Blogs | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en Will Democrats Keep Control of the Senate This Year? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_senate_forecast_pec_28_august_2014.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Sam Wang of the Princeton Election Consortium thinks that Democrats currently have a 72 percent chance of retaining control of the Senate this year. Most other forecasting outfits think Republicans have a 60-70 percent chance of winning control. <a href="" target="_blank">Why the difference?</a></p> <blockquote> <p>In most cases, added assumptions (i.e. special sauce) have led the media organizations to different win probabilities&nbsp;&mdash; which I currently believe are wrong....The major media organizations (NYT, WaPo, 538)...all use prior conditions like incumbency, candidate experience, funding, and the generic Congressional ballot to influence their win probabilities&nbsp;&mdash; and opinion polls.</p> <p>....Longtime readers of PEC will not be surprised to know that I think the media organizations are making a mistake. It is nearly Labor Day. By now, we have tons of polling data. Even the stalest poll is a more direct measurement of opinion than an indirect fundamentals-based measure. I demonstrated this point in 2012, when I used polls only to forecast the Presidency and all close Senate races. That year I made no errors in Senate seats, including Montana (Jon Tester) and North Dakota (Heidi Heitkamp), which FiveThirtyEight got wrong.</p> </blockquote> <p>I'd sure <em>like</em> to believe this. PEC is my go-to political polling site, after all. But it sure doesn't <em>feel</em> like Democrats are in the driver's seat right now, does it? All of my political instincts scream that Wang's forecast is wrong.</p> <p>That's probably because I'm a pessimist by nature. But you either believe in poll aggregation or you don't. I do, and PEC has performed well in every election for the past decade. So just as I wouldn't "deskew" bad poll results I didn't like, I guess I won't try to second guess good poll results that don't seem quite right. If Wang thinks Democrats are currently favored to keep control of the Senate, then so do I.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Elections Fri, 29 Aug 2014 04:09:18 +0000 Kevin Drum 259376 at Quote of the Day: "We Don't Have a Strategy Yet." <!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_tan_suit_2.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;"><a href="" target="_blank">From President Obama,</a> asked if he needs congressional approval to go into Syria:</p> <blockquote> <p>I don't want to put the cart before the horse. We don't have a strategy yet.</p> </blockquote> <p>That's not going to go over well, is it? Three years after the Syrian civil war started and (at least) half a year after ISIS became a serious threat in Iraq, you'd think the president might be willing to essay a few broad thoughts about how we should respond.</p> <p>Don't get me wrong. I think I understand what Obama is doing here. He's basically trying to avoid saying that we <em>do</em> have a strategy, and the strategy is to do the absolute minimum possible in service of a few very limited objectives. And generally speaking, I happen to agree that this is probably the least worst option available to us. Still, there's no question that it's not very inspiring. You'd think the brain trust in the White House would have given a little more thought to how this could be presented in a tolerably coherent and decisive way.</p> <p>In the meantime, "We don't have a strategy yet" is about to become the latest 24/7 cable news loop. Sigh.</p> <p>Oh, and the tan suit too. It's quite the topic of conversation in the Twittersphere.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Military Obama Thu, 28 Aug 2014 21:31:34 +0000 Kevin Drum 259366 at This is What a Russian Invasion of Ukraine Looks Like <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>It has become quite hard for Vladimir Putin to deny that Russia's activities in Eastern Europe are benign. On Thursday, Ukraine's president, Petro Poroshenko, <a href="" target="_blank">announced</a> that "Russian forces have actually entered Ukraine." And at a State Department briefing, spokeswoman&nbsp;Jen Psaki called Russia's activities "an incursion and a violation of Ukraine's sovereignty."</p> <p>The most striking evidence comes&nbsp;from <a href="" target="_blank">NATO, which has released</a> satellite photos&nbsp;of what it calls "concrete examples of Russian activity inside Ukraine."</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/image1.jpg"><div class="caption">Digital Globe/NATO</div> </div> <p>According to NATO, the image above&nbsp;depicts a&nbsp;Russian convoy carrying artillery in Krasnodon, an area of Ukraine currently controlled by pro-Russian separatists, on August 21.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/image2.jpg"><div class="caption">Digital Globe/NATO</div> </div> <p>This shows artillery setting up in firing positions in Krasnodon. "This configuration is exactly how trained military professionals would arrange their assets on the ground, indicating that these are not unskilled amateurs, but Russian soldiers," a NATO press release notes.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/image3.jpg"><div class="caption">Digital Globe/NATO</div> </div> <p>This image shows side-by-side photos of Rostov-on-Don, about 31 miles from the Ukrainian border, taken two months apart. The photo on the left, taken on June 19, shows the area mostly empty. The photo on the right shows the same area on August 20&nbsp;occupied with tanks and other armored vehicles, cargo trucks, and tents. These units "are capable of attacking with little warning, and could potentially overwhelm and push-back Ukrainian units," according to NATO.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/image4.jpg"><div class="caption">Digital Globe/NATO</div> </div> <p>According to NATO, this image shows Russian six artillery pieces, probably 6-inch howitzers, positioned&nbsp;six miles south of the Ukrainian border. The guns are pointed toward Ukraine.</p></body></html> MoJo International Military Thu, 28 Aug 2014 18:56:15 +0000 Alex Park 259351 at 5 Terrifying Facts From the Leaked UN Climate Report <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>How many synonyms for "grim" can I pack into one article? I had to consult the thesaurus:&nbsp;ghastly, horrid, awful, shocking, grisly, gruesome.</p> <p>This week,&nbsp;a big report from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was leaked before publication, and it confirmed, yet again, the grim&mdash;dire, frightful&mdash;reality the we face if we don't slash our global greenhouse gas emissions, and slash them&nbsp;fast.</p> <p>This "Synthesis Report," to be released in November following a&nbsp;UN conference in Copenhagen, is still subject to revision. It is intended to summarize three previous UN climate publications and to "provide an integrated view" to the world's governments of the risks they face from runaway carbon pollution, along with&nbsp;possible policy&nbsp;solutions.</p> <p>As expected, the document contains <a href="" target="_blank">a lot of what had already been reported</a> after the three underpinning reports were released <a href="" target="_blank">at global summits</a> over the past year. It's a long list of problems: sea level rise resulting in coastal flooding, crippling heat waves and multidecade droughts, torrential downpours, widespread food shortages, species extinction, pest outbreaks, economic damage, and exacerbated civil conflicts and poverty.</p> <p>But in general, the 127-page leaked report provides starker language than the previous three, framing the crisis as a series of "irreversible" ecological and economic catastrophes that will occur if swift action is not taken.</p> <p>Here are five particularly grim&mdash;depressing, distressing, upsetting, worrying, unpleasant&mdash;takeaways from the report.</p> <p><strong>1. Our efforts to combat climate change have been grossly inadequate.</strong><br> The report says that anthropogenic (man-made)&nbsp;greenhouse gas emissions continued to increase from 1970 to 2010, at a pace that ramped up especially quickly between&nbsp;2000 and 2010. That's despite some regional action that has sought to limit emissions, including carbon-pricing&nbsp;schemes in Europe. We haven't done enough, the United Nations says, and we're already seeing the effects of inaction.&nbsp;"Human influence on the climate system is clear, and recent anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are the highest in history," the report says. "The climate changes that have already occurred have had widespread and consequential impacts on human and natural systems."