MoJo Blogs and Articles | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en Tom Perez Was Just Elected DNC Chair <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Tom Perez was elected chair of the Democratic National Committee in Atlanta on Saturday. Perez, who ran the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division under President Barack Obama and later served as his Secretary of&nbsp;Labor, edged out Keith Ellison, a Muslim congressman from Minneapolis, in the first contested race for party control in decades. After a congested first round of balloting, the other candidates dropped out of the race and the race proceded to a head-to-head second ballot. Perez received 235 votes.&nbsp;Ellison notched 200.</p> <p>Immediately after his election, Perez asked and received unanimous consent from the assembly&nbsp;of Democrats to name Ellison as the party's deputy chair.</p> <p class="rtecenter"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"></iframe></p> <p class="rtecenter">&nbsp;</p></body></html> Politics Sat, 25 Feb 2017 20:22:33 +0000 Tim Murphy 326516 at Donald Trump May Be on Your Television, But Here's What America Really Looks Like <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">Photojournalist Peter van Agtmael</a> considers his third book, <em>Buzzing at the Sill, </em>the latest chapter of what he calls "one greater book"&mdash;a sweeping exploration of the September 11th attacks and the impact of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq on soldiers and their families. His project began with his 2009 book, <a href="" target="_blank"><em>2nd Tour, Hope I Don't Die</em></a>,&nbsp;and continued with <em><a href="" target="_blank">Disco Night Sept. 11,</a></em> which appeared in 2014. In <em>Buzzing at the Sill</em>, published by <a href="" target="_blank">Kehrer Verlag</a>, he shifts his attention to unexplored corners the United States after he realized "how little I know about my country."</p> <p>The Magnum photographer first went to Iraq in 2006 when he was 24, and he covered the conflicts there and in Afghanistan for several years before returning to the States. With 72 images pulled from his journalism assignments and others he shot while traveling throughout the country, <em>Buzzing at the Sill</em> examines the reverberations of 9/11 through glimpses of daily American life that often have the intimate feel of a snapshot. The photos in <em>Buzzing at the Sill</em> depict vulnerable, grieving, celebrating, and sometimes threatening Americans, collectively offering a cohesive and sharp reading of the country, with a powerful undercurrent of alienation.<strong> </strong>"In America, we somehow feel immune," he writes in <em>Buzzing at the Sill, "</em>but in any country at war, the first thing they'll tell you is that they didn't think it could happen there."</p> <p>I talked with van Agtmael about making this book and<strong> </strong>what it might say about the political climate in the United States today.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/03BATS_Final_012_960.jpg"><div class="caption"><em><strong>Kentucky Derby aftermath. (Louisville, KY. 2015)</strong></em></div> </div> <p><strong>Mother Jones:</strong> Can you tell me about the title, <em>Buzzing at the Sill</em>?<br><strong>Peter van Agtmael:</strong> <em>Buzzing at the Sill</em> is from a <a href="" target="_blank">Theodore Roethke</a> poem called "In a Dark Time." I'd heard a small part of it in a play, a sort of sci-fi play about morality in a virtual reality universe. Nothing to do with the book precisely, but it was a great play. I read the poem afterwards because I was intrigued and had one of those strange senses: "This poem is kind of important to me. I don't know why, but I'm going to just keep it in the back of my mind." I just kept coming back to it. As I started putting the book together and writing the stories for it, this idea of buzzing as a word kept popping up in my brain.</p> <p>I started the book with [the story] of a vulture that flapped up to this window sill outside of a burn ward at a military hospital in Texas. I guess it could smell the rotting flesh through the walls and was just trying to desperately and aggressively get in through that window, I don't know, to try and feast on the flesh. It was really a troubling moment. But apparently it happens all the time, because the soldiers in recovery and the nurses were totally accustomed to the presence of those vultures.</p> <p>When I started thinking of the decisions that led me down the road first&mdash;which was part of <em>Disco Night Sept. 11</em> and then the buzzing being&mdash; I somehow couldn't ignore the urge to do things that kind of defy logic. And I liked the poem, I liked the ring of it. I was sitting with <a href=";VF=MAGO31_10_VForm&amp;ERID=24KL53ZJCV" target="_blank">David Allan Harvey</a> one day when he pointed out how appropriate the title was for the things I was talking about.</p> <p><strong>MJ:</strong> In what way do you see that <em>Buzzing at the Sill</em> continues the narrative you built with <em>Disco Night</em>?