It's not that they don't want American intervention. Many of these countries have been practically begging for it. The problem is that they want our help solely in support of their own sectarian and nationalist pursuits. They want America to commit an endless well of troops and arms in service of ancient enmities and murderous agendas that they themselves are unwilling to commit their own troops and money to. And for some reason, we keep playing along with the charade.</p> <p>Fighting ISIS isn't really part of this agenda. It's Sunni; it's anti-Assad; and it's far away. Most of our putative allies in the Middle East either don't care very much about it or have actively supported it in the past. They'll pay lip service to destroying it now because they don't want to break with the United States entirely, but that's about it. It's just lip service.</p> <p>By tomorrow they'll be back to privately griping that we haven't turned Iran into a glassy plain or something. And then, like a couple who knows their marriage is broken but can't quite bear the thought of divorce, we'll be back to stroking their egos and promising that we really do share their interests. We don't, thank God: we're not quite that depraved. We just want their oil and a sort of unstated tolerance of Israel.</p> <p>It never changes. Next year the details will be slightly different, but we'll go through the same dance all over again. Hooray.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum International Iraq Military Fri, 12 Sep 2014 14:43:48 +0000 Kevin Drum 260131 at We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for September 12, 2014 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p class="rtecenter"><em>Nathan Mitchell, an aviation machinist airman of the US Navy, performs maintenance on a helicopter. (US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Oscar Albert Moreno Jr.)</em></p></body></html> MoJo Military Fri, 12 Sep 2014 14:29:48 +0000 260126 at News Organizations Battle Pennsylvania Over Secret Source of Its Execution Drugs <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania and four news organizations filed an emergency <a href="" target="_blank">legal motion on</a> Thursday, demanding that Pennsylvania reveal the source of its execution drugs.</p> <p>Later this month, the state is scheduled to put 57-year-old Hubert Michael to death for raping and murdering a 16-year-old girl in 1993. While the execution has been stayed by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, the ACLU&nbsp;fears the hold could be lifted at any time, opening the way for the first execution in Pennsylvania in more than 15 years.</p> <p>Since 2011, when the European Union banned the export of drugs for use in executions, Pennsylvania and other death penalty states have been forced to rely on untested drug combinations and loosely regulated compounding pharmacies, and most have become secretive about the sources and contents of their lethal injection drugs. Death row inmates around the country have sued to block their executions on the grounds that withholding this information is unconstitutional. Untested or poorly prepared drug cocktails could, they argue, create a level of suffering that violates the Eight Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment. So far, they've met with little success. Clayton Lockett, who lost his bid to force the state of Oklahoma to reveal the source and purity of the drugs used to put him to death, writhed and moaned in apparent agony after being injected <a href=";utm_medium=feed&amp;" target="_blank">with a secretly acquired drug combinations</a> in April.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/mojo/2014/09/news-organizations-sue-pennsylvania-execution-drugs"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> MoJo Civil Liberties Crime and Justice death Thu, 11 Sep 2014 17:59:08 +0000 Mariah Blake 260071 at A Wee Question About That Residual Force Everyone Keeps Blathering About <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Here's something I don't get. Republicans seem to universally hold the following two opinions about Iraq and ISIS:</p> <ol><li>President Obama is to blame for the military success of ISIS because he declined to keep a residual force in Iraq after 2011.</li> <li>In the fight against ISIS, we certainly don't want to send in combat troops. No no no.</li> </ol><p>"Residual force" has become something of a talisman for conservative critics of Obama's Iraq policy. It's sort of like "providing arms," the all-purpose suggestion for every conflict from hawks who know the public won't stand for sending in ground troops but who want to support something more muscular than sanctions. It's a wonderful sound bite because it sounds sensible and informed as long as you don't think too hard about it (what arms? for whom? is anyone trained to use them? etc.). Luckily, most people don't think too hard about it.</p> <p>"Residual force" sounds good too. But if we don't want boots on the ground in the fight against ISIS, what exactly would it have done? Hang around Baghdad to buck up the morale of the Iraqi forces that came fleeing back after encountering ISIS forces? Conduct ever more "training"? Or what? Can someone tell me just what everyone thinks this magical residual force would have accomplished?