Blogs | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/Blogs/2011/08/liberals-have-been-played-chumps%22 http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en Americans Are Refreshingly Realistic About the ISIS Threat http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/09/americans-are-refreshingly-realistic-about-isis-threat <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_pew_isis_campaign_terrorism.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Paul Waldman draws my attention to a <a href="http://www.people-press.org/2014/09/15/bipartisan-support-for-obamas-military-campaign-against-isis/" target="_blank">new Pew poll</a> with an interesting result. Hawkish Republicans have been running around for the past month insisting that ISIS terrorists are a direct threat to the United States, and therefore we have to fight them in Iraq so they don't come over here and start killing helpless women and small children en masse.</p> <p>But apparently hardly anyone is buying it. Only 18 percent of Americans think that fighting ISIS will reduce the odds of a terrorist attack on US soil. And there's not a big difference between the parties. Even among Republicans, only 23 percent think a military campaign against ISIS will make us safer at home. That's a refreshingly realistic appraisal.</p> <p>But why? Is it because the Republican fear campaign is so transparently unhinged? Or is it because of President Obama's unusually low-key approach to the ISIS campaign? I'd like to think it's at least partly the latter. I'm not very excited about <em>any</em> kind of campaign against ISIS at the moment, but as a second-best alternative, it's at least nice to see it being sold to the public as a case of having to eat our vegetables rather than as yet another exciting bomb-dropping adventure in defense of our national honor. It's a step in the right direction, anyway.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Iraq Military Obama Mon, 15 Sep 2014 22:28:40 +0000 Kevin Drum 260326 at http://www.motherjones.com Madam Secretary? Seriously? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/09/madam-secretary-seriously <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>I may be off my rocker for wondering about this, but here goes. You've seen the ads for <em>Madam Secretary</em>, right? (Aside from those of you who shun TV as unworthy of your attention, of course.) T&eacute;a Leone stars as a smart, tough, engaged, down-to-earth, <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_madam_secretary.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">problem-solving secretary of state who <em>gets results by doing the right thing</em>.</p> <p>Now, sure, her husband is not a former US president. So she isn't quite just a gauzy, fictionalized depiction of Hillary Clinton. But she's close! And considering that secretary of state is surely one of the least glamorous positions in the federal government&mdash;another grueling day working the phones with fellow foreign ministers, hooray!&mdash;it's pretty hard not to see this as a fairly transparent attempt to make Hillary look like presidential timber. At least, that's what I'd think if I were either a Republican or any Democrat thinking of running against her.</p> <p>On the other hand, shows like this usually flop, so maybe it won't work out. Or maybe Hillary will look wan and fainthearted compared to the hard charging, damn-the-politics Elizabeth McCord. I dunno. But it sure seems like a helluva coincidence, doesn't it?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Film and TV Mon, 15 Sep 2014 20:27:18 +0000 Kevin Drum 260296 at http://www.motherjones.com Look At This Hippie Getting Attacked By This Bat http://www.motherjones.com/contributor/2014/09/look-hippie-getting-attacked-bat <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>So, you go camping with your friends and you're having a nice little jam session and then all of a sudden <a href="http://gawker.com/bat-with-rabies-attacks-and-bites-man-jamming-in-forest-1634895582?utm_campaign=socialflow_gawker_facebook&amp;utm_source=gawker_facebook&amp;utm_medium=socialflow" target="_blank">"IT'S A BAT!"</a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/H5ZLHnwVxuc?rel=0" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Thankfully, none of these guys were harmed during the attack, but when they took the body of the bat to a local vet&mdash;they apparently killed it with BB guns after the video stopped recording&mdash;they were informed that their departed flying friend was, in fact, rabid. That's scary. The guitarist is getting treated and will be OK.</p> <p>Feel free to have nightmares about this though.</p> <p>(via <a href="http://gawker.com/bat-with-rabies-attacks-and-bites-man-jamming-in-forest-1634895582?utm_campaign=socialflow_gawker_facebook&amp;utm_source=gawker_facebook&amp;utm_medium=socialflow" target="_blank"><em>Gawker</em></a>)</p></body></html> Contributor Animals Mon, 15 Sep 2014 20:20:21 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 260291 at http://www.motherjones.com Obama Has Indeed Learned Some Foreign Policy Lessons, Just Not the Ones the Establishment Likes http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/09/obama-has-indeed-learned-some-foreign-policy-lessons-just-not-ones-establishment- <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Over at FP, David Rothkopf has a long and critical examination of President Obama's foreign policy. Unfortunately, it starts with a biting assessment from "one of America's most dependable Middle Eastern allies," which is almost single-handedly enough to disqualify it as serious analysis. Anyone who still thinks that America's "most dependable" Mideast allies have anything but their <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_flags_1.