</p> <p><strong>PVA:</strong> I went out to cover the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan fundamentally because I was interested in war as a notion and in experiencing it. I was interested in history and how societies form. I was interested in the recent history of what had provoked these wars. So when I finally got out there, I was really seeing the wars through the American perspective, much more than through being embedded with American soldiers and Marines. I realized in that process how little I knew about my own country. I had grown up in the suburbs and, after college, I moved out of the country, so I didn't really know the place well. When I started following soldiers and their families back home, it provoked a lot of the questions about who we are as a nation, questions I realized couldn't be explored through the more limited framework of looking at the military at war and at home. So that inspired these trips [in which] I began to explore America in more general terms. I really started this work in 2009. I got the bulk of it done as I was easing out of <em>Disco Night</em>. I started them as almost concurrent projects.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/01BATS_Final_004_960.jpg"><div class="caption"><em><strong>A woman attending the annual Iowa GOP Ronald Reagan dinner, where Sarah Palin gave the keynote speech. (Des Moines, Iowa, 2010)</strong></em></div> </div> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/05BATS_Final_038_960.jpg"><div class="caption"><em><strong>The Fourth of July. (Brooklyn, New York, 2010)</strong></em></div> </div> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/04BATS_Final_025_960.jpg"><div class="caption"><em><strong>The KKK had boasted that dozens from their Klan chapter would attend the rally and cross burning, but there were only a few people when we showed up, including a British TV crew and a freelance photographer. (Maryland, 2015)</strong></em></div> </div> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/06BATS_Final_042_960.jpg"><div class="caption"><em><strong>Outside Lyniece Nelson's house. Nelson's 19-year-old daughter, Shelly Hilliard (known as "Treasure"), was strangled, dismembered, and set on fire in 2011. Treasure was a transgender teen born Henry Hilliard Jr. The family is with Treasure's urn. (Detroit, Michigan, 2012)</strong></em></div> </div> <p><strong>MJ:</strong> What was your thinking as you approached putting together this body of work? The photos feel like they're pieced together from assignments or from different stories.</p> <p><strong>PVA:</strong> At first it wasn't meant to be a book, although I'm always thinking about that in the back of my mind. It started off as a series of exploratory road trips that I was doing with Christian Hansen, who I dedicated the book to. Then I started getting some assignments to go shoot in America because I think editors liked the pictures I was taking. What I was doing for those assignments wasn't always directly tied to what I was doing for myself, but it gave me the space to photograph. I started getting assignments that dealt with my own interests and made some pictures in that direction. A lot of it was just photographed through general exploration. It was sometimes provoked by assignments, then I'd go back on my own dime if I really clicked with a place. And sometimes it was just hanging out with my family or friends.</p> <p><strong>MJ:</strong> How did you approach the editing? How were you going to tie the pictures together?</p> <p><strong>PVA:</strong> I'm a constant editor. Every few months or so I make a ton of 4x6 prints. I put them on a magnetic board and I live with them for a while to see what bubbles to the surface. A lot of this was part of <em>Disco Night</em> originally, and I suddenly started realizing, "If I keep working on this because I'm not done and I put all that in <em>Disco Night</em>, how can this be one book? Is it going to be too long and bloated and crazy?" Then I started thinking, "Okay, I have so many other questions about America, when do I stop?" I started thinking about each book being a chapter in one bigger book and that gave me the space to cut it off at a certain point. I needed to have some kind of thematic focus to the work.</p> <p>I was taking all these prints and I brought them to the Magnum meetings, trying the old <a href=";VF=MAGO31_10_VForm&amp;ERID=24KL535C7T" target="_blank">Josef Koudelka</a> trick: Give them to photographers, who are getting bored during the talks about the economics of the agency, to look through with a pen. They'll separate them in two piles&mdash;what they like and what they don't like&mdash;and put their initials on the back. I started to find the core pictures that people seem to relate to. I'd ask myself why? And did I relate to them? Sometimes I did and sometimes I didn't. But it gave me an idea of how other people were seeing the work. From there, I kept shooting but started making drafts of the work, essentially spending a few days a month sequencing and editing, hanging things up on the board, showing them to trusted confidantes from in and outside the photo world. It started to take its shape naturally over time until I kind of ran out of ideas. At that point I was like, "Okay, I guess it's a book."