MoJo Blogs and Articles | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/rss/blogs_and_articles/wp-login.phphttps%3A/motherjones.com/files/images/%20%20%20real_data_store%5Bhed_num%5D.url%20%20%20 http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en Here Are the Court Records of the Restraining Order Against Alleged Texas Murderer Ronald Lee Haskell http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/07/restraining-order-ronald-lee-haskell <!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://www.click2houston.com/news/deputies-at-least-six-killed-in-shooting-in-spring-area/26871346">On Wednesday evening</a>, Ronald Lee Haskell, disguised as a Fed-Ex delivery man, gained entry to the&nbsp;home of his sister-in-law and her spouse, Stephen and Katie Stay, demanding the whereabouts of his estranged ex-wife. Haskell would go on to shoot the Stays and their five children, killing everyone except his 15-year-old niece, and only surrendering to police after <a href="http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_HOUSTON_SUBURBAN_SHOOTING?SITE=MYPSP&amp;SECTION=HOME&amp;TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&amp;CTIME=2014-07-09-23-22-34">a three-and-a-half hour standoff</a>.</p> <p>In July of&nbsp;2013, Haskell's wife <a href="http://www.nbcnews.com/news/crime-courts/wife-texas-slaying-suspect-had-protection-order-against-him-n152696">filed a protective order</a> against him in Cache County, Utah, where they lived at the time. In October 2013, Haskell's protective order was converted to a "mutual&nbsp;restraining order<strong>"</strong> as part of their divorce and custody proceedings. This crucial step likely meant that Haskell was legally allowed to have guns again under both state and federal law<strong>.</strong></p> <p>Read the full docket of Haskell's protective order proceedings below. Read the full details of the case, as well <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/07/domestic-violence-guns-bills-texas-haskell-stay-murder" target="_blank">our analysis of domestic-violence-related gun laws here</a>.</p> <div class="DV-container" id="DV-viewer-1215826-2014-07-10-14-45-56-4-copy">&nbsp;</div> <script src="//s3.amazonaws.com/s3.documentcloud.org/viewer/loader.js"></script><script> DV.load("//www.documentcloud.org/documents/1215826-2014-07-10-14-45-56-4-copy.js", { width: 630, height: 550, sidebar: false, container: "#DV-viewer-1215826-2014-07-10-14-45-56-4-copy" });</script><noscript> <a href="http://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/1215826/2014-07-10-14-45-56-4-copy.pdf">Court Record of Protective and Restraining Orders Against Ronald Lee Haskell (PDF)</a> <br><a href="http://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/1215826/2014-07-10-14-45-56-4-copy.txt">Court Record of Protective and Restraining Orders Against Ronald Lee Haskell (Text)</a></noscript></body></html> MoJo Guns Fri, 11 Jul 2014 00:45:29 +0000 Hannah Levintova 255921 at http://www.motherjones.com Why the Suspected Texas Shooter's Domestic-Violence History Didn't Keep Him From Owning Guns http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/07/domestic-violence-guns-bills-texas-haskell-stay-murder <!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://www.click2houston.com/news/deputies-at-least-six-killed-in-shooting-in-spring-area/26871346">On Wednesday evening</a>, Ronald Lee Haskell, disguised as a FedEx delivery man, gained entry to the&nbsp;home of his sister-in-law and her spouse, Stephen and Katie Stay, demanding the whereabouts of his estranged ex-wife. According to statements by the Harris County police and prosecutors, he then allegedly tied up the Stays and their five children, ages 4 to 15, and shot them execution style, killing all but his 15-year-old niece, who played dead. Haskell then began driving to the home of the children's grandparents, possibly&nbsp;to continue his rampage, but his critically injured niece managed to call 911. He was apprehended on the way by law enforcement. After <a href="http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_HOUSTON_SUBURBAN_SHOOTING?SITE=MYPSP&amp;SECTION=HOME&amp;TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&amp;CTIME=2014-07-09-23-22-34">a three-and-a-half-hour standoff</a>&nbsp;three miles from the scene of the killings, Haskell surrendered and was arrested.</p> <p>Court records show that&nbsp;in Utah in 2008, <a href="http://www.cachevalleydaily.com/news/local/article_de4b1748-0851-11e4-9b22-0017a43b2370.html">Haskell was charged</a> with domestic violence and simple assault against his wife. She <a href="http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/world/58169710-68/haskell-hickman-county-parents.html.csp" target="_blank">reported that</a> he had hit her in the head and dragged her by the hair, according to police and court records.<strong> </strong>He pleaded guilty to the assault charge and had the domestic-violence charge dismissed <a href="http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/58170309-78/haskell-county-ronald-cache.html.csp" target="_blank">as part of his&nbsp;plea deal</a>. In July 2013, Haskell's wife <a href="http://www.nbcnews.com/news/crime-courts/wife-texas-slaying-suspect-had-protection-order-against-him-n152696">filed a protective order</a> against him in Cache County, Utah, where they lived at the time. The order applied to her and their <a href="http://bigstory.ap.org/article/4-children-among-6-killed-houston-area-shooting" target="_blank">four&nbsp;children</a>. She then moved away and filed for divorce about <a href="http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/world/58169710-68/haskell-hickman-county-parents.html.csp" target="_blank">a month later</a>. The divorce was finalized this past February.</p> <p>It's not yet clear if Haskell possessed his guns legally, but his case appears to be the latest example of how easy it remains for domestic abusers to possess firearms, thanks to weak legislation. Under federal law, Haskell's protective order&nbsp;should have prohibited him from owning guns, says Laura&nbsp;Cutilletta, a staff attorney at the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.