MoJo Blogs and Articles | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en How Should We Talk About Racism? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Steve Randy Waldman picks up today on a brief Twitter disagreement from a few days ago. Here's (part of) his response to my contention that racism was at the heart of <a href="" target="_blank">Britain's vote to leave the EU:</a></p> <blockquote> <p><strong>It may or may not be accurate to attribute the political behavior of large groups of people to racism, but it is not very useful.</strong> Those people got to be that way somehow. Presumably they, or eventually their progeny, can be un-got from being that way somehow. It is, I think, <strong>a political and moral error to content oneself with explanations that suggest no remedy at all,</strong> or that suggest prima facie problematic responses like ridiculing, <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_brexit_farage.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">ignoring, disenfranchising, or going to war with large groups of fellow citizens, unless no other explanations are colorable.</p> <p>....It seems to me that the alleged &ldquo;good guys&rdquo; &mdash; the liberal, cosmopolitan class of which I myself am a part &mdash; have fallen into habits of ridiculing, demonizing, writing off, or, in our best moments, merely patronizing huge swathes of the polities to which we belong. They may do the same to us, but we are not toddlers, that is no excuse. In the United States, in Europe, we are allowing ourselves to disintegrate and arguing about who is to blame. Let&rsquo;s all be better than that.</p> </blockquote> <p>I don't have a good answer to this, and I've struggled with it for some time. On the one hand, the truth is important. If I believe that racism is an important driver of a political movement (Brexit, Donald Trump), then I should say so. It's dishonest to tap dance around it just because it's uncomfortable or politically unhelpful.</p> <p>At the same time, it usually <em>is</em> politically unhelpful. Accusations of racism tend to end conversations, not start them&mdash;and, as Waldman says, implicitly suggest that our problems are intractable. What's more, there's a good case to be made that liberals toss around charges of racism too cavalierly and should dial it back. In fact, you can go even further than that. <em>Politically</em>, liberals might very well be off never using the R-word again.</p> <p>So: should we tell the truth as we see it even if it rarely leads to any useful outcome? Or adopt softer language that skirts the issue but has a better chance of prompting engagement from non-liberals? I don't know. But speaking just for myself, I generally try not to ridicule or demonize "huge swathes" of the country. Instead, I prefer to put the blame where I mostly think it belongs. In the post Waldman is referring to, for example, <a href="" target="_blank">I said this about Brexit:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>At its core, it&rsquo;s the last stand of old people who have been frightened to death by <strong>cynical right-wing media empires and the demagogues who enable them</strong>&mdash;all of whom have based their appeals on racism as overt as anything we&rsquo;ve seen in decades. It&rsquo;s loathsome beyond belief, and not something I thought I&rsquo;d ever see in my lifetime. But that&rsquo;s where we are.</p> </blockquote> <p>People are people. To some extent, we're all prisoners of the environments we were raised in and the trials we've been through over the course of our lives. That might call for empathy and understanding as much as it calls for censure. But one thing it <em>doesn't</em> excuse is politicians and media personalities who very much know better but cynically appeal to racial sentiment anyway, either for ratings or for votes. Calling out these folks for appealing to racism&mdash;or even just tolerating it&mdash;is almost certainly useful. It might not happen fast, but eventually they can be embarrassed into cutting it out. It sure is taking a long time, though.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sun, 26 Jun 2016 19:36:38 +0000 Kevin Drum 307716 at Hillary Clinton Is No Donald Trump <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>In the <em>LA Times</em> today, Barton Swaim argues that in this year's presidential election "we are faced with a choice between two pathologically dishonest candidates." He runs through a few of Donald Trump's seemingly bottomless supply of obvious lies, and then turns his attention to Hillary Clinton:</p> <blockquote> <p>Clinton&rsquo;s career offers a similarly dizzying array of bogus claims&mdash;(1) that she had known nothing about the firing of White House travel office employees in 1993, though she had orchestrated it; (2) that she deplaned in Bosnia under sniper fire; (3) that she was named for Sir Edmund Hillary, who climbed Everest when she was 5; (4) that she was a fierce critic of NAFTA &ldquo;from the very beginning&rdquo; when in fact she worked to get it passed; (5) that she &ldquo;did not email any classified material to anyone,&rdquo; though of course she did, many times.