</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/09BATS_Final_053_960.jpg"><div class="caption"><em><strong>After dinner at Lyniece Nelson's house. One of Nelson's children was murdered, one committed suicide shortly after his 16th birthday. Her house burned down not long after the death of her son, destroying the urns of both her deceased children. (Detroit, Michigan, 2012)</strong></em></div> </div> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/08BATS_Final_049_960.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>&nbsp;<em>Hunting rabbits with BB guns. (The outskirts of New Orleans, Louisiana, 2009)</em></strong></div> </div> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/10BATS_Final_061_960.jpg"><div class="caption"><em><strong>Iraqi refugees in a low-income housing community in Portland. The area is home to several thousand Iraqi refugees. (Portland, Oregon, 2015)&nbsp; </strong></em></div> </div> <p><strong>MJ:</strong> When you're out on these road trips, do you still see reverberations from 9/11 in the country?</p> <p><strong>PVA:</strong> Constantly. You find them in them most unexpected places, like graffiti on a wall. Sometimes it's a faded picture; sometimes it's a newspaper tacked to a wall. Sometimes it's weird paraphernalia related to it, home constructed paraphernalia. It resonates through society and continues to resonate today. The travel ban that was imposed by the administration is a very direct reverberation of 9/11. Even though most people were disconnected from<strong> </strong>it, the moment amplified a fairly massive and somewhat irrational fear that exists in the populace at large. And I think a lot of the work I've done and a lot of the work I'm going to do in the future still ties to 9/11 and the fallout from it.</p> <p><strong>MJ:</strong> In the text you've written for both <em>Disco Night September 11</em> and <em>Buzzing at the Sill</em>, you are introspective about covering war. Do you still<strong> </strong>cover conflict?</p> <p><strong>PVA:</strong> I am still covering conflict to some degree. I was back in Iraq last year for the next book I'm working on. I've covered quite a bit of the Israel and Palestine conflict in the last five years for another book I'm working on. But I'm not doing it with the kind of intensity I was before and I'm not seeking out the front line and the kind danger that comes with being at the edge of the war the way I used to. It just kind of ran its course for me. For a long time I could justify doing it to myself, no matter how irrational it was. It was important to me and my work. And I just don't feel it in the same way any more. When it comes up and it's important to me, I'll do it, but more out of sense of duty than desire&mdash;which used to be a big part of it.</p> <p><strong>MJ: </strong>When we started talking, you mentioned that <em>Buzzing at the Sill</em> reflects the times, the current situation in America. Can you explain what you meant?</p> <p><strong>PVA:</strong> It deals with the margins of America, a lot of parts unseen. Well, parts that are seen and familiar to a lot of the populace, but unseen when it comes to the parameters of what mainstream news and popular culture and Hollywood reflects. That kind of unease, that melancholy, is of course partly my interpretation, but partly, I think, it's something that's really there as well. It resonates with this moment and the sort of alienation from the power structure a lot of people feel, as well as a certain amount of desperation, in the hope of disrupting the power structure so they can live better lives. I think in those ways, it's intimately connected to today.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/07BATS_Final_047_960.jpg"><div class="caption"><em><strong>The youngest children tending the horses. (Pine Ridge, South Dakota, 2011)</strong></em></div> </div> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/02BATS_Final_011_960.jpg"><div class="caption"><em><strong>A "second line parade" is a local African American tradition where brass bands&ndash;known as the first line-march in the streets and are joined by members of the public, the "second liners." (New Orleans, Louisiana, 2012)</strong></em></div> </div> <p>All photos by Peter van Agtmael/Magnum Photos, from his book <em>Buzzing at the Sill</em>.</p></body></html> Media Full Width Photo Essays Books photography Sat, 25 Feb 2017 11:00:25 +0000 Mark Murrmann 326246 at The "Pristine" Films That Got Snubbed by the Oscars <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Jackie Chan flicks are no longer the only place where you've seen an Asian or Asian American actor play a meaty role onscreen in the US: On TV, they've appeared in trail-blazing shows like <em>Fresh Off the Boat, Master of None, </em>and <em>The Mindy Project</em>. Director Jon M. Chu wants to <a href="" target="_blank">assemble</a> an <a href="" target="_blank">all-Asian cast</a> for a film adaptation of Kevin Kwan's novel <em>Crazy Rich Asians, </em>making it one of the first films from an American studio to do so in years.