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">own ancient parochial hatreds at heart really needs to find a different line of work.</p> <p>But for some reason I kept reading. And as usual, among the endless parade of Obama horror stories, <a href="http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/09/09/national_insecurity_obama_foreign_policy" target="_blank">Syria looms the largest:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>On Aug. 20, 2012, Obama met with reporters to discuss the crisis in Syria....In an unscripted moment, he suggested that he would take action against the Syrian regime if it used chemical weapons....Despite intelligence reports of multiple violations of that red line, the White House managed to ignore or sidestep the issue&nbsp;&mdash; that is, until exactly one year later, when, on Aug. 21, 2013, a major chemical-weapons attack claimed the lives of an estimated 1,429 people in Ghouta, a Damascus suburb.</p> <p>The tripwire strung by the president himself had been clearly and unmistakably tripped. <strong>Now, his credibility was at stake.</strong></p> <p>Three days later, Obama met with his national security team and indicated that he was inclined to strike Syria....Lacking many close relationships with European or other world leaders, he called one of the few he thought he could count on: British Prime Minister David Cameron....But Obama, Cameron, and their teams would soon discover that they had moved too quickly and had badly miscalculated....Parliament rejected Cameron's call to arms.</p> <p>This coincided with the U.S. Congress's growing doubts about the action. <strong>Some, perhaps most, of this was politics</strong>....Despite these headwinds, by the afternoon of Aug. 30, 2013, the White House appeared set to follow through on the limited-attack option....But later that afternoon, the president went on a walk around the South Lawn of the White House with his chief of staff, Denis McDonough....Afterward, when the two joined a small group of top advisors in the Oval Office, Obama reportedly <a href="http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887323527004579077401049154032" target="_blank">announced</a>, "I have a big idea I want to run by you guys," and then segued into his new plan to put action on hold until he could get a formal vote of congressional support.</p> <p>...."This was the real turning point for the administration's foreign policy," a former senior Obama advisor told me. "This was when things really started to go bad."</p> <p>With Syria festering for more than two years amid pleas to the United States for leadership and support from longtime regional allies, <strong>the media was primed to respond, and many critics immediately assailed the president for being indecisive</strong>....It also set a precedent that would seemingly require the president to seek congressional approval for future military actions, even though the War Powers Resolution explicitly notes that he does not require it.</p> </blockquote> <p>Rothkopf takes this as a fatal error, but it's telling what he thinks the error is. Obama has long had a fairly consistent belief that you should avoid bellicose, uncompromising rhetoric, but on August 20, 2012, he momentarily forgot that and set his infamous red line on Syrian use of chemical weapons. A year later, with his "credibility" at stake&mdash;perhaps the cause of more dumb wars than anything else in history&mdash;he was inclined to launch a military strike on Syria. But then he thought harder about it and decided to see if there was any support for the idea. As it turned out, there wasn't. Despite the endless hectoring of Republicans, when it came time to actually support a military response, they decided that playing politics was more important. And so Obama backed down.</p> <p>Rothkopf thinks this was Obama's big mistake. But there's an alternative reading: that setting the red line in the first place was the real mistake. It took a while, but eventually Obama concluded that maybe it wasn't wise to let our foreign policy be dictated by a brief, intemperate remark. Figuring that out, rather than being goaded into a pointless response, is a rare sign of wisdom in a president, most of whom serve out their entire terms in endless fear of the media questioning their credibility.</p> <p>The rest of Rothkopf's piece is choppy and incoherent enough that I couldn't really make sense of it. He thinks George Bush deserves credit for finally adopting a more diplomatic approach to foreign affairs in his second term, but criticizes Obama for continuing it. He praises Bush for adopting a more coherent foreign policy with less infighting in his second term, but criticizes Obama for basically doing the same thing from the start. He's obscurely critical of Obama's habit of asking everyone in a meeting for their opinions, and then not making a decision instantly. I don't quite know why. And there's the usual criticism of disjointed decision making and personality conflicts, which as near as I can tell has been a staple of foreign policy thumbsuckers since about the time of George Washington.