</p> </blockquote> <p>This is the sign of a pathologically dishonest candidate? Swaim rather easily found five clear and consequential lies from Trump's campaign this year, but not a single one from Hillary's. He had to go back more than 20 years to put together this list, and even so he couldn't manage to find five clear examples. #3 was a trivial recounting of a family story that apparently wasn't true. #4 is modestly misleading, but not much more. (Hillary was <a href="" target="_blank">privately skeptical of NAFTA</a> from the beginning, and became more public about it after she was no longer part of her husband's administration.) #5 is not a lie at all. It's true&mdash;unless you count a bunch of emails that were retroactively classified only years after she sent them.</p> <p>So that leaves #1 and #2. I'll give Swaim both of them. That's two lies between 1993 and 2008&mdash;about as many as Trump tells each day before lunch. If Hillary is really pathologically dishonest, surely Swaim could have pretty easily found more examples more recently? Frankly, if Hillary really does average one lie per decade, it might very well place her among the most honest politicians on the planet.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sun, 26 Jun 2016 17:40:55 +0000 Kevin Drum 307711 at Now Tesla Wants to Buy a Solar Company <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><em>This story originally appeared on </em><a href="" target="_blank">Grist</a><em> and is reproduced here as part of the <a href="" target="_blank">Climate Desk</a> collaboration.</em></p> <p>Elon Musk&mdash;<a href="" target="_blank">future Mars settler</a>, founder of Tesla&mdash;stepped into the solar business earlier this week with Tesla Motor's $2.5 billion bid to buy SolarCity,<a href="" target="_blank"> the top home solar</a> company in America.</p> <p>Shareholders <a href="" target="_blank">from both companies</a> still have to approve the deal. And if they do, <a href="" target="_blank">Tesla promises</a> the results will be awesome. Musk says that he never wanted Tesla to be just a carmaker. Buying SolarCity will turn Tesla into a company that will sell you an electric car and the power to charge it. "This would start with the car that you drive and the energy that you use to charge it, and would extend to how everything else in your home or business is powered," Tesla <a href="" target="_blank">wrote in its company blog</a>.</p> <p>Then Wall Street frowned. The day after the announcement, Tesla's <a href="" target="_blank">stock slumped 10 percent</a>, and Morgan Stanley<a href="" target="_blank"> cut its rating</a> on Tesla's shares.</p> <div class="inline-ad" id="speed-bump-ad-1"><script type="text/javascript"> googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display("speed-bump-ad-1"); }); </script></div> <p>So what gives? Does Wall Street not have the vision to get with Musk? Is the most futuristic car company in America about to drive off a cliff?</p> <p>Here are a few ways of looking at it:</p> <p><b>This whole thing is really a family drama.</b></p> <p>Lyndon Rive, SolarCity's co-founder and CEO, is Musk's cousin. Is there some kind of family power struggle taking place? <a href="" target="_blank">According to Eric Weishoff</a>, founder of Greentech Media, Rive "didn't sound happy enough for a man that just got $77 million dollars wealthier." And why should Tesla buy Solar City when the two companies<a href="" target="_blank"> have been collaborating on batteries for half a decade now</a>?</p> <p><b>Tesla's stock is sinking because Wall Street doesn't get Silicon Valley.</b></p> <p>Tesla was born in the startup culture of Silicon Valley, where it's all about taking bold stands and getting big or going home. In Silicon Valley, companies eat other companies for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late-night snack.</p> <p>Worriers, however, have good reason to wonder why Tesla wants to get into the solar business so badly when it has<a href="" target="_blank"> 375,000 pre-ordered Tesla Model 3s</a> that it's supposed to be making. There's the also the example of <a href="" target="_blank">Sun Edison</a>, an actual energy company that went bankrupt after a massive company-buying spree.