</p> <p><strong>2. Keeping global warming below the <a href="" target="_blank">internationally agreed upon</a> 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (above preindustrial levels) is going to be <em>very</em> hard.</strong><br> To keep warming below this limit, our emissions need to be slashed dramatically. But at current rates, we'll pump enough greenhouse gas into the atmosphere to sail past that critical level within the next 20 to 30 years, according to the report. We need to emit&nbsp;<i>half</i>&nbsp;as much greenhouse gas for the remainder of this century as we've already emitted over the past 250 years. Put simply, that's going to be difficult&mdash;especially when you consider the fact that global emissions are growing, not declining,&nbsp;every year. The report says that to keep temperature increases to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, deep emissions cuts of between 40 and 70 percent are needed between 2010 and 2050, with emissions "falling towards zero or below" by 2100.</p> <p><strong>3. We'll probably see nearly ice-free summers&nbsp;in the Arctic Ocean before mid-century.</strong><br> The report says that in every warming scenario it the scientists considered, we should expect to see year-round reductions in Arctic sea ice. By 2050, that will likely result in strings of years in which there is the near absence of sea ice in the summer, <a href="" target="_blank">following a well-established trend</a>. And then there's Greenland, where glaciers have been retreating since the 1960s&mdash;increasingly so after 1993&mdash;<a href="" target="_blank">because of man-made global warming</a>. The report says we may already be facing a situation in which Greenland's ice sheet will vanish over the next millennium, contributing up to 23 feet of sea level rise.</p> <p><strong>4. Dangerous sea level rise will very likely impact 70 percent of the world's coastlines by the end of the century.</strong><br> The report finds that by 2100, the devastating effects of&nbsp;sea level rise&mdash;including flooding, infrastructure damage, and coastal erosion&mdash;will impact the vast majority of the world's coastlines. That's not good:&nbsp;Half the world's population lives within 37 miles&nbsp;of the sea, and three-quarters of all large cities are located on the coast, <a href="" target="_blank">according to the United Nations</a>. The sea has already risen significantly:&nbsp;From 1901 to 2010, global mean sea level rose by 0.62 feet.</p> <p><strong>5. Even if we act now, there's a real&nbsp;risk of "abrupt and irreversible" changes. </strong><br> The carbon released by burning fossil fuels will stay in the atmosphere and the seas for centuries to come, the report says, even if we completely stop emitting CO<sub>2</sub> as soon as possible. That means it's virtually certain that global mean sea level rise will continue for many centuries beyond 2100. Without strategies to reduce emissions, the world will see&nbsp;7.2 degrees Fahrenheit of warming above preindustrial temperatures by the end of the century, condemning us to "substantial species extinction, global and regional food insecurity, [and]&nbsp;consequential constraints on common human activities."</p> <p>What's more, the report indicates that without action, the effects of climate change could be irreversible: "Continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems."</p> <p>Grim, indeed.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Climate Desk Science Top Stories Infrastructure Thu, 28 Aug 2014 18:08:21 +0000 James West 259321 at In the Restaurant Biz, It Pays To Be a Man <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">Via Wonkblog,</a> here's a chart showing the pay gap between men and women in the restaurant industry. It comes from a <a href="" target="_blank">recently released EPI report,</a> and as you can see, not only are men better paid in virtually every category, <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_restaurant_pay.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">but the premium goes up for the highest paying jobs. Bussers and cashiers are paid nearly the same regardless of gender. But when you move up to cooks, bartenders, and managers, the premium ranges from 10-20 percent.</p> <p>This data isn't conclusive. There are other reasons besides gender for pay gaps, and the EPI report lists several of them. Whites make more than blacks. High school grads make more than dropouts. Older workers make more than younger ones. You'd need to control for all this and more to get a more accurate picture of the gender gap.</p> <p>But in a way, that misses the point. There are lots of reasons for the gender gap in pay. Some is just plain discrimination. Some is because women take off more time to raise children. Some is because women are encouraged to take different kinds of jobs. But all of these are symptoms of the same thing. In a myriad of ways, women still don't get a fair shake.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Economy Sex and Gender Thu, 28 Aug 2014 17:22:54 +0000 Kevin Drum 259336 at Ex-George Washington University President Responds to Controversy Over His Sexual Assault Remarks <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>A former university president came under fire this week for the advice he gave on how to combat sexual assault on college campuses. On Tuesday, George Washington University President Emeritus Stephen Trachtenberg appeared on NPR's <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Diane Rehm Show</em></a> and said, "Without making the victims responsible for what happens, one of the groups that have to be trained not to drink in excess are women. They need to be in a position to punch the guys in the nose if they misbehave." Critics pounced. <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Jezebel</em></a> slammed his comments as "jaw-droppingly stupid," and the website noted, "<span>If this is the attitude freely and blithely expressed by a former University President, it's no wonder that <a href="">more than 75 schools</a> are currently under investigation by the Department of Education for botching sexual assault investigations</span>."</p> <p>The following day, Trachtenberg told the school newspaper, <em><a href="" target="_blank">The <em>GW</em> Hatchet</a>,</em> that his remarks had been taken "out of context," but he reiterated his main point: <em>"</em>What I'm saying is you want to have somebody you care about like your daughter, granddaughter or girlfriend to understand her limits because she will be less likely to be unable to fight off somebody who is attacking her."</p> <p>On Thursday, <em>Mother Jones</em> asked Trachtenberg to comment on the ongoing controversy, and he replied with a written statement. Regarding <em>Jezebel</em>, he said:</p> <blockquote> <p><em>Jezebel</em> has a world view that informs their prose. They are an advocate for an important cause and they take every opportunity to make their case. Sometimes in their enthusiasm they may get a little overheated. It's hard to resist an apparent opportunity when you believe you are on the side of the angels.&nbsp;</p> </blockquote> <p>In response to other questions&mdash;including why he chose to use the word "misbehave" to describe sexual assault&mdash;Trachtenberg said:</p> <blockquote> <p>I chose that word because I was thinking and speaking quickly under time constraints on a radio show. Under different circumstances I might have used another perhaps stronger word. I am an educator. I believe in the power of education. I think that education about drinking and its effects on an individual can help protect that person from vulnerability. Knowledge makes one stronger. I also believe that having skills gives one power. If you know how to defend yourself you have strength that can be helpful in the event things turn physical. These two ideas are not meant to solve all problems. They are not blame shifters. They are what they are. Better to know things then not. No silver bullets here. We need to educate men too. Date rape is largely the responsibility of young men and alcohol and opportunity. We can address these issues as a community. Men and women and institutions together. Victims should do their best but they are victims and not to blame. My recommendation is to change the culture of the campus so that men and women protect and nurture each other as a family would. It will take work but it can be done.</p> </blockquote> <p>Is this an apology? You be the judge.