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Iraq Military Thu, 11 Sep 2014 17:28:20 +0000 Kevin Drum 260081 at Not-Quite-Supermoon Blogging - 7 September 2014 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>I didn't actually get around to hauling out my camera for Monday's supermoon (how many of these things do we get every year, anyway?), but I did snap a few pictures on Sunday. So in the spirit of better late than never, here's one of them. The clouds and the colors were kind of interesting, even if the picture itself is so-so.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_moon_2014_09_07.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 15px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 11 Sep 2014 16:04:20 +0000 Kevin Drum 260076 at Workplace Wellness Programs Are Just an Excuse to Lower Your Pay <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>I don't like workplace wellness programs. This isn't because I think they do no good. It's because I don't like the idea of employers deciding that they can dictate my personal health choices. Or any of my other personal choices, for that matter. Maybe it's for my own good, but so what? Lots of things are for my own good. Nonetheless, I'm an adult, and I get to choose these kinds of things for myself, even if I sometimes make bad choices.</p> <p>Today, however, Austin Frakt and Aaron Carroll delight me by surveying the literature on wellness programs and bolstering my personal pique with actual facts. It turns out that wellness programs, in fact, <a href=";abg=0" target="_blank">generally<em> don't</em> do any good:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Rigorous studies tend to find that wellness programs don&rsquo;t save money and, with few exceptions, do not appreciably improve health. This is often because additional health screenings built into the programs encourage overuse of unnecessary care, pushing spending higher without improving health.</p> <p>However, this doesn&rsquo;t mean that employers aren&rsquo;t right, in a way. Wellness programs can achieve cost savings &mdash; for employers &mdash; by shifting higher costs of care onto workers. <strong>In particular, workers who don&rsquo;t meet the demands and goals of wellness programs (whether by not participating at all, or by failing to meet benchmarks like a reduction in body mass index) end up paying more. </strong>Financial incentives to get healthier sometimes simply become financial penalties on workers who resist participation or who aren&rsquo;t as fit. Some believe this can be a form of discrimination.</p> </blockquote> <p>This is basically what I've long suspected. For the most part, wellness programs are a means to reduce pay for employees who don't participate, and there are always going to be a fair number of curmudgeons who refuse to participate. Voila! Lower payroll expenses! And the best part is that employers can engage in this cynical behavior while retaining a smug public conviction that they're just acting for the common good. Bah.</p> <p>Did I mention that I don't like workplace wellness programs?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Health Care Thu, 11 Sep 2014 15:41:02 +0000 Kevin Drum 260061 at We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for September 11, 2014 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p class="rtecenter"><em>The 2014 Tripler Fisher House 8k Hero and Remembrance Run, Walk or Roll on Ford Island memorializes more than 7,000 US service members who died since the September 11th attacks on this day in 2001. (US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Diana Quinlan)</em></p></body></html> MoJo Military Thu, 11 Sep 2014 14:50:24 +0000 260051 at The New York Times Just Issued the Best Correction You'll Read All Week <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>On Tuesday, the <em>New York Times </em>ran the following correction on a <a href="" target="_blank">story</a> about Dick Cheney telling House Republicans to "embrace a strong military and reject a rising isolationism in his party":</p> <blockquote> <p><strong>Correction: September 9, 2014 </strong></p> <p>An earlier version of a summary with this article misstated the former title of Dick Cheney. He was vice president, not president.</p> </blockquote> <p>This is funny because many people believe that Cheney wielded an <a href="" target="_blank">unprecedented level of influence</a> over former President George W. Bush.</p></body></html> MoJo Bush The Right Top Stories Thu, 11 Sep 2014 14:47:26 +0000 Nick Baumann 260046 at The Rich Are Eating Richer, the Poor Are Eating Poorer <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Over the past decade, the number of farmers markets nationwide has <a href="">approximately doubled</a>, and the community-supported agriculture model of farming, where people buy shares in the harvest of a nearby farms, has probably <a href="">grown even faster</a>. Has this explosion of local produce consumption improved Americans' diets? A couple of new studies paint a disturbing picture.