&nbsp;However, in October 2013, Haskell's protective order was converted to a "mutual&nbsp;<span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 24px;">restraining order<strong>"</strong> as part of their divorce and custody proceedings. (You can read the protective order docket, obtained by <em>Mother Jones</em> on Thursday, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/07/restraining-order-ronald-lee-haskell" target="_blank">here</a>.)&nbsp;This crucial step likely meant that Haskell was legally allowed to have guns again, under both state and federal law. </span>Had the first protection order not been dropped, Cutilletta added, "likely he would have been prohibited&acirc;&#128;&#139;." Nor is it likely that Haskell's 2008 conviction barred him from owning a gun in Utah or Texas, Cutilletta says, because he was convicted of simple assault rather than domestic violence. (Haskell's attorney in his 2013 protective order proceedings did not respond to <em>Mother Jones</em>' request for comment.)</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/IPHomicidesandGunsUSMapJLHLCEdone_0.jpg"></div> <p>Three different bills that would strengthen federal law are currently stalled in Congress, in part due to lobbying efforts of gun rights groups, including <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/25/nra-stalkers-_n_5530097.html">the National Rifle Association</a>. Federal law prohibits convicted felons, subjects of permanent domestic-violence protective orders, as well as current and former spouses, parents, and guardians who have been convicted of domestic-violence misdemeanors from&nbsp;<a href="http://www.justice.gov/usao/eousa/foia_reading_room/usam/title9/crm01117.htm">possessing a gun</a>. But this leaves many situations where potential abusers are allowed to keep their guns.&nbsp;The current law doesn't apply to misdemeanant stalkers, domestic-violence misdemeanants who are current or former dating partners but who've never cohabitated or had a child together, as well as accused partners subject to a temporary (rather than permanent) restraining order. This is concerning, especially considering that in more than half of all states,&nbsp;fatal&nbsp;violence between intimate partners is most often perpetrated with a firearm. (See map above.)</p> <p>In June, US Sen. Richard&nbsp;Blumenthal&nbsp;(D-Conn.)&nbsp;<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sen-richard-blumenthal/for-lori-jackson-and-thou_b_5502876.html">cited</a>&nbsp;the case of 32-year-old mother Lori Gellatly when introducing a bill that would&nbsp;<a href="http://www.blumenthal.senate.gov/newsroom/press/release/blumenthal-introduces-legislation-to-protect-domestic-violence-survivors-from-gun-violence">bar</a>&nbsp;Americans served with temporary restraining orders for domestic violence from purchasing or possessing a firearm. In April 2014, a court <a href="http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Gellatly-death-highlights-gaps-in-system-5469075.php">granted Gellatly</a> a temporary restraining order against her husband after she fled their home and filed for a permanent protective order, citing her husband's violent behavior toward her and their twins. But thanks to the&nbsp;<a href="http://smartgunlaws.org/domestic-violence-firearms-policy-summary/">holes in federal law</a>, he was allowed to keep his guns until a judge issued a permanent restraining order.&nbsp;Gellatly's&nbsp;husband allegedly shot her with a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sen-richard-blumenthal/for-lori-jackson-and-thou_b_5502876.html">legally owned gun</a>&nbsp;one day before she was set to argue her case.</p> <p>Data suggests that states with fewer measures to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers see more guns used in intimate-partner murders:&nbsp;(For our methodology, see the bottom of this post.<a href="#methodology">*</a>)</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/gunsscatterplotCEdoneHLfixes.jpg"></div> <p>Blumenthal's bill, along with several others, have taken a piecemeal approach to bolstering federal law. In addition to its provision on temporary restraining orders, Blumenthal's bill would also extend existing domestic-violence provisions to dating partners. However, this bill doesn't address gun ownership by convicted stalkers.</p> <p><a href="https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/113/s1290/text">A different bill</a>, though, does: Proposed last July by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), the Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act would extend existing federal provisions to those convicted of stalking offenses and to abusive&nbsp;dating partners, but it doesn't address the question of temporary restraining orders.</p> <p>A third bill, <a href="https://capps.house.gov/press-release/capps-introduces-legislation-protect-victims-domestic-violence-and-stalking-gun-0">reintroduced last month</a> by Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.), is a combo platter of the Blumenthal and Klobuchar bills, aiming to fill all three&nbsp;holes in the current federal law&mdash;protecting victims from dating partners, convicted stalkers, and accused partners subject to temporary protective orders while they await a more permanent court ruling.</p> <p>These efforts have irked pro-gun groups. The NRA <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/25/nra-stalkers-_n_5530097.html" target="_blank">sent a letter</a> to senators in June saying that Klobuchar's bill "manipulates emotionally compelling issues such as 'domestic violence' and 'stalking' simply to cast as wide a net as possible for firearm prohibitions."