</p></body></html> MoJo Sex and Gender Top Stories Thu, 28 Aug 2014 17:12:54 +0000 Dana Liebelson 259326 at Mitch McConnell Doesn't Get to Decide if Republicans Will Threaten Another Government Shutdown <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Are congressional Republicans threatening once again to shut down the government this year unless they get their way on a bunch of pet demands? Over at TNR, <a href="" target="_blank">Danny Vinik doesn't think so:</a> "There is no excuse for the news media to inflate the quotes of Republican politicians to make it seem that they are threatening to shut down the government again," he says. <a href="" target="_blank">But Brian Beutler thinks Vinik is being too literal.</a> It's true that no one is explicitly using the word <em>shutdown</em>, but no one ever does. Still, he says, "the threat is clear."</p> <p>I'm with Beutler, but not because of any particular parsing of recent Republican threats. It's because of this:</p> <blockquote> <p>The truth is practically irrelevant to the question of whether [recent saber rattling] presages a government shutdown fight. Just as it doesn&rsquo;t really matter whether Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell actually has a government shutdown in mind when he promises to strong-arm Obama next year, or whether he intends to cave.</p> <p>In either case he&rsquo;s threatening to use the appropriations process as leverage to extract concessions. That's a government shutdown fight. <strong>And no matter how he plays it, he will unleash forces he and other GOP leaders have proven incapable of restraining. They can&rsquo;t control the plot.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Yep. It's just not clear that McConnell has any real leverage over Ted Cruz or that John Boehner has any leverage over Michele Bachmann. Once they implicitly endorse the rider game, they cede control to the wingnuts. And the wingnuts <em>want</em> to shut down the government. Fasten your seatbelts.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Congress The Right Thu, 28 Aug 2014 16:15:35 +0000 Kevin Drum 259331 at Stock Buybacks Are a Symptom, Not a Disease <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Paul Roberts writes in the <em>LA Times</em> today about <a href="" target="_blank">stock buybacks:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Here's a depressing statistic: Last year, U.S. companies spent a whopping $598 billion &mdash; not to develop new technologies, open new markets or to hire new workers but to buy up their own shares. By removing shares from circulation, companies made remaining shares pricier, thus creating the impression of a healthier business without the risks of actual business activity.</p> </blockquote> <p>I agree: that statistic <em>is</em> depressing. In fact, back in the days of my foolish youth, when I dabbled a bit in stock picking, one of my rules was never to invest in a company that had done a share buyback. I figured it was a sign of tired management. If they couldn't think of anything better to do with their money than that, what kind of future did they have? Moving on:</p> <blockquote> <p>Share buybacks aren't illegal, and, to be fair, they make sense when companies truly don't have something better to reinvest their profits in. <strong>But U.S. companies do have something better: They could be reinvesting in the U.S. economy in ways that spur growth and generate jobs.</strong> The fact that they're not explains a lot about the weakness of the job market and the sliding prospects of the American middle class.</p> <p>....Without a more socially engaged corporate culture, the U.S. economy will continue to lose the capacity to generate long-term prosperity, compete globally or solve complicated economic challenges, such as climate change. We need to restore a broader sense of the corporation as a social citizen &mdash; no less focused on profit but far more cognizant <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_austerity_state_local_federal_spending_0.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">of the fact that, in an interconnected economic world, there is no such thing as narrow self-interest.</p> </blockquote> <p>I agree with some of what Roberts says about American corporations increasingly being obsessed with short-term stock gains rather than long-term growth. It's also true that stock buybacks are partly driven by CEO pay packages that are pegged to share price. Those have been standard complaints for decades. But it's misleading to suggest that US companies could be spurring the economy if only they'd invest more of their profits in growth. That gets it backwards. Companies will invest if they think they'll get a good return on that investment, and that decision depends on the likely trajectory of the macroeconomy. If it looks like economic growth will be strong, they'll invest more money in new plants and better equipment. If not, they won't.</p> <p>The macroeconomy doesn't depend on either companies or individuals acting altruistically. You can't pass a law banning stock buybacks and expect that companies will invest in plant expansion and worker training instead. They'll only do it if those investments look likely to pay off. Conversely, forcing them to make investments that will lose money does nothing for the economy except light lots of money on fire.</p> <p>You want companies to invest in the future? The first step is supporting economic policies that will grow the economy. If we were willing to do that, corporate investment would follow. If we don't, all the laws in the world won't keep the tide from coming in.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Economy Thu, 28 Aug 2014 15:42:22 +0000 Kevin Drum 259316 at Economy Doing Ever So Slightly Better Than We Thought <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The economy is doing ever so <a href="" target="_blank">slightly better than we thought:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Gross domestic product, the broadest measure of goods and services produced across the economy, grew at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.2% in the second quarter, the Commerce Department said Thursday. The agency had previously estimated the second quarter's growth rate at 4%, relying on incomplete data for international trade, inventories and other sectors.</p> </blockquote> <p>Nobody should mistake this for anything meaningful. Obviously it's better for GDP to be revised up than down, but this particular change is so small that it's not really noticeable. GDP growth for the first half of the year now clocks in at about 2.1 percent instead of 1.9 percent, but that's pretty anemic either way.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Economy Thu, 28 Aug 2014 13:58:57 +0000 Kevin Drum 259311 at Don't Feel Bad for Tall People on Planes. They Probably Make More Money Than You. <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Amid the raging, only-in-August debate over whether it is <a href=";abt=0002&amp;abg=0" target="_blank">ever okay</a> <a href="" target="_blank">to recline</a> <a href="" target="_blank">your airplane seat</a>, a good dose of schadenfreude has been directed at the vertically advantaged, as summed up by this tweet from one of my own bosses:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-cards="hidden" data-partner="tweetdeck"> <p>Tall people: the pain you feel when someone reclines their airline seat is a small taste of your lifelong privilege: <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Clara Jeffery (@ClaraJeffery) <a href="">August 27, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>It's true: Being of above average height, particularly if you're a man, does come with significant perks beyond having <a href="" target="_blank">your own weather patterns</a>. As a <a href="" target="_blank">2004 paper</a> on the economic advantages of height explains, researchers have found that taller people are seen as more persuasive, more attractive, and more likely to become leaders: "Indeed, on the latter point, not since 1896 have U.S. citizens elected a President whose height was below average; William McKinley at 5 ft 7 in. (1.7 m) was ridiculed in the press as a 'little boy'." That paper calculated that a 6-foot-tall person can expect to earn $166,000 more over a 30-year career than someone who is 5-foot-5. In another <a href="" target="_blank">2004 article</a>, researchers concluded that "a sizable fraction of the population" might consider taking Human Growth Hormone as teenagers to ensure bigger paychecks as adults. (They estimate that teens see a 1.9 to 2.6 percent increase in future earnings for every additional inch of height.)</p> <p>That tall dudes get an extra leg up in the job market is borne out by data from the Centers for Disease Control's <a href="">Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System</a>, a survey of more than 500,000 Americans' health and demographics.