</p> <p>But the demographic still remains one of the most invisible groups in the media. In 2014, more than half of films and TV shows had no speaking or named roles for Asian characters, according to a recent <a href="" target="_blank">study</a> by the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism. Controversies over the <a href="" target="_blank">whitewashing</a> of Asian characters took center stage last year, with several prominent actors and producers <a href="" target="_blank">speaking out</a>. For instance, the creators of <em>Ghost in the Shell</em>, a film adapted from a Japanese manga and anime film, <a href="" target="_blank">faced backlash</a> after casting Scarlett Johansson, a white actress, as the lead Japanese character.</p> <p>Melissa Powers and Matthew Eng, both 23 year-old NYU graduates, decided they'd had enough of the whitewashing. Last year, they began producing <a href="" target="_blank">Asian Oscar Bait</a>, a podcast entirely devoted to Asian stories that, they argue, deserve to be on everyone's television. The podcast has gotten a few <a href="" target="_blank">nods</a> from <a href="" target="_blank">indie publications</a> and it caught my eye for the specificity of its approach: In each episode, Powers and Eng take a story about Asians or Asian Americans and pitch it as a film, suggesting actors, directors, and even writers who could possibly take on the work.</p> <p>The podcast retells lesser known stories in history, such as <a href="" target="_blank">Fred Korematsu vs. United States</a>, a Supreme Court case in which a Japanese man, Fred Korematsu refused to go to an internment camp in 1942. Another episode, "<a href="" target="_blank">The Donut King</a>," digs into the story of Bun Tek "Ted" Ngoy, a Cambodian refugee who made a fortune selling donuts in California, until he lost everything&mdash;a "Wolf of Wall Street meets Krispy Kreme" kind of tale, says Powers. The podcast is a response to the <a href="" target="_blank">notion</a> that there aren't enough Asian directors or actors in Hollywood, she says. "Our tagline is: There are no excuses."</p> <p>I spoke with the Eng and Powers to get their take on Asian representation at the 2017 Academy Awards.</p> <p><strong>Mother Jones</strong>: What got you interested in Asian representation and diversity?</p> <p><strong>Melissa Powers:</strong> I am Singaporean American, but I grew up in China. I never realized there was a lack of Asian representation in media until I came to the US for university. One moment in particular stuck out me: I was watching <em>Tomb Raider 2</em>, which is a very mediocre film, but there's a scene where Gerard Butler interrogates a family of Chinese fishermen and speaks to them in Chinese. Obviously his accent is terrible, but I just replayed that scene over and over because I was like, "Oh my God, someone is speaking Chinese in a big Hollywood film." I just watched it for hours. That really showed me how starved I was for Asian representation, without actually realizing it at the time.</p> <p><strong>Matthew Eng:</strong> I'm half-Chinese&mdash;my dad grew up in America and is Chinese&mdash;and I don't look Chinese at all, but it's a part of my background, undeniably so. While I was in a screenwriting course and producing my own screenplays for class, I began to notice this inclination to create characters who were always white. That's not an accurate representation of the world I grew up in or the types of stories I think should be told, but it was something I tended to do anyway.</p> <p>Going off of that, I became more attuned to the film industry and the entertainment world. I began to notice that whenever an Asian actor would appear in a film, they would only be playing roles that could only be played by Asian actors, and those roles weren't necessarily the meatiest parts of the films or TV show.</p> <p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src=";color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p><strong>MJ:</strong> You tackle the Oscars in one of your episodes. How was representation this year when it comes to Asians?</p> <p><strong>MP:</strong> Atrocious! Ai-Ling Lee is the <a href="" target="_blank">first Asian woman</a> to be nominated for sound editing for <em>La La Land</em>, which is cool, but at the same time, Dev Patel is one of the very few Asian people <em>ever</em> to be nominated for an acting role in <em>Lion</em>. It's very distressing. But hopefully it won't be worse than last year's Oscars with Chris Rock and Sacha Baron Cohen making fun of those poor Chinese kids.</p> <p>If you consider Iranian people to be Asian, which I do, though not everyone does, Asghar Farhadi is nominated for best foreign language film for <em>The Salesman</em>. He won't come into the US because of the Muslim ban, and I think he says he <a href="" target="_blank">plans</a> not to. I think his absence will be felt and I hope people will acknowledge that.