</p> <p>For now, the gun lobby has little to worry about: These legislative solutions haven't moved far in Congress, with Klobuchar's bill sitting in committee for the past year. At the state level, protections aren't much better:</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/politics/2014/07/domestic-violence-guns-bills-texas-haskell-stay-murder"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Politics Charts Crime and Justice Guns Fri, 11 Jul 2014 00:44:55 +0000 Hannah Levintova and Dana Liebelson 255691 at http://www.motherjones.com Boehner's First Lawsuit: Obamacare is the Lucky Winner http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/07/boehners-first-lawsuit-obamacare-lucky-winner <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>I am pleased to report that John Boehner has taken my advice. He introduced a House resolution today that would give him authority to sue the president, and <a href="http://docs.house.gov/meetings/RU/RU00/20140716/102507/BILLS-113pih-HRes___.pdf" target="_blank">here's what it says:</a></p> <blockquote> <p><em>Resolved,</em> That the Speaker may initiate or intervene in one or more civil actions on behalf of the House of Representatives...to seek appropriate ancillary relief...with respect to implementation of (including a failure to implement) any provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act....</p> <p>Blah blah blah.</p> </blockquote> <p>And just which provision of Obamacare does Boehner plan to target? <a href="http://www.latimes.com/nation/politics/politicsnow/la-pn-house-lawsuit-obamacare-20140710-story.html" target="_blank">Here you go:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>"In 2013, the president changed the healthcare law without a vote of Congress, <strong>effectively creating his own law by literally waiving the employer mandate and the penalties for failing to comply with it</strong>," Boehner said in a statement. "That's not the way our system of government was designed to work. No president should have the power to make laws on his or her own."</p> </blockquote> <p>Well, Obama didn't "literally waive" the employer mandate, he just delayed it for two years. But close enough!</p> <p>Now, there are two sides to this. On the positive side for Boehner, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/03/obama-announces-yet-another-delay-part-obamacare" target="_blank">it's fairly defensible as these things go.</a> It's not a slam dunk, but you can make a decent case that Obama really did overstep the plain text of the law. However, the downside is that Obama probably doesn't care much about this. It's a fairly minor provision of the law, and if he loses the case it doesn't do any serious damage to Obamacare. In fact, the only damage it does is to the small employers who asked for the delay. So really, Boehner is only setting himself up to oppose the interests of small businesses.</p> <p>But here's the really interesting thing about this: Boehner is suing over a provision of the law that's been delayed until 2016. But a lawsuit like this takes a while. It'll take a while to file the documents, and then a while longer to get on the calendar of a district court. Then another while for a hearing and a ruling, and then yet another while for an appeal. Then yet another while if the White House asks for an en banc review. And then finally yet another while as it goes up to the Supreme Court. How long altogether? I'd guess a minimum of a year and a half, and probably more like two years. So the best case for conservatives is that the Supreme Court takes it up in late 2015. By the time they're ready to rule, it's moot because the mandate has taken effect and Obama is out of office.<sup>1</sup></p> <p>Boehner is smart enough to know all this perfectly well. In other words, he knows that this is purely a symbolic gesture. Not only does Obama not really care much about it, but it's vanishingly unlikely that the Supreme Court will ever hear the case. That makes it an almost perfect piece of theater. Neither side cares much, and it will never be decided. Boehner gets to say he's doing something, Obama gets some mileage out of mocking him, and that's it. The real-world impact is literally zero.</p> <p>And that might be just what Boehner wants.</p> <p><sup>1</sup>This assumes that any court is willing to grant Boehner standing to sue in the first place.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Congress Health Care Obama Fri, 11 Jul 2014 00:25:42 +0000 Kevin Drum 255931 at http://www.motherjones.com Why the Return of American Torture Is Inevitable http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/07/return-american-torture-future <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><em>This <a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175866/" target="_blank">story</a> first appeared on the </em><a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/" target="_blank">TomDispatch</a><em> website.</em></p> <p><a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com" target="_blank"><span class="inline inline-left"><img alt="" class="image image-preview" height="33" src="http://motherjones.com/files/images/tdispatch-notch.jpg" title="" width="100"></span></a></p> <p>Once upon a time, if a character on TV or in a movie tortured someone, it was a sure sign that he was a bad guy. Now, the torturers are the all-American heroes. From <em>24 </em>to <em>Zero Dark Thirty,</em> it's been the good guys who wielded the pliers and the waterboards. We're not only living in a post-9/11 world, we're stuck with Jack Bauer in the 25th hour.</p> <p>In 2002, Cofer Black, the former Director of the CIA's Counterterrorism Center, <a href="http://fas.org/irp/congress/2002_hr/092602black.html" target="_blank">told</a> a Senate committee, "All I want to say is that there was &lsquo;before' 9/11 and &lsquo;after' 9/11. After 9/11 the gloves come off." He wanted them to understand that Americans now live in a changed world, where, from the point of view of the national security state, anything goes. It was, as he and various top officials in the Bush administration saw it, a dangerous place in which terrorists might be lurking in any airport security line and who knew where else.