</p> <p>More generally, Rothkopf criticizes Obama for not learning from his mistakes, but he seems not to understand that Obama <em>has</em> learned from his mistakes. Among other things, he's learned that even the limited appetite he had for military intervention in his first term was probably too much. In his second term, he's even more reticent to use military force. But apparently this doesn't count as a lesson learned. Not in the world of serious foreign policy, anyway.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Foreign Policy Obama Mon, 15 Sep 2014 18:13:16 +0000 Kevin Drum 260276 at http://www.motherjones.com Here's the Defense of Unsalted Pasta Water That Darden Won't Make Itself http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/09/heres-defense-unsalted-pasta-water-darden-wont-make-itself <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Over at Vox, a virtual water cooler for the world's most pressing problems, Matt Yglesias tells us that Darden is fighting back against charges that it has mismanaged Olive Garden. <a href="http://www.vox.com/xpress/2014/9/15/6152275/olive-garden-salt-pasta-water" target="_blank">But he's unimpressed with their PowerPoint deck:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The entire Darden counter-presentation has <i>nothing to say about salting the water</i>. And to be clear, this is a 22 slide presentation. They had plenty of opportunity to explain themselves, apologize, or deny it. Instead, they're just keeping quiet.</p> </blockquote> <p>Here at MoJo, an entirely different virtual water cooler for the world's most pressing problems, I don't know anything about cooking pasta. However, one of my readers claims he does. So here's the defense that Darden has declined to offer on its own:</p> <blockquote> <p>I acknowledge that salting the water is a common and recommended practice for both pasta and dried beans, but this practice has the effect of toughening the outer surface of both pasta and beans during the cooking process. If you wait to add salt until after the cooking is completed the texture of the boiled food will be more tender. This does not mean it can&rsquo;t be &ldquo;al dente,&rdquo; which refers to the structure of the complete noodle (or bean), just that the skin or surface is not tough. Try it.</p> </blockquote> <p>So there you have it. Feel free to discuss this critical issue in comments.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Food and Ag Mon, 15 Sep 2014 17:06:52 +0000 Kevin Drum 260271 at http://www.motherjones.com Teddy Roosevelt, Lewis Hine and Lazy Frogs: 15 Photos http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/09/day-photos-august-15-roosevelt-library-of-congress <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>While searching through the Library of Congress archives last week, I noticed that a number of photos included the date they were photographed or published. I pulled together a handful, giving a little look at what was happening <a href="http://www.loc.gov/pictures/search/?q=%22August%2015%22&amp;sp=1" target="_blank">on this date through history</a>. These photos are often pretty mundane, but even the most common, everyday occurrences take on new meaning, or at least become more a bit interesting when viewed from a distance in time.</p> <p>Here are a few photos from August 15th, all photos from the <a href="http://www.loc.gov/" target="_blank">Library of Congress</a>, with captions as provided with the photos.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><a href="http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/pan.6a36147/" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/6a36147v.jpg"></a> <div class="caption"><strong>Cyanotype image of construction of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., 1890. </strong></div> <div class="caption">&nbsp;</div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/36426v.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Theodore Roosevelt, 1913. </strong></div> <div class="caption">&nbsp;</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/00477v.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>"Chopping corn" Everett Adams, 15 years and Ora Adams, 9 years. Address Hiatt, Ky. Go to Hickory Grove School, but they have been absent most of the past 6 weeks for work, sickness, etc. Location: Rockcastle County, Kentucky, by Lewis W. Hine, 1916</strong></div> <div class="caption">&nbsp;</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/06856v.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Theo. Roosevelt, Jr. playing tennis, 1922. </strong></div> <div class="caption">&nbsp;</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/23256v.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Miss M. Pearl. McCall, 1922. </strong></div> <div class="caption">&nbsp;</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/14210v.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Senators Goose Goslin slides safely into home and collides with Yankees catcher Wally Schang in 2nd game of double header, 1925. </strong></div> <div class="caption">&nbsp;</div> </div> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/33566v.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Just plumb too lazy to catch his food on the fly like regular frogs do, Popeye, giant frog from Louisiana in the U.S. Department of Commerce aquarium, has to be fed his meals from acting as nursemaid for the critter, 1937. </strong></div> <div class="caption">&nbsp;</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/35542v.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>CORE members swing down Fort Hamilton Parkway, Brooklyn, toward 69th St. ferry on trek to Washington. World Telegram &amp; Sun photo by O. Fernandez, 1963. </strong></div> <div class="caption">&nbsp;</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/8b00457v.