</p> <p><b>This smushing together could actually work, because, you know, synergy!</b></p> <p>Tesla's current clientele is, to put it mildly, loaded. Three-quarters of Model S buyers<a href="" target="_blank"> make more than $100,000 a year</a>. It's entirely possible that they are exactly the kind of people who might wander into a showroom, order a car, and impulse-purchase an entire solar installation to go along with it.</p> <p>Solar City sells 100,000 solar installations a year to a wide demographic. If the price of the Tesla Model 3 manages to drop from the current sticker price of $35,000 and keep dropping, it's imaginable that SolarCity's current customers could be persuaded to choose a Tesla for their next car.</p> <p><b>What we really need are lots of little Teslas, not a bigger Tesla</b></p> <p>It's been clear for a long time that Musk is a crazy dreamer of the Steve Jobs variety. But building a big company, even a really cool big company, cannot get America to low-carbon car heaven alone. The Big Three automakers&mdash;GM, Ford, and Chrysler &mdash; arose out of <a href="" target="_blank">a Cambrian stew of automotive experimentation</a> in the workshops of Detroit. Many have made the point (including me) that three still wasn't enough to create the kind of competition that the American automotive industry needed to avoid getting its ass kicked by automakers in Germany and Japan.</p> <p>This sale &mdash; if it goes through &mdash; might lead to great things. But what the world really needs are many Teslas, enough to create a large ecosystem of entrepreneurs working on cars, batteries, and solar. We need this a lot more than we need to buy solar panels from a car company.</p></body></html> Environment Climate Change Climate Desk Corporations Economy Energy Sun, 26 Jun 2016 10:00:15 +0000 Heather Smith 307636 at Watch: What It's Like to Earn $9 an Hour as a Prison Guard <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>In December 2014, <em>Mother Jones</em> senior reporter Shane Bauer started a job as a corrections officer at a Louisiana prison run by the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the country's second-largest private prison company. During his four months on the job, Bauer would witness stabbings, an escape, lockdowns, and an intervention by the state Department of Corrections as the company struggled to maintain control. Read Bauer's gripping firsthand account <a href="" target="_blank">here</a>.</p> <p>Bauer's investigation is also the subject of a six-part video series produced by <em>Mother Jones</em> senior digital editor <a href="" target="_blank">James West</a>. In the second episode, Bauer learns about an escape finds out that a guard's $9 an hour wage doesn't stretch very far.</p> <p><strong>Also: </strong>Watch episode <a href="" target="_blank">one</a>.</p></body></html> Politics Video Prisons Top Stories Sun, 26 Jun 2016 10:00:15 +0000 James West 307656 at The Lawyers Who Helped Make Gay Marriage the Law of the Land Are Just Getting Started <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Last June, in the case of <em>Obergefell v. Hodges, </em>the Supreme Court issued a landmark <a href="" target="_blank">ruling</a> legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide. A year later, President Obama has christened <a href="" target="_blank">Stonewall Inn</a> the first national monument to LGBT rights, and the nation is engaged in a conversation&mdash;and new <a href="" target="_blank">legal</a> <a href="" target="_blank">battles</a>&mdash;involving transgender equality, another piece of the puzzle. I caught up with Memphis-based civil rights attorney <a href="" target="_blank">Maureen Holland</a>, part of the winning legal team in <em>Obergfell</em>, to discuss the eventful past year, the <a href="" target="_blank">Pulse</a> massacre, and her next big legal project.</p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" height="252" src="/files/maureenholland." width="409"><div class="caption"><strong>Maureen Holland </strong></div> </div> <p><strong>Mother Jones:</strong> After the <em>Obergefell </em>ruling, there was substantial resistance, including <a href="">Kim Davis</a> the county clerk in Kentucky who refused to grant marriage licenses. Several states proposed bills that would let businesses deny services to LGBT customers on religious grounds. Were you surprised by the level of pushback?</p> <p><strong>Maureen Holland</strong>: It did not surprise me. Many southern states pushed back after the <em><a href="">Loving</a></em> [1967 interracial marriage] case was decided, so we recognized there might be resistance. But I think the pushback was overshadowed by the overwhelming support for the decision. For some time, I was continually getting comments about how many lives were positively affected.