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/politics/2014/07/return-american-torture-future"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Politics Crime and Justice Military Tom Dispatch Thu, 10 Jul 2014 22:53:02 +0000 Rebecca Gordon 255886 at http://www.motherjones.com Watch the Ads Obama Is Airing in Central America to Keep Kids From Coming to the US http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/07/unaccompanied-child-migrants-us-government-tv-ads <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><div align="center"> <p><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="300" scrolling="no" src="http://www.dvidshub.net/video/embed/347898" style="border: none; overflow: hidden; width: 500px; height: 300px;" width="500"></iframe></p> </div> <p>Preparing for his dangerous trip north, a Central American teen stops to pen a letter to his uncle in the United States. He writes that his mom is telling him to think hard about the risks: the gangs on the trains, the cartels that kidnap migrants, the days of walking through the desert. But those roadblocks, he writes, are worth it: "I see myself earning a bunch of money in the United States, and my mom here without any worries."</p> <p></p><div id="mininav" class="inline-subnav"> <!-- header content --> <div id="mininav-header-content"> <div id="mininav-header-image"> <img src="/files/images/motherjones_mininav/migrants_225.jpg" width="220" border="0"></div> <div id="mininav-header-text"> <p class="mininav-header-text" style="margin: 0; padding: 0.75em; font-size: 11px; font-weight: bold; line-height: 1.2em; background-color: rgb(221, 221, 221);"> More <em>MoJo</em> coverage of the surge of unaccompanied child migrants from Central America. </p> </div> </div> <!-- linked stories --> <div id="mininav-linked-stories"> <ul><span id="linked-story-252671"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/06/child-migrants-surge-unaccompanied-central-america"> 70,000 Kids Will Show Up Alone at Our Border This Year. What Happens to Them?</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-252866"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/06/unaccompanied-kids-immigrants-deported-guatemala"> What's Next for the Children We Deport? </a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-253266"> <li><a href="/mojo/2014/06/surge-unaccompanied-child-migrant-shelters"> This Is Where the Government Houses the Tens of Thousands of Kids Who Get Caught Crossing the Border</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-255056"> <li><a href="/mojo/2014/06/map-unaccompanied-child-migrants-central-america-honduras"> Map: These Are the Places Central American Child Migrants Are Fleeing </a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-255721"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/07/texas-we-dont-turn-our-back-children"> "In Texas, We Don't Turn Our Back on Children"</a></li> </span> </ul></div> <!-- footer content --> </div> <p>So begins a new public service announcement aimed at keeping Central American kids from joining the <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/06/child-migrants-surge-unaccompanied-central-america" target="_blank">tens of thousands of unaccompanied child migrants</a> who have been apprehended by US authorities in the last year. The PSA soon turns dark, though: After the teen says goodbye to his mother, and his uncle puts down the letter he's been reading, the camera pulls back from a close-up of the boy, dead on the desert floor. A narrator urges viewers: "They're our future. Let's protect them."</p> <p>US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) developed the TV ads, as well as <a href="http://www.cbp.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Dangers%20Poster%202.pdf" target="_blank">posters</a> and marimba-infused <a href="http://www.cbp.gov/video/opa/la-bestia-norte.wav" target="_blank">radio spots</a>, as part of its million-dollar Dangers Awareness Campaign. Rolled out shortly after Vice President Joe Biden's <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2014/06/20/politics/us-central-american-immigration/" target="_blank">trip to Guatemala</a> in June, the campaign is an attempt to counter rumors that unaccompanied kids will be allowed to stay in the United States. The ads emphasize that the journey is extremely dangerous and that children won't get legal status if they make it across the border.</p> <p>The campaign will run for 11 weeks, CBP spokesman Jaime Ruiz told the <a href="http://bigstory.ap.org/article/us-launches-media-campaign-immigration-dangers" target="_blank">Associated Press</a>. "We want a relative that is about to send $5,000, $6,000 to a relative in El Salvador to see this message and say, 'Oh my God, they're saying that the journey is more dangerous,'" Ruiz said. "We try to counter the version of the smuggler."</p> <p>Here's the other televised PSA, in which two silhouettes&mdash;a would-be migrant and a smuggler&mdash;discuss heading north, the smuggler turning increasingly aggressive and his shadow occasionally turning into that of a coyote, the slang word for a smuggler:</p> <div align="center"> <p><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="300" scrolling="no" src="http://www.dvidshub.net/video/embed/347904" style="border: none; overflow: hidden; width: 500px; height: 300px;" width="500"></iframe></p> </div> <p>(Notably, CBP created slightly different versions of each of the stories for El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, the three countries that have sent the most unaccompanied minors to the US. Watch them all <a href="http://www.dvidshub.net/feature/dangerscampaign#.U77IWahvkrf" target="_blank">here</a>.)</p> <p>This type of campaign isn't anything new. For years, the <a href="http://tucson.com/news/local/border/gps-device-giveaway-is-effort-to-save-lives/article_2299081d-e064-5825-a6b9-a52927c2e6c4.html" target="_blank">Mexican government</a> has produced ads about the dangers of walking through the Arizona desert, and several years ago the Department of Homeland Security, as part of CBP's <a href="http://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/local-media-release/2012-06-05-040000/border-safety-initiative-kicks-el-paso-texas" target="_blank">Border Safety Initiative</a>, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/music/2009/may/04/us-government-immigrants-album" target="_blank">distributed CDs to Latin American radio stations</a> with sad songs aimed at slowing immigration from the south. With so many variables at play, it's virtually impossible to measure their effect.