</p> <p>The average American adult male is <a href="" target="_blank">5-foot-9</a>. According to a <a href="" target="_blank">crosstabulation</a> of the CDC's 2011 data, men of slightly below-average height are at an income disadvantage: Around 28 percent of men between 5'5" and 5'8" earn $35,000 or less, compared with 19 percent of men between 5'9" and 6'0". And at the other end of the scale, 56 percent of men between 5'5" and 5'8" earn $50,000 or more, compared with 66 percent of men between 5'9" and 6'0".</p> <p>And the really tall guys tower over everyone else: Just 5 percent of them earn less than $20,000, and nearly 69 percent earn $50,000 or more. And the really short guys have it rough: 35 percent earn less than $20,000 while 23 percent earn $50,000 or more.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="400" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="//" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p>The height-income gap for women isn't quite so stark&mdash;or predictable. The average height for women is <a href="" target="_blank">5-foot-4</a>. Around 31 percent of women between 5'1" and 5'4" earn $35,000 or less, compared with around 26 percent of women between 5'5" and 5'8". And 53 percent of women between 5'1" and 5'4" earn $50,000 or more, compared with 58 percent of women between 5'5" and 6'8".</p> <p>Yet unlike men, women beyond a certain height pay a penalty. Women between 5'5" and 5'8" are more likely to earn more than $50,000 than women over six feet. And, surprisingly, women over six feet are more likely to earn less than $20,000 than women of average height. However, women under 5'1" are far more likely to earn less than $35,000 than taller women. But compared to their male counterparts, they do better&mdash;they're more likely than the very shortest men to earn more than $75,000.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="400" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="//" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p>What does any of this have to do with modern air travel? Nothing. Just don't be a jerk.</p></body></html> MoJo Charts Economy Income Inequality Top Stories Thu, 28 Aug 2014 10:00:09 +0000 Dave Gilson 259246 at Martin Scorsese/Leonardo DiCaprio Films, Ranked <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>1. <em>The Aviator</em></p> <p>2. <em>The Departed</em></p> <p>3. <em>The Wolf of Wall Street</em></p> <p>4. <em>Gangs of New York</em></p> <p>5. <em>Shutter Island</em></p></body></html> Contributor Film and TV Thu, 28 Aug 2014 05:03:01 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 259301 at Have We Reached Peak Kevin? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>In the <em>Guardian</em> today, Paula Cocozza writes about her effort to hunt down the origin of the phrase "peak X." She turned to linguist Mark Liberman, who runs the Language Log <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_matterhorn.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">blog, but he says <a href="" target="_blank">it's a hard idiom to track:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>There is some good news, though. Liberman remembers the first time he noticed the phrase. It was in 2008, when the US writer John Cole blogged that "we may have hit and passed Peak Wingnut", a derogatory term for rightwingers.</p> <p>Cole's post is nearly six years old, but can he recall what inspired the phrase? "I came up with 'peak wingnut' because I was shocked," Cole says. "The Republicans seemed to get crazier and crazier. The source of it is [US blogger] Kevin Drum. At the <em>Washington Monthly</em>, one of the things he was always talking about was peak oil."</p> <p>This comes as news to Drum, who now writes for the web magazine <em>Mother Jones</em>. He was not the only person writing about peak oil, of course, but he was the one Cole read. "I'm very proud of that," he says. "I had no idea that I had been so influential."</p> </blockquote> <p>So now I have three items for my future obituary: creator of Friday catblogging, popularizer of the lead-crime theory, and just possibly the kinda sorta inspiration for the Peak X meme. Not bad!</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Energy Wed, 27 Aug 2014 20:28:48 +0000 Kevin Drum 259256 at "The Troll Slayer": Don't Miss This Fascinating Profile of Mary Beard <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Here is a partial list of things for which the British&nbsp;historian <a href="" target="_blank">Mary Beard</a> has gained reverence and notoriety:</p> <ul><li>Positing that Pompeiians had <a href=";pg=PA9&amp;lpg=PA9&amp;dq=pompeii+bad+breath&amp;source=bl&amp;ots=dc8LaYIsE5&amp;sig=do6J7fMjzLQNpngHl1eXdzNqknU&amp;hl=en&amp;sa=X&amp;ei=HzP-U5-CKceIjAKLhYGgDg&amp;ved=0CDMQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&amp;q=pompeii%20bad%20breath&amp;f=false" target="_blank">bad breath</a>, based on tartar levels on their fossilized teeth.</li> <li>Theorizing that Romans <a href="" target="_blank">didn't smile</a>, since Latin lacks words for anything resembling one.</li> <li>Being the world's foremost scholar on how Romans pooped.</li> <li>Going on television without wearing makeup or dying her gray hair.</li> <li>Retweeting a message she got from a 20-year-old calling her a "filthy old slut."</li> <li>On 9/11: suggesting that on some level, the United States&nbsp;"<a href="" target="_blank">had it coming</a>."</li> <li><a href="" target="_blank">Disclosing that she was raped</a> when she was 20 in an essay on rape in ancient Rome.</li> </ul><p>You can read all about it in Rebecca Mead's <a href="" target="_blank">excellent new <em>New Yorker</em> profile</a> on the endlessly fascinating&nbsp;Cambridge don. It opens on a lecture that Beard gave earlier this year at the British Museum, titled&nbsp;"Oh Do Shut Up, Dear!," on the long literary history of men keeping women quiet, from the <em>Odyssey</em>'s&nbsp;Penelope ordered upstairs to her weaving by her son&mdash;"Speech will be the business of men," he says&mdash;to the death threats, rape threats, and general nastiness that Beard and other outspoken women get online.&nbsp;("I'm going to cut off your head and rape it," read one of her tweet mentions.)&nbsp;For her part,&nbsp;Beard does not subscribe to the "don't feed the trolls" school of thought when it comes to dealing with online assailants. She engages, both publicly and privately, often with&nbsp;surprising results:</p> <blockquote> <p>She has discovered that, quite often, she receives not only an apology from them but also a poignant explanation&hellip;After a "Question Time"&nbsp;viewer wrote to her that she was "evil,"&nbsp;further correspondence revealed that he was mostly upset because he wanted to move to Spain and didn't understand the bureaucracy. "It took two minutes on Google to discover the reciprocal health-care agreement, so I sent it to him,"&nbsp;she says. "Now when I have a bit of Internet trouble, I get an e-mail from him saying, 'Mary, are you all right? I was worried about you.'"</p> </blockquote> <p>Fun stuff. And when you're done with Mead's piece, check out Beard's <a href="" target="_blank">latest book</a>, <em>Laughter in Ancient Rome: On Joking, Tickling, and Cracking Up.</em></p></body></html> Mixed Media Wed, 27 Aug 2014 19:40:15 +0000 Tasneem Raja 259241 at New Discovery Cuts Brainwashing Time in Half <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The frontiers of science <a href="" target="_blank">continue to expand:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>In experiments on mice, scientists rewired the circuits of the brain and <strong>changed the animals' bad memories into good ones.</strong> The rewriting of the memory wasn't done with drugs but by using light to control the activity of brain cells. While science is a long way from achieving a similar feat in people, it adds to a body of research that is starting to uncover the physiological basis of memory.</p> </blockquote> <p>Yes, I know what you're wondering. And the answer is yes:</p> <blockquote> <p>The researchers said they were able to do the opposite as well&mdash;<strong>change a pleasurable memory in mice into one associated with fear.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>So I guess that wraps up both <em>Brave New World</em> and <em>1984</em> all in one nice, neat package. What could go wrong?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Science Wed, 27 Aug 2014 17:43:55 +0000 Kevin Drum 259236 at Quote of the Day: Let's Just Drop a Few Bombs and See What Happens <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href=";ncid=tweetlnkushpmg00000021" target="_blank">From Bill Kristol,</a> during an appearance on conservative radio host Laura Ingraham's show, bringing his megawatt analytic powers to bear on the problem of ISIS in Iraq:</p> <blockquote> <p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/images/Blog_Bill_Kristol.