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/tom-philpott/2014/09/food-inequality"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Tom Philpott Charts Food and Ag Income Inequality Top Stories Thu, 11 Sep 2014 10:00:09 +0000 Tom Philpott 259866 at Here's Why Congressional Approval for War Is So Important <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>In my previous post, I complained that I wasn't sure what would prevent further escalation in Iraq "aside from Obama's personal convictions." A friend emails to ask just what I'd like to see. In the end, aren't the president's personal convictions all that prevent <em>any</em> military operation from escalating?</p> <p>It's a fair point, and I'm glad he brought it up. The answer, I think, lies in congressional approval for military action, and this is one of the reasons I think it's so important. If Obama is truly serious about not sending combat troops into ISIS-held areas in Iraq, then let's get a congressional resolution that puts that in writing. Let's get an authorization for war that spells out a geographical area; puts a limit on US troop deployments; and specifically defines what those troops can do.</p> <p>Would this be airtight? Of course not. Presidents can always find a way to stretch things, and Congress can always decide to authorize more troops. But nothing is airtight&mdash;nor should it be. It's always possible that events on the ground really will justify stronger action someday. However, what it <em>does</em> do is simple: It forces the president to explicitly request an escalation and it forces Congress to explicitly authorize his request. At the very least, that prevents a slow, stealthy escalation that flies under the radar of public opinion.</p> <p>Presidents don't like having their actions constrained. No one does. But in most walks of life that deal with power and the use of force, we understand that constraint is important. Surely, then, there's nowhere it's more important than in matters of war and peace. And that's one of the reasons that congressional authorization for war is so essential.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Congress Iraq Military Obama Thu, 11 Sep 2014 02:52:09 +0000 Kevin Drum 260041 at Obama's Iraq Speech: Light on Substance, and Maybe That's a Good Thing <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_obama_isis_speech.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Well, that was pretty anticlimactic. Here is President Obama's shiny new plan for defeating ISIS:</p> <ol><li>More airstrikes, including strikes in Syria.</li> <li>A few hundred advisors to work with Iraqi troops. They will provide training, equipment, and intelligence.</li> <li>Counterterrorism to prevent ISIS attacks.</li> <li>Humanitarian aid.</li> </ol><p>We are, presumably, already engaged in #3 and #4. We're partially engaged in #1. Basically, then Obama is proposing to (a) expand the air war and (b) provide more aid to the Iraqi army. That's really not an awful lot&mdash;which is fine with me.</p> <p>Will this work? Airstrikes by themselves are obviously limited in what they can accomplish. They can frustrate ISIS plans in specific areas, but they can't do a lot more than that. As we've known all along, real success depends on the Iraqi military. Unfortunately, given the fact that we spent years training Iraqi forces and ended up with an army that cut and run at the first sight of ISIS forces, I have my doubts that further training will really do that much good. But if it doesn't, there's little we can do anyway. So it's probably our only option.</p> <p>The big question, of course, is whether our assistance will stay limited. If the Iraqi military fails, as it may, will we start pouring in more troops? Obama was clear on this: "We will not get dragged into another ground war in Iraq." Still, sometimes events run away with things, and I'm not sure what's going to prevent a slow accretion of more and more US forces aside from Obama's personal convictions. This is a thinner reed than I'd like even if I believe that he's entirely sincere in his desire to avoid escalation. We'll just have to wait and see.</p> <p>In any case, that's really all we got tonight. I'd like to write something longer and more insightful, but there just weren't enough specifics in the speech to justify that. The last third of the speech was mostly platitudes about partners, chairing a UN meeting, America is great, God bless the troops, etc. There wasn't an awful lot there.