</p> <p><strong>MJ:</strong> Since then, there's been a growing number of federal lawsuits by people alleging their civil rights were violated when they were denied marriage benefits, or fired after coming out to their employers as gay.</p> <p><strong>MH:</strong> Employment protections are the next step in the gay-rights fight. In February 2015, before<em> Obergefell</em>, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission <a href="">announced</a> that its offices would accept claims from people alleging sexual orientation-based discrimination in the workplace. After <em>Obergefell</em>, many people believed their cases would finally be heard if they filed claims&mdash;so they did. But the EEOC has to review the claims, decide which ones it wants to take action on, deny the claim, or tell the claimant they can sue in federal court. In recent months, we've seen people filing lawsuits who finally got their right-to-sue letters for claims they filed right after <em>Obergefell</em>. I don't know if any organization is keeping track of the number of cases.</p> <p><strong>MJ:</strong> You're now working on a <a href="">case</a> on behalf of a gay cop in Memphis who says he was harassed while working as his department's LGBT liaison. You argue that workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation is covered under the Civil Rights Act's ban on gender discrimination in the workplace. Can you explain the logic?</p> <p><strong>MH:</strong> Sexual orientation discrimination is essentially discriminating against somebody because they're not conforming to the norms of their sex. <em>Men should talk a certain way. Women should wear a certain attire at work</em>. That kind of discrimination is illegal under <a href="">Title VII</a> of the Civil Rights Act. And discriminating against someone because they're a man dating a man but you think they should date women is the same type of discrimination. So we think it is illegal as well. That argument would also extend to discrimination based on gender identity.</p> <p><strong>MJ:</strong> Which brings me to my next question: In <em>Obergefell </em>the Supreme Court <a href="">found</a> that gay marriage is a protected right under the Constitution, but it didn't say sexual orientation is a protected class, like race and gender. Is there any language in that opinion that suggests your strategy will succeed?</p> <p><strong>MH: </strong>There's language in any court opinion&mdash;called <em>dicta</em>&mdash;that you can draw implications from and use to extend the finding to other contexts. The dicta in <em>Obergefell</em> is clear: The Court adopts the idea that "psychologists and others recognize that sexual orientation is both a normal expression of human sexuality and <em>immutable</em>." In my complaint for the Memphis officer, I use this and other quotes as the framework for the argument that the <em>Obergefell</em> ruling was not just about marriage.</p> <p><strong>MJ: </strong>This notion that sexual orientation is immutable sounds like a clear indication that it should be a protected class. The Constitution's equal protection clause was meant to protect people from discrimination based on attributes they can't change.</p> <p><strong>MH: </strong>Exactly. But we don't have case law that says it with that level of clarity in regard to sexual orientation. That's why people are bringing these cases.</p> <p><strong>MJ: </strong>Let's pivot to transgender rights. We're in the midst of a big national debate about that. Why now?</p> <p><strong>MH:</strong> It's the next conversation we had to have about LGBT rights. Gender identity&mdash;what is that? What does it mean? How do our laws apply to individuals who transition? The <em>Obergefell </em>decision opened up space for a more national conversation.</p> <p><strong>MJ:</strong> President Obama repealed Don't Ask Don't Tell. His Department of Justice stopped enforcing the Defense of Marriage Act before the <em>Obergefell</em> decision. And 11 states are now <a href="" target="_blank">suing</a> his administration over bathroom guidelines it issued for transgender students.</p> <p><strong>MH:</strong> I think President Obama has <em>become</em> a great advocate for LGBT rights. He's talked about his transition in thinking on same-sex marriage, and the fact that we got to see him do that openly and honestly has been helpful. He has issued executive orders that give protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity to public-sector employees. All these things speak well to his willingness to not just say it, but to <em>do</em> things that are meaningful to protect LGBT people.