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">What&rsquo;s the harm of bombing them at least for a few weeks and seeing what happens? I don&rsquo;t think there&rsquo;s much in the way of unanticipated side effects that are going to be bad there.</p> </blockquote> <p>You can't make this stuff up. We liberals often accuse folks like Kristol of mindlessly advocating military action all the time, no matter what. But we're exaggerating, aren't we? Nobody literally wants to unleash an air campaign just to see what happens. Nobody just casually ignores the possible drawbacks. That's ridiculous! Why do we insist on juvenile caricatures like this?</p> <p>I don't know. Why do we?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Iraq Military Wed, 27 Aug 2014 16:45:06 +0000 Kevin Drum 259231 at White Privilege? What White Privilege? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Here's the latest from the <a href="" target="_blank">annals of criminal justice in America:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Beverly Hills police officials said Tuesday that it was "extremely unfortunate" that officers handcuffed and detained an African American film producer who was in the city to attend a pre-Emmy party.</p> <p>Producer Charles Belk "matched the clothing and physical characteristics" of a suspected bank robber when he was pulled over by officers on Friday evening....&ldquo;Hey, I was &lsquo;tall,&rsquo; &lsquo;bald,&rsquo; a &lsquo;male&rsquo; and &lsquo;black,&rsquo; so I fit the description.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>Come on, Charles! Buck up. Mistakes can happen. I'm sure the Beverly Hills PD would have treated a white guy who fit the description of a bank robber exactly the same way. In fact, I'll bet this happens <a href="" target="_blank">all the time to Bill O'Reilly.</a></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Crime and Justice Race and Ethnicity Wed, 27 Aug 2014 15:54:44 +0000 Kevin Drum 259226 at Chart of the Day: The Federal Deficit Is In Pretty Good Shape These Days <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>You already know this&mdash;don't you?&mdash;but just to refresh your memories, here's the <a href="" target="_blank">latest projection</a> of the federal deficit from the Congressional Budget Office. As you can see, <em>for the entire next decade</em> CBO figures that the deficit will be running at a very manageable 3 percent of GDP, right in line with historical averages. Be sure to show this to all your friends who are consumed with deficit hysteria. There's really not much reason to panic about this.</p> <p>Now, CBO's forecast doesn't take into account future booms or busts in the economy, since they can't predict those. And as the chart makes crystal clear, <em>that's</em> what causes big changes in the deficit. It's the economy, stupid, not runaway spending. When times are good, the deficit shrinks. When times are bad, it gets worse. If you really want to avoid big deficits in the future, stop obsessing about cutting spending on the poor, and instead spend some time obsessing about economic policies that will help grow the economy.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_cbo_deficit_august_2014.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 5px 3px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Economy Wed, 27 Aug 2014 14:51:42 +0000 Kevin Drum 259221 at We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for August 27, 2014 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p class="rtecenter"><em>The Class of 2015 at West Point receive their class rings as they enter their final academic year. <span id="yui_3_16_0_rc_1_1_1409149090309_1468">(US Army Photos by John Pellino/ USMA DPTMS VI)</span></em></p></body></html> MoJo Military Wed, 27 Aug 2014 14:33:24 +0000 259216 at 40 Percent of Restaurant Workers Live in Near-Poverty <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>It isn't just <a href="" target="_blank">fast-food empires</a> that rely on a l<a href="" target="_blank">ow-paid, disempowered, and quite-often impoverished workforce</a>. As a stomach-turning new report (PDF viewable <a href="">here</a>) from the Economic Policy Institute shows, the entire restaurant industry hides a dirty little labor secret under the tasteful lighting of the dining room.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/10-percent_1.jpg"></div> <p>Here are some highlights:</p> <p><strong>&bull; The restaurant industry is a massive and growing source of employment.</strong> It accounts for more than 9 percent of US private-sector jobs&mdash;up from a little more than 7 percent in 1990. That's nearly a 30 percent gain.</p> <p><strong>&bull; The industry's wages have stagnated at an extremely low level. </strong>Restaurant workers' median wage stands at $10 per hour, tips included&mdash;and hasn't budged, in inflation-adjusted terms, since 2000. For nonrestaurant US workers, the median hourly wage is $18. That means the median restaurant worker makes 44 percent less than other workers. Benefits are also rare&mdash;just 14.4 percent of restaurant workers have employer-sponsored health insurance and 8.4 percent have pensions, vs. 48.7 percent and 41.8 percent, respectively, for other workers</p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/poverty-line.jpg"></div> <p><strong>&bull; Unionization rates are minuscule.</strong> Presumably, it would be more difficult to keep wages throttled at such a low level if restaurant workers could bargain collectively. But just 1.8 percent of restaurant workers belong to unions, about one-seventh of the rate for nonrestaurant workers. Restaurant workers who do belong to unions are much more likely to have benefits than their nonunion peers.</p> <p>&bull; <strong>As a result, the people who prepare and serve you food are pretty likely to live in poverty. </strong>The overall poverty rate stands at 6.3 percent. For restaurant workers, the rate is 16.7 percent. For families, researchers often look at twice the poverty threshold as proxy for what it takes to make ends meet, EPI reports. More than 40 percent of restaurant workers live below twice the poverty line&mdash;that's double the rate of nonrestaurant workers.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/wage.jpg"></div> <p><strong>&bull; Opportunity for advancement is pretty limited. </strong>I was surprised to learn that for every single occupation with restaurants&mdash;from dishwashers to chefs to managers&mdash;the median hourly wage is much less than the national average of $18. The highest paid occupation is manager, with a median hourly wage of $15.42. The lowest is "cashiers and counter attendants" (median wage: $8.23), while the most prevalent of restaurant workers, waiters and waitresses, who make up nearly a quarter of the industry's workforce, make a median wage of just $10.15. The one that has gained the most glory in recent years, "chefs and head cooks," offers a median wage of just $12.34.</p> <p>&bull; <strong>Industry occupations are highly skewed along gender and race lines.</strong> Higher-paid occupations are more likely to be held by men&mdash;chefs, cooks, and managers, for example, are 86 percent, 73 percent, and 53 percent male, respectively. Lower-paid positions tend to be dominated by women: for example, host and hostess (84.9 percent female), cashiers and counter attendants (75.1 percent), and waiters and waitresses (70.8 percent). I took up this topic in a <a href="" target="_blank">piece</a> on the vexed gender politics of culinary prestige last year. Meanwhile, "blacks are disproportionately likely to be cashiers/counter attendants, the lowest-paid occupation in the industry," while "Hispanics are disproportionately likely to be dishwashers, dining room attendants, or cooks, also relatively low-paid occupations," the report found.</p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/health-insurance.jpg"></div> <p><strong>&bull; Restaurants lean heavily on the most disempowered workers of all&mdash;undocumented immigrants. </strong>Overall, 15.7 percent of US restaurant workers are undocumented, nearly twice the rate for nonrestaurant sectors. Fully a third of dishwashers, nearly 30 percent of nonchef cooks, and more than a quarter of bussers are undocumented, the report found. So a huge swath of the people who feed you pay payroll taxes and sales taxes yet don't receive the rights of citizenship.</p> <p>Thus you can't opt out of supporting deplorable labor conditions for the people who feed you simply by refusing to pass through the Golden Arches or to enter the Burger King's realm.