</p> <p>But with <a href="http://www.latimes.com/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-senate-immigration-hearing-20140709-story.html" target="_blank">more than 57,000</a> unaccompanied kids apprehended in the United States since October&mdash;a situation that CBP head R. Gil Kerlikowske called "difficult and distressing on a lot of levels" when speaking to members of the Senate homeland security committee on Wednesday&mdash;the government seems willing to try anything.</p></body></html> MoJo Video Crime and Justice Immigration International child migrants Thu, 10 Jul 2014 21:59:22 +0000 Ian Gordon 255861 at http://www.motherjones.com Fine. I Retract My Defense of Optics. http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/07/fine-i-retract-my-defense-optics <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>On Wednesday morning, conservatives were all atwitter over the fact that President Obama had been photographed playing pool and drinking a beer the previous night in Denver. A mere thousand miles away, there was a humanitarian crisis on the border! How out of <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_eyeball_0.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">touch can a guy get? Clearly this was Obama's Katrina moment.</p> <p>This combined two of the right's favorite Obama-era tropes. First, it was about his millionth Katrina moment. Conservatives still can't get it through their heads that George Bush's Katrina moment was never really about those famous photographs of him mugging with a guitar while the levees were being breached in New Orleans and later staring moodily out an airplane window at the flooding below. It was about "heckuva job, Brownie." It was about his casual near-destruction of FEMA over the previous four years. It was about the startling contrast between his laggard response to Katrina and his near-frenetic response to the Terri Schiavo panderfest just a few months earlier. But conservatives simply refuse to believe this. They're convinced it was all about an unfair photographic comparison, and they're determined to make a Democratic president suffer the same fate.</p> <p>Second, it's become practically a parlor game for conservatives to chastise Obama for engaging in some kind of social activity while there's a serious crisis somewhere. This is an evergreen faux complaint. After all, there's almost always <em>something</em> serious going on <em>somewhere</em>, which means you can always figure out an excuse to haul out this chestnut.</p> <p>Now, to some extent none of this matters as long as it's just a partisan response from the professional right. But yesterday it metastasized into something more over Obama's answer to a question about why he wasn't heading down to the border to see the refugee crisis for himself. "I'm not interested in photo-ops," he said. "I'm interested in solving a problem." This almost instantly turned into a misquote: "I don't do photo-ops." And with that, the mainstream press started piling on too.</p> <p>This was, obviously, ridiculous. First of all, Obama didn't say that he doesn't do photo-ops. That would have been idiotic. What he very plainly said was that <em>in this particular case</em> he wasn't interested in doing a photo-op. He had introduced a plan to address the crisis and he was in Texas to discuss it with state officials. That's where he wanted to keep the focus.</p> <p>And with that, as if to mock me, the whole thing exploded into a moronic national conversation about the optics of shooting pool in Denver but not going to the border to have his photograph taken with wistful-looking Latin American children. This came just a couple of days after <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/07/defense-optics" target="_blank">I had defended</a> the word <em>optics</em> against Jamison Foser, and plainly Foser had turned out to be right. The mere availability of the word seemed to change the whole tone of the coverage. <a href="http://www.slate.com/blogs/weigel/2014/07/10/the_obama_doesn_t_do_photo_ops_meme_and_the_distractable_media.html" target="_blank">As Dave Weigel put it,</a> "The president is the star of most D.C. political stories, obviously, so many stories end up being about whether they help or hurt him. The problem is that the press can't be sure if they will, or won't." So they just guess.</p> <p>Now, I suppose I still have a feeble defense to offer. I did say there were good and bad uses of <em>optics</em>, and this just happened to be one of the bad ones. But the speed with which one photograph and one misquote saturated the punditocracy and morphed into an inane conversation about optics surely makes Foser's case for him.</p> <p>So I give up. There <em>are</em> still good uses of the word <em>optics</em>, but as long as the press remains so addicted to dumb uses that have obvious roots in transparent partisan nonsense, it's probably best to insist that they go cold turkey. No more optics, guys. Not until you demonstrate an ability to use the word like adults.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Media Thu, 10 Jul 2014 21:21:26 +0000 Kevin Drum 255911 at http://www.motherjones.com Mitch McConnell Runs Away From Paul Ryan http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/07/mitch-mcconnell-paul-ryan-budget-lundergan-grimes <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Three years ago, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was a huge cheerleader for the controversial budget plan proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) that would have partially privatized Medicare and slashed social spending programs. Now McConnell, who's in a tough reelection fight, is backing away from his support and trying to suggest he was not an outright champion of this draconian budget measure.