</p> <p><strong>ME:</strong> Dev Patel is fairly good in <em>Lion</em>, but I think there's a lot of other Asian actors who I would have liked to see get nominated. It really fucking boggles me that Park Chan-wook's <a href="" target="_blank"><em>The Handmaiden</em></a> was not nominated in any technical categories, when that film could not be any more pristine a piece of filmmaking. The actress, Kim Min-Hee, is totally phenomenal. In an ideal world, her performance would be an Oscar contender.</p> <p>I also talk about Andrew Ahn's independent film <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Spa Night</em></a> a lot, which is a story about an Asian man's queer sexuality. It's something I've never seen portrayed before with that remarkable detail and attention. But it's not going to be on the radar of Oscar voters.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/asian%20oscar%20bait.jpg" style="height: 473px; width: 630px;"><div class="caption"><strong>Melissa and Matthew with their producer, Caroline Pinto. </strong>Asian Oscar Bait</div> </div> <p><strong>MJ</strong>: So what Asian films should have been at the Oscars this year?</p> <p><strong>MP</strong>: We're both in agreement that <em>The Handmaiden</em> should have been there. But in the future, I'd like to see the Academy's be more generous towards genre films like sci-fi and horror, because I think those genres tend to be places where people of color get to do more in the role.</p> <p><strong>ME: </strong><em>The Handmaiden</em> is my number one egregious absence from the Academy. But there's another film that came out last year called <a href=";contentCollection=movies&amp;module=embedded&amp;region=caption&amp;pgtype=article" target="_blank"><em>Dheepan</em></a> by Jacques Audiard. It won the Palme d'Or at Cannes but completely disappeared when it came to the States. It's about a Sri Lankan couple who are refugees, and find this young French girl and pose as a family to get into France. It really reflects the times, and the performance by this first-time actress, Kalieaswari Srinivasan, is just beyond words for me. If an American director made this story, it would have received a modicum of attention. There's amazing cinematic craftsmanship that's going on in all corners of the world, and you just have to look beyond your backyard.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><strong>MJ</strong>: If you could make one of your episodes into a film, which episode would that be, and why? And how likely would that story get an Oscar nomination?</p> <p><strong>MP:</strong> I think the <a href="" target="_blank">Fred Korematsu</a> story would be a shoo-in for an Oscar nom. However, the one I'd be more interested in seeing is the <a href="" target="_blank">Mazher Mahmood</a> story. His name is going to be familiar to most Brits&mdash;he was a tabloid journalist involved in a ton of scandalous stories for News of the World, and is currently in jail for <a href="" target="_blank">tampering with</a> evidence.</p> <p>He's the kind of anti-hero that enthralls Hollywood critics and audiences. Think of <em>Wolf of Wall Street&mdash;</em>you have drugs, celebrities, and this razor sharp focus with being number one. At the same time, his story has more than a traditional rise and fall narrative. Mahmood has a strange relationship with his own background (British Pakistani) that no one seems to address. Even though he grew up amongst South Asians, he consistently used his minority status to put other people of color at ease and weasel stories from them, usually putting them in jail in the process. There was an incident where he collected buses of illegal immigrants under the guise of giving them jobs, and instead drove them straight to a detention center. As an Asian person, it really amazes me that he could betray "us" like that.</p> <p>We don't really see this kind of betrayal onscreen. In fact, we rarely see Asian antiheroes onscreen. This would easily score Best Actor, Best Screenplay (Mahmood has a book so possibly Best Adapted Screenplay), and potentially Best Director. This would require a minority screenwriter and director, to navigate how Mahmood used and abused the fact that he was an Asian man. And I'm just saying, Riz Ahmed needs that Oscar vehicle.</p> <p><strong>ME:</strong> I would definitely love to see Merle Oberon's story, chronicled in our second episode, as the basis of a film. It's such a fascinating, eye-opening, and totally dramatic story of lifelong deception, but it also intersects with the golden age of Hollywood history, making it the type of film the Academy loves to honor any chance it gets. Oberon <a href="" target="_blank">concealed</a> her half-Indian origins in order to attain cinematic stardom in the 1930s, <a href="" target="_blank">concocting</a> an entire back story that involved a false upbringing in Tasmania and forcing her Indian mother to pose as her live-in maid in order to ward off any suspicions from her famous friends and consorts. Insane, right?</p> <p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src=";color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p>That being said, I'm not sure it would score any nominations beyond Best Actress for whoever plays Oberon (and, I don't know, possibly a costume nomination) because the Academy has an annoying tendency of under-rewarding films that could traditionally be described as a "women's picture," meaning any movie that puts a woman at its forefront.