</p> <p>So what can you do? One thing is to seek out restaurants that explicitly pay their workers a living wage. Two I can think of offhand: Austin's <a href="">Black Star Co-op</a>, a cooperatively owned gastro-pub that's managed by a "workers assembly" as a "democratic self-managed workplace." Another is Chapel Hill's excellent <a href="">Vimala's Curryblossom Cafe</a>. I'd love to hear about more examples in comments.</p> <p>But these examples are vanishingly rare. The only real solution to the industry's bottom-feeding labor practices are legislative, the EPI report makes clear. That means reforms like a much higher minimum wage and a path to legal status for undocumented workers. Anyone who wants to learn more about working conditions in our nation's eateries should read Saru Jayaraman's outstanding 2013 book <em><a href=";printsec=frontcover&amp;dq=inauthor:%22Saru+Jayaraman%22&amp;hl=en&amp;sa=X&amp;ei=Jez8U7ukCcW-8gHl_YC4BA&amp;ved=0CCoQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&amp;q&amp;f=false">Behind the Kitchen Door</a>. </em>(Read the <em>Mother Jones</em> review <a href="" target="_blank">here</a>.)</p> <p>And just for fun, here's the <em>Mother Jones</em> fast-food wage calculator, which will give you a sense of what some workers are up against:</p> <div><img alt="" class="image" id="fast-food-banner" src="/files/big-mac-02_2.png"></div> <div id="fast-food-calculator"> <form id="calculate_this"><label for="household">How many people are in your household?</label> <select id="selected_household" name="household"><option value="1P0C">One Adult No Children</option><option value="1P1C">One Adult One Child</option><option value="1P2C">One Adult Two Children</option><option value="1P3C">One Adult Three Children</option><option value="2P0C">Two Adults No Children</option><option value="2P1C">Two Adults One Child</option><option value="2P2C">Two Adults Two Children</option><option value="2P3C">Two Adults Three Children</option></select><label for="state">Which state do you live in?</label> <select id="selected_state" name="state"></select><label for="locale">Which area do you live in? (Area data not available for households without children.)</label><select id="selected_locale" name="locale"></select><label for="salary">How much do you make in a year?</label> $<input id="input_salary" name="salary" type="number" value="26000"><input id="calculate" type="submit" value="Submit">&nbsp;</form> <div id="calculated" style="display:none;"> <p>In order to make $<span id="salary">___</span> a year, the typical fast-food worker has to work <span id="salary_hours_per_week">__</span> hours a week.</p> <p>A household like yours in <span id="fast_food_calculator_locale">___,</span> <span id="fast_food_calculator_state">___</span> needs to earn <strong>$<span id="fast_food_calculator_living_wage_annual">__</span></strong> annually to make a secure yet modest living. A fast-food worker working full time would have to earn $<span id="living_wage_hourly">__</span> an hour to make that much.</p> <p>The average fast-food employee works less than <strong>25</strong> hours a week. To make a living wage in <span id="fast_food_calculator_locale2">___,</span> <span id="fast_food_calculator_state2">___</span> at current median wages, s/he would have to work <span id="living_hours_per_week">__</span> hours a week.</p> <p>In <span id="living_hours_per_week2">__</span> hours, McDonald's serves <span id="mc_d_customers_served">__</span> customers and makes <strong>$</strong><span id="mc_d_money_earned">__</span>. That's about <span id="big_mac_count">__</span> Big Macs.</p> </div> </div> <!-- data is in here --><script src=""></script><script> var median_fast_food_worker_wage = 8.94; // Source: National Employment Law Project, July 2013; var work_weeks_per_year = 52; var months_per_year = 12; var average_fast_food_worker_hours_per_week = 24.4; var average_weeks_in_a_month = 4.348; var hours_worked_at_full_time = 40; var days_in_2012 = 366; //leap year var McDonalds_customers_per_day_in_2012 = 69000000; // Source: McDonalds 2012 Annual Report var hours_in_day = 24; var mcD_systemwide_restaurants = 34480; var mcD_served_per_hour = McDonalds_customers_per_day_in_2012 / hours_in_day; var mcD_earnings_in_2012 = 27567000000; // Source: McDonalds 2012 Annual Report var mcD_earned_per_hour = Math.round(mcD_earnings_in_2012 / days_in_2012 / hours_in_day); var cost_of_big_mac = 4; var first_state = 'AK'; var first_locale = 'Anchorage, AK HUD Metro FMR Area'; var state_abbr = { 'AL' : 'Alabama', 'AK' : 'Alaska', 'AS' : 'America Samoa', 'AZ' : 'Arizona', 'AR' : 'Arkansas', 'CA' : 'California', 'CO' : 'Colorado', 'CT' : 'Connecticut', 'DE' : 'Delaware', 'DC' : 'District of Columbia', 'FM' : 'Micronesia1', 'FL' : 'Florida', 'GA' : 'Georgia', 'GU' : 'Guam', 'HI' : 'Hawaii', 'ID' : 'Idaho', 'IL' : 'Illinois', 'IN' : 'Indiana', 'IA' : 'Iowa', 'KS' : 'Kansas', 'KY' : 'Kentucky', 'LA' : 'Louisiana', 'ME' : 'Maine', 'MH' : 'Islands1', 'MD' : 'Maryland', 'MA' : 'Massachusetts', 'MI' : 'Michigan', 'MN' : 'Minnesota', 'MS' : 'Mississippi', 'MO' : 'Missouri', 'MT' : 'Montana', 'NE' : 'Nebraska', 'NV' : 'Nevada', 'NH' : 'New Hampshire', 'NJ' : 'New Jersey', 'NM' : 'New Mexico', 'NY' : 'New York', 'NC' : 'North Carolina', 'ND' : 'North Dakota', 'OH' : 'Ohio', 'OK' : 'Oklahoma', 'OR' : 'Oregon', 'PW' : 'Palau', 'PA' : 'Pennsylvania', 'PR' : 'Puerto Rico', 'RI' : 'Rhode Island', 'SC' : 'South Carolina', 'SD' : 'South Dakota', 'TN' : 'Tennessee', 'TX' : 'Texas', 'UT' : 'Utah', 'VT' : 'Vermont', 'VI' : 'Virgin Island', 'VA' : 'Virginia', 'WA' : 'Washington', 'WV' : 'West Virginia', 'WI' : 'Wisconsin', 'WY' : 'Wyoming' } var selected_state = jQuery("#selected_state"); var selected_locale = jQuery("#selected_locale"); var selected_household = jQuery("#selected_household"); for (var state in bfjo) { var option = jQuery('<option value="' + state + '">' + state_abbr[state] + ''); selected_state.append(option); } var fill_locale_selector = function(state_object) { selected_locale.html(""); for (var locale in state_object) { var option = jQuery('<option value="' + locale + '">' + locale.replace(/,.*$/, '') + ''); selected_locale.append(option); } } fill_locale_selector(bfjo[first_state]) selected_state.bind("change", function() { var state = $("#selected_state option:selected").val(); var state_object = bfjo[state]; fill_locale_selector(state_object); } ) /* var fill_household_selector = function(locale_object) { var selected_household = jQuery("#selected_household"); selected_household.html(""); for (var household in locale_object) { var option = jQuery('<option value="' + household + '">' + household + ''); selected_household.append(option); } } fill_household_selector(bfjo[first_state][first_locale]) */ selected_locale.bind("change", function() { var state = $("#selected_state option:selected").val(); var locale = $("#selected_locale option:selected").val(); var locale_object = bfjo[state][locale]; //fill_household_selector(locale_object); } ) enable_disable_locale = function() { var household = $("#selected_household option:selected").val(); if (household === '1P0C' || household === '2P0C') { selected_locale.attr('disabled', 'disabled'); } else { selected_locale.attr('disabled', ''); } } selected_household.bind("change", function() { enable_disable_locale(); } ); enable_disable_locale(); jQuery("#calculate_this").bind("submit", function() { var state = $("#selected_state option:selected").val(); var locale = $("#selected_locale option:selected").val(); var household = $("#selected_household option:selected").val(); var salary = parseInt($("#input_salary").val()); var annual_living_wage = bfjo[state][locale][household]; console.log(state); console.log(locale); console.log(household); console.log(annual_living_wage); var hourly_for_living = annual_living_wage / months_per_year / average_weeks_in_a_month / hours_worked_at_full_time; var hours_to_live_per_month = annual_living_wage / months_per_year / median_fast_food_worker_wage; var weeks_to_live_per_month = hours_to_live_per_month / hours_worked_at_full_time; var salary_monthly = salary / months_per_year; var hours_to_salary_monthly = salary_monthly / median_fast_food_worker_wage; var weeks_to_salary_monthly = hours_to_salary_monthly / hours_worked_at_full_time; var hours_living_a_week = hours_to_live_per_month / average_weeks_in_a_month; var hours_salary_a_week = hours_to_salary_monthly / average_weeks_in_a_month; var commify = function(number) { while (/(\d+)(\d{3})/.test(number.toString())){ number = number.toString().replace(/(\d+)(\d{3})/, '$1'+','+'$2'); } return number; } var salary_string = commify(salary); var yearly_living_wage_string = commify(annual_living_wage); /* while (/(\d+)(\d{3})/.test(salary_string.toString())){ salary_string = salary_string.toString().replace(/(\d+)(\d{3})/, '$1'+','+'$2'); } while (/(\d+)(\d{3})/.test(yearly_living_wage_string.toString())){ yearly_living_wage_string = yearly_living_wage_string.toString().replace(/(\d+)(\d{3})/, '$1'+','+'$2'); } */ jQuery("#calculated").show(); jQuery("#fast_food_calculator_hours").text(Math.round(hours_to_live_per_month)); jQuery("#fast_food_calculator_state").text(state_abbr[state]); jQuery("#fast_food_calculator_state2").text(state_abbr[state]); if (household === "1P0C" || household === "2P0C") { jQuery("#fast_food_calculator_locale").text(''); jQuery("#fast_food_calculator_locale2").text(''); } else { jQuery("#fast_food_calculator_locale").text(locale.replace(/,.