</p> <p><strong>MJ:</strong> When might the Supreme Court take up the question of whether sexual orientation and gender identity are constitutionally protected?</p> <p><strong>MH:</strong> It could happen the year after next. They have to accept a case that asks the question, first. But there are a number of those moving into the Court of Appeals. It also depends on the decisions of the Courts of Appeal. The Supreme Court tends to take cases when there's a difference in opinion in the circuits&mdash;not just because they think a case is interesting. That's what happened in <em>Obergefell</em>.</p> <p><strong>MJ:</strong> I'm curious about your thoughts on what happened in Orlando.</p> <p><strong>MH:</strong> I was heartbroken. It was hard to see&mdash;as a member of the LGBT community myself&mdash;people targeted because of their identity, when a year prior we had celebrated <em>Obergefell</em>. No one should be targeted because of who they love, and that message needs to continue to be said, and protections need to be in place. I spoke at a vigil for Orlando here in Memphis the day it happened. The crowd came out, and I think they were afraid to be who they are because they knew they could be targeted. You want to live in a community where you don't have to be afraid to go outside or go to work and be who you are. And that's what I hope the future will be. We're not there yet.</p></body></html> Politics Civil Liberties Gay Rights Sex and Gender Supreme Court Top Stories gay marriage Sun, 26 Jun 2016 10:00:14 +0000 Brandon Ellington Patterson 307566 at Chart of the Day: Brexit Would Have Turned Out Very Differently if Kids Turned Out to Vote <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>This will come as no surprise, but here's the fundamental reason that Brexit won:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_brexit_referendum_age_0.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 55px;"></p> <p>The younger the voter, the more strongly they voted to remain in the EU. The older the voter, the more likely they were to actually get out and vote. Eventually the kids are going to figure out how badly their elders are screwing them, and maybe then they'll finally muster the energy to cast a ballot. I wonder what it's going to take to make that happen?</p> <p>(Preference via <a href="" target="_blank">YouGov</a>. Turnout via <a href="" target="_blank">SkyData</a>.)</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 25 Jun 2016 23:30:49 +0000 Kevin Drum 307701 at The Paradox of Immigration: Opposition Is Strongest Precisely Where There Are the Fewest Immigrants <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>James Fallows is in western Kansas around Dodge City, where many of the cities are majority Latino and full of immigrants from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Cuba, and more recently Somalia and Sudan. <a href="" target="_blank">Here's what he says:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>I can&rsquo;t let this day end without noting the black-versus-white, night-versus-day contrast between the way immigration, especially from Mexico and other parts of Latin America, is discussed in this part of the country <em>where it is actually happening,</em> versus its role in this moment&rsquo;s national political discussion.</p> <p>....<em>Every single</em> person we have spoken with &mdash; Anglo and Latino and other, old and young, native-born and immigrant, and so on down the list &mdash; <strong><em>every</em></strong> one of them has said: We <em>need</em> each other! There is work in this community that we all need to do. We can choose to embrace the world, or we can fade and die. And we choose to embrace it.</p> </blockquote> <p>I don't have actual data on this, but my sense from both the US and Britain is that the most fervent opposition to immigration&mdash;legal or otherwise&mdash;comes precisely from the regions where it's had the least impact. Here in the US, for example, immigration from Latin America has been heaviest in the southern sun belt states of California, Texas, Arizona, and a few others. And yet Donald Trump's "build a wall" narrative played well in places like New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts, all of which have relatively small Latino populations. Similarly, Brexit did best in the small towns and rural areas of England, the places that have the fewest immigrants and that depend the most on EU trade.</p> <p>That's not to say that opposition to immigration is absent in places like London or San Diego. It's not. But these places mostly seem to have adapted to it and figured out that it's not really all that bad. It's everywhere else, where immigration is mostly a <em>fear</em>, that anti-immigrant sentiment has the strongest purchase. And that's why peddling fear is so effective.