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Iraq Military Obama Thu, 11 Sep 2014 01:54:42 +0000 Kevin Drum 260036 at Does the Web Seem Way Slow Today? It May Be Soon If You Don't Get in the FCC's Face <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>No, the internet isn't actually broken today. Those spinning wheels of death you may have seen on Netflix, Tumblr, Reddit, Mozilla, and hundreds of other sites are part of <a href="" target="_blank">Internet Slowdown Day</a>, an effort to show what might happen if the internet actually <em>did</em> get broken by the bureaucrats at the Federal Communication Commission. The FCC will soon vote on a proposal to essentially eliminate <a href="" target="_blank">net neutrality,</a> the policy that forces internet providers such as Comcast and AT&amp;T to treat all internet traffic the same. Here are five things you should know about what's happening today:</p> <p><span class="section-lead">The Participating websites aren't actually slower:</span> Not even Netflix is crazy enough to make a political statement by throttling itself. The spinning page-load symbols on participating sites are just widgets (see below), which anyone <a href="" target="_blank">can download here</a>. Some activists are also replacing their social media profile pics with images like this:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>Sign the letter to congress, the FCC and the White House telling the cable companies to fuck off, it's our internet <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Anonymous (@YourAnonNews) <a href="">September 10, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>In this sense, Internet Slowdown Day is very similar to the <a href="" target="_blank">SOPA blackout of 2012,</a> when people and major sites across the internet blackened their logos and profile pictures to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act, which would have given the federal government wide latitude to enforce copyright law. SOPA showed that when major internet companies team up with grassroots activists, politicians tend to listen.</p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img height="300" src="" width="300"></div> <p><span class="section-lead">The real story is who is <em>not</em> participating:</span> Although Google claims to support net neutrality, it's conspicuously <a href="" target="_blank">silent</a> about Internet Slowdown Day. Last year, <em>Wired</em>'s Ryan Singel <a href="" target="_blank">noted</a> that the terms of service for Google Fiber, the company's relatively new ISP division, included some of the same provisions that Google had long decried as hostile to an open internet. By prohibiting customers from attaching "servers" to its network, Google Fiber was contradicting the principle of treating all packets of information equally, prompting Singel to accuse the search giant of a "flip-flop" on net neutrality. It's not that simple, of course, but tech companies such as Google clearly have much less to gain from net neutrality now that they're multibillion-dollar behemoths. Even if they don't take on the role of actual ISPs, large tech firms can easily afford to pay cable companies for faster service, creating a competitive firewall between their services and those offered by leaner startups.</p> <p><span class="section-lead">In america, every day is already an internet slowdown day:</span> Pushing internet traffic into "slow" lanes might be more tolerable if those lanes were still really fast in absolute terms. Sadly, however, the United States ranks <a href="" target="_blank">a pathetic 25th</a> among nations for download speeds:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="671" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="//" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><span class="section-lead">This show is bigger than the superbowl:</span> The net neutrality debate has generated a record 1,477,301 public comments to the FCC, the commission said today. As <em>Politico</em> <a href="" target="_blank">notes</a>, that breaks the previous record of 1.4 million complaints generated by Janet Jackson's 2004 wardrobe malfunction. The number of comments to the FCC will likely continue to grow as Internet Slowdown Day encourages visitors to voice their objections.</p> <p><span class="section-lead">the fcc is not your friend:</span> There's no question that the FCC is facing a public backlash against its plan to gut net neutrality. The question is whether the outrage will be sufficient to change its course. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is a major Obama bundler and <a href="" target="_blank">former head of two major industry groups</a> that staunchly oppose net neutrality. He's likely to side with the cable industry unless essentially forced to do otherwise. All of which is to say that the bar is incredibly high for Internet Slowdown Day. Until "net neutrality" becomes a household term, don't count on Washington to care about it.</p></body></html> MoJo Tech Top Stories Net Neutrality Wed, 10 Sep 2014 22:14:03 +0000 Josh Harkinson 260001 at Let's Not Give ISIS Exactly What They Want <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p class="commentContent"><a href="" target="_blank">Yesterday</a> I wrote a post noting that a supposedly war-weary public had suddenly become awfully war happy. "All it took," I said, "was a carefully stagecrafted beheading video and the usual gang of conservative jingoists to exploit it." Here's a Twitter conversation that followed (lightly edited for clarity):</p> <blockquote> <p class="commentContent"><strong>DS:</strong> Think of what you wrote: "All it took was...beheading"? I opposed W's but this is what wars are made from &amp; I think rightly so.</p> <p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_foley_beheading.