*$/, '') + ','); jQuery("#fast_food_calculator_locale2").text(locale.replace(/,.*$/, '') + ','); } jQuery("#salary").text(salary_string); jQuery("#fast_food_calculator_time").text(Math.round(hours_to_salary_monthly)); jQuery("#living_hours_per_week").text(Math.round(hours_living_a_week)); jQuery("#living_hours_per_week2").text(Math.round(hours_living_a_week)); jQuery("#salary_hours_per_week").text(Math.round(hours_salary_a_week)); jQuery("#fast_food_calculator_living_wage_annual").text(yearly_living_wage_string); jQuery("#mc_d_customers_served").text( commify( Math.round( Math.round(hours_living_a_week) * mcD_served_per_hour ) ) ); jQuery("#mc_d_money_earned").text( commify(Math.round(Math.round(hours_living_a_week) * mcD_earned_per_hour)) ); jQuery("#big_mac_count").text( commify( Math.round( Math.round(hours_living_a_week) * mcD_earned_per_hour / cost_of_big_mac ) ) ); console.log(hourly_for_living); var hourly_for_living_clean = Math.round(hourly_for_living * 100) .toString().replace(/(\d+)(\d{2})/, '$1'+'.'+'$2'); jQuery("#living_wage_hourly").text(hourly_for_living_clean); return false; } ) </script></body></html> Tom Philpott Food and Ag Top Stories Wed, 27 Aug 2014 10:00:09 +0000 Tom Philpott 259191 at Obama's Iraq Policy Has Been Pretty Masterly <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>I'm not a diehard supporter of Barack Obama's foreign policy. Some of his actions I just plain disagree with: the surge in Afghanistan, the enormous increase in drone use, his almost inhuman patience in putting up with Bibi Netanyahu's nearly open contempt for him. Then there are other actions of his that were arguably justifiable but have worked out less well than he hoped. However, <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_obama_national_security.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">they mostly represent very, very tough problems. And foreign policy is hard&mdash;especially now. Almost nobody gets even a small fraction of what they want out of it.</p> <p>That said, the relentless criticism of Obama's approach toward ISIS strikes me as unusually shortsighted. As near as I can tell, he's handled it almost perfectly so far. If we had offered air support to destroy ISIS six months or a year ago, it probably would have made things worse. Iraq flatly wasn't able to provide the ground troops to complement an air campaign, and America would have shared in the inevitable fiasco. We also would have been explicitly bound to Nouri al-Maliki and his policies, which were the very ones responsible for the rise of ISIS in the first place. The outcome of all this would have been the worst of all possible worlds for American interests.</p> <p>Instead, Obama allowed Maliki to fail on his own, and then used the leverage of promised American air assistance to engineer his ouster. Needless to say, this hardly guarantees eventual success against ISIS, but is there really any question that it was a necessary precondition for success? I don't think so. Maliki never would have left unless he was forced out, and it was plain that his brutally sectarian governing style was fueling the insurgency, not halting it. He had to leave.</p> <p>The alternative to Obama's strategy wasn't more aggressive action. That would have been disastrous. Nor would it have made a difference if Obama had left a few troops in Iraq back in 2009. Nor would stronger intervention in Syria have made a difference. It might even have made things worse. The truth is simpler. There's no single reason for the rise of ISIS, <a href="" target="_blank">but there <em>is</em> a single primary reason:</a> Nouri al-Maliki. Obama saw that clearly and kept his eye on what was important, working patiently and cold-bloodedly toward engineering Maliki's departure. It was hardly a perfect plan, and messiness was always inevitable. Nonetheless, it was the best plan available. Because of it, there's now at least a chance of defeating ISIS.</p> <p><strong>UPDATE:</strong> Does "masterly" go too far? Maybe so. But I was trying to attract attention to my main point: the ISIS threat couldn't even be addressed until Iraq's political dysfunction was addressed first. Unlike a lot of people, Obama recognized that and stuck to a toughminded approach that focused on getting rid of Maliki instead of getting distracted by endless calls for a stronger intervention before Maliki was gone. It wasn't easy, but it was the smart thing to do.</p> <p>Can the new government fight ISIS more effectively? There's no way of knowing yet. But at least they've been given a chance.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Iraq Obama Tue, 26 Aug 2014 17:00:30 +0000 Kevin Drum 259161 at Is Europe's Central Bank Finally Getting Worried About Deflation? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Brad DeLong notes that Mario Draghi, the head of Europe's central bank, went off text in his speech at Jackson Hole. Here's his summary of <a href="" target="_blank">Draghi's extended ad-lib:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The speech text says:</p> <blockquote> <ol><li>The ECB knows that inflation has declined.</li> <li>The decline in inflation has not led to any decline in expectations of inflation.</li> <li>THE ECB will, if necessary, within its mandate, use QE and other policies to keep expectations of inflation from declining.</li> </ol></blockquote> <p>The speech as delivered says:</p> <blockquote> <ol><li>The ECB knows that inflation has declined.</li> <li>My usual line is that the decline in inflation is due to temporary factors that will be reversed.</li> <li>That explanation is now long in the tooth: the longer "temporary" lasts the greater the danger.</li> <li>In fact, it is too late to "safeguard the firm anchoring of inflation expectations".</li> <li>Inflationary expectations have already declined.</li> <li>We will use all the tools we have to reverse this.</li> </ol></blockquote> <p>Is this deviation a mere line wobble....Is this deviation an audience effect....Or does it signal a recognition on Draghi's part that the Eurozone is heading for a triple dip, and that if he doesn't assemble a coalition to do much more very quickly to boost aggregate demand we will have to change the name "The Great Recession" to something including the D-word, and he will go down in history as the worst central banker since the 1930s?</p> <p>I would like to know...</p> </blockquote> <p>I suppose we'd all like to know. The Germans better start taking this stuff seriously pretty soon. They can't stick their heads in the sand and live in the past forever.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum International Tue, 26 Aug 2014 16:21:34 +0000 Kevin Drum 259156 at Wyoming Is Thinking About Accepting Medicaid Expansion After All <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Michael Hiltzik passes along the news that Wyoming's governor is the latest traitor to the cause of denying health care to poor people <a href="" target="_blank">no matter what the cost:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The reason for Wyoming's wavering is clear: It's money.</p> <p>The Health Department says Medicaid expansion could save the state $50 million or more if it expands the program, for which the federal government will pay at least 90%. Meanwhile, Wyoming hospitals say they're losing more than $200 million a year in uncompensated care for people without insurance.</p> <p>The state Legislature has rejected the expansion, but Republican Gov. Matt Mead has been saying it's time to pack up. He's entering negotiations <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_medicaid_expansion.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">with the feds for a way to expand Medicaid next year, covering as many as 17,600 low-income residents.</p> </blockquote> <p>I imagine that before very much longer, most of the other Midwest holdouts will go ahead and accept Medicaid expansion too. That will leave only the hard-core holdouts of the Old South, where the poor are apparently especially undeserving. I guess there must be some kind of difference between poor people in the Midwest and poor people in the South. I wonder <a href="" target="_blank">what it could be?