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 25 Jun 2016 22:58:12 +0000 Kevin Drum 307696 at Let Us Now Figure Out Who to Blame for Brexit <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Brexit has passed, and now it's time to find someone to blame. Sure, you can go with the pack and blame David Cameron or Nigel Farage, but that's not much fun. Here are four plausible but not entirely obvious choices:</p> <h3><strong>Ed Milliband</strong></h3> <p>In order to keep peace within his own party, Prime Minister David Cameron promised a vote on Brexit in 2013. It seemed fairly harmless at the time: Cameron's Conservative Party was about 20 seats short of an outright majority in Parliament, so he was governing in a coalition with the Liberal Democrats. The Lib Dems opposed the referendum, and as long as they remained in the coalition, there would most likely have been <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_ed_milliband.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">no vote. To maintain this status quo, neither the Lib Dems nor the opposition Labor Party even had to gain any seats in the 2015 election. They just had to hold their own.</p> <p>But Ed Milliband proved to be such a hapless leader of the Labor Party that he lost 26 seats in the election. This was just enough to give the Tories a bare majority, and that paved the way for Brexit.</p> <p>Alternatively, you could blame Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, who managed his party's coalition with Cameron poorly and lost an astounding 49 of its 57 seats in the 2015 election. But Labor was the primary opposition party and should have been able to pick up most of those seats, so let's stick with Milliband on this one.</p> <h3><strong>Angela Merkel</strong></h3> <p>For all the praise she gets, Angela Merkel has been one of the most disastrous European leaders in my lifetime. She's as responsible for Brexit as anyone I can think of, thanks to two catastrophic decisions she made.</p> <p>The first was her insistence on punishing Greece following its collapse after the Great Recession. There's plenty of blame to go around on all sides for the Greece debacle, but as the continent's economic leader Germany held most of the high cards during negotiations over Greece's fate. Merkel had a choice: (a) punish Greece for running up <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_merkel_refugee.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">unsustainable debts and lying about them, or (b) accept that <a href="" target="_blank">Germany bore much of the blame itself</a> for the crisis and that Greece had no way of rescuing itself thanks to the straitjacket of the common currency. The former was a crowd pleaser. The latter was unpopular and would have required sustained, iron-spined leadership. In the event, Merkel chose to play to the crowds, and Greece has been a basket case ever since&mdash;with no end in sight. It hardly went unnoticed in Britain how Europe treated a country that was too entangled with the EU to either fight back or exit, and it made Britain's decision to forego the common currency look prescient. And if that had been a good choice, maybe all the rest of "ever closer union" wasn't such a great idea either.</p> <p>Merkel's second bad decision was more recent. <a href="" target="_blank">Here is David Frum:</a> "If any one person drove the United Kingdom out of the European Union, it was Angela Merkel, and her impulsive solo decision in the summer of 2015 to throw open Germany&mdash;and then all Europe&mdash;to 1.1 million Middle Eastern and North African migrants, with uncountable millions more to come." It's hard to fault Merkel for this on a humanitarian basis, but on a political basis it was a disaster. The barely-controlled wave of refugees Merkel encouraged has caused resentment and more all over Europe, and it unquestionably played a big <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_daily_mail_immigration.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">role in the immigrant backlash in Britain that powered the Leave vote.</p> <h3><strong>Paul Dacre</strong></h3> <p>Paul Dacre is the longtime editor of the <em>Daily Mail</em>, and he's standing in here for the entire conservative tabloid press, which has spent decades lying about the EU and scaring the hell out of its readership about every grisly murder ever committed by an immigrant. In a journalistic style pioneered by Boris Johnson&mdash;who we'll get to next&mdash;the <em>Mail</em> and other tabloids have run hundreds of sensational stories about allegedly idiotic EU regulations and how they're destroying not just Britain's way of life, but its very sovereignty as well. These stories range from deliberately exaggerated to outright false, and they're so relentless that the EU has an <a href="" target="_blank">entire website dedicated to debunking British tabloid myths</a> from A (abattoirs) to Z (zoos). The chart below, <a href="" target="_blank">from the <em>Economist</em>,</a> tots up all the lies, and the <em>Mail</em> is the clear leader.