</p> <p>Even so, I would love to see this movie made and, preferably, with an actual Indian actress playing Oberon. If this actress were nominated, she would become only the second Asian performer to ever receive a Best Actress nomination. The only other Asian nominee in this category happens to be Oberon herself, for 1935's <em>Dark Angel</em>, which means that yes, the only Asian woman ever nominated for Best Actress in Oscars' nearly ninety year history didn't even want people to know she was Asian! You truly can't make this stuff up.</p></body></html> Media Sat, 25 Feb 2017 11:00:24 +0000 Kanyakrit Vongkiatkajorn 326006 at There's Only One Big Thing That Matters About the Upcoming Republican Health Care Plan <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><em>Politico</em> has gotten its hands on a leaked copy of a Republican health care plan. It's a discussion draft of a bill that's a couple of weeks old, but it still provides a good idea of what Republicans are thinking these days. <a href="" target="_blank">Here's my summary of Sarah Kliff's summary:</a></p> <ul><li><strong>Good news:</strong> Compared to previous plans, it's better on pre-existing conditions; more generous in its funding of high-risk pools; generally cheaper for young people; and includes bigger tax credits than earlier Republican plans.</li> <li><strong>Neutral news:</strong> Loosens the list of "essential" benefits for all plans. This is generally better for healthy people and worse for sick people.</li> <li><strong>Bad news:</strong> Eliminates Medicaid expansion; cuts Medicaid funding; is terrible for the poor; and is far more expensive for older workers.</li> </ul><p>There's other stuff (all Obamacare taxes are repealed, for example, which is great news for the rich), but I submit to you that these are pesky details. There's really only one big thing that matters: how much the program costs.</p> <p>Obamacare spends roughly $100 billion per year on subsidies to make health coverage affordable for the poor, and even at that premiums are too high for many people and deductibles are too high for almost everyone. Handwaving aside, there's no way to produce a plan that's even remotely useful with any less funding than Obamacare. That's just reality.</p> <p>If the funding is sufficient, we can all have a good time arguing over continuous coverage penalties, age ratios, essential benefits, and all that. If the funding is insufficient, it's all just whistling in the wind.</p> <p>Rumor has it that an outline of this plan was already submitted to the Congressional Budget Office, and the score they returned was so horrific that it never saw the light of day. So when Republicans do finally release a bill and a CBO score, just turn immediately to the section that estimates the ten-year cost. If it's substantially less than a trillion dollars, you can skip the rest.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 25 Feb 2017 00:38:37 +0000 Kevin Drum 326506 at Leaked DHS Doc Says Trump's Seven Countries Aren't Very Dangerous <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Remember those seven countries that President Trump singled out for a travel ban? He asked the Department of Homeland Security to check them out and explain why they deserved to be on a no-entry list. <a href="" target="_blank">Here's what he got:</a></p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_dhs_seven_countries_risk_0.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 15px 0px 15px 0px;"></p> <p>Oops. "Rarely implicated" means a grand total of six people out of 82. That's one per year since 2011. And not one terrorist plot per year, either. One "terrorism related offense" per year. In many of these cases, it's probably a material support charge for sending a hundred bucks to some warlord back home.</p> <p>This comes via the AP, <a href="" target="_blank">which got this comment:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Homeland Security spokeswoman Gillian Christensen on Friday did not dispute the report's authenticity, but said it was not a final comprehensive review of the government's intelligence.</p> <p>"While DHS was asked to draft a comprehensive report on this issue, the document you're referencing was <strong>commentary from a single intelligence source versus an official, robust document with thorough interagency sourcing,</strong>" Christensen said. "The ... report does not include data from other intelligence community sources. It is incomplete."</p> </blockquote> <p>I have a feeling that once the "interagency sourcing" is finished, there might be a different spin on these numbers. This is very definitely not what the boss wants to hear.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Sat, 25 Feb 2017 00:07:58 +0000 Kevin Drum 326501 at It's Official: The Trump Administration Will Soon Solicit Bids for a New Border Wall <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The Department of Homeland Security announced Friday that it will soon begin soliciting bids "for the design and build of several prototype wall structures in the vicinity of the United States border with Mexico." Bidding begins March 6. The official posting says the administration will select the companies to potentially build the new structure sometime in April.