</p> <p>In <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLNCo9YVcrw" target="_blank">an ad released this week</a>, McConnell's Democratic opponent, Alison Lundergan Grimes, attacks the GOP senator for backing Ryan's 2011 budget proposal, which would have essentially <a href="http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052748703806304576240751124518520?mg=reno64-wsj&amp;url=http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703806304576240751124518520.html" target="_blank">ended Medicare</a> as a guaranteed federal program, slashed Medicaid, and <a href="http://www.factcheck.org/2014/07/medicare-ghost-stories/" target="_blank">repealed Obamacare</a>. In the ad, an elderly Kentucky man named Don Disney asks why McConnell voted to raise his medical costs by thousands of dollars a year&mdash;referring to a provision in the Ryan budget that, <a href="http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&amp;id=3453" target="_blank">according to the Congressional Budget Office</a>, would hike out-of-pocket costs for Medicare beneficiaries by $6,000.</p> <p>McConnell's campaign fired back, <a href="http://www.teammitch.com/alison_lundergan_grimes_new_ad_called_shaky_and_misleading" target="_blank">pointing out</a> that the senator did not vote for the proposal itself, but rather only voted in favor of bringing the measure to the Senate floor for a vote. "There is no way to speculate" what McConnell would have done regarding a final vote on the Ryan budget, <a href="http://www.factcheck.org/2014/07/medicare-ghost-stories/" target="_blank">his campaign insists.</a></p> <p>But that's cutting the legislative sausage rather thin. The vote on whether to bring the Ryan plan to the Senate floor for an up-or-down vote was the key vote&mdash;and McConnell voted in favor of the proposal. It was only because the majority Democrats <a href="http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/163307-senate-votes-down-ryan-budget-medicare-" target="_blank">blocked</a> the bill from reaching a final vote that McConnell did not have a chance to officially vote for passage of the budget proposal. But McConnell himself bragged about <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFVNR9lVI24&amp;feature=youtu.be" target="_blank">having "voted" for the Ryan budget</a>. And he repeatedly praised the Ryan plan and expressed support for the measure.</p> <p>In a <a href="http://www.mcconnell.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=PressReleases&amp;ContentRecord_id=cec9a62c-4d08-4dfe-96d7-ec97b0f04dcc&amp;ContentType_id=c19bc7a5-2bb9-4a73-b2ab-3c1b5191a72b&amp;Group_id=0fd6ddca-6a05-4b26-8710-a0b7b59a8f1f" target="_blank">speech</a> on the Senate floor in April 2011, McConnell called Ryan's budget a "serious and detailed plan for getting our nation's fiscal house in order." He maintained that it would "strengthen the social safety net."</p> <p>That month, he also called Ryan's budget "a serious, good-faith effort to do something good and necessary for the future of our nation and&hellip;for the good of the nation," according to <em>Congressional Quarterly</em>.</p> <p>In May 2011, McConnell, appearing on Fox News, <a href="http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0511/55548.html" target="_blank">vowed</a> to vote for Ryan's proposal. He said Ryan's plan was "a very sensible way to go to try to save Medicare."</p> <p>Even though the Senate never held a final vote on the Ryan budget, McConnell's backing for the plan&mdash;which included <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/05/paul-ryan-budget-analysis-numbers_n_844946.html" target="_blank">large tax cuts for the wealthy</a>&mdash;was full-throated and unambiguous. "He's probably relieved that it never came to a final vote," says Ross Baker, a professor of political science at Rutgers University.</p> <p>In responding to the Grimes ad, McConnell's campaign also took issue with the charge that he voted to raise medical costs for Kentucky seniors by <a href="http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&amp;id=3453" target="_blank">$6,000</a> each. The campaign <a href="http://www.teammitch.com/team_mitch_response_to_alison_lundergan_grimes_mediscare_ad" target="_blank">claimed</a> that this figure is out of date because Ryan's subsequent budget plans&mdash;which also were not passed by Congress&mdash;would raise Medicare beneficiaries' out-of-pocket costs by much less. Yet Paul Van De Water, a senior fellow at the nonprofit Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, says that the Grimes campaign "accurately" cited what the 2011 plan would have done.</p> <p>Ryan's 2011 budget would have slashed Medicare by <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/05/paul-ryan-budget-analysis-numbers_n_844946.html" target="_blank">$389 billion</a> by raising the eligibility age and partly privatizing the program, <a href="http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&amp;id=3453" target="_blank">dramatically increasing costs</a> for new retirees. Under the same plan, funding for Medicaid would have been slashed by <a href="http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&amp;id=3453" target="_blank">35 percent over 10 years</a>. The proposal additionally would have ended Obamacare, preventing millions from obtaining affordable health insurance. At the time, Senate majority leader Harry Reid warned the Ryan budget "would be one of the worst things that could happen in this country if it went into effect."</p> <p>As the McConnell-Grimes race&mdash;one of the most closely watched Senate contests of the year&mdash;heats up, Grimes is attempting to tar McConnell with the extreme budget plan that he once embraced. McConnell, the veteran Capitol Hill wheeler-and-dealer, is trying to wiggle out of the trap through a legislative loophole&mdash;creating a false impression and distancing himself from his party's policymaker-in-chief.