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;"><strong>Me</strong>: Really? So any group anywhere in the world merely needs to commit an atrocity to draw us into war?</p> <p><strong>DS:</strong> On what other basis should wars be fought if not to stop groups from committing atrocities against Americans?</p> </blockquote> <p>I'm not trying to pick on anyone in particular here, but it's pretty discouraging that this kind of attitude is so common. There's no question that the beheading of American citizens by a gang of vicious thugs is the kind of thing that makes your blood boil. Unless you hail from Vulcan, your gut reaction is that you want to find the barbarians who did this and crush them.</p> <p>But that shouldn't be your final reaction. This is not an era of conventional military forces with overwhelming power and no real fear of blowback. It's an era of stateless terrorists whose ability to commit extremely public atrocities is pretty much unlimited. And while atrocities can have multiple motivations, one of the key reasons for otherwise pointless actions like one-off kidnappings and beheadings is their ability to either provoke overreactions or successfully extort ransoms. Unfortunately, Americans are stupidly addicted to the former and Europeans seem to be stupidly addicted to the latter, and that's part of what keeps this stuff going.</p> <p>In any case, a moment's thought should convince you that we're being manipulated. We've read account after account about ISIS and its remarkably sophisticated command and publicity apparatus. The beheading video is part of that. It's a very calculated, very deliberate attempt to get us to respond stupidly. It's not even a very subtle manipulation. It's just an especially brutal one.</p> <p>So if we're smart, we won't give them what they want. Instead we'll respond coldly and meticulously. We'll fight on our terms, not theirs. We'll intervene if and only if the Iraqi government demonstrates that it can take the lead and hold the ground they take. We'll forego magical thinking about counterinsurgencies. We won't commit Western troops in force because we know from experience that this doesn't work. We'll avoid pitched battles and instead take advantage of our chances when they arise. Time is on our side.</p> <p>Above all, we won't allow a small band of medieval theocrats to manipulate us. We need to stop giving them exactly what they want. We need to stop doing stupid stuff.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Iraq Military Wed, 10 Sep 2014 20:57:28 +0000 Kevin Drum 260021 at Book Review: The Human Age <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="the human age" class="image" src="/files/human-age-250.jpg"></div> <p><strong>The Human Age</strong></p> <p>By Diane Ackerman</p> <p>NORTON</p> <p>Is humankind so dominant that we deserve our very own geologic era? Naturalist Diane Ackerman answers an emphatic "yes" in this ambitious survey of our brief reign on Earth. Despite pockets of purplish prose, <em>The Human Age</em> is a well-crafted and often compelling book: Orangutans with iPads, self-aware robots, and visionary fishermen are characters in her expansive story of how human advancement affects our lives and our environment. Ackerman is neither overly optimistic nor alarmist as she explores the pros and cons of humanity, expressing wonder and concern at all the things we're capable of.</p> <p><em>This review originally appeared in our <a href="" target="_blank">September/October issue</a> of</em> Mother Jones.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Books Wed, 10 Sep 2014 19:32:12 +0000 Sam Brodey 259001 at I Have Gone Over to the Dark Side <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>I have gone over to the dark side. I've been on the edge for a while, playing passive-aggressive games with my copy editor, but I guess I might as well just fess up. I now routinely use <em>they</em> and <em>them</em> as gender-neutral singular pronouns.<sup>1</sup></p> <p>I'm not proud of this. But <em>he or she</em> has always grated on the ear. Likewise, using <em>he</em> some of the time and <em>she</em> some of the time is just too damn much work. And it's kind of confusing too. How careful are you going to be to use them equally? How much attention are you <iframe align="right" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="258" src="" style="margin: 20px 20px 15px 30px;" width="400"></iframe>going to pay to make sure you aren't using them in gendered ways (<em>he</em> when you're writing about doctors, <em>she</em> when you're writing about nurses)? Etc.</p> <p>What other options are there? None. You can write around the problem, but that usually produces a mess. There have been a few feeble attempts to invent new pronouns, but they've gone nowhere and never will. So we're stuck. The easiest thing is just to use <em>they</em> and <em>them</em>. Everyone knows what you mean, and except for us grammar pedants, nobody cares. I don't think I have the will to resist anymore. I have been assimilated.</p> <p><sup>1</sup>See the <a href="" target="_blank">previous post</a> for an example&mdash;and for the proximate cause of this post.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 10 Sep 2014 18:12:10 +0000 Kevin Drum 259991 at