</p> <p>The solicitation appears to correspond to President Trump's highly publicized pledge to build a new border wall along the US-Mexico border. "We're going to build a wall, don't worry about it," Trump said at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday. "We're building the wall. We're building the wall. In fact, it's going to start soon. Way ahead of schedule, way ahead of schedule."</p> <p>The official post soliciting bids for the border wall is available online <a href=";mode=form&amp;id=b8e1b2a6876519ca0aedd748e1e491cf&amp;tab=core&amp;tabmode=list&amp;=" target="_blank">here</a>.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Govt bidding begins Mar 6 "for the design/build of several prototype wall structures in vicinity" of US-Mex border <a href=""></a> <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Andy Kroll (@AndyKroll) <a href="">February 24, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script></body></html> Politics Donald Trump Immigration Fri, 24 Feb 2017 22:15:45 +0000 Andy Kroll 326481 at Friday Cat Blogging - 24 February 2017 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The weather has been lovely this week, and Hilbert is spending lots of quality time up on the patio cover. He's gotten pretty adept at scooting up and down the access tree, but he still whines a lot when he wants to come down, hoping that someone will come out and lift him off. I used to fall for this until the third or fourth time that he came over to me and then scampered off as soon as I put up my hands. Ha ha ha. Fooled the human again.</p> <p>Hilbert is also anxious for everyone to know that <em>he</em> has <a href="" target="_blank">a college named after him too.</a> Also a local <a href="" target="_blank">art museum.</a> Plus a <a href="" target="_blank">summer camp</a>, a <a href="" target="_blank">village in Wisconsin</a> and its accompanying <a href="" target="_blank">high school</a>, a <a href="" target="_blank">lake</a>, and a <a href="" target="_blank">theater</a>. So there.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_hilbert_2017_02_24.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #000000; margin: 15px 0px 5px 0px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 24 Feb 2017 20:05:06 +0000 Kevin Drum 326471 at It's Happening—News Groups Are Being Barred From White House Press Briefings <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">From CNN:</a></p> <blockquote> <p><strong>CNN and other news organizations were blocked Friday from a White House press briefing</strong>....The <em>New York Times</em>, the <em>Los Angeles Times</em>, and <em>Politico</em> were also excluded from the meeting, which is known as a gaggle and is less formal than the televised Q-and-A session in the White House briefing room.</p> <p>The Associated Press and <em>Time</em> magazine boycotted the briefing because of how it was handled. The White House Correspondents Association is protesting.</p> <p>The conservative media organizations <em>Breitbart News</em>, <em>The Washington Times</em> and One America News Network were allowed in.</p> </blockquote> <p>A few days ago, there was some talk about whether Trump would slow-walk federal disaster relief for the Oroville Dam area. As it turned out, <a href="" target="_blank">he didn't,</a> but the possibility was taken seriously for a while.</p> <p>This is what makes the Trump presidency so unpredictable. No modern president would even think of taking revenge on a state that voted against him by refusing disaster aid. No modern president would dream of evicting news outlets from a press briefing because they had criticized him. No modern president would lie about easily checkable facts on a routine basis. No modern president would loudly cite every positive bit of economic news as a personal triumph. No modern president since Nixon would casually ask the FBI to take its side in an ongoing investigation.</p> <p>It's not that modern presidents <em>couldn't</em> do these things. They just didn't. And we all came to assume that none of them would. The technical machinery of government&mdash;collecting data, hiring staffers, working by the rules&mdash;would be left alone to operate in a professional and impartial way. But that's no longer something we can assume.</p> <p>Trump is going to find lots of things like this. Things that nobody ever thought of before, but aren't illegal. Or maybe just slightly illegal. And he's going to use them to demagogue his enemies and take revenge on people who badmouth him. Fasten your seat belts.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 24 Feb 2017 19:54:22 +0000 Kevin Drum 326476 at Who's the Deporter-in-Chief? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">Bryan Caplan:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>&nbsp;U.S. immigration law&nbsp;&mdash; and U.S. immigration statistics&nbsp;&mdash; makes a big distinction between full-blown deportations ("Removals") and "voluntarily" returning home under the threat of full-blown deportation ("Returns").