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Defense housing, Ben Morrell Project, Norfolk, Virginia. Housing for civilian and married enlisted personnel at the Norfolk, Virginia housing naval base. Constructed at a cost of $3,356,000 by the Navy. Of the 1,362 units built, 1,062 were completed August 15, 1941. Rents range from $17 to $23 a month. </strong></div> <div class="caption">&nbsp;</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/019420pv.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Mare Island Naval Shipyard, Firehouse, Vallejo, Solano County, CA, 1919 </strong></div> <div class="caption">&nbsp;</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/04818v.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Senator Cappe of Kansas, 1921 </strong></div> <div class="caption">&nbsp;</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/11949v.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>John Coolidge, Mrs. Coolidge, &amp; President Coolidge enroute to Vermont, 1924. </strong></div> <div class="caption">&nbsp;</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/39219v.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>William A. Hill, Boston, Attorney for the utility king, Howard C. Hopson, leaves the Senate side of the Capitol with his counsel, Moultrie Hitt, Washington attorney, where Hill appeared in response to a citation for contempt growing out of the activities of Hopson, who is wanted by the Senate Lobby Investigating committee, 1935. </strong></div> <div class="caption">&nbsp;</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/00476v.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Red Bud School. County Supervisor in doorway. Teacher thought 20 absent on account of work, etc. Location: Rockcastle County, Kentucky by Lewis W. Hine, 1916.</strong></div> <div class="caption">&nbsp;</div> </div> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><a href="http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/pan.6a15436/" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/6a15436v.jpg"></a> <div class="caption"><strong>View of Cincinnati, Ohio. Copyright entry no. 490 dated August 15, 1866 in volume covering time period, Nov. 9, 1864 - May 9, 1867. (click on photo for link to larger view) </strong></div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> Mixed Media Slideshows Media Mon, 15 Sep 2014 16:31:39 +0000 Mark Murrmann 260201 at http://www.motherjones.com What the Hell Is Going On in Scotland? Let John Oliver Explain http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/09/john-oliver-on-scotland <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Scotland heads to the polls on Thursday to decide if it stays a part of the United Kingdom or not. How should you, an American who saw <em>Braveheart</em> a few times, feel about this? <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-YkLPxQp_y0#t=381" target="_blank">Let John Oliver break it down for you</a>:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/-YkLPxQp_y0?rel=0" width="630"></iframe></p></body></html> Mixed Media Film and TV Mon, 15 Sep 2014 15:51:28 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 260251 at http://www.motherjones.com We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for September 15, 2014 http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/09/were-still-war-photo-day-september-15-2014 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p class="rtecenter"><em>A US Marine carries a round back to his gun in Hawaii for a fire mission. (US Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Victor A. Mancilla)</em></p></body></html> MoJo Military Mon, 15 Sep 2014 15:49:24 +0000 260256 at http://www.motherjones.com Maybe Obama Can Change the Way We Think About War http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/09/maybe-obama-can-change-way-we-think-about-war <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_obama_business.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Over the weekend, Peter Baker wrote a story about President Obama's cautious, calculated approach to the fight against ISIS. It is, Obama says, a reaction against the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/14/world/middleeast/paths-to-war-then-and-now-haunt-obama.html" target="_blank">frenzied buildup to the Iraq War in 2002-03:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>In his own way, Mr. Obama said, he had seen something similar, a virtual fever rising in Washington, pressuring him to send the armed forces after the Sunni radicals who had swept through Iraq and beheaded American journalists. He had told his staff, he said, not to evaluate their own policy based on external momentum. He would not rush to war. He would be deliberate.</p> <p>&ldquo;But I&rsquo;m aware I pay a political price for that,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p>His introspection that afternoon reflected Mr. Obama&rsquo;s journey from the candidate who wanted to wind down America&rsquo;s overseas wars to the commander in chief who just resumed and expanded one....<strong>He alternated between resolve as he vowed to retaliate against President Bashar al-Assad if Syrian forces shot at American planes, and prickliness as he mocked critics of his more reticent approach to the exercise of American power.