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_economist_eu_lies_0.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 15px 0px 15px 10px;"></p> <p>The EU is hardly a finely-tuned watch when it comes to regulations, but the vast majority of the outrage over its rulings is based almost literally on nothing. Nonetheless, the outrage is real, and it was fueled largely by Dacre's <em>Daily Mail</em> and its fellow tabloids.</p> <h3><strong>Boris Johnson</strong></h3> <p>Why Boris? After all, it was Nigel Farage, the odious leader of the openly xenophobic UKIP party, who led the charge to leave the EU. This is, perhaps, a judgment call, but I've long had a stronger disgust for those who tolerate racism than for the open racists themselves. The latter are always going to be around, and sometimes I even have a little sympathy for them. They've often spent their entire lives marinating in racist communities and are as much a victim of their upbringing as any of us.</p> <p>But then there are those who should know better, and Boris Johnson is very much one of them. The usual caveat is in order here: I can't look into Johnson's heart and know what he really thinks. But he's had a long journalistic career, <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_boris_johnson_leave.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">and an equally long history of tolerating racist sentiments. As a longtime Euroskeptic&mdash;though probably more an opportunistic one rather than a true believer&mdash;it's no surprise that he campaigned for Brexit, but in doing so he knowingly joined hands with Farage and his UKIP zealots, providing them with a respectability they wouldn't have had without him. He knew perfectly well that the Leave campaign would be based primarily on exploiting fear of immigrants, but he joined up anyway.</p> <p>Johnson is hardly the only British politician to act this way, of course. But he's the most prominent one, so he gets to stand in for all of them.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 25 Jun 2016 17:48:57 +0000 Kevin Drum 307691 at Watch: What It's Like to Become a Guard at a Private Prison <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>In December 2014, <em>Mother Jones</em> senior reporter Shane Bauer started a job as a corrections officer at a Louisiana prison run by the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the country's second-largest private prison company. During his four months on the job, Bauer would witness stabbings, an escape, lockdowns, and an intervention by the state Department of Corrections as the company struggled to maintain control. Read Bauer's gripping firsthand account <a href="" target="_blank">here</a>.</p> <p>Bauer's investigation is also the subject of a six-part video series produced by <em>Mother Jones</em> senior digital editor <a href="" target="_blank">James West</a>. In the first episode, Bauer gets a job with CCA and begins four weeks of training at Winn Correctional Center, which one former guard describes as "hell in a can." Bauer also explores why&nbsp;a dangerous job that pays $9 an hour is attractive in an area with few employment options. &nbsp;</p></body></html> Politics Video Top Stories Sat, 25 Jun 2016 10:00:19 +0000 James West 307626 at Powerful Photos From One of Texas' Most Historic Black Communities <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Corn-Johnny.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Johnny Jones<br> Whether singing in a choir or playing keyboards on stage Saturday nights, music is been Jones' passion. He spent his career working on the railroad tracks that run through Tamina. Now retired, Jones devotes his time to singing and recording Gospel music. </strong></div> </div> <p>When photographer <a href="" target="_blank">Marti Corn</a> moved to The Woodlands, Texas, in 1996, she found herself living next to the subject of what would become her first book: the town of Tamina.</p> <p>"Literally across the tracks" from The Woodlands, as Corn says, Tamina is a small community just north of Houston. Founded in 1871 by freed slaves, Tamina (originally known as Tammany) flourished for decades, benefiting from the logging industry and a railroad that ran from Houston to Conroe. It's the oldest freedman town in Texas and one of the last emancipation communities of its kind left in the country; descendants of the original freed-slave founders still live in town.