</p> <p>The distinction is not entirely cosmetic. If you re-enter after Removal, you face a serious risk of federal jail time if you're caught. If you re-enter after a mere Return, you generally don't. But Return is still almost as bad as Removal, since both exile you from the country where you prefer to reside. Since I've previously suggested that we should count each Return as 85% of a Removal, I've constructed a "Deportation Index" equal to Removals + .85*Returns to capture the substance of U.S. immigration policy. Check out the numbers:</p> </blockquote> <p>No, no, no. I love ideas like this, but it demands a visual presentation. Here it is:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_caplan_deportations_0.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 0px;"></p> <p>Under Obama, removals were much higher than any other president. However, there were far fewer returns. Thus, "deportations" were higher than any other president, but the total number of people who were actually sent home was lower than any other president.</p> <p>The next step is to calculate this as a percentage of the number of illegal immigrants in the country each year. Here it is:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_caplan_deportations_percent_population.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 0px;"></p> <p>This is approximate, since the total population of illegal immigrants is a little fuzzy before 2000. But it's close enough. Obama still has a higher removal rate and a lower index rate than any other president, but the winner for the title of Deporter-in-Chief is...Ronald Reagan. Every president since then has been successively more tolerant of a large undocumented population.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 24 Feb 2017 18:45:10 +0000 Kevin Drum 326466 at Los Angeles Demands That Federal Immigration Officials Stop Calling Themselves "Police" <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>In the wake of raids that resulted in the arrest of <a href="" target="_blank">161 undocumented immigrants</a> in southern California earlier this month, the city of Los Angeles is demanding that federal immigration agents end the practice of identifying themselves <a href="" target="_blank">as "police" </a>with the Los Angeles Police Department.&nbsp;According to a letter signed by city officials, that tactic threatens to erode trust between local law enforcement officers and the immigrant communities they police.</p> <p>"In Los Angeles, the term 'police' is synonymous with the Los Angeles Police Department," reads a letter that Mayor Eric Garcetti, city attorney Eric Feuer, and city council president Herb J. Wesson sent to the Trump administration Thursday. "So for ICE agents to represent themselves as police misleads the public into believing they are interacting with LAPD."</p> <p>While there's apparently nothing illegal about Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents identifying themselves as "police," the letter claims that the practice undermines the LAPD's efforts to promise immigrant populations that they can provide "valuable information and cooperation" without fear of potential deportation.&nbsp;The letter says that the feds' behavior is "especially corrosive" because the LAPD has a policy against stopping individuals for the purpose of checking their immigration status.</p> <p>The controversial tactic, which has been used by immigration agents for decades now, received renewed attention this month after an<a href="" target="_blank"> <em>LA Times</em> video showed an immigration agent</a> identifying himself as a police officer, while attempting to gain entry into the home of an undocumented immigrant. The video raised questions from civil liberties groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, that argue the misidentification potentially tricks people into allowing agents to search their homes without a warrant.</p> <p>The letter on Thursday comes amid increasing fear and confusion over President Donald Trump's immigration crackdown, while communities across the country prepare to <a href="" target="_blank">defend themselves</a> against the administration's future deportation efforts. The president has vowed to defund sanctuary cities, including New York and Los Angeles, that have pledged to protect undocumented populations from Trump's deportation plans. One prominent Trump backer, <a href="" target="_blank">Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke</a>, has even called for prosecuting the mayors of sanctuary cities.</p> <p>Read the full letter:</p> <div class="DC-embed DC-embed-document DV-container" id="DV-viewer-3474732-LA-Letter">&nbsp;</div> <script src="//"></script><script> DV.load("", { width: 630, height: 354, sidebar: false, text: false, pdf: false, container: "#DV-viewer-3474732-LA-Letter" }); </script><p><em>This post has been updated.</em></p></body></html> Politics Crime and Justice Immigration Fri, 24 Feb 2017 17:58:27 +0000 Inae Oh 326431 at