</strong></p> <p>&ldquo;Oh, it&rsquo;s a shame when you have a wan, diffident, professorial president with no foreign policy other than &lsquo;don&rsquo;t do stupid things,&rsquo; &rdquo; guests recalled him saying, sarcastically imitating his adversaries. &ldquo;I do not make apologies for being careful in these areas, even if it doesn&rsquo;t make for good theater.&rdquo;</p> <p>....This account of Mr. Obama&rsquo;s thinking as he arrived at a pivotal point in his presidency is based on interviews with 10 people who spoke with him in the days leading up to his speech Wednesday night....The president invited a group of foreign policy experts and former government officials to dinner on Monday, <strong>and a separate group of columnists and magazine writers for a discussion on Wednesday afternoon.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>What I'm curious about is why Obama is so intent on making this public. Obviously you don't invite a bunch of columnists and reporters for a chat&mdash;off the record or otherwise&mdash;unless you intend for everyone in the world to hear what you said. In fact, this is a bit of theater in its own right, since a supposedly "private" meeting is bound to get <em>more</em> attention than a garden-variety interview.</p> <p>So....why? Is it something of a sop to his base, trying to assure them that he's not planning to let the current fight morph into Iraq War 2.0? Is it hubris, making sure everyone in the foreign policy community knows that he doesn't care what they think? Is it a deliberate jab against the media and its complicity in ramping up war fever? Or does he truly think that the Beltway punditocracy will respond favorably to this kind of thing?</p> <p>It's all very strange. It's obvious that Obama truly believes he's being cautious and wants everyone to know that this is deliberate, not merely the ramblings of a tortured executive who can't make up his mind. Perhaps he's trying his best to normalize this kind of decisionmaking about war, since it's basically unheard of in modern history. If that's the case, then I wish him the best of luck.</p> <p>And you know what? He might actually be having an effect. He might really be embarrassing a few people into facing up to their tacit assumption that the only kind of strong foreign policy is one that involves both liberal use of the military and plenty of Churchillian rhetoric to go along with it. Maybe he really is normalizing a more levelheaded approach to the world's problems. That would certainly account for the almost insane gibbering we've been getting lately from folks like John McCain and Lindsey Graham, both of whom have apparently been driven mad at the thought that all-war-all-the-time might be losing its appeal as the default foreign policy of serious people. Who knows? Maybe a few serious people are even starting to see it for the folly that it actually is.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Iraq Military Obama Mon, 15 Sep 2014 15:43:36 +0000 Kevin Drum 260241 at http://www.motherjones.com There's an Easier Way to Get Rid of Plastic Bags http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/09/theres-easier-way-get-rid-plastic-bags <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Katie Rose Quandt explains why banning plastic bags <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/09/california-bans-plastic-bags" target="_blank">is no panacea:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Although plastic bags' manufacture is relatively energy intensive (according to the Australian government, a car could drive 36 feet with the amount of petroleum used to make a single plastic bag), other kinds of bags use even more fossil fuel. A heavy-duty, reusable plastic bag must be used 12 times before its global warming impact is lower than continuing to use disposable bags, according to a study by the UK Environment Agency. A cotton bag takes 132 uses, and a paper bag&mdash;which will still be legal with California's ten-cent fee&mdash;must be used four times before its global warming impact is less than using single-use bags.</p> </blockquote> <p>What a mess. Carbon taxes are no panacea either, but this is a pretty good example of why they're so useful. Instead of sponsoring endless studies of the carbon impact of various bags&mdash;and then trying to educate consumers about these studies&mdash;just tax carbon and forget about it. The carbon-intensive bags will rise in price and eventually, if plastic bags really are the worst option, they'll get priced out of the market. No muss, no fuss. And if consumers decide to pay for them anyway, that's not a big problem either. It just means they'll have less money to spend on other carbon-intensive activities. One way or another, it will come out in the wash.</p> <p>The downside, of course, is that this only accounts for carbon. If you want to ban plastic bags for other reasons, then you'll just have to go ahead and ban them. But that's true of everything. A carbon tax doesn't solve every problem on the planet, but it does quickly and cleanly provide a price signal that reduces the demand for carbon-intensive products.</p> <p>And it's a pretty market-friendly mechanism, too, so conservatives ought to like it. Except for the fact that it is, unquestionably, a tax, and we all know that taxes are verboten as long as a single Republican with breath in his body remains in Congress. So we'll get no carbon tax in the foreseeable future, even though it would be good for the planet; allow us to cut taxes in other areas; and make everyone's lives easier. Maybe someday.