</p> <p><span style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span>But in the 1960s and '70s, affluent suburbs like Shenandoah, Chateau Woods, Oak Ridge, and The Woodlands grew, pushing up against poorer, rural Tamina<span style="display: none;"> </span>. This juxtaposition is what drew Corn to Tamina. As she met its residents, she thought she could help create awareness of the town and its history through her photography. "At the very least," Corn says, "I could gift those who live in Tamina with a book of portraits and their stories so their descendants would know where they came from."</p> <p>Consider Corn's mission accomplished. Her book, <a href="" target="_blank"><em>The Ground on Which I Stand</em></a> (<a href=",8392.aspx" target="_blank">published by Texas A&amp;M University</a> as part of its Sam Rayburn Series on Rural Life), is a nuanced portrait of the town, filled out by archival family photos and a history of the town</p> <p>The book compiles oral histories of 15 families, from those whose trace their lineage in Tamina for seven generations to relative newcomers. Resilience and pride in Tamina are common threads throughout the book, tying together family stories into a wonderful tribute.</p> <p>As Annette Hardin, one of the descendants of the founding families, told Corn, "The value developers place on our land is vastly different than ours. What they don't understand is that it's not just our property&mdash;it's our legacy. The land represents the blood, heart, and soul of our African American heritage."</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Corn-Live-Oak.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Live Oak<br> This emancipation town's landscape has a unique pastoral charm. Eighty-year-old live oaks shade houses built years ago. Horses can be found along most streets behind the wooden fences or tethered to a tree. </strong></div> </div> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Corn-Molly.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Molly<br> "The prejudice we have felt might be one of the reasons we are such a close community." </strong></div> </div> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Corn-Lonnie.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Lonnie</strong></div> </div> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Corn-Trailer-Horse.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Horse and Trailer<br> This is a community that is at risk of gentrification as real estate values escalate and surrounding cities eye Tamina land for development.</strong></div> </div> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Corn-Bubba.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Bubba</strong></div> </div> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Corn-Joe.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Joe<br> "Five-fifty a week, that&rsquo;s what we made cuttin' wood. We&rsquo;d cut four cords a day to make that dollar. Times sure could be real hard, and we had many hungry days."</strong></div> </div> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Corn-Ruth.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Ruth<br> Faith plays an important role in Tamina. There are five churches, many of which line the railroad tracks. </strong></div> </div> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Corn-Cemetery.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Sweet Rest Cemetery<br> Many headstones at Tamina's Sweet Rest Cemetery are hand-made with names either painted onto crosses or etched into concrete markers. The cemetery floods every time there is a heavy rain, causing headstones to sink into the ground. </strong></div> </div> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Corn-Jada.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Jada<br> Tamina has the opportunity to send its children to some of the best schools in the country, thanks to the growth of surrounding cities. But that growth also puts the town at risk of gentrification. </strong></div> </div> <p><em><a href=",8392.aspx" target="_blank">The Ground on Which I Stand: Tamina, a Freedman's Town</a></em><br> Sam Rayburn Series on Rural Life, sponsored by Texas A&amp;M University-Commerce</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><a href=",8392.aspx" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/BookCover-400px.jpg" style="width: 154px; height: 200px; border-width: 1px; border-style: solid;"></a></div></body></html> Media Full Width Photo Essays Race and Ethnicity Top Stories photography Sat, 25 Jun 2016 10:00:18 +0000 Photographs by Marti Corn; text by Mark Murrmann 307501 at