</p> <p>His campaign did not respond to a request for comment.</p></body></html> Politics Congress Elections Top Stories Thu, 10 Jul 2014 20:53:24 +0000 Erika Eichelberger 255866 at http://www.motherjones.com Americans Are Surprisingly Stressed Out About News and Politics http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/07/americans-are-surprisingly-stressed-out-about-news-and-politics <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Via Wonkblog, here's a fascinating little chart <a href="http://www.rwjf.org/content/dam/farm/reports/surveys_and_polls/2014/rwjf414295" target="_blank">courtesy of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.</a> They just released a survey about the causes of stress, and things like health and money problems are predictably the biggest <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_stress_events.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">sources. But how about all those niggling little daily causes of stress? What are the biggest routine things that send you into conniptions?</p> <p>Well, it turns out that two of the biggest contributors to high blood pressure are watching the news and hearing about what politicians are up to. And boy howdy, does this beg for a follow-up. I really, really want to know what news sources cause the most stress. Is it listening to NPR? Watching Fox News? Getting your daily Limbaugh fix? Reading Kevin Drum's blog?</p> <p>Perhaps the mere act of making you think about this is, at this very moment, making you red in the face. Then again, maybe not. I want to know more. Who's most stressed out by the news? Liberals? Conservatives? Everyone? And what outlets cause the most stress? Obviously my money is on the Drudge/Fox/Limbaugh axis, but maybe I'd be surprised. I want to hear more about this.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Media Thu, 10 Jul 2014 18:26:53 +0000 Kevin Drum 255871 at http://www.motherjones.com Singer and Hardcore LGBT Rights Supporter Demi Lovato Made This Lovely Video for Marriage Equality http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/07/demi-lovato-gay-rights-video-marriage-equality-human-rights-campaign <!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="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/zx5GjuKr--0" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Singer and actress <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demi_Lovato#Philanthropy" target="_blank">Demi Lovato</a> is a strong <a href="https://twitter.com/ddlovato/status/349907949323436032" target="_blank">supporter</a> of LGBT rights. She played a lesbian character on Fox's <a href="http://www.rollingstone.com/movies/videos/glee-recap-guest-star-demi-lovato-shares-lesbian-kiss-20131004" target="_blank"><em>Glee</em></a>, served as the <a href="http://www.out.com/entertainment/music/2014/06/27/demi-lovato-pride-2014%E2%80%99s-mvp" target="_blank">Grand Marshal</a> of the Los Angeles Pride Parade this year, and has <a href="http://roygbiv.jezebel.com/demi-lovato-releases-new-video-supporting-marriage-equa-1602732616/+burtreynoldsismyspiritguide1" target="_blank">spoken openly</a> about her grandfather's homosexuality. "I believe in gay marriage, I believe in equality," Lovato told <a href="http://www.cambio.com/2013/11/22/demis-new-image-neon-lights-was-my-grown-up-sexy-video/" target="_blank"><em>Cambio</em></a> magazine. "I think there's a lot of hypocrisy with religion&hellip;I just found that you can have your own relationship with God, and I still have a lot of faith."</p> <p>Now, she's made a <a href="https://twitter.com/ddlovato/status/487028791202422785" target="_blank">video</a> (watch above) with the Human Rights Campaign in support of marriage equality. The video, <a href="http://www.hrc.org/blog/entry/demi-lovato-stars-in-web-video-for-hrcs-americans-for-marriage-equality-cam" target="_blank">released</a> on Wednesday, is part of HRC's recently re-launched Americans for Marriage Equality campaign, which includes messages from <a href="http://americansformarriageequality.org/videos/videos-hillary-clinton-supports-marriage-equality#1" target="_blank">Hillary Clinton</a>, <a href="http://americansformarriageequality.org/videos/videos-bryan-cranston-supports-marriage-equality#1" target="_blank">Bryan Cranston</a>,&nbsp;<a href="http://americansformarriageequality.org/videos/videos-monique-stands-up-for-marriage-equality#5" target="_blank">Mo'Nique</a>, and <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OS641L5khMI" target="_blank">Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman</a>. Here is Lovato's message:</p> <blockquote> <p>Hey, guys, I'm Demi Lovato, and I'm an American for marriage equality. I believe that love comes in all different shapes, sizes, and colors. So whether you're LGBT or straight, your love is valid, beautiful, and an incredible gift. So let's protect love and strengthen the institution of marriage by allowing loving, caring, and committed same-sex couples to legally marry. Please join me and the <a href="http://www.gallup.com/poll/169640/sex-marriage-support-reaches-new-high.aspx" target="_blank">majority</a> of American citizens who support marriage equality.</p> </blockquote> <p>"We reached out to her [a couple months ago] knowing what a supporter of LGBT equality she is, and thought she would be great for this campaign," <a href="http://www.hrc.org/blog/author/charlie-joughin" target="_blank">Charles Joughin</a>, an HRC spokesman, told <em>Mother Jones</em>. He also mentioned that they have more Americans for Marriage Equality videos lined up featuring other big names, from pro-athletes and movie stars to politicians and civil rights leaders. HRC will likely be released one video a week over the coming months.</p> <p>When asked if Lovato has any further plans to work with the LGBT civil rights group, Joughin said that nothing was discussed, but that they'd be more than happy to do so. "She certainly has done a lot for the larger movement&hellip;We haven't taken it into consideration, but we're such big fans of her we'd be thrilled to work with her in the future. Whether she's doing work with HRC, or elsewhere, I am certain this is a cause she's very committed to."