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Climate Change Mon, 15 Sep 2014 14:24:49 +0000 Kevin Drum 260231 at http://www.motherjones.com Music Review: "Pressure" by My Brightest Diamond http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/09/music-review-pressure-my-brightest-diamond <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/CePpTXIuQzY?list=UUOkWMIcLDDV1P48NSCdkJ5w" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>TRACK 1</p> <p><strong>"Pressure"</strong></p> <p>From My Brightest Diamond's <em>This Is My Hand</em></p> <p>ASTHMATIC KITTY</p> <p><strong>Liner notes:</strong> The fourth MBD album gets off to a rousing start with this joyful brew of marching-band rhythms, xylophone, brass, and Shara Worden's big, operatic voice.</p> <p><strong>Behind the music:</strong> An alumna of Sufjan Stevens' band, Worden's r&eacute;sum&eacute; includes collaborations with David Byrne, Matthew Barney, the Blind Boys of Alabama, and the Decemberists.</p> <p><strong>Check it out if you like:</strong> Brainy art-poppers, meaning St. Vincent, tUnE-yArDs, or Joanna Newsom.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Music Mon, 15 Sep 2014 10:35:06 +0000 Jon Young 259071 at http://www.motherjones.com Lia Ices' Newfound Urgency http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/09/lia-ices-masters-dreampop-review <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/BXTJ5JHNC1Q?rel=0" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><strong>Lia Ices<br><em>Ices</em><br> Jagjaguwar</strong></p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="Ices" class="image" src="/files/JAG205.jpg" style="height: 250px; width: 250px;"></div> <p>After displaying her mastery of mesmerizing dream-pop on 2011's <em>Grown Unknown</em>, Lia Ices adds a shot of energy to the mix on this charming third album. Though recorded piecemeal at studios around the country, Ices feels focused and cohesive, with the leadoff track "Tell Me" setting the tempo, setting a typically lush melody to a thumping party beat. Ices is still happily indebted to Kate Bush&mdash;witness the meditative seven-minute "Waves"&mdash;but jaunty songs like "Higher" show she has the confidence to play around with her sound and not settle for ambient-music clich&eacute;s. If this bracing newfound urgency indicates a willingness to court a larger audience a la Lykke Li, more power to her.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Music Mon, 15 Sep 2014 10:00:07 +0000 Jon Young 260141 at http://www.motherjones.com Music Review: "Is What It Is" by She Keeps Bees http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/09/music-review-what-it-she-keeps-bees <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/rg0-FzmZA4Y" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>TRACK 10</p> <p><strong>"Is What It Is" </strong></p> <p>From She Keeps Bees'<em> Eight Houses</em></p> <p>FUTURE GODS</p> <p><strong>Liner notes:</strong> Smokey and languid, Jessica Larrabee croons defiantly, "Be not completely consumed/Do not surrender," on this hazy ballad, with kindred spirit Sharon Van Etten singing backup.</p> <p><strong>Behind the music:</strong> Larrabee fronted the Philadelphia band the English System before teaming with drummer Andy LaPlant to form the Brooklyn-based duo.</p> <p><strong>Check it out if you like:</strong> Moody chanteuses (Cat Power, Angel Olsen, PJ Harvey).</p></body></html> Mixed Media Music Mon, 15 Sep 2014 09:35:04 +0000 Jon Young 259066 at http://www.motherjones.com How Should the NFL Handle Domestic Violence Cases in the Future? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/09/how-should-nfl-handle-domestic-violence-cases-future <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <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="http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-benedict-nfl-ray-rice-20140914-story.html" 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="http://www.newyorker.com/news/sporting-scene/n-f-l-s-new-domestic-violence-rules" 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 http://www.motherjones.com This Is Why You Should Never Take Moral Lessons From Films You Stopped Watching Halfway Through http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/09/i-left-gone-with-the-wind-at-the-intermission-this-is-my-story <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Jordan Belfort (aka the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wolf_of_Wall_Street_%282013_film%29" 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="http://www.slate.com/blogs/business_insider/2014/09/12/the_real_wolf_of_wall_street_trial_error_event_at_92nd_street_y_featuring.html?wpsrc=fol_fb" target="_blank">predictable shit show</a> with casual sexism and the like, but <a href="http://www.slate.com/blogs/business_insider/2014/09/12/the_real_wolf_of_wall_street_trial_error_event_at_92nd_street_y_featuring.html?wpsrc=fol_fb" 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="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B003F29D44/?tag=slatmaga-20" 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="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wall_Street:_Money_Never_Sleeps" 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 http://www.motherjones.com How Superbugs Hitch a Ride From Hog Farms Into Your Community http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2014/09/think-antibiotic-resistant-bacteria-stop-factory-farm-door-think-again <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <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="http://www.fda.gov/downloads/AnimalVeterinary/SafetyHealth/AntimicrobialResistance/NationalAntimicrobialResistanceMonitoringSystem/UCM334841.pdf">data</a> <a