</a></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Health Care Tue, 26 Aug 2014 15:54:23 +0000 Kevin Drum 259146 at Ukraine Claims it Has Captured Russian Soldiers <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Ukraine claims that it now has proof that Russian soldiers have been <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">involved in fighting on Ukrainian soil:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Ukraine released video footage on Tuesday of what it said were 10 captured Russian soldiers, raising tensions as President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia arrived in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, for talks later in the day with his Ukrainian counterpart, President Petro O. Poroshenko.</p> <p>....The release of the videos and the high-level talks came a day after Ukraine accused Russia of sending an armored column across the border, prompting Geoffrey R. Pyatt, the United States ambassador to Ukraine, to express alarm on Twitter. &ldquo;The new columns of Russian tanks and armor crossing into Ukraine indicates a Russian-directed counteroffensive may be underway. #escalation,&rdquo; he wrote.</p> <p>....&ldquo;Everything was a lie. There were no drills here,&rdquo; one of the captured Russians, who identified himself as Sergey A. Smirnov, told a Ukrainian interrogator. He said he and other Russians from an airborne unit in Kostroma, in central Russia, had been sent on what was described initially as a military training exercise but later turned into a mission into Ukraine. After having their cellphones and identity documents taken away, they were sent into Ukraine on vehicles stripped of all markings, Mr. Smirnov said.</p> </blockquote> <p>This kind of thing represents a cusp of some kind. If it's true, Putin has to decide pretty quickly whether to gamble everything on an outright invasion, or whether to back off. If it turns out to be a Ukrainian invention, Putin has to decide whether to use it as a casus belli. These are dangerous times.</p> <p><strong>UPDATE:</strong> Apparently Russia has <a href="" target="_blank">admitted the soldiers are theirs:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Sources in Moscow have admitted that a number of men captured inside Ukraine were indeed serving Russian soldiers, but said they crossed the border by mistake...."The soldiers really did participate in a patrol of a section of the Russian-Ukrainian border, crossed it by accident on an unmarked section, and as far as we understand showed no resistance to the armed forces of Ukraine when they were detained," a source in Russia's defence ministry told the RIA Novosti agency.</p> </blockquote> <p>Uh huh. I suppose Putin will now claim that detaining the soldiers is an act of war unless they're immediately released.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum International Military Tue, 26 Aug 2014 14:18:11 +0000 Kevin Drum 259141 at We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for August 26, 2014 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p class="rtecenter"><em>US Marines conduct a Helicopter Support Team exercise. (US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Sarah Fiocco)</em></p></body></html> MoJo Military Tue, 26 Aug 2014 13:16:14 +0000 259136 at Charts: Kids Are Paying the Price for America’s Prison Binge <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>As students return to the classroom this fall, one large group of children will be more likely than their peers to suffer learning disabilities, ADD/ADHD, behavioral problems, chronic school absence, and a host of other health concerns. These are the <a href="" target="_blank">2.7 million US children</a> coping with the stress of parental incarceration.</p> <p>In a <a href="" target="_blank">new study</a>, University of California-Irvine sociologist <a href="" target="_blank">Kristin Turney</a> analyzes data from the 2011-12 National Survey of Children's Health (NSCH) to determine the mental and physical health effects of having a parent in jail or prison. The results are striking:<br> &nbsp;</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="425" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="//" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="425" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="//" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p>The NSCH surveyed 95,677 children. Turney's analysis found that children with a parent in jail or prison had worse health across all but three tested health outcomes. They were more than three times as likely to suffer depression (6.2 percent vs. 1.8 percent) and behavioral problems (10.4 percent vs. 2.6 percent), compared to kids without an incarcerated parent. Perhaps more surprisingly, parental incarceration was related to higher levels of asthma, obesity, speech problems, and overall poor physical health.</p> <p>Factors that affect health are often interrelated, making it difficult to isolate and study just one: Families already in poverty are more likely to be affected by incarceration, but incarceration can also destabilize family finances. Even when Turney controlled for a host of other factors&mdash;including parental employment and income, ethnicity, parents' relationship status, safety of neighborhood, and parental health&mdash;the relationship remained between parental incarceration and health concerns like learning disabilities, ADD/ADHD, and developmental delay.</p> <p>In fact, Turney found that children with parents behind bars are as likely to suffer certain health problems&mdash;including learning disabilities and developmental delay&mdash;as children who experience divorce or the death of a parent, witness parental abuse, or share a home with someone with a drug or alcohol abuse problem.</p> <p>"Results suggest that children's health disadvantages are an overlooked and unintended consequence of mass incarceration,"&nbsp;Turney writes, "and that incarceration, given its unequal distribution across the population, may have implications for population-level racial-ethnic and social class inequalities in children's health."</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">One study</a> found that a quarter of black children born in 1990 saw a parent go to jail or prison by age 14, as opposed to 3 percent of white children.</p> <p>Parental incarceration introduces <a href="" target="_blank">significant stress</a> into a child's life, Turney tells <em>Mother Jones, </em>which "leads to negative health effects, especially mental-health conditions." But on top of inherent psychological stress, incarceration can hit a family from all directions: The destabilization of family finances, relationships, and other elements of daily life can cause indirect stress that further impacts a child's health, Turney explains.</p> <p>The NSCH data does not make clear the extent to which direct and indirect stress contribute to poor health, but Turney says she hopes future research will help figure that out: "Because that's really important for where to best invest, in terms of intervening in these kids' lives and where we might be able to develop public policies."</p> <p>She says children can be overlooked as policymakers focus on the health of the inmates themselves. "And while there are certainly a host of negative things that go along with that, we should be thinking about how these consequences can really have spillover effects on families and on children."</p> <p>Incarceration's impact on family life is made worse by <a href="" target="_blank">facilities located far from cities</a>, <a href="" target="_blank">exploitative phone rates</a>, <a href="" target="_blank">lack of official policies</a> to address children's needs, and excessively long sentences. Two-thirds of incarcerated parents are <a href="" target="_blank">nonviolent offenders</a>.</p> <p>Turney has previously studied the way in which <a href="" target="_blank">teachers' perceptions of children with incarcerated fathers</a> can make it more likely for these children to be held back a year in school. She says there is a growing interest in studying parental incarceration, but that researchers are stymied by a lack of good data.</p> <p>Its not just academics who are starting to think about this issue:<em> Sesame Street </em>recently reached out to children coping with parental incarceration by <a href="" target="_blank">introducing a puppet whose father is in jail</a>. As one little girl says in the clip, it gets hardest "when I see children with their mothers, and playing and everything, and I just wonder how it feels to be like that."</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p></body></html> MoJo Top Stories Tue, 26 Aug 2014 10:00:08 +0000 Katie Rose Quandt 258851 at