</p> <p>Now check out this video about Lovato sticking it to Russian president Vladimir Putin (and his <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/02/world-congress-families-russia-gay-rights" target="_blank">anti-gay policies</a>) during her New York City gay pride performance this summer. During the show, two of Lovato's male backup dancers shared a kiss; <a href="https://twitter.com/ddlovato/statuses/483439394213224448" target="_blank">one</a> of them appeared to be naked and was holding a <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-trending-28113228" target="_blank">picture of Putin's face over his crotch</a>:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/dSQnSJKcg5Y" width="630"></iframe></p></body></html> Mixed Media Video Film and TV Gay Rights Human Rights Thu, 10 Jul 2014 18:22:07 +0000 Asawin Suebsaeng 255846 at http://www.motherjones.com 40 Percent of Colleges Haven't Investigated a Single Sexual Assault Case in 5 Years http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/07/college-campus-sexual-assault <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>According to the <a href="http://www.mccaskill.senate.gov/download/campus-sexual-assault-survey-results" target="_blank">results of a national survey</a>&nbsp;commissioned by Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and the Senate Subcommittee on Financial and Contracting Oversight, nearly half the country's four-year colleges haven't conducted&nbsp;a single sexual assault investigation&nbsp;in the past five years. The <a href="http://www.mccaskill.senate.gov/pdf/McCaskillSurveyCampusSexualAssaults.pdf" target="_blank">survey</a>&nbsp;was completed by 236 four year-institutions across the country&mdash;private and public, small and large<span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 24px;">&mdash;but in order to encourage candid reporting,&nbsp;</span>the names of the schools surveyed were not released.</p> <p>Here's what scores of survivors of sexual assault in college have to deal with, according to the <a href="http://www.mccaskill.senate.gov/download/campus-sexual-assault-survey-results" style="line-height: 24px;" target="_blank">results</a>:</p> <ul><li><strong>Simply not receiving an investigation:</strong> Forty-one percent of schools hadn't investigated a single sexual assault in the past five years, despite the fact that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and the <a href="http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/04/29/fact-sheet-not-alone-protecting-students-sexual-assault" target="_blank">White House</a>, one in five undergraduate women experience sexual assault during college. Meanwhile, more than 20 percent of the country's largest private schools conducted fewer investigations than the number of sexual assault incidents that they reported to the Department of Education.</li> <li><strong>Having no clue what to do:</strong> One in three schools don't train students on what constitutes sexual assault or how to respond to it. Among private, for-profit schools, 72 percent don't provide students with any sexual assault training.</li> <li><strong>Untrained, uncoordinated law enforcement:</strong> Though in general colleges work with a number of parties to keep campuses safe&mdash;like campus police, security guards, and local law enforcement&mdash;30 percent don't actually train the school's law enforcement on how to handle reports of sexual assault, while a staggering 73 percent of institutions don't have protocols on how the school should work with local law enforcement to respond to sexual assault.</li> <li><strong>The athletic department deciding if you were raped:</strong> Yes, you read that correctly. Thirty percent of public colleges give the athletic department oversight of sexual violence&nbsp;cases involving athletes.</li> <li><strong>Your peers deciding if you were raped:</strong> Experts agree that students shouldn't be part of adjudication boards in sexual assault cases&mdash;friends or acquaintances of the survivor or alleged perpetrator face a conflict of interest, and those involved in a sexual assault likely don't want to divulge the details of the assault to, say, someone they recognize from chemistry class. Still, 27 percent of schools reported students participating in the adjudication of sexual assault claims.</li> <li><strong>Untrained faculty, staff, and medical professionals:</strong> Often, the first person to whom a student reports sexual assault is a member of the college's faculty or staff. But 20 percent of schools don't provide any sexual assault response training to faculty and staff, and only 15 percent of schools provide access to Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners&mdash;nurses who are trained to provide medical and other services to survivors of sexual assault.</li> <li><strong>Knowing that the perpetrator still plays sports and goes to frat parties:</strong>&nbsp;Only 51 percent of schools impose athletic team sanctions against student-athletes who have been deemed perpetrators of sexual assault, and 31 percent impose fraternity or sorority sanctions.</li> <li><strong>Seeing the perpetrator on campus, even if you don't want to:</strong> Nineteen percent of institutions don't impose orders that would require the perpetrator of the assault to avoid contact with the survivor.</li> </ul><p>McCaskill says that the results of the survey demonstrate failures at "nearly every stage of institutions' response" to sexual assault. Together with Sens. Richard Blumenthal&nbsp;(D-Conn.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), she plans to unveil legislation addressing the campus assault later in the summer.</p></body></html> MoJo Education Reproductive Rights Sex and Gender Thu, 10 Jul 2014 17:46:38 +0000 Julia Lurie 255811 at http://www.motherjones.com