href="http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2013/02/bacteria-meat-show-growing-drug-resistance-fda-says">shows</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 http://www.motherjones.com Unredacted Court Docs Reveal Yahoo's Name and Other Top-Secret Stuff http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/09/yahoo-nsa-court-ruling-redacted <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Yahoo has <a href="https://cdt.org/insight/yahoo-v-u-s-prism-documents/" target="_blank">just released</a> 1,500 pages of previously classified documents relating to its <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/14/technology/secret-court-ruling-put-tech-companies-in-data-bind.html" 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="//s3.amazonaws.com/s3.documentcloud.org/viewer/loader.js"></script><script> DV.load("//www.documentcloud.org/documents/1301184-11-yahoo702-fisc-merits-opinion-1.js", { 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="//s3.amazonaws.com/s3.documentcloud.org/viewer/loader.js"></script><script> DV.load("//www.documentcloud.org/documents/1300547-fiscr082208-2.js", { 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 http://www.motherjones.com The Great State Of California Will Not Be Split Into Six Mediocre States http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/09/great-state-california-will-not-be-split-six-little-mediocre-states <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>One day a <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/07/tim-draper-six-californias-stripping-youtube-riskmaster" target="_blank">lemming</a> will fly. That day is <a href="http://www.sfgate.com/default/article/Six-Californias-initiative-falls-short-of-5751683.php" 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 http://www.motherjones.com Friday Cat Blogging - 12 September 2014 http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/09/friday-cat-blogging-12-september-2014 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <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 http://www.motherjones.com See for Yourself Just How Damn Complicated the Middle East Has Become http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/09/see-yourself-just-how-complicated-middle-east-has-become <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <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="http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/visualizations/the-middle-east-key-players-notable-relationships/" 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="http://thehill.com/policy/defense/212024-hagel-us-knows-iran-russia-aiding-iraq-in-fight-against-isis" 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 http://www.motherjones.com Pennsylvania Teenager Simulates Oral Sex With Jesus Statue, Faces 2 Years in Prison http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/09/pennsylvania-teenager-hump-oral-sex-jesus-statue-prison <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <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="http://news.kron4.com/news/teen-could-get-two-years-for-facebook-photos-with-jesus-statue/" 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="http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_JESUS_STATUTE_DESECRATION?SITE=AP&amp;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="http://atheism.about.com/od/flagburningstatelaws/" 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 http://www.motherjones.com If You Want Good Workers, You Need to Pay Market Wages http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/09/if-you-want-good-workers-you-need-pay-market-wages <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Today the <em>Wall Street Journal</em> is running <a href="http://online.wsj.com/articles/skills-gap-bumps-up-against-vocational-taboo-1410473392?mod=WSJ_hp_RightTopStories" target="_blank">yet another article</a> about the inability of manufacturing companies to attract good employees. <a href="http://www.cepr.net/index.php/blogs/beat-the-press/skills-gap-in-manufacturing-seems-to-be-primarily-at-the-top" 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 http://www.motherjones.com Quote of the Day: Salt Your Pasta Water, Capiche? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/09/quote-day-salt-your-pasta-water-capiche <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><a href="http://online.wsj.com/articles/salt-the-pasta-water-activist-fund-starboards-suggestions-for-the-olive-garden-1410486306?mod=WSJ_hp_LEFTWhatsNewsCollection" 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 http://www.motherjones.com Surprise! Our Arab Allies Aren't Really Going to Do Anything to Help Us Fight ISIS http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/09/surprise-our-arab-allies-arent-really-going-do-anything-help-us-fight-isis <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Here is the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/12/world/middleeast/arabs-give-tepid-support-to-us-fight-against-isis.html?hp&amp;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 http://www.motherjones.com We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for September 12, 2014